This week in SGN History: 10 Years Ago

Share this Post:
This week in SGN History: 10 Years Ago

Over 47 years, the Seattle Gay News has covered thousands of stories that still resonate today. This week we look back at Vol. 39, Issue 26, published on July 1, 2011.

PrideFest flag stolen

Something mysterious happened at the 2011 Seattle Pridefest, when the giant flag disappeared, SGN Associate Editor Shaun Knittel reported.

The PrideFest flag measures 35 by 70 feet and weighs over 100 lbs. "It was rolled up like a big rainbow sausage," said Egan [Orion]. "The flag is so big it would've taken two or three people to carry it away." Egan told SGN that, at first, he thought it was all just a big misunderstanding. Someone obviously packed it up by accident. Surely no one would steal the flag, an emblem of the day's success and the community's pride.

But his summation soon turned to disappointment as, after making some calls and asking around, he realized the flag had, indeed, been taken. "The flag belongs to our community, not just one organization or person," said Egan. "It's powerful not for just one day but all year long."

Update: When asked if the flag was ever recovered, Egan Orion said this past week, "Nope, never recovered. We have no idea who stole it. We never even heard a peep as to where it might've gone." The mystery continues.

Gay couple busted

Years later, this kind of incident boggles the mind. What is so strange is this happened on Pride Sunday. As Knittel reported:

Aaron Smith and his boyfriend Benjamin White, both 23, arrived in Seattle on June 24 to experience their first Seattle Pride weekend. Smith and White were embracing while sitting down when a security officer approach them and told them [there was] no PDA.

Valor Security Corporation's senior vice president released the following statement to the Seattle Gay News: "Our officers are trained to be respectful of all patrons when executing their responsibilities. Unfortunately, in this case, the officer's use of discretion was not consistent with our policies for personal interactions. We apologize for the officer's response. In addition, we are taking steps immediately to ensure that every member of our team clearly understands and enforces our policies while remaining sensitive to all who choose to visit, shop, and work at Westlake Center."

Capitol Hill midnight rampage

Radicals vandalizing stores in Capitol Hill: sounds so 2020, but this was in 2011 on Pride Sunday, as Knittel reported:

In the early morning hours of Pride Sunday, June 26, several hundred self-described anarchists swarmed through Capitol Hill, the city's gayborhood, noisily vandalizing stores and smashing windows before dispersing into the night.

"Right before midnight last night, near everyone's favorite gay bar, big groups of people began to assemble on the corner of 12th and Madison. Anxiety and excitement filled the air as everyone waited for the music to start," the anarchists posted on their website, "At the stroke of midnight, the music started, unfortunately quietly, but the energy in the crowd surpassed the need for music, and people jumped and cheered with their friends. The crowd began to move quickly, turning down a quiet street, which was occupied by one of the anti-youth 'beer gardens.'"

People jumped on the fence, attempting to tear it down, as others ran around attacking two empty police cars on the street. A user going by the handle Pedal9 wrote on the website, "The worst thing about this incident is that a group of people was nothing less than coerced into attending a march when it had been promoted as a street dance party. It was NEVER divulged in the Facebook announcement nor on handbills as having anything to do with what you think is anarchism, or worse, activism. Instead, you tricked happy queers into supplying you with a large group in which to hide your cowardly masked and hooded selves. When the destruction of our neighborhood began, most people began bailing out. (And please please do not compare this to Stonewall. Ever. It is a shameful slap in the face.)"

"Shame on you all," commented user Xaioyao3500. "You will never in a million years have the support of anyone but selfish, shortsighted punks who need to smash things to feel good about themselves. Trust me, when you grow up and become professionals, you will feel ashamed. In the meantime, maybe you should spend some more time analyzing your own racism, classism, and privilege, and less time shouting stupid slogans and smashing the windows of businesses and empty cop cars like a bunch of cowards."

HRC store in DC vandalized

From one Washington to another, more vandalism, as reported by SGN Staff Writer Mike Andrew:

Washington, DC's Dupont Circle HRC store was vandalized early in the morning of June 29 by a group of self-described "Rowdy Queers" claiming to be paying homage to the Stonewall riots. According to the Washington Blade, the damage was "mostly cosmetic" — pink paint splattered on the windows of the store, and the word "Stonewall" spray-painted on the sidewalk immediately in front.

"The arguments of the group behind the vandalism are not entirely off-base, but they are easily dismissed when combined with such unnecessary behavior," Bilerico's Adam Polaski wrote on June 29.

Even the San Diego LGBT Times, in condemning the vandalism, was more outraged by Bilerico's lack of outrage than by the action itself. "It is this type of drivel in the blogosphere and beyond that causes these so-called activists to perform criminal acts against our community's most politically influential organization," the LGBT Times wrote in an editorial.

