I was innocently walking down John Street towards Broadway recently, freshly fagaliscious and eager to catch the insane queens of Cucci’s Critter Barn at Kremwerk (you know, next door to Re-Bar,) when I encountered three very large and unhappy looking gentlemen who were giving me some serious stink-eye.
As I passed them (feeling fabulous and clearly minding my own god damn business,) they were suddenly overwhelmed with an urgent and rather alarming compulsion to greet me with a friendly howdy-do:
“FUCK YOU, FAGGOT!
“Fuck you, faggot”? Honestly! How gauche. Why, I’d even left my pink feather boa and rainbow stilettos at home…
As I marveled at the three big, grumpy looking gentlemen’s remarkable powers of perception and casually but quickly crossed the street, I reflected most reflectively, indeed:
“Good heavens!”, I reflectively reflected (indeed). “Nobody has barked, ‘FUCK YOU, FAGGOT!’ at poor little ole moi since Methuselah was crapping his Pampers!”
And thank heavens for that. Not being abused on the streets of Capitol Hill these days is on par with winning the Irish lottery. In Sweden. Without buying a ticket.
I personally know—tangentially or closely—nine individuals who have been attacked on Capitol Hill since 2013. NINE.
There has always been a particular amount of such foolishness that we Hill ‘mos have had to endure, of course (keep your eye out for my thrilling expose: “Gay Ghettos—A Blessing and a Curse?”). But as we all also know, this fag-bashy nonsense has become utterly impossible to shrug off, cope with, or politely ignore.
And then this happened:
I was innocently walking my extra-large bottle of “daily red” home from the grocery store as usual (doctor’s orders) when my innocent little eyeballs were violently accosted by a sign stapled to an electrical post. It read:
“It is with mixed emotions that we announce that Seattle Area Support Groups & Community Center (SASG) will be losing its lease at 303 17th Ave E and is currently reviewing multiple options for purchase/lease of a new location…with the rapid growth and new development in this area, a move was inevitable.”
The building is a big, beautiful old house that lives on the corner of 17th and E. Thomas Street—303 17th Avenue East, to be precise—and for 30 years it has been most popularly known as The Dunshee House, even though the name was changed to Seattle Area Support Groups a few years ago. As I explain in my 2009 book, Adrian’s Way Too Gay Seattle Survival Guide:
“This beautiful rambling mansion at the top of Capitol Hill has been the home of the Seattle AIDS Support Group since 1984. They provide emotional support to those affected by HIV/AIDS. Call if you are curious or in need. Plus: It’s the best place in Seattle to get a really expensive Christmas Tree! (Only at Christmastime, however—they are really quite strict about that.)”
In 1983 gay men with HIV began meeting in each other’s living rooms, organizing resources and offering each other support. This evolved into Seattle AIDS Support Group—one of the first in the country, and then became the SASG we know today.
The bottom line? An important piece of gay Seattle (and its history) is being uprooted and forced out by big monied interests who don’t give two shits about us, our home, or our history. Or, I should say, ANOTHER important piece of our history. Millionth verse, same as the first—the building has been sold to developers, no doubt dooming it, and
the Dunshee House Seattle Area Support Groups is unceremoniously being given the boot.
Do they want to go? Definitely not. Do we want them to go? No. It’s simple: they are being bullied out by big bucks. End of story.
So what does the downfall of the Dunshee House have to do with the three angry, astute, and fag-baity gentlemen on John Street? Really…what’s the difference?
As far as I can tell, there is but one difference: that one of these forms of violence against homosexuals is perfectly legal (the economic kind) and the other is not. The eating of our gay ghetto is nothing but a financial “FUCK YOU, FAGGOT!” Real harm will be done to real people, and our history and presence is further intimidated, diminished, and erased.
I know, I know. It’s because of the Amazon.com-ness of it all. And the cruel and relentless gentrification of “the fastest growing city in the country ™.” And the rabid armies of mercenary developers, ten times worse than the plagues of Egypt, who seem to have been thrown the keys to the city and told, “Do whatever the hell you want.” And the unsettling (and seemingly deliberate) de-gayification of The Hill. And Donald fucking Trump. And all of the above. We all know.
But what can we actually do?
Sadly, not much. Many tactics have been tried, and failed. We’ve tried more than once to reconstruct the old vigilante group, The Q Patrol, to help address the physical attacks, to no avail whatsoever. The police have been largely useless—and who wants more of those jerks around anyhow? We can all vow to be aware of our surroundings, to watch out for each other, walk home in groups—hell even arm ourselves. But it’s all a band-aid solution on a bullet hole problem.
But the economic violence seems far worse. What could be more violent than forcing our community apart?
Only a political solution can even hope to curb the relentless land-grab, and endless organizing and protesting and bitching and moaning about the situation has done exactly nothing to curb the ravenous greed of developers, the invading hoards, or motivate the City Council to lift a finger. Kashama Sawant’s rent control measures might help—but at the rate we’re going, it’s going to be far too little too late.
The stink-eyed gentlemen on John Street weren’t just enthusiastically remarking upon the obvious when they hit me with the old, “Fuck you, Faggot,” mind you. They were obviously on a mission, looking to, “mess some faggot ass up,” as the kids say. Of this please have no doubt.
Had I taken the bait and responded to their taunt in any manner whatsoever (“FUCK YOU!” “THANK YOU KINDLY!” “HOWDEE DO, HAVE A CUP OF TEA?”), it was clear that a sassy ginger grease stain is what would be typing these words to you right now.
Dunshee House The Seattle Area Support Group I’m just not willing to let go of so easily. (They say pick your battles, and I’ve always been fond of the battle least likely to require bridgework.) I’ve contacted the so-called “City” and the Mayor’s office, and according to them, a building can be declared historic—and therefore possibly become immune to Seattle’s development plague—by meeting only one of five possible criteria. As far as I can determine, the SASG meets three…
I plan to follow through. I’m taking the next steps. I’ll keep you posted. It might all end up in vain, and the SASG might just end up another overpriced cracker box condo, of course.
But, dammit! I’m not letting this particular “FUCK YOU, FAGGOTS!” get off so easy. Not without a fight.