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March 9, 2007
SGN.org
Volume 35
Issue 10
 
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Gay History of Seattle - Gay swimming, etc.
by Don Paulson - SGN Contributing Writer Swimming has been popular since the cave man days, give or take a few hundred years of the great unwashed during the dark ages. Then, a man in 1600's claimed humans were better swimmers than fish so it came to pass that they invented Olympic Gold Medal winner Johnny Weissmuller and Hollywood's Ester Williams.

Seattleites took notice of the pleasures of swimming and constructed public pools such as the mother of them all: the Natatorium at Luna Park on Alki Beach. Luna Park turned into a wild and crazy heterosexual 'party time' so the breathtakingly moral citizens of this fair city shut it down in 1913. No Gay cruising accounts have surfaced about the pool but knowing the Gay male's pursuit of sex, I wouldn't be surprised if things happened -- as they did in other Seattle pools.

In the 1940's, an older woman who used to own the Natatorium was a regular customer at the Garden of Allah Cabaret and lavished herself on all the Gay boys who in turn treated her like a queen, perhaps she was Gay Seattle's first known/unknown 'fag hag.' I prefer the term 'Guardian Angel' as it concerns a possible loving symbiotic relationship. Comedian and G.A. Margaret Cho said: "When you're best friends with a Gay man, at least you'll never starve.'

There was another Natatorium in Seattle called the Crystal Pool, a huge space with two pools, which was very popular with younger people. J.K. remembers: "It was definitely on the Gay cruising list for Gays and Bisexuals. We carried on in the dressing rooms and steam room. Like the Moore, public swimming pool surveillance was not strict, but you had to be careful. One guy I knew was caught blowing a sailor and was kicked out. The Crystal Pool was not a pedophile place like the Moore Pool."

In the 'old days' parents let their kids go to all sorts of places without proper supervision, unheard of today! In turn, the kids got into things they didn't tell their parents about. Gay bar owner Bill Parkin said: "First Avenue was part of our young sex education."

J.K continues: "One man at the Moore really had a way with children. He would pick up these young girls and boys and carry them around and they would love it. I tried it and carried them around too. That man hated me after that because I was competition. A couple times he left with one of the boys."

Don Gillis remembers: "I was thirteen and my sister was ten. We often swam in the Moore Hotel pool on Saturdays. It was not always well attended and sometimes we had the pool to ourselves. I never saw any sex going on but once this man in his twenties began swimming near my sister and I who were sitting on a bench. He dove down and stood on his hands at the bottom of the pool with his legs sticking straight up out of the water and with his erect penis sticking out the bottom of his swimsuit. I don't remember being shocked, I knew he was doing a 'no, no,' but it confirmed where my interests were. My sister and I pretended not to notice but our eyes were fixed on this exhibitionist performing his sexy water dance, which I now find offensive."

But even in the schoolroom one is not safe! John T. remembers his 4th grade teacher reading to the class: "She would sit on a very low stool, eye level with the students and with her legs spread wide, which exposed her pubic hair for all the class to see."

J.K. remembers: "In the 1940's there was a well known professional Gay Seattle Clown (not J.P. Patches) who talked this thirteen year old girl at the Moore Pool into coming over to the boys dressing room to show the young boys her 'sweet little pussy.' The boys were shocked but they really liked the experience! The clown was not a bad person, he was just young and kooky but then his whole family was kooky. That's probably why he became a clown. He wasn't into children, they annoyed him. He liked his men 70 years old and older."

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