Gene Otto – Silence/Passing

“He always had a woman on his arm.”

My first boyfriend, long-term relationship, was with a man who was part of the Washington Water Power. He was also the head of the Elks Club. He always had a woman on his arm at the functions. You know, a “beard.” We could only see each other two days a week: Thursday nights and then at the lake house on the weekends. You played the little dance and everyone looked the other way, even though a lot of people kind of knew. That was Spokane’s way of dealing with everything. It’s not just seeing it. It’s “just don’t make me admit it.” You know, “We all know that the priest is dying of AIDS but, oh, heaven forbid, that his family should have to face the confrontation that he was getting his AIDS. From where?!” Another man. You know, it wasn’t [from] a nun! [Laughs.]

***

Sources: Interview with Susan Williams on 3 December 2006, held at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture; interview with Laura S. Hodgman on 27 November 2012.