Willow Williams – Spokane in Perspective

“We’re thinking about moving here.”

We like small towns. We’re small town girls, really. I mean, we’re kind of rural. We like to put our clothes out on the line to dry. We like to put up fruit and make jam. We like to have neighbors to be friends with. If we could’ve found a way to make a living that didn’t require us to take our hearts out and put it in the glove compartment on the way to work every day, we probably would’ve stayed [in small towns].

I think a lot of [being closeted] was us. I mean, part of it was moving to the Bay Area and just deciding we’re going to come out. We’re done being in the closet. That allows us to come back here, and we’re still done being in the closet. It’s not like this is a small town, but it’s a lot smaller than the Bay Area. We could’ve moved to Seattle instead.

In fact, I think we’ve been more out of the closet here than we were in California—just because in California we were out of the closet, but we didn’t have a really huge exposure: there’s anonymity of being in a big town. Whereas here, being as out as we’ve been here, being in the paper so much—there’s people I don’t even know that know that I’m gay. And there’s people that I wouldn’t expect to acknowledge me, that do. Like the teller at the bank.

Even when we were coming to Spokane to check it out before we moved here . . . We were staying in hotels. Every time we would go in and check in, we’d be saying, “Yeah, we’re thinking about moving here, because we want to have kids.” It was very obvious that we were a couple. And we were going to all of these open houses—like 50 open houses in a weekend—and telling everybody that same story. Out of maybe 400 people that we told, one person had any kind of . . . anything.

She didn’t even say anything bad. It was just, you could feel that she was not real happy about it. But she didn’t really say anything.

This town has a real conservative reputation. And yet, I don’t have any experience of that reputation affecting me.

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Source: Interview with Maureen Nickerson, 15 August 2007; transcribed by J. Zander; edited by Laura S. Hodgman. Audio file held in the Museum of Arts and Culture.