The Idaho state capitol lit up in rainbow colors for Boise Pride Fest.

Editor’s Note: This post is by Micah Hetherington, a graduate student in public history at Boise State University. Micah is one of the panelists at “Half the Story: LGBTQ+ People in the Pacific Northwest.” This lightning round session at the AASLH 2023 Annual Conference will be held at 8:15 a.m. on Thursday, September 7. The panelists at this session will discuss their professional experience working to document, preserve, and promote local LGBTQ+ history in Idaho and Washington. Micah lists inclusive spaces in downtown Boise. In addition to what’s listed, the Boise Pride Fest will be taking place during the conference on September 8-10 at Cecil D. Andrus Park, which is next to the state capitol.

By Micah Hetherington

Boise, Idaho is my home. I grew up surrounded by natural beauty–summers spent camping in McCall, Idaho, and rafting down the Boise River, winters skiing at Bogus Basin. Living in the blue-leaning capital city of a red state had its benefits. I easily accessed cultural institutions, human rights groups, and educational information. I began working in the museum field in 2018 and, in 2022, I started my master’s in public history at Boise State University. Studying Idaho’s LGBTQ+ history and how people like me are, and have always been, a part of the fabric of our nation gives me reprieve.

I also regularly feel alienated by Idaho’s politics. I am a queer, white, trans man working in the museum field and actively researching local LGBTQ+ history, so suffice to say my identity and interests don’t reflect the dominant conservative values of Idaho. While I understand and resonate with apprehensions to visiting Idaho, homogenizing the Gem State as a pillar of inequality fails to see the people, past and present, who put in work to include and celebrate Idahoans from all walks of life.

Idaho has an unfortunate legacy of Aryan Nations, the Boys of Boise “homosexual witch hunt,” and recent conservative pushes echoing national sentiments toward controlling peoples’ bodies and censoring education. These parts to Idaho should not be locked in a vacuum; with each push towards hatred, there are people who push back. People like Cherie Buckner-Webb, Marilyn Shuler, and Cole LeFavour contributed extensively to protect the human rights of all Idahoans, and their legacies deserve recognition. Current groups such as Add The Words, Idaho, Indigenous Idaho Alliance, Idaho Immigrant Resource Alliance, and the Anti-Racism Collective advocate for marginalized Idahoans to have space in Boise and Idaho’s communities.

Malicious ignorance and hatred have no place in Idaho. The people who continue to fight for human rights within our state should be acknowledged for the work they put in to keep Idaho a space for everyone.

What are some local resources to check out during the AASLH 2023 Annual Conference? There are wonderful inclusive spaces in downtown Boise while you’re visiting, such as:

Flying M Coffee
500 W Idaho Street, #100
Boise, ID 83702

Rediscovered Books
180 N. 8th Street
Boise, ID 83702

The Record Exchange
1105 W Idaho Street
Boise, ID 83702

Broadcast Coffee
1100 W Idaho Street, Suite 105
Boise, ID 83702

Water Bear Bar
350 N 9th Street, Suite 100
Boise, ID 83702

Meriwether Cider Company
224 N 9th Street
Boise, ID 83702

Photos courtesy Micah Hetherington