As “My husband Michael and I were recently out on a Saturday night and were walking around the Pine/Pike Corridor. And we looked at each other and said: my God, what happened to the gays? Literally, who are all of these straight people in our neighborhood?”
That’s from a Capitol Hill resident most of us know as Mayor Ed Murray quoted by a US-based writer for British newspaper The Guardian in a story headlined Violence in Capitol Hill: is this the end of the line for Seattle’s gay neighborhood?
It’s a bummer read:
Although Seattle is one of the “gayest” city in America – recently released census data shows the city of Seattle saw a 52% increase in same-sex couples from 2010 to 2012 – the Capitol Hill neighborhood saw a 23% decline of LGBT people living there during the same period. Meanwhile, rents have also gone up by more than 33%, according to Zillow.
As much as it is a story about hate crime, it is also a story of economics:
Sandberg, who has faced homelessness and has once been attacked by a couple who used a skateboard as a weapon, is part of a growing group of LGBT people in Seattle who believe these new efforts only protect well-off Capitol Hill residents. “I don’t think queer people feel any more comfortable reporting the hate crimes now,” Sandberg said in regards to the shuttle service and the police working intentionally on this issue. “I think it’s more of an attempt by SPD [Seattle police department] to endear themselves to the more privileged white, higher-income queers that are [still] moving into the neighborhood.”
As the legal proceedings for the horrible New Year’s arson at Neighbours finally drew to a close in 2015, Mayor Murray has lead the city to do more to address anti-gay and trans violence by shifting policies and procedures for reporting hate crimes and setting up an LGBTQ Task Force. As much as critics have made fun of the mayor’s rainbow crosswalks as a strategy for strengthening gay culture on Capitol Hill, the task force has actually recommended more rainbow paint, by the way.
One additional element not included in the Guardian story can only get better as homeless outreach workers are now part of regular East Precinct patrols. Many neighborhood hate crimes CHS reports on includes suspects who are in crisis — either due to drugs, mental health, or homelessness… or some combination of the above. This conviction in a federal hate crime case in November is only one example. According to police, the convicted suspect had been living in shelters, is addicted to drugs, and was on Capitol Hill to sell meth the night of the crime.
Tech dude bros and woo! girls might need a lesson or two in neighborhood history and culture, but the end of the gayborhood is also about affordability and mental health.