Paul Tiesse – Activism

“You have to have people with different ideas.”

I think one reason that I’ve gotten involved with so many nonprofits, not just SAN, was because when you’re educated by Franciscans and Jesuits, you’re taught to give back to your community. That’s why I’ve always been very involved in volunteering for different organizations.

I think maybe at one time [I considered myself an activist], but not now. I’m trying to lay off. When I was more involved with SAN, I was president of the Board. I was probably more of an activist then for that. When we had issues, like “No on Discrimination” in ’99, we went to the city council.[1] We were involved in that. I would be an activist [then], maybe.

In terms of marriage equality, I didn’t really get that involved in it, just because, for one thing, I figured it was going to pass. Whenever King County, Snohomish, and Pierce votes, the rest of the state could vote “no.” Those three counties vote “yes,” it’s going to pass. I wasn’t really concerned. Anyway, the thing is, for our generation marriage isn’t a big issue, because we didn’t grow up that way. I think some people are making the mistake of getting married just for the sake of being married, because we can get married. I think we’ll really see when the divorces start . . .

I’m not on any boards right now, for the first time in probably 20 years. You know, it’s time for somebody else to take over, because you have to have people with different ideas. They can’t use the same old ideas. Back in the day when we did Friend [to] Friend—[and HIV] prevention program at SAN—I wrote shows that we produced at the Bing [Crosby Theater]. It was the Met[tropolitan Performing Arts Center] back then. That would be my artistic side: to be able to write. We did vignettes of different things. I was really heavily involved with SAN back then, delivering food. Now all I do is I work on [SAN’s] auction for the Oscar Gala and I answer the phones every other Thursday. It’s time for other people to pick-up the load and to bring in new ideas, because that world is completely changing with Obama Care and everything else. It’s completely changing. Plus the disease has completely changed. They need to bring in different people. With the politics in the state of Washington, there is really nothing left to do politically, in terms of rights. Obviously, there’s still is federally, but we’re just one state. I’m not going to get involved in that.

With Spokane, it seems like it’s the same people to do everything. Even now in this day and age, it’s the same people. You go down to Pride. You see people down there and you go, “Who the hell are these people?” You never see them any other time. That’s always kind of pissed me off, that a certain core group has to do everything. To get equal rights, you have to do this, and this, and this. You’re benefiting from it! I mean, you can now get married, you won’t be fired because you’re gay. You didn’t do anything to help! You just sat at home, watched TV, and we had to do it. That’s one thing that always kind of irks me a little bit—not that I’m the savior, [not] that I did everything. But I was involved quite a bit. I always feel like other people should get involved also. It’s always the same people.

This could be true of any group though. When you have that core group, it’s hard to break into it. A lot of times, “you’re doing it my way, or you’re not doing it at all. And if we aren’t doing it at all, then I’m going to leave and take my toys with me.” You see a lot of that, I think. That could be true of any situation.


[1]“No on Discrimination” refers to the campaign that prevented the repeal of a Spokane city ordinance banning discrimination against LGB individuals.


Source: Interview with Laura S. Hodgman on 15 November 2013.