On a rainy winter day in 2021, Capitol Hill’s rainbow-colored crosswalks stand in stark relief against the steely sky. At the time, the queer bars I pass are sitting silent and shuttered: Pony, whose signage announced in 2014 to a changing neighborhood, “This is a very gay bar. … [It] isn’t a zoo and we aren’t your pets”; Neighbours, the nearly 40-year-old nightclub institution often targeted by hate crimes. I cut through Cal Anderson Park, named after Washington state’s first openly gay legislator. Next to sex shop Castle Megastore and its massive silicon molds is my destination: the Wildrose.
The “Rose,” as patrons affectionately call it, is a
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