A lot of the gays [in the Army] got married, a marriage of convenience. Because the military, they think, “Oh, she’s married, so she can’t be gay.” Some of the [husbands] were straight, but a lot of them were gay guys. They’d get married for convenience. Some of them lived together and some of them chose to live in the barracks—because it was so expensive to live off post in Germany.
I got married, but my husband was as gay as I am. I was in the army, but he was a civilian. He had his master’s in speech pathology. He lives in California. We are real friends. When he finished getting his degree from Loyola State University in Indiana he moved to California. Well, he went there for an interview and they were really concerned why he was 36 years old and never married. And in California! I couldn’t believe it. So, I was only kidding: I said, “We can get married.” He said, “Linda, that’s a good idea.” So we got married. It helped me because, when I was in the military, if you were married you couldn’t be gay.
I think women are coming out more now than they did when I [first] came here. There were a lot of closeted people. There is still a lot of closeted people [in Spokane]. I’d say there are more closeted women then there are gay men. I think they are just afraid to come out. Afraid their families won’t love them anymore. That’s like living in a prison. I mean, when I meet new people and stuff, I don’t go around telling people. If they ask, I’m not going to lie. I’m going to say, “Why yes, I am gay.” I didn’t feel the need that I have to tell somebody. But I remember being in the closet from when I was in the military.
Most black gay men are closeted, because their culture is about being with women. So they are closeted because of the manliness and that stuff. I’ve only met three gay black men through the years. There is just not a big black community here. Byron, he was a drag queen. And then there was . . . I can’t think of his name, but he used to come to church. There are probably a lot more black men that go to the bar now, but I don’t know that, because I don’t go to the bars that often.
Source: Interview with Maureen Nickerson, 22 November 2006; held in the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture.