Topless march draws crowd, cameras, but remains peaceful

FARMINGTON — About two dozen bare-chested women marched in public Friday to promote gender equality as a crowd of more than 100 people, mostly men, watched and snapped photos.

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Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Topless march organizer Andrea Simoneau, 22, of Farmington talks to the crowd at Meetinghouse Park in Farmington on Friday before the demonstration began down Main Street.

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Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Henry Braun of Weld said he could not understand why it is acceptable for famous works of art such as the Venus de Milo statue to show breasts but a woman cannot. Braun is a retired English teacher.

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Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Elaine Graham, right, of Farmington holds up a blanket to prevent people from seeing University of Maine at Farmington students Andrea Simoneau, left, and Kris during a topless march for gender equity in Farmington on Friday. Kris would not reveal her last name.

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Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Jarody of Augusta holds up a sign that reads "Its Just Flesh" in Meetinghouse Park before the start of the topless march for gender equity in Farmington on Friday. Jarody said that is his full name.

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Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Emily Behrends, center, of Farmington walks down Main Street in Farmington during the topless march for gender equity on Friday.

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Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

March organizer Andrea Simoneau, left, is shadowed by Elaine Graham of Farmington during the topless march for gender equity in Farmington on Friday. Graham was trying to hold up a blanket so people could not see Simoneau's breasts.

Before the march, organizer Andrea Simoneau, 22, of Farmington, arrived topless at Meetinghouse Park wearing a short plaid skirt with a cell phone tucked into the waistband. She was swarmed by people, mostly men, with cameras of all sorts as she made her way to the gazebo.

She jumped up onto a half-wall to speak to the crowd. Her skirt blew up, showing a glimpse of her undergarment. Oops, even Marilyn Monroe had that problem, she joked, holding her skirt down with her hand.

“I'm so happy to see so many people here, for or against” she said, adding that the demonstration was about women's rights and equal rights and that it's legal for women in Maine to go topless in public.

More women took their tops off and a few men joined them as they crossed to the sidewalk to begin the march through a crowd of onlookers on the sidewalks, in their vehicles and hanging out windows of downtown apartments.

One woman's bare back bore the words, “Sexuality is what you make it.”

Standing in the park before the march began, Erin Simoneau, 19, of Searsport, the younger sister of Andrea Simoneau, said, “I'm a little nervous. I am ready. I think it's great what we're doing for gender equality.”

The girls' father, Duke Simoneau of Brooks, said he brought sunblock.

“College kids don't think of those things,” he said. “All my daughters were taught to think for themselves and speak out when they think they should.”

“I think she's doing a good thing for women,” said Deborah Stubbs, Duke Simoneau's girlfriend. “I personally don't see any problem with baring a breast in public. It think it's the culture we created.”

Others seemed to be there for a different reason.

“We came all the way from Waterville,” Anthony Grenier of Vassalboro said. “I want to take some pictures. I just want to see what's going on. I talked to my wife about it; she didn't have a problem.”

Some men had two cameras hung from their necks and a cell phone camera in their hands.

Frenchie Colt of Farmington, who sat with his wife on another bench, said he was there to watch.

“They have nudist camps in Florida. My wife and I are both nudists,” Colt said. “It's about equal rights. You don't look at a woman's ass. You look at their face. You may glance down at first but once you've seen them, it's done.”

Tiffany Kennison, 21, of Farmington sat in the sun doing homework.

“Personally, I don't want to see it,” Kennison said. “I think that personally their point is not going to change the way people think. It's our values.”

Heather Grover, 22, of Gardiner stood next to her father, Dave Grover.

“I think it's good. I think it's fun. I think people are way too uptight,” Heather Grover said. She and her father drove up to support the women but she wasn't participating.

“People need to relax," Dave Grover said. "I don't think this is harming anything. In Europe it's accepted. God put beautiful women on this Earth to enjoy.”

Angela Sweenhart, 39, of Farmington, walked around topless, a pink feather boa around her neck.

“I think it's a great cause," Sweenhart said. "That's why I am here.”

Some days are better than others, C.W. Ames said, as he admired the sights.

“I've never saw anything like it in my life,” Ames said. “I hope I see it again. It's just flesh.”

“I'm proud of what they're doing,” Candace Minkowsky, 18, of Monmouth said. “I could never do anything like this. It's so courageous. I support equality, and this will make history.”

Elaine Graham, a Christian conservative, walked the route beside Andrea Simoneau with a large blue blanket spread at arms' length, trying to shield Simoneau's breasts from the public.

Traffic was backed up through downtown for miles but police said there were no incidents.

Simoneau walked across the bridge to Abbott Park to stand on a hill above the crowd. She thanked everyone for coming as Graham still tried to shield her with the blanket.

“I am so glad it went down peacefully and safely for everyone,” Simoneau said.

Vietnam veteran Charles Bennett of Farmington, the District 4 commander of the American Legion, passed out American flags from the back of his pickup on Main Street.

“I thought it was ridiculous," he said. "I would rather see a half-dozen or dozen young ladies walking down the sidewalk with skimpy bikinis on than naked, to let my imagination run wild. When they're naked, there goes my imagination."

dperry@sunjournal.com

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Comments

 's picture

Scary, armymom!!  Sex

Scary, armymom!!  Sex offenders roaming around in the neighborhood!!  But tell me, how does that correlate with the article of the topless march?

 's picture

I suspect if Moses had seen

I suspect if Moses had seen some of these gals we would have another commandment.

RAYMOND FRECHETTE's picture

I feel sorry for armymom;

I feel sorry for armymom; that poor lady needs help; even downtown  Portland is not that bad. As far as the boob lady, she is just an immature school child looking for atttention.

 's picture

I guess it shouldn't be a big

I guess it shouldn't be a big deal.  In Europe, topless isn't a big deal.  The Riveria is known for their topless beaches.  And of course, nudes have always been a work of art. 

 's picture

If she is so damn proud of

If she is so damn proud of her boobies, why the blanket?  She preaches to let it all hang out and then is ticked when people look.  Get a life Andrea, we're tired of the BS this week.  Honestly.  Go worry about an oil spill, THATS news.

 's picture

out to lunch

Lady, you have eaten way too many MREs'!  You must stay away from Democrats or you will have to move into the White House!

 's picture

agree

I agree. There's prepared, and there's going off the deep end.

 's picture

What a joke

What a farce it truly is sad that these "women" feel this is the only way to get attention because I can't for the life of me see what other purpose or relevance the march had when it was not illegal to begin with.....but then again it probably will be soon now that they put on this freak show.

 's picture

nudity

If we all went nude, they would laugh at some men.  Really though, if we all went nude then we might be forced to shape up our bodies more as we might be embarrassed by how fat or ugly the stuff is that we hide under all those layers of clothing.  However, We do not advocate going outside nude in the Maine winters.  We would hate to freeze anything vital, or not so vital depending on our age.  Reason laughs at all the fuss over nudity... We are all born naked, and although it may be hard for some to believe we are all born White too.  It is only after birth that the skin pigment really begins to change.  Truly we are one race of men and women on this world.  Reason thinks you should believe this for it is true.

 's picture

Tell me sumtin where can I

Tell me sumtin where can I gets a decree in Gender Equiity?

 's picture

BIG DEAL!

[This comment has been removed by the administrator]

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