By the time I got to Spokane, I was over the clubs. So, unfortunately, the way I had to start figuring out where the community was, I had to go on-line . . . No, I didn’t even go on-line! I had to find where the clubs were. You know, I think that it was through . . . it had to be through the [INBA] business directory. I had to look for clubs and bars. It’s like, “So, what do I do? Where do I go?” But, yeah, I’ll tell you, I walked in to two of them. I can’t even remember the first one—I can’t remember the name. The second one I walked into was Dempsey’s [Brass Rail].
I walked into Dempsey’s and it was like, “It’s no different.” Basically, it’s no different than being in L.A. It’s a small club, it’s not [gay] specific, but there’s the dancing, there’s the cruising, there’s the this. I went in there, had a couple beers, and I left. I thought, “Okay, that’s not for me.” [The bars are] the most visible part of [the community]. Once you establish yourself, or start meeting some friends, you find other ways to do things socially. A lot of times that means you go to a restaurant and go to a bar, but the bar is not the main thing. You are doing it as a group. Doing it another way. And it’s the same thing in L.A.
In L.A. you can open the newspaper and say, “Oh. Well, here’s my group: guys between this age, that like to go . . . backpacking,” or kayaking, or whatever . . . “an outdoor group.” It’s like, “This is what I really like to do. So this is what I’m going to try.” We don’t have that here. We really don’t. I mean, we have people that like to do things in groups, but we don’t have that organized. You know, actually: I’m going to take that back. We’ve had a few. There was a group of guys that got together to do things like bowling, and volleyball, and things like that. But it was guy specific.
I’m sure that the lesbians have their own groups and things. I don’t really know much about their community. And it’s funny because when groups of us—you know, groups of men—get together and we start talking about the community . . . If the subject of the lesbian community comes up it’s like, “Yeah. What do they do? Where are they? I hear they have these huge dances, but you never see them. You never hear about them.” It’s very much an underground community from what I understand. [Confused.]
I think the younger generation that’s coming up is going to break that [gender segregation in the LGBT community]—especially when you stop identifying yourself as “gay” or “lesbian” and you just start identifying as “queer.” Or whatever word—but “queer” seems to be the word that’s being embraced. There will be less and less of that segregation.
This past Friday was First Night Out, so we went to Studio One where they were going to have an art show. One of the artists [was] a lesbian photographer. Studio One is one of our clients. So Paul [Tiesse], my partner, and I decided to go and show our support. We went to say “Hello.” It was weird, because there was the salon and the part where the art was: it was all women on that side. On the other side of the salon was some straight people, some gay people, just kind of mingling. People that knew each other [and were] just talking. But all the women stayed in one area, and it was like, “God, do I even dare go back there?” It was really interesting.
Well, what it does is show that we are a community though. It shows the diversity, it shows how different we are. I think it’s an important part. . . . For example, a lot of people lump the Asian community as, “Oh, well, they’re all the same.” And I’m like, “Oh, I don’t think so.” You are going to find that the Filipinos don’t like the Japanese. The Chinese don’t like the Japanese. The Koreans don’t like the Japanese. Well, the Japanese love nobody, except the Japanese. [Laughs.] I mean, there is all this back and forth [among Asian peoples], and [other] people are just amazed. And I’m like, “Look at Europe! Look at all the different countries that are there. The Finns don’t like the Swedes; the Swedes don’t like Danes.” Nobody likes the French. People don’t like the Germans. Nobody likes the English, but then some people [do] like the English. And the Italians . . . You know, it’s the same thing. I think it’s important to show that: people in their complexity as individuals, as well as communities.
Source: Interview with Maureen Nickerson, December 2006, held at the Northwest Museum for Arts and Culture.