Larry Stone – Discrimination

“His face was contorted with rage.”

[There was an incident where some women were roughed up at a Spokane Chiefs game]. I think it was reported in the Spokesman Review. There was two women together and they were presumed to be lesbian by some audience members. You know, in a sense might not have been, but it was a judgment made. They were pushed, as I remember. Do you remember the old coliseum? It was a ramp: the way you went from the first floor to the second floor to get to the seats . . . You went up a ramp. I remember them being pushed and harassed as they went down that. The Chiefs were a very macho thing back then. [It was a] pretty awful experience to go to the Chiefs anyway, even for a nice heterosexual man or a nice heterosexual woman. It was a bad experience. There was swearing and . . . It was a very sad thing. Very, very.[1]

I think it was very scary, but also I think the Chiefs . . . It’s a beautiful experience now. It’s very civilized. You know, your feeling would be, “This could never happen again,” because it’s not the macho atmosphere of drinking, and men, and “fuck you” and all that kind of stuff. If you get in a fight on the hockey rink now, you’re kicked out for like three games. They really punish people.

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The first person I went out with was a[n] Asian. You know, Spokane doesn’t have a lot of racial minorities. I don’t think there was any [racial] divide [in the gay community] because . . . I would see Black people, and Asians. The few minorities that there were, you’d see. I don’t know. I wasn’t aware of [racial discrimination] if there was. But I think for a lot of black people it’s harder to be out. Their community is not as accepting. Isn’t that odd? The irony.

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[In the early 1990s] people were very aware that there was homosexuals everywhere, because of AIDS. There was many good things as a consequence of AIDS. One of the good things was [straight people] realized we existed. One of the bad things is they realized we existed and they would find places to go beat people up. People got terribly beaten up. If you look at the early issues of Stonewall, you’ll see it, articles on that.

I wasn’t in a position where I would get very much [hassle]. But, [around 1992 or 1993] there was a wonderful young man—he was a black man—a beautiful singer. His voice was fabulous. And he got beat up! He was effeminate and he was down in People’s Park at like midnight. You know, not a smart thing to do. He got beat up horribly, just horribly. People would come in—I remember them coming in to Dempsey’s—and just yelling, “You faggots!” There was some terrible things happening. So, it was very good that Stonewall could report that.

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Our first and second gay Pride parade, it was just scary the people that were there! I remember a guy screaming at us. I wished I’d had a video because his eyes were bugged out. He was screaming [loudly]: “You God damn faggots! You God damn faggots!” He was just yelling at the top of his lungs as we walked by. I remember looking at him and his eyes were bugged out. He was obviously not a very stable person. His wife was trying to hold him back—I remember that. He was just saying the most vile things, “You God damn faggots!” He said it in the most vile way, and his face was contorted with rage, and his eyes were bugged out. I’ve wished many times that I could’ve had a video to record that because it was unbelievable. It was pretty bad. There was a lot of that going on at the time the Stonewall [first] came out. We had a lot to report on locally. You’ll see that if you look at the early issues.

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I had some terrible experiences [at the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1987]. My friend from Seattle and I were walking down a street in the evening. We’d just eaten dinner. And a car of four people, four men, yelled, “You God damned faggots!” They pulled their car over and scared me beyond belief. It was a busy street and I’m a pretty tall person, and I think they just thought, “It’s not worth [it].” But they pulled over with the intent to get us. Then while we were in the march itself, a car pulled up right next to us. We’re marching by the White House. Back then you could drive your car right by the White House. Now, of course, all the streets are closed off. The car pulls right up to us and says, “You God damned faggots!” He just yelled that out of his window. There was lots of protestors there. But the one that really scared me was [the one] at night walking when they said, “You fucking faggots,” or whatever it was, and really scared me. Because we wearing . . . [laughs] as gay as you could imagine . . . and all these buttons from all these different gay organizations. I had a pink sweatshirt on that I’d bought at the gay march. I was just covered with gay stuff. I mean, there was no doubt that we were gay. We were really out there. I was enjoying being liberated. Boy, that really brought me back to reality.

[1]The May 1992 issue of Stonewall reported that about 10 young men had attacked four women .

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Source: Interview with Maureen Nickerson on 8 May 2007; held in the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture. Transcribed by J. Zander; edited by Laura S. Hodgman