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Seattle's 'Queer Fucking Central'

seattlegay

When this writer moved to Seattle in 1990, Capitol Hill was the place to live. Seattle's gay mecca of all-things-that-were-gay. Especially if you were from the more rural and conservative part of the state than 'Gayattle', young enough or 'new meat' in town to catch second glances and before the neighbourhood became so seedy. It was like being in a kid in the proverbial candy store.

The Weather Girls' 1982 hit song, 'Its Raining Men' was never more true. Only hunks weren't raining from the gray Seattle skies. They were walking past you on the sidewalk, ahead of you at the bank, and ordering a brew at the ubiquitous Starbucks.

Never did one see so much eye candy. Like the song: 'Tall. Blonde, Dark and lean! Rough and tough and strong and mean!' Especially during the summer and around the city's Pride week the last week of June. 'Where the heck are all these gorgeous hunks the rest of the year?'

The original Broadway QFC (Quality Food Center) was at the corner of Republican (I know, go figure...) and Broadway. But its nickname in the queer community was 'Queer Fucking Central' with its yellow-and-blue logo and a crown perched on top of the letter Q. One of the hottest cruise spot for queers.

QFC was located just across the street from another gathering place for queers, the Broadway Market. One could do your shopping, grab a coffee, and sometimes go home with a dark and handsome guy from either place.

On Sundays, I would buy the Sunday New York Times, grab a coffee and make like I was reading it as Seattle 'bois' walked by. Ya right. This weekly ritual of mine, what was called my 'Sunday Scene' was nothing I learned from my former Anglican parish. Now in the Big City, it was good to look, flirt, and be flirted at as men walked by. Or circle back if they were interested. Or back and forth if they were still interested but too shy to stop and say hello.

Broadway Market was - and still is -a block-long market that through the years saw various retail businesses come and go. According to HistoryLink.org, the market was built in 1928 and filled with "a collection of independently owned small shops." In 1958, the last of the mom-and-pop shops moved out and in went Safeway and Marketime grocery stores. When these two stores moved, smaller retail shops returned, but this time a mix of independent and chain outlets like The Gap and Urban Outfitters. It included a central court with seating, plants, and retail push carts. The court was open up to the second story with skylights helping create an open, airy feeling.

Many young gay or lesbian first-time apartment dweller visited Fred Meyer, the Portland-based merchandiser similar to Zellers in Canada or Target in the U.S., located also the market to buy housewares for their new place on 'The Hill'. The market became the focal point for many gays to eat, shop, and even watch a movie upstairs. Years before, the original Seattle gay neighbourhood in downtown's Pioneer Square became too expensive. The migration of gay-owned or gay-friendly businesses migrated to the cheaper-rent on Capitol Hill. The neighbourhood, located east of the city's downtown, witnessed the gay migration began in the late 1970's, accelerating in the 1980's, and replaced Pioneer Square as Seattle's gay neighbourhood.

Broadway Market also holds a special place in this writer's heart. This was where I met my first partner one December during a blind date. The electricity between us when our knees touched was magical. He said he was from Virginia with a soft Southern accent but was about to return home for Christmas. We talked to one another almost every day after he was back home. He was not out to his family, so he would visit his gay-friendly friend's place to talk over the telephone.

Another memory of QFC makes me think of the 1978 movie Animal House. Actor (then hunk) Tim Matheson's playboy character Eric "Otter" and successfully puts the make on the college dean's wife in a grocery store. He used a bunch of celery – how's that for a new phallic symbol? – while talking in the produce aisle.

A Seattle blogger named Andrew Nichols even wrote an article entitled 'An encounter to remember' in 2009 about making it with a "cute QFC worker caught my eye'. While Nichols DID meet such an employee and WAS truly looking for a journal to buy, he fantasizes about the employee taking him in the back to the stock room and the two making out.

Visit his blog at andrew (make sure you type in a space here between first and last name) nichols.blogspot, click on Andrew, followed by 2009, then August, followed by QFC on Broadway – An encounter to remember. If you've ever seen a hot guy at Costco, Urban Fare, or Choices, this will get your juices, I mean fantasies, flowing.

Today, the Broadway Market has changed. QFC moved across the street and gobbled up the whole space. Returning the market had once been: the site of chain grocery stores.

QFC may be bigger - for you 'size queens' - and gays like Andrew may fantasize about making it in the stockroom with cute grocery employee. But for me, the old QFC and Broadway Market of circa 1990 was my introduction to gay Seattle. Celery or not, it continues to put a smile on my face.

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