Marge Ballack – Silence/Passing

“It appeared that it was a straight group.”

I worked for the floral society. I delivered flowers when I first came to [Spokane]. There were such a huge number of gay men in that profession. They were married to straight women. The guys knew I was gay, so they were very open about it. They said they could never hurt their wives and have an affair.

Dorothy’s Group, [took its name] from “The Wizard of Oz.” Dorothy’s was a man’s group. Actually, guys and girls would go, but they would be lesbians and gay men. They would go to dances. It appeared on the outside to everyone that it was a straight group. There would [also] be straight couples that went [to the dances], so everyone was on their best behavior. When things broke up, [people] would split off to their own partners or who they wanted to be with. [They would go to dances] under pretense of being a straight-orientation couple.

Other women we know have the same sort of relationship with their gay [male] friends—gay boyfriends. We all call them “husbands.” I don’t know why. We all have “husbands.” We’re not married to them: they are just our very best friends. I think that’s being going on for years, and years, and years. That’s not anything new. It’s just something that we did. I guess there was a cover-your-butt thing going on too. If you went to a Halloween party as a couple, and he was dressed like a women and I was dressed as a man, we could get away with it. Until someone figured it out and someone got beat up.

***

We have a [female] friend who dated a woman 30-some years ago. They just recently rekindled the relationship. They are going hot and heavy. It’s just like no time had passed. [They are now 69 and 55.] There are women of that generation, who we’re aware of, who are still in the closet. They live in Hayden.

You know, they say 10 percent of the population is gay. It’s probably more like 15 percent. You have to think in those terms. Out of every community possible 15 percent of them are gay. Hayden, Post Falls . . .

***

Source: Interview with Maureen Nickerson in December 2006, held at the Northwest Museum for Arts and Culture.