Idaho LGBT Since Stonewall: Out in America's Conservative Mecca: 1969- 2010

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Gay in Idaho-The Short Prequel

On November 2, 1955, The Idaho Daily Statesman published an article titled THREE BOISE MEN ADMIT SEX CHARGES. The resulting furor (now known as Boys of Boise scandal or, more colloquially as just "The Boys of Boise") initially targeted pedophiles but was eventually widened to include all members of the gay community in Idaho.

Because of the scandal and the resulting moral panic, after the Stonewall riots Idaho was the same as Idaho before the riots. The gay community was quiet and withdrawn. The 1971 edition of the national "Gay Guide" said of Idaho that, "This State draws a complete blank, and chances of anything happening are very remote." Members of the GLBT community were quiet and unassuming. Gay life in the state revolved around dinner parties and other private gatherings that were spread by word of mouth.

Now 55 years later all of that has changed...

Diversity Newspaper Archive

Possibly the greatest historical resource for Idaho's LGBTQ population is the Diversity Newspaper, Idaho's only LGBT paper. Diversity is distributed throughout Idaho by The Community Center: Resources for Gay and Lesbian People (See Exhibit page below) at no charge.

Here is an online resource with some of Diversity's rich 26 year history, 1985 to present...

    Take me to the Diversity Article Archive!


1969 to 1979

Coupon for one of Boise's first all-male plays

1971 Weekly newspaper Intermountain Observer describes quiet gay scene in Boise

1976 First gay bar in Idaho, known as Shuckey’s, opens in Boise

1976 MCC congregation organized in Boise

1976 Gay women’s group called “Connections” begins meeting at YWCA

1977 Seven female employees of Boise Police Department fired on suspicion of lesbianism, which department claims was damaging to police morale; engenders protests and petition drives from Boise’s gay community, one of the first instances of open gay activism in Idaho; the women fight back with suit in federal court and win settlement

1978 “Elm Awards” (now “Les Bois Awards”) instituted to recognize achievements in the gay community; after a hiatus in the 1980s, revived in 1992

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1980 to 1989

Idaho Gay Rodeo Assn Spring Roundup 2001

1980 Imperial Sovereign Gem Court of Idaho organized (drag court)

1983 Gay community center organized in Boise (still in operation in 2009;

1984 The Community Center starts monthly gay newspaper, now called Diversity

1985 First AIDS case reported in Idaho

1986 First PFLAG chapter organized in Idaho

1986 A motion picture with explicit gay theme screened for first time in Boise; tickets sold on subscription basis in advance to guarantee its commercial viability. (The movie was “Desert Hearts”)

1988 Gay Rodeo Association of Idaho organized

1989 The building housing Idaho's first gay bar burns to the ground.

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1990 to 1999

1990 First Gay Pride rally and march in Boise

1992 Tom Spanbauer’s novel, “The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon” published by Atlantic Monthly Press; first major novel to address an Idaho gay theme

1993 First Gay Pride rally held in Moscow, Idaho

1994 “No on One” campaign organized by gay community and allies instrumental in defeating Proposition One, an anti gay initiative on statewide ballot, by slim margin

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2000 to 2010

2001 First Gay Pride festival held in Pocatello, Idaho

2003 Idaho’s “infamous crime against nature” law made obsolete by ruling of U.S. Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas

2004 Nicole LeFavour becomes first openly gay person elected to Idaho state legislature

2006 Idaho constitutional amendment passed by voters declaring marriage only to be between man and a woman

2007 Former Idaho conservative congressman Larry Craig arrested in a sting in an airport men's room. Craig did no seek reelection in 2008 and subsequently left office in 2009.

2008 Nicole Lefavour becomes the first out gay person to serve in both houses of the Idaho legislature when she wins election to the Idaho Senate.

2009 First Gay Pride Week celebrated in Twin Falls, Idaho

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Exhibit Pages


  • Video used with permission of Seth Randall, director of Fall of '55.
  • Alberson's Library Special Collection.


Contact: Ellwood Howard, <comments />