Dean Speaking On:
I’d Like You to Know
Identity and Awareness
Mentoring and Support
Spirituality and Religion
Spokane in Perspective
I think that one of the things about a community the size of Spokane is that it becomes a magnet. It draws people from the areas surrounding who come here. Many of those people are ones who have ambition, expertise, and skills. They form together and magic happens. You can be a big fish in a small pond in Spokane, whereas, if I lived in Seattle, I never would’ve been appointed to the Seattle City Council. It just wouldn’t have happened. In Spokane, it’s small enough and my involvement in the community [is such], that it could happen.
Central and Eastern Washington sort of have a bit of a chip on our shoulders. We all know that Interstate 90 goes both ways, but the belief is that people on the west side think it only goes one direction: it’s westbound. There’s no such thing as Interstate 90 going east. That’s an exaggeration, but that is a perception that’s out there. When you feel—if not attacked or ignored—sometimes you become dependent upon yourselves.
I think Spokane is that right size city that has led in other arenas. I think [it led] in the ‘80s with the LGBT community, in the ‘80s with children’s services, in the ‘70s with momentum and Expo ’74. You have groups of people coming together and, for whatever reason, making magic. Part of that is just coincidence. But part of it, I think, it happens because you all have something in common.
I go back and look at the gay men and lesbians who were involved in the mid-‘80s with the political arena. Some of them are very strong Republicans and have very different attitudes about fiscal issues than I might. Yet we were all able to come together because we had a common cause we were fighting for, or against, however one wants to look at that. And made it happen.
The thing that jumps out most [about my experience at the 1993 March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay, and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation] is associated with the subways. You get on the subway, or getting off the subway, and everybody is a brother or sister. [That] is just a very powerful, affirming message. I felt that many, many times. I also went back for Barack Obama’s inauguration. And it was the same feeling: that you could strike up a conversation with anybody regardless of size, shape, age, color, because we were all there for the same thing. We had the same values—not 100 percent, but we were all “this” focused. Just recalling that gives me the goose bumps on my arms, because it was such a positive, affirming feeling!
That was the thing about going back for the march. Seeing that many like-minded people. Hearing the speeches. Just being in that highly-charged environment. Then bringing back to Spokane whatever bit of ephemera I could grab a hold of, to bring back. And take it to Spokane AIDS Network, at the time. There was some stuff that went to work. Just bring it back. Just letting people see it, experience it, and share in it.
Sources: Two interviews with Maureen Nickerson [c. 2007]; transcribed by K. M. and Laura S. Hodgman; edited by Maureen Nickerson and Laura S. Hodgman; held in the Northwest Museum for Arts and Culture. Interviews with Laura S. Hodgman on 25 July 2013 and 12 September 2013.