BANGOR, Maine — When Andrew McQuinn, 22, of Bangor told his sister in 2005 he was bisexual, she said she didn’t care.
A few days later, when the Seal Harbor native told his father, McQuinn discovered that his sister already had spilled the beans.
But the real surprise came when McQuinn, now a student at the New England School of Communications, talked with his mother.
“She wasn’t upset about my sexuality,” he said last week at Husson University. “She was mad that I hadn’t told her first.”
McQuinn will celebrate National Coming Out Day at a rally at 6 p.m. today in West Market Square. National Coming Out Day is an international event that gives gay, lesbian and bisexual people the opportunity to “come out” to others about their sexuality, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Human Rights Campaign.
The first National Coming Out Day was held Oct. 11, 1988. The date for the annual event was chosen in commemoration of the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights on that day. It also marks the anniversary of the first visit of the AIDS Memorial Quilt to Washington, D.C.
McQuinn’s coming-out experience with his family was very different from that of his friend Greg Music, 55, of Bangor.
“I didn’t come out until my mid-40s,” he said Friday. “When I told my mom, she didn’t believe me. When I told the rest of my family, it was difficult for everybody.”
The only film Music ever saw as a young person that had a gay character was “The Detective,” starring Frank Sinatra.
“It was about a closeted gay man who killed his lover, then jumps off a roof,” Music said. “Every gay man in cinema was either crazy or a victim. As a young person, I thought, I don’t want to be like that. Andrew was brought up in a different time.
“I didn’t know a gay man at his age. There were no shows like ‘Will and Grace’ on television, there weren’t support groups or social organizations on college campuses let alone discussions about same-sex adoption and marriage,” Music said.
Music is vice president of the Bridge Alliance, a nonprofit with a goal of having allies, or straight people, work with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals.
Now in his second year at NESCOM, McQuinn is president of the GBLT on RYE organization at Husson. The name stands for Gay, Bisexual, Lesbian, Transgender on Real Youth Education and is a play on words for the popular sandwich — bacon, lettuce and tomato on rye bread, according to McQuinn. The group meets once a week to support members and plan events on campus.
A graduate of Mount Desert Island High School, McQuinn said he also belongs to a fraternity at Husson. Earlier this year, when he was nervous about attending a Valentine’s Day dance for the GLBT community in Bangor alone, his straight fraternity brothers went with him and played a practical joke on him.
“They know I hate Lady Gaga,” McQuinn said last week, “but they requested the band to play a Lady Gaga song and when they did, my pledge brothers dragged me out on the dance floor with them and made me dance to it.”
McQuinn said that when he decided to join the fraternity, he told them he was bisexual.
“They didn’t care and said they respected me more for telling them upfront,” he said.
That would not have happened when he was a college student in his early 20s, said Music, who is working on a degree in pastoral counseling.
McQuinn said last week that he and others in GBLT on Rye were looking forward to tonight’s rally.
“I want to say that I’m just a person trying every day to live my life the same way straight people are,” he said.