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Celebrating Pride Month with Marpheen Chann

Updated: Oct 10, 2023


Book Rainbow

Here at Islandport we are thrilled to help celebrate Pride Month and highlight one of our authors!


Author Marpheen Chann

Marpheen Chann, a second-generation Asian American, is a civil rights advocate, writer, speaker, and gay man. In 2014, Chann was the first of his biological and adoptive families to graduate college. He studied political science, philosophy, and economics at the University of Southern Maine, where he helped start the Queer Straight Alliance. His memoir Moon in Full has been nominated for the Maine Literary Awards in the Memoir category, was a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Award in the First Horizons category, and

received the Bronze IPPY award for LGBTQ Nonfiction.

Marpheen Chann


Here is his inspiring Prologue and a brief excerpt from his memoir Moon in Full : A Modern-Day Coming-of-Age Story.

 

How did a boy born into a Cambodian refugee family, who was put in foster care, then adopted by a white, working-class evangelical family in rural Maine, get to this point—an out-and-proud, gay public figure in Maine?


I found myself thinking these thoughts as I lay in bed at two a.m. on Tuesday, June 8, 2021.


I had just tweeted and posted about winning the first at-large seat to the Portland Charter Commission after, finally, getting the election results from the city clerk’s office. It was not only Election Day, but also my thirtieth birthday. I lay there, my body and back aching from months and months of campaigning, dropping my phone on my nightstand beside me, a wave of gratitude and optimism sweeping over me. Grateful for my family, friends, mentors, and people I have met throughout my thirty years on Earth.


I thought the same when, later that month, I walked past a pride flag hanging on the Governor’s Mansion, the Blaine House, on my way to a Pride celebration hosted by EqualityMaine and Gov. Janet Mills in Augusta.


I was filled with gratitude for the village of people, throughout the years, who have helped me, loved me, and encouraged me to shoot for the moon. To dream big. To do hard things.


My life—the trials and tribulations of domestic violence, hunger, foster care, and navigating a complex and intersectional identity, among other things—is a tribute, a testament, not only to the possibility and power of an individual to overcome, but also to a community, like the one I’ve found in Maine, to come together and cheer for one of their own.


My last name is Chann. In Cambodian, this means “moon,” or “moonlight.” As I think back on these last three decades, I understand that the title of this book may seem premature. I know that in the fullness of time, there will still be a lot to learn and many challenges ahead, but this stopping point feels full enough right now for me to tell my story as I have lived it so far.


This book, my memoir, I dedicate to Maine, and to all the people I’ve encountered along the way, both named and unnamed. I hope that in these pages you will find an opportunity to step into another’s shoes. My shoes. To gain an understanding from my lived experiences—all the messiness of life and love, with all of my mistakes, triumphs, and lessons learned.

I hope you will walk away knowing that, like the moon, as you pass through all the phases of life, you are still on your way to becoming fully you.


 

“I am proud to be an out gay man today who breaks down these stereotypes and proves that we are human. We cry, we get angry, we hurt, but we also find joy, meaning, and purpose in life. For me, fulfillment comes from helping to make the world a better place, by being involved in my community, giving back, and speaking up about the issues I care about. I have found happiness in channeling my optimism, along with the lessons I’ve learned as a Mainer from other Mainers—about grit and determination and community—to guide my work in activism, the nonprofit world, running for office, and being elected as an at-large charter commissioner for the City of Portland, Maine. While there is always work to do on many issues, Maine is the village that helped raise me.” (201 & 202 of Moon in Full)




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