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Sometimes, that NRA, Gun-Loving Nut Turns Out To Be One of the Best Guys on the Planet

By Dustin Rowles | TV | October 16, 2018 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | October 16, 2018 |


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About two and a half years ago, I moved into a new house in a new neighborhood here in Portland, Maine. A day or two after we’d moved in, and while we were still unpacking, a guy knocks on my door. He says his name is Wayne. He’s a new neighbor, and he’s brought us this beautiful little basket that he made out of pine needles in his yard. I think, “Well, that’s nice,” and my wife and I thank him. It was a really well-made basket, and we were both kind of shocked that this could be done by hand. .

Anyway, Wayne gets to chatting, and I think he wants to look around the house a little, because he was close with the previous owners. So, we invite him in, and I don’t know exactly what was said, but over the course of the first five minutes, we find out that Wayne is a member of the NRA and that he is or was a shooting instructor. My wife and I give each other a look that basically says, “Oh shit. Our neighbor is a Republican.”

Wayne seems like a Mainer. Like, a real Mainer, not a hipster Portland guy. To be honest, he struck us as the kind of guy that might vote for Paul LePage, you know? Here’s Wayne with his family from a few years ago.

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Anyway, at some point, Wayne asks me where I am from. I say I am from Arkansas originally, and he says, “Oh. Arkansas, huh? We don’t like your laws down there.” I think that’s weirdly presumptious, but I say, “Oh, I don’t either.” It strikes me as odd, however, that the NRA guy would say that. He goes on to say that he’d just written a Letter to the Editor or something to the NYTimes about something or another in Arkansas, and he speaks with the kind of authority that leaves me a little baffled. That’s when I think, “Oh! Wayne’s a crackpot! I bet he writes a lot of letters to the NYTimes.”

At this point, my wife and I are just kind of humoring Wayne. I think he asks me what I do for a living. I say I write about movies and television, and he says, “Oh really! I recently had a meeting with ABC about doing a sitcom about my family.” And that’s when I think, “Oh shit! Wayne’s a nutter! Oh god! What have we done in moving here?”

Anyway, after a few more minutes, we say we needed to get back to unpacking, and Wayne leaves. About 20 seconds after that, a lightbulb goes off in my wife’s head. “Oh! That’s Wayne Maines!” she says. I shrug my shoulders. I have no idea who Wayne Maines is.

I know much more about him now, but mostly I know about his daughter. On Sunday night, she became television’s first trans superhero.

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Her name is Nicole Maines. She’s playing Nia Nal in Supergirl (although, at the moment, she’s mostly playing a protege to Kara Danvers). Her family has a hell of a story, and it would have made an amazing ABC sitcom. In fact, it’s encapsulated in a book called Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family. It’s about a conservative family with identical twins, Jonas and Wyatt. Early on, however, Wyatt identified as a girl, and while her mother was almost immediately accepting, it took her father a while to come around. However, when he did, he really came around, testifying in front of the Maine legislature when they tried to pass a bathroom bill, and later suing the school board in a more conservative town in northern Maine that tried to deny Nicole’s access to the girls’ bathroom. It was a seven-year legal battle, the first of its kind in the nation. They won.

It’s a spectacularly remarkable story, both about Nicole and her father, and her entire family. For me, it’s another lesson in how not to judge a book by its cover. Wayne, who moved with his family to Los Angeles a few months ago, also turned out to be one of the nicest human beings on the planet. Just truly, truly good people.



Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.



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