Ann Marie Floch – Silence/Passing

“I thought I had to quit.”

When I was doing therapy, I saw some gentlemen with AIDS. I saw some pretty homophobic people. I had a good practice. I really had a lot of good people: kids, the whole gamut. I did a lot of marriage counseling. I know now that part of me not coming out, at that point, was I didn’t know if [clients] would continue with me, because I wasn’t married to a man. Therefore, how would I know what I knew [about relationships]? [Laughs.] But I never have had anything come back at me, for all of those years, which is kind of amazing.

I [also] owned a children’s center for kids [with behavioral issues]. I wondered about that too, if they would send me the children [if they had known I was a lesbian]. Probably they were so desperate that they would have. We had kids that were really out of control. [Laughs.] They were wonderful kids. Oh my God. They were just absolutely wonderful.

The other dilemma I had, with The Children’s Center, was being an ex-sister. I never saw homosexuality or lesbianism in religious life. I don’t know where I was, but I never saw it. And in those early ‘80s, right in through there, there were a lot of books published about how many nuns were lesbian, and on, and on, and on. I thought, “Oh, cripe! If they know I’m an ex-nun, and if I say I’m also lesbian on top of that, then I got another problem to deal with.”

When I was doing retreats out at Immaculate Heart, and basically having a pretty good time, [one of our sons] decided that we were no longer to be a part of his life. The group that he had been going through counseling with was the Elijah House, and they were doing quite a few things out there at Immaculate Heart. So I thought I had to quit, because I was afraid of what he could do, through Elijah House, to Immaculate Heart [if he told them I was a lesbian]. I talked to [one of the women at Immaculate Heart]. I told her exactly why I had to stop, because I valued Immaculate Heart too much for that to happen to them. They had some good things going out there. That was probably one of the hardest things. And I’ve never been back to Immaculate Heart again.

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Source: Interview with Maureen Nickerson on 13 December 2006, held at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture.