Idaho native Diane Anderson-Minshall is the executive editor of Curve, the nation's best-selling lesbian magazine with a circulation of 68,500. Though she grew up in Payette, she now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her transgendered female-to-male spouse, Jake Anderson-Minshall, a syndicated columnist, who was raised in Inkom. Both of them make regular visits to Idaho. BW caught up with Anderson-Minshall at her office as she prepared to return to Idaho to deliver the keynote speech at Boise's 2006 Gay Pride Rally Saturday, June 10.
That must have been some kind of culture shock when you moved to San Francisco from Idaho. When did you move there?
We moved here in 1993. We actually met in 1990 at Gay Pride, right there on the capitol steps. From there we moved to New Orleans, where I was freelancing and he [Jake] was finishing his education, and from there we went to San Francisco. We started our own magazine called Girlfriends. I left in 1999 and Jake and I decided to do a six-month sabbatical in Boise. That was culture shock, actually. After that, we came back to the Bay Area and I started Alice magazine. I sold that and then joined Curve as a contributing editor and writer, and two years ago, I took over as executive editor.
Did you go to school here in Idaho?
Yes, but I actually had an "it takes a village" kind of education. I went to five universities. I think it's a good, balanced way to get an education. I first started out in journalism when I was 13, stringing for a local Payette newspaper. The summer before college, I was working for our sister paper, The Argus Observer in Ontario, Oregon. During that time, I became the lifestyle editor and [was] having so much fun that I thought, "Maybe I shouldn't bother with college. I'm already in a position I want." And the woman who was my mentor at the paper took me aside and asked, "Would you ever like to make more than $12,000 a year?" I told her I would and she said, "Then I suggest you don't stay in the newspaper business without getting more experience and education."
Sounds like a good piece of advice.
Yeah, but then I followed it by going into lesbian publishing, which pays about the same (laughs).
Have you ever spoken at a PRIDE event here in Boise before?
This is the first time. It's actually kind of funny: I've been asked by other places and I always tell them I'm holding out for Boise to ask me.
Curve is such a well-known cultural icon in the lesbian community. How do people react when you tell them you're from Idaho?
There are tons of misconceptions out there about Idaho. People will assume, "Oh you poor thing, well, of course you're here." Some of that is right. I do feel like a little bit of a coward not being in Idaho, not being one of those people on the front lines fighting these amendments or fighting [for] these causes and pushing forward. At the same time, I'm here because I do love to do what I do and it's hard to do it in Idaho. It gives me an interesting perspective though. It pushes me to remember that not everybody is on the coast, not everybody is in a giant city and has the same access we have to entertainment and culture so I have to think about what those women want as well.
Have you thought about what you're going to talk about in your speech?
I've been having terrible insomnia. Last week I had one night where I had TIVO'd 14 episodes of The Surreal Life, so instead of sleeping I watched all 14 episodes in a row. Somewhere around episode 12, Florence Henderson said something remarkable and I had an epiphany. I thought, "That's my speech right there!" But I didn't want to get up and go to the computer, so I just took a tablet and, in the dark, I scribbled notes so I could remember them the next day. But when I looked at them the next day, I couldn't even read a word. Sentences were actually written vertically. So, basically, I have no idea (laughs).
How long has Jake been transgendered?
He transitioned last year. We actually renewed our vows in March, so now I say "my husband." I married him originally when he was still a woman. We had four ceremonies along the way, because every time domestic partnership laws would change, we had ceremonies at each of those. Then, we had this big wedding after he transitioned. So I've married him as a woman and as a man.
How does the lesbian community react to you now having a husband?
It's weird. I think the lesbian community has actually been quicker to accept it than I have. After he started transitioning, we immediately changed his name and his pronouns and he had surgery relatively early. But, for the first three months, I myself would overcorrect everybody. I would give way to much information. At the store, someone might say, "Oh, your blouse looks nice," and I would say, "Oh, it was a gift from my husband. But I'm a lesbian. I've always been a lesbian. We've been together 16 years. He was a woman before." So, for like three months I was like, "What am I going to have to do, wear a T-shirt?" Now, I don't have to explain it. I'm OK with being mistaken for a straight girl occasionally. And lesbians have very complex perspectives. We have a great need to recognize the need not to get lost in another movement, but to also understand our communities [lesbian and transgender] are greatly overlapping.
It seems as though female-to-male is rarer than male-to-female?
It is. It's a fledgling community as well. It's like coming out in the '60s. They're coming out without a big breadth of academic work about them. It's been a strange transition for Jake as well. We used to call ourselves the Last Old School Dykes.
Had you guys talked in the past about Jake transitioning?
We knew people who had gone through it and would say things to each other like, "Thank God neither one of us wants to go through that." And then, when it first started, I could see the wheels turning and things changing for him. He was immersed in trans literature and was really listening to himself, so I could really see the wheels turning. I sort of knew it was coming, so when he brought it up, I had already had time to process it.