All posts by garyatkins

Gary L. Atkins is an award-winning journalist whose works include the critically acclaimed Gay Seattle: Stories of Exile and Belonging and his new book, Imagining Gay Paradise: Bali, Bangkok and Cyber-Singapore. He specializes in creative non-fiction journalism, fusing an easy-to-read narrative style powered by strong characters with questions about history, geography, communication, and social justice. Gay Seattle follows the 100-year-long saga through which gay men and women imagined their “coming home” – rather than just their “coming out” -- in the context of the Pacific Northwest’s famously wet landscape and roguish history. Similarly, Imagining Gay Paradise journeys through a century of imaginings of paradise and manhood by gay men in the tropical geography of Southeast Asia. The story stretches from the end of the colonial empires to the present world of cyberspace, ranging across the development of the aesthetic paradise of Bali in the 1920s and 1930s to the erotic paradise of Bangkok fostered from the 1960s onward, and to the cyber-paradise promoted since the 1990s in Singapore. Gay Seattle was published by the University of Washington Press in 2003 and received numerous accolades for its fusion of journalism and scholarship, including a Washington State Book Award and a national Jesuit Book Award. The University of Hong Kong Press is publishing the hardback edition of Imagining Gay Paradise and is joined by Silkworm Press of Thailand as co-publishers of the paperback edition. Imagining Gay Paradise is also being made available as an e-book. Gary first became interested in writing about age six when his parents gave him a rubber-type printing press. He immediately started producing a newspaper for his local neighborhood in New Orleans. In high school, he initially thought he might become a historian or a biologist – two other strong interests – but eventually he realized that if he entered journalism, he could write about all three of his interests: current political and legal events, history, and nature. He graduated from Loyola University and then Stanford University, served an internship on the Washington Post and joined the Pulitzer-winning Riverside Press-Enterprise in California -- where he won numerous awards for his narrative and environmental reporting and writing. Seattle University hired him to teach in and chair its Communication Department and, in 2005, named him a full professor. He teaches courses in narrative journalism, communication justice, media and sexual/gender justice, and international communication in Asia.

From Exile to Belonging: The New Gay Marriage Story in Washington

This February, the fight for gay and lesbian marriage in Washington state is finally moving toward a successful legislative conclusion — some four decades after two men,  Faygele benMiriam and Paul Barwick, went to the court house in King County to demand a license. They were, of course, denied. The two later filed a lawsuