Looking back, looking forward

Much has changed, much hasn’t, since 1994 documentary about LGBTQ people on the Palouse

A lot has changed since Kathy Sprague participated in a documentary about LGBTQ people on the Palouse nearly 30 years ago.

And a lot hasn’t.

The lifetime Moscow resident, who co-owns the comic book shop Safari Pearl with her wife, Tabitha Simmons, will join others who appeared in the 1994 film “Out in the Middle of Nowhere” for a screening and discussion at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 31, at Moscow Brewing Co., 630 N. Almon St., No. 130.
Looking back, looking forward

The event, part of the Latah County Historical Society’s Queer History Project, is one of a series of programs funded by an Idaho Humanities Council grant. It is presented with Inland Oasis, a Moscow nonprofit that provides support to LGBTQ people.

The 20-minute documentary is “just kind of a really quick glimpse into their lives as being queer in a society that really hadn’t accepted it yet,” Latah County Historical Society Executive Director Hayley Noble said.

Coming out in the ’80s in Moscow wasn’t easy, Sprague said. “A whole lot of us dropped out (of school),” she said. “There was no built-in support for us. There was no administrative support. There was no club. We were pretty much on our own.”

Being out, even in rural communities, doesn’t carry the stigma with the general population it once did, she said. Gay marriage was legalized in Idaho in 2014. But the Legislature had LGBTQ people in its sights this past session, voting to ban gender-affirming care for trans youth and attempting to criminalize drag performances in public places.
Sprague and Simmons are co-founders of TabiKat productions, which has been bringing drag performances to the Palouse since 1995.

“They’re trying to roll back the clock, and they think they can outlaw us,” Sprague said. “But we will always exist, and that’s the problem with this sort of legislation.”

She and others who appeared in “Out in the Middle of Nowhere” will reflect on their participation in the film after the screening, followed by a brief presentation about the history of drag on the Palouse.

Sprague said she’ll reflect on the issues then, and now.

“It’s just such a weird issue to still be grappling with,” she said. “Although honestly when we made the documentary, I did not see the day when we could be legally married.”

Stone (she/her) can be reached at mstone@inland360.com.