Ted Clark – Activism

“They wouldn’t print the word ‘lesbian.’”

There was a period of time, when some of these activities were first started, that  [the Spokesman Review] wouldn’t print the word “lesbian.” Even [in the mid-1980s], the first time we wanted to advertise a meeting for Parents and Friends [PFLAG], they wouldn’t print the word “lesbian.” Having PFLAG, from a city-wide standpoint, was probably a very significant event. It was a very good political influence to have to have legislators and various political or public figures deal with not the gay son or daughter, but mom and dad. That was a whole different impact, when they had to start dealing with families, and brothers and sisters, and recognize the breadth of societal impact. They say maybe 10 percent of the population is going to be gay. But if you take that 10 percent and include the immediate family, you’ve got 25 to 35 percent of the population. And that’s a whole different issue. I think, in the ‘80s, PFLAG was a major influence in Spokane. I think they did a lot to educate. During that period of time not only did the paper decide that they could print the word “lesbian,” but they did several, over the years, large articles on PFLAG parents, and their activities, and featuring the families.[1]

When I was a teacher and certainly after I moved into administration, I really had no problem [participating] either with Dorian [Group] or PFLAG, because there was always the posture, you know, “This is not like a gay activity. This is a business group. This is parents and friends.” I just didn’t take the leadership role, or maybe the public role, with them. There was that little bit of caution. If it ever got to a major issue, it’s like, “Well, excuse me. A lot of the people here are not gay. We may be discussing gay issues, but there is a cross section of people in the community.” If anything was ever brought into my teaching world, I would say, “Well, that’s correct I was at that meeting, but . . . da, da, da, da, da.”


[1]Rebecca Nappi interviewed Katie Urbanek for the article, “’My Son is Gay, and I Love Him: Parents Unite Behind Children,” Spokane Chronicle, 27 June 1985.


Sources: Interview with Susan Williams on 3 December 2006, held at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture; interviews with Laura S. Hodgman on 30 November 2012 and on 27 February 2014.