Lenard Mace – Silence/Passing

“I walked a very thin line.”

I don’t even remember what all we did [in the Dorian Group], but we were political, we thought. Back then it was really hard. Most of us were still—not necessarily closeted—but still kind of walking with a foot on both sides of the fence, because of jobs and things. We had to be careful. In fact, it was a fellow member of the Dorian Group . . . He was manic-depressive, and when he would go into one of his depressive side . . . At one point, he decided it would be great fun to “out” all of us to our employers. And we had school teachers: people who were in professions that just had to be really careful. He did this by an anonymous letter, typewritten. Two of the people, their employers had received this letter. We figured out that he was going in order. He had started with the president of the group and the vice president. All of us who were on the executive board knew when our turn was coming.

I took the bull by the horns. I went in to my boss and said “Okay, you’re probably going to be receiving this letter” and, in essence, came out to her. She said, “Well, let me tell you, if I get something like that it will go right there in the trash can, because your sexuality has nothing to do with your job.” I almost fainted at the time. I was working for the State of Washington, Department of Social and Health Services, Division of Developmental Disabilities, with a highly vulnerable population, so I was being extremely careful. I was also a single parent. I walked a very thin line for a long, long time.

It was a horrible, horrible feeling. I was in far less jeopardy than some of these folks. I think that certainly added to the demise of that organization. After he did that, [this person] just sort of quietly disappeared. Nobody ever heard from him. I don’t know if he’s alive, or dead, or living somewhere else, or what.

***

Source: Interview with Maureen Nickerson and Katya M., 2007; held in the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture.