Deena Romoff – Silence/Passing

“People have been afraid in Spokane.”

People have been afraid in Spokane. [Homosexuality] was all underground. A lot of it. So, if you worked with somebody who was a lesbian, you didn’t know. You just never really knew, because nobody talked about it very much. I can’t see compartmentalizing my life. It’s like, wherever I am, I bring myself with me. But a lot of people, they go to work and they’re one thing. They have this happening over here, and there another. They go to work and nobody knows they’re a lesbian. Nobody knows anything about your life.

I know people that don’t go [to the Pride march] because they’re fearful. Still. I have a friend. She’s a doctor. She went, and she goes to work Monday morning, and there’s a picture [in the newspaper], but there she is in the background. She just was insane that she would be seen with all these queer people. She never went again. My thing is: “You’re there. It doesn’t mean you’re a lesbian. It means you’re supportive.” But she has never gone again.

When I met [my past partner] she was very, very closeted, had lived with a woman for a few years, and had come to Spokane to go to school. Every day, the beds got moved apart. At night the beds got moved together. It happened to be a college area, so they could be housemates. One of them was involved in sports a lot. You can hide behind [being a jock]. She was fearful of being rejected by her parents. She didn’t know a lot about it herself. She knew she was a lesbian, but how do you live as a lesbian, and not just live as a nothing? I think you hear, from a lot of lesbians, “Well, I thought I’d just be a nun,” or “be single,” or “It’s only something that happens inside of me.” I think one of the attractions to me was that I was out. We were going to go visit her parents that first year, and I said that I wouldn’t go unless she came out to her parents. That was an option: that I’d stay home. “You want me to be a housemate? I’ll be a housemate, and you can tell them [that]. But if I’m going to go, I’m not going to be that person. Or if they come here, I’m not going to de-dyke the house.”

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Source: Interview with Laura S. Hodgman on 20 March 2013.