Cleve Jones speaks in Seattle, supports hospitality workers

Andrew also reported the following:

Renowned activist Cleve Jones spoke in Seattle June 28 at an LGBT community forum sponsored by UNITE HERE Local 8, Allyship, Ingersoll Center, Pride At Work, and the SGN. In what Jones describes as "an amazing act of solidarity," UNITE HERE members voted to postpone the strike until after the AIDS conference. "We had members from every country," Jones recalled. "There were Somalis, there were Indians, there were Pakistanis, there were Russians. They said, 'We have AIDS in our own countries. We know this is important.' Then [after the AIDS conference] we went on to win on every demand," Jones grinned.

New York legalizes same-sex marriage:

New York made history by becoming the fifth state to legalize same-sex marriage. SGN Contributor Rex Wockner reported:

New York state legalized same-sex marriage on June 24. The Senate passed the bill 33-29 at 10:29 p.m., and Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed it into law less than 90 minutes later. Same-sex couples can begin marrying on July 25.

"This state, when it is at its finest, is a beacon for social justice," Cuomo said. "Now that we've made it here, we'll make it everywhere," said Freedom to Marry President Evan Wolfson, calling it an "epic win."

Update: Marriages started July 24, and by July 30, Central Park was filled with pop-up chapels officiating free same-sex weddings. There were an estimated 24 weddings conducted on that day.

In A&E News:

Britney Spears lip-syncs for her life

With the #FreeBritney movement in the news recently, we go back to her Femme Fatale performance at the Tacoma Dome on June 29, 2011. SGN Contributor Joshua Michael Rumley offered analysis:

Britney did what has become her usual dance routine: two-step, hair toss, side hip roll, then point toward a random member in the audience, which is a far cry of the Britney of the "Slave 4 U" era of her career. I kept hoping for the moment where Britney would silence the naysayers and pull out the dance moves we know she is capable of. Sadly, she never did, and it actually appeared as if she wasn't committing to all of her moves.

I understand Britney has had an intense couple of years with her mental breakdown, the birth of her two beautiful boys, and her short-lived marriage to the slimiest person outside of a downtown pawn shop, Kevin Federline. But Britney Spears is a pop star. She gets paid millions of dollars to be sexy, to dance, and sometimes to sing, so I can't be faulted for having a certain expectation and standard of her as an artist. Plus her record company is charging upwards of $400 for some tickets.

Frenchie Davis' diva moment

Even though Frenchie Davis didn't make it all the way through American Idol in 2003 (remember the topless controversy?), she did become a semi-finalist on the first season of The Voice and was in demand. SGN Associate Editor Shaun Knittel chatted with her before their upcoming appearance at Neighbours on July 2:

"I've had a kind of love affair with the Seattle's Men's Chorus," Frenchie told the Seattle Gay News. "I have performed in Seattle a bunch of times, but never at Neighbours, so I'm really looking forward to it."

One of the reasons Frenchie says she's happy about performing at Neighbours Seattle is because she loves her some Gays! "I owe the LGBT community a huge debt of gratitude," she said. "While the rest of the world is just starting to catch on, the Gays have been believers since day one."

Update: I remember what happened next because I attended that performance. After the show, Davis was hiding out in the lounge area with a long line. You only had a second with her for a photo (my photo came out too blurry) and she was too dismissive. I thought she was diva when she had no right to be. In October 2012, I met up with Davis again at the HRC dinner, and this time she was nicer, or had she changed her tone? Also in 2012, Davis came out as Bisexual.

Gaga fever

On the release of Gaga's iconic Born This Way, SGN Contributor Chris Azzopardi had an exclusive interview with Gaga herself. On being a Gay icon, she said:

"That's a really, really tall order and quite a description. I never set out to be a gay icon or become one or be revered as one, and I'm just really grateful to all the people who have believed in me and my music and my work.

"The most special thing of all has been that my sort of assimilation as a public figure has very organically stemmed out of who my natural friends were in high school. I had a lot of gay friends growing up, not even realizing they were gay. We didn't really talk about it and I went to theater school and I did a lot of shows, so I guess it never really mattered to me if they were gay or straight — and we never really talked about it. We just loved talking about music and art and theater and fashion.

"So now it's less about being a leader and more just about being a part of my generation and being part of the fight for equality that I feel is part of who I am and part of my childhood, and part of where I'm going."

When asked about her legacy, she responded, "[...] It changes and grows. I would say that my wish is to be remembered as a cultural force, as someone who was fearless and unpredictable, who didn't care what anyone thought about what I created but only cared that they thought about it."

SMC's annual Pride concert

Miryam Gordan reported:

Pride weekend included fun and a fun musical history lesson from Seattle Men's Chorus as they performed an uncountable number of past and present hits. The unusual format was almost all medleys of hits from various musical genres spanning five decades of boy bands and male pop groups. Starting with the oldest songs, the audience cheered as a well-remembered line of music was sung, immediately followed by another, and then another, and then another. There was almost no time to recognize a cherished musical memory before the next one popped up.

Update: In 2016, Dennis Coleman, SMC's artistic director, retired after 35 years.