This Week Then: Celebrating Seattle's Pride

Plus: Looking back on UFO sightings near Mt. Rainier
| Updated: June 21, 2019
 
 

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Seattle Pride

During the last week of June 1974, local lesbians and gays celebrated Seattle's first Gay Pride Week, which included the opening of the Gay Community Center, a picnic in Occidental Park, and a "Gay-In" at Seattle Center. The celebration has grown over the years -- it was sanctioned by the city in 1977 -- and now includes a large Pride Parade in downtown Seattle and a citywide PrideFest featuring music, art, film, and more. (Image courtesy University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections)

Members of sexual minorities have played leading roles in Seattle history virtually since the town's founding. Early pioneers either expressed little concern about -- or turned a blind eye towards -- same-sex relationships, but the gay community went underground after Washington's anti-sodomy law was enacted in 1893. Nevertheless, by the 1930s establishments like the Casino Pool Room catered to gay men. After World War II the Garden of Allah became a popular gay cabaret, and by the early 1950s local lesbians were meeting discreetly at The Hub.

At times harrassed by the police, gay, lesbian, and trans people did not emerge from the closet in large numbers until after New York City's watershed Stonewall riots in June 1969. The following month, Dorian House opened in Seattle to provide counseling to the gay community, and gay-liberation activists soon increased their advocacy for more tolerance and less discrimination against the LGBT community. In 1977 Catholic Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen publicly defended the rights of gays and lesbians, and in 1987 Cal Anderson became Washington's first openly gay state legislator.

In the 1970s Seattle expanded its anti-discrimination law to include sexual orientation, but this became the target of a repeal campaign in 1978, which the city's voters decisively rejected. The protections of civil-rights laws were extended to gays and lesbians statewide in 2006, and broadened in 2009. And in 2012 -- the same year that Macklemore and Ryan Lewis's song "Same Love" climbed up the charts -- Washington became one of the first three states to approve same-sex marriage by a vote of the people.

Classified

On June 24, 1947, the modern phenomenon of unidentified flying objects was born near Mt. Rainier when pilot Kenneth Arnold espied nine shiny objects skimming the crests of the Cascades "like a saucer would if you skipped it across the water." News of Arnold's encounter made national headlines and soon everybody was seeing flying saucers.

Two weeks later, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer published the first purported photo of a mystery disk, which was snapped as the object flew over Lake City. Then, on July 9, the U.S. Army issued and promptly retracted news that it had recovered the wreckage of a crashed saucer near Roswell, New Mexico.

Amid mounting hysteria, two Tacoma log salvagers approached Amazing Stories magazine with their account of a "giant flying donut" that had supposedly exploded over Maury Island on June 21, 1947. They said they had slag-like fragments to prove it, but a mysterious "man in a black suit" had fogged their photographs. The army sent two investigators, whose deaths in a plane crash while returning to their base helped plant the seeds for the conspiracy theories to come.

NEWS THEN, HISTORY NOW

Starting Up

On June 26, 1890, Snohomish incorporated amidst a war of words between the city's two newspapers. Deer Park incorporated on June 24, 1908, and Westport celebrates its 105th birthday on June 26. And on June 20, 1961, Lake Forest Park -- which was planned and developed a half-century earlier by future Seattle Mayor Ole Hanson -- finally became a city.

Gunned Down

On June 25, 1901, former Seattle police chief William Meredith, who had just lost his job because of accusations of corruption made by theater owner John Considine , attempted to kill Considine in Pioneer Square, but was himself gunned down in the city's G. O. Guy drugstore. Although the press portrayed Considine as the assailant, he was found not guilty of murder and went on to become a noted and respected member of Seattle society.

Driving Across

On June 23, 1909, Henry Ford's Model T was proclaimed the winner in a cross-country auto race that ended at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle. The car was later disqualified, but not before Ford got all the publicity he needed to help make the Model T the most popular selling car of its era. Exactly 50 years later, the Ford Motor Co. held a re-enactment of the race. This time they played it safe, and only Ford cars were entered.

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