One of the strangest parts of buying a house in Redmond is the implied finality of giving up on Capitol Hill as my home. The reason I came to Seattle in the first place was because like Vassar, my current home at the time, it was known as a gay refuge. I’d read about it in a Rolling Stone cover story on Nirvana and Seattle and it seemed like a great place for me to start my life as a future rockstar (that’s another story). After I graduated, I packed up my car and drove on up, never even having been to the Northwest before. Ah, youth.
I arrived in Capitol Hill on July 15, 1992 and lived there for ten years. It was awesome – lots of rock clubs and gay clubs and gay rock clubs – exactly what I was interested in my 20’s. It was vibrant and colorful and outrageous. I must have arrived at it’s peak though – over the years many of the businesses closed, there were less gays and more gutter punks harassing people for change, and then the official pride parade left the Hill for Downtown – the final straw. I moved to Redmond to get rid of my hour long commute to Microsoft and didn’t look back. Most of my friends thought I’d gone insane but I’ve lived here for over three years now and it is much more my style – it’s open, quiet, beautiful and I feel so much more safe.
And I’m not the only one – all across the country, the increased acceptance of gays (who doesn’t love Ellen and Portia?) is creating more potential places for us to live, but is making a more visible flash point out of our traditional enclaves. There are still those who do not understand or accept gays and perpetuate violent hate crimes, generally because their families or peers have beaten the hate into them. The New York Times wrote last month (Gay Enclaves Face Prospect of Being Passé – New York Times) about the Castro canceling their traditional Halloween celebration, even stopping all public transportation in the area, due to fears of violence. And in Capitol Hill there has been an increase in violent attacks against gays that have made me thankful I don’t live there any more. I know that the struggle for civil rights isn’t quick or easy, but it’s sad to see my former home become a casualty.
Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Attacks alarm gay community
The disturbing attacks, including cases in which victims were asked if they were gay, then attacked when they responded “yes,” are making some gay people feel that Capitol Hill, a neighborhood that’s been a safe enclave, is a little less friendly than before.