Conclusion: In Memoriam


Transvestia's memorial for Annette, Dec. 1971. Courtesy of University of Victoria Libraries.

Conclusion: In Memoriam


Nine months after this 1970 gathering, Annette died unexpectedly of a heart attack. She was thirty-five years old at the time, and the news struck at the hearts of the women of Transvestia, who valued her as a “pioneer of the movement” and a dear friend. Marilyn, Maureen, and Virginia wrote eulogies in a 1971 issue of Transvestia. When I came across these eulogies, I felt shocked; there was a strange feeling as if I had also just lost someone close to me. “It was good to have known Sheldon,” Virginia wrote. “His life reached far beyond the circle of his loved ones to touch others like me. Though he lived out his life in the body of a man there was also the spirit of a gentle kindly woman living there in the home on the hill -- and this is the person I really knew.”[1] (Annette’s eulogy in Transvestia can be found here, starting on page 26.)


At the beginning of this project, I was growing rather demoralized in my search for archival evidence of trans and queer life in Idaho, as all of the mentions I could find of same-sex intimacy and gender deviance in the small-town newspapers I was combing through were disavowals. This was all too similar to the reality I know in the twenty-first century, having grown up in a small, conservative rural Idaho town as a young queer person seeking representation. I knew that queer and trans people existed in Idaho, and their absence in the archives was a silence that was screaming at me. After I found Annette, I became engrossed in her story and eager to piece together evidence of a life that was likely completely unknown to most people who knew, worked with, or encountered “Sheldon.” 


Through the writing that exists in Transvestia from and about Annette and her life in Idaho, the reader is transported back in time to a pivotal moment in LGBTQ+ history in Idaho. We are granted rare access to first-person narratives of and by the people who were living it. Queer and trans people have existed, are existing, and will continue to exist, everywhere. The rural towns of Idaho are no exception to this, despite the illusion of a “silent majority” whose fidelity to conservative politics, heteronormativity, and the nuclear family supposedly own the rural landscape. Because the visibility, accessibility, density, and diversity associated with metropolitan spaces often lend themselves to LGBTQ+ cultural production and community-building, and have in turn generated landmark moments in the fight for gay and trans liberation, queer rural experiences and the unique political space they occupy can often be overlooked when we conceptualize queer life. Furthermore, conservative political ideologies which often occupy under-served and rural working communities, have generated a reality in which queer history in these places has either not been documented or has been erased. Today, numerous scholars, such as Peter Boag and John Howard, have written extensively about rural queer histories, and there are a number of important projects doing work to preserve and document contemporary queer life across the rural United States; a few of which are Out in the Open, a grassroots community organizing movement for queer people on the east coast; Mount Island, a publication that amplifies the work and writing of queer and POC rural people; and Country Queers, an oral history project documenting the stories and experiences of small town and country LQBTQ+ folks.[2] For people who inhabit queer identities, especially those that intersect with BIPOC identities, these stories are more important now than ever, as uncovering and making visible evidence of these lives is dangerous to the political project underway in Idaho and states like it, which seek to banish trans people from the public eye.


My final words are Maureen’s: “Idaho was Beautiful to Me because Annette Lived There. On winter evenings I would get out my flying maps and go over the route I would take in the plane when, come May, I would once again go there. Her house on the scenic hill was like a beacon in the dark.”[3]

[1] Transvestia, Dec. 1971.

[2] Out in the Open, “About Us: Out in the Open”,; Mount Island, “About”,; Country Queers, “Who We Are”,

[3] Transvestia, Dec. 1971, 29.