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"Lesbian and gay people are the only people on Earth who have to find their tribe. We aren't born into it. You have to have a place to go find the tribe. And so you will start with the most obvious place."—Phyllis Burke, in the documentary film The Castro

For gay men and women in Boise, there was no "obvious place" in their own hometown until the summer of 1976, when a group of local businessmen, with the help of friends and family, turned a corner of an old hotel into that place: Boise's first gay bar. The hotel, known as the Mitchell, was perhaps an unlikely venue, but it was there that Boise's gay people began building a public community. It was there that gay men and women, many just starting to come to grips with their orientation, found their tribe.

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This document was originally published in Boise @ One Five Zero: Essays and Poems from the City of Trees by The Donning Company Publishers.

Virta, Alan. (2013). Finding Community in the Mitchell Hotel. In Shields Marti, M. (Edited and compiled for the Boise City Department of Arts & History), Boise @ One Five Zero: Essays and Poems from the City of Trees (pp. 65-68). Virginia Beach, VA: The Donning Company Publishers.

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