The city of Seattle is planning to build a children’s playground at Denny’s Plain Park, a historically nude and very gay beach.
The Seattle Parks and Recreation Department has set a tentative construction date for late summer through fall of 2024, though the plan is still in its early stages. The park department explains on its website that the play area will address the shortage of playgrounds in the neighborhood. But the shovels on the $550,000 project won’t be getting started anytime soon — or at all — if the angry gays who spoke to the stranger More than 2,300 people signed this petition and have an opinion on this matter.
Although the petitioners like the idea of the city building more playgrounds, they don’t like the idea of installing one in Denny Plain Park. Organizers are concerned that the move could force sunbathers to leave the park for fear of child endangerment (or any other condition), displacing a permanent gay summer establishment and stripping the community of one of its few safe and comfortable places to relatively relax. Hello.
If built, the stadium would force beachgoers to make a choice. They can leave, or, as a national wave of anti-LGBTQ sentiment and legislation sweeps the nation, they can continue to use the park and risk perpetuating the “nanny” myth that LGBT people want to sexualize children.
Sophie Amity Debs, who helped draft the petition, joked that it was like giving Fox News a photo op. For Amity Debs, the suggestion creates avoidable conflict and plays on harmful cultural stereotypes.
“The stadiums are great; “I think we could use the playgrounds,” she said. “It seems like it’s more about getting the people out of Denny Blaine out here than building a stadium, when there are other options.”
After Capitol Hill Seattle Blog first reported on the administration’s plans, Councilwoman Kshama Sawant said she received hundreds of emails about the park in her district. At Monday’s Parks and Recreation budget meeting, she read aloud some community comments, including pleas to preserve the small two-acre park and suggestions for alternative locations. Lakeview Park, a larger area next to the school, is a half-mile from Denny Blaine.
“I don’t understand how this proposal happened,” Sawant said. “I find it difficult to honestly relate to a playground.”
Councilwoman Teresa Mosqueda expressed her support for Sawant and added that the proposal would create community division where there is none.
Seattle Parks Superintendent Ab Diaz said the department is evaluating the proposal with the community. Parks has scheduled a community meeting about the project at the Martin Luther King FAME Community Center at 5:30 p.m. on December 6.
“It is not our intention to make this a polarizing issue or to discriminate against any group,” he added. “This is not the parks department, parks have always been a beacon of community inclusion and places where the public can come to use public lands.”
A private donor has funded the playground project (“Designing a Little Play for Nature”), which will come “at minimal cost to taxpayers,” a department spokesperson said in an email. The neighborhood doesn’t currently have a play area within a 10- to 15-minute walk, so the plan will support the department’s mission to increase children’s access to nature and beaches, they said.
The speaker did not mention it Strangers Questions about community displacement or the identity of the private donor.
“Why Denny Blaine?”
Denny Blaine’s has been a favorite gay summer spot since at least the 1980s. The beach at the time earned the nickname “Dykiki,” a crowd of mostly topless lesbians, but the beach now attracts gays of all types and plenty of nudists who want to beat the summer heat on the shores of Lake Washington without judgment. (Howell Beach Park, a swimming site a short distance south, has historically been more intended for boys.)
Thanks to the court ruling in 1990 (Seattle v. JohnsonLOL, in Seattle it’s legal to be naked wherever You want to, but it’s not legal to be naked but you want. Intentional exposure in a disturbing or sexual manner is a crime, and is more serious if the victim is under 14 years of age. However, to avoid embarrassment or confusion, gays and nudists in Seattle stick to places like Denny Plain, where people expect nudity.
Over the weekend, Alex Merck was pounding the pavement for the petition, with step counts in the 16,000 range, hanging flyers, collecting votes, and dropping QR codes at coffee shops. He said every reaction was along the lines of, “This is like trying to build a skate park in the middle of the kitchen.”
The gay people they talked to the stranger They said they felt the pitch was an excuse to fire them.
Hannah, an eccentric 30-year-old biker, feels like herself at the beach. After a 20-mile ride, the exhausted cyclist stopped at Denny Plain, took off her apron and shirt, and jumped into the cold water, where she was surrounded by happy people laughing on a wonderful day. People wouldn’t be so unrestrained if the city created a children’s park nearby, she said. “It’s like asking, ‘Why Denny Plain Park?’” she said.
Rivka, a 35-year-old trans woman, visited the beach for the first time with her partner after coming out as trans two years ago. The people around her in various states of undress offered a glimpse into a world where trans people were not viewed as anatomical anomalies but as normal. It’s still a fun place to hang out and be herself, without worrying about a creep getting close to her — “which happens even when I’m dressed up,” she said.
The park is also a summer retreat for Lex and their friends, and is the only place in town where Lex said they see gays and trans people always happy and relaxed. Even apprehensive heterosexual friends never left the beach feeling uncomfortable. The atmosphere has a way of changing perceptions about bodies, creating a non-sexual space where nudity is casual. The beach is also a community hub, where there is almost a zero percent chance they won’t meet a friend. A pitch would break that axis.
“I can’t reiterate enough times how much I feel like my entire summer will be taken away from me without Denny Blaine,” Lex said.