Proud Times Magazine

One Spokanite’s Perspective

One Spokanite’s Perspective

One Spokanite’s Perspective
July 29
19:19 2013

Page 82 Issue #3 Proud Times Magazine – Equality Marches On!

I was born and lived most of my life in Spokane. I served in the Navy and have lived in other areas, but I always seem to come back to the Inland Empire. I am sure I have made my last move; my partner and I are settling in nicely. Prior to entering my relationship, Spokane had been (and still is) a very lonely place to live. It is rare that anyone extends a hand to a new person or invites them into their clique. Spokane and the surrounding areas have changed little since I discovered I was gay in Jr. High School. It has a limited number of bars, a huge closeted community, and frayed “out” community. Many of the LGBT community raised here move away because they find it very hard to live “out” in the area comfortably. They run for the anonymity larger cities like Seattle or Portland provide.

While selling real estate, I learned that the Spokane Metropolitan Area has the largest number of churches per capita—more than any other metro area of the same size this side of the Mississippi. The Universalist Unitarian Church, Westminster UCC, Unity Church, One Spokane, and what is left of the Gay Metro Church are supporters of the gay community. The majority of other churches are anti-gay and anti-same sex marriage and they are not afraid to voice it. Many gay men and women living in the area wouldn’t dare to show up at a gay gathering, bar, or openly support anything gay for fear of repercussions from their church.

Spokane is a “bedroom community” of the worst kind. Many in the community are sleeping around, but would rather not have a relationship or be “out.” Some of the locals in our community live in semi-open marriages with straight women for appearances sake and status in the community. I have met, chatted with, worked with, befriended, or dated numerous men that are in loveless marriages in order to fit in the community or are staying because of their kids. I know. I used to be one of them—years ago. While they will tell you they are happy, they admit to me that they are sick and tired of the charade, but have no idea how to get out intact without losing everything, alienating their children, etc.

There is very little sense of community here, mainly because of the reasons I’ve already covered and a few more. Money or financial status plays a large factor as well. There are a lot of haves and have nots. If you’re not making $40K or more a year here, most singles will not give you a second look. In addition, most gays in the area that are out, they are in cliques and are very leery of outsiders.

I’ve found one of this area’s biggest problems arises when there is someone willing and open enough to put forth the effort and engage the community in events, they usually wind up doing most of the work to make it happen; no one else wants to offer support. Those who do these things generally do them until they burn out or simply give up.

Inland Northwest Bears is the first gay group I’ve been involved with that is solid. While there are some singles, it is easy to see with this group that their first order of business is “socialization and community support.” That is a commodity that is hard to come by. Yes, we have singles. Yes, they are on the prowl. But, the difference is that the bulk of our membership is mature and—for lack of a better way of putting it—play by the rules. They are simply happy and secure in their relationships and have no ulterior motives. It makes the group a comfortable ensemble and for that I am thankful. My partner and I are still new to the group, but we have thoroughly enjoyed each and every outing and all the folks we have met at them. We would like to attend more events, but our schedules (and the fact that we have a teenager at home) make it tough sometimes. But, we attend when we can.

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