Attack on Gay love? Couple assaulted, business set fire following hate crime vandalism

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Photo courtesy of John Morrison
Photo courtesy of John Morrison

On New Year's Day, the owners of Used Furniture on Summit Avenue East were dismayed to find their store vandalized for the fourth time. Last Friday, they were assaulted at their store, and neighbors reported a fire, which has not yet been confirmed as a related incident.

What we do know is that at 1:43 p.m. Friday, Seattle Fire was dispatched to the 100 block of Summit Avenue East for an aid response. At 3:05 p.m., reports of two males fighting were logged by the SPD. Shortly after 3:30 p.m., I received a call from one of the owners, who are both named John and share a phone. In a rushed one-minute phone call, he reported the incident to update the SGN.

"Hi, this is John. I am with my husband and wanted to tell you that he just was attacked," he said. He added that his husband had been pushed to the ground and that they were on their way to the hospital. Both men are in their seventies.

For months prior to New Year's Eve, the couple believed the intermittent bursts of vandalism at their storefront to be random, a result of frequent crime amid the area's ongoing homeless, opioid, and mental health crises.

Then, security camera footage from New Year's Eve revealed a blurry figure yelling homophobic slurs at the business, just before the cameras were disabled and stolen. This is when the couple decided to take action with law enforcement.

During our last interview, the two men thought that the vandal or team of vandals, who have cost them thousands of dollars in damages, stolen security cameras, and now personal injury, may have targeted them because of their sexuality.

Since Friday, the couple has not been available for comment, and further details have yet to emerge about the same-day fire reports.

However, Morrison previously shared some of his and Evans' love story. To meet the men and see the enduring love that is possibly fueling all of this hate, I'll share a few highlights.

Photo courtesy of John Morrison  

From the closet to the registry, together
John Evans first chased after John Morrison when they met at a barbecue in 1980. Morrison had just moved up from New Orleans and Evans lived in Aberdeen. Both men were closeted at the time, but Evans caught Morrison just before he drove away after the event, to exchange numbers.

Shortly after, the two met up. And Mt. St. Helens erupted. No, literally. They met for their second date that day, May 18, 1980. One week later, Morrison recalled, they moved in together in a small Seattle rental.

In February of 1981, they were married at Seattle's "Holy Union MCC," Morrison said. After first opening in Los Angeles in 1968, the Metropolitan Community Church began to emerge in cities nationwide for the ministry of LGBTQ+ people and performed the first same-sex marriage ceremonies in the nation. Seattle's MCC pastor, Reverend Wallace ("Wally") Lanchester, married Morrison and Evans in his home.

Though their union was still illegal until 2012 (when Washington state enacted marriage equality), they consider this in-home ceremony to be the legitimate anniversary of their over-40-year union.

When Washington and California legalized same-sex marriage, the couple waited in lines in both Seattle and San Fransisco to get their certificates. ?

It was "like a grand tour," Morrison said. San Francisco offered them new friends and large-scale celebrations. "When we got back to our hotel, the people we met there had the band play us a song, and we had champagne, chocolate-covered strawberries, and 'Happy Honeymoon' written across the bed."

The couple proudly sent me pictures of all of their marriage certificates and cheeky photos from their wedding.

Shortly after getting married, they closed their business at the time, "Honest John's Fine Used Cars," and headed straight for the Rainbow State. They lived in Maui for about 30 years, during which they lost several close friends to AIDS.

Since being back in Seattle for the past ten years, they have been in business at Used Furniture. They feel that their escapades (and lots of hiding over the years) allowed them to live mostly free from discrimination and hate, until now.

More updates are expected to come on these events soon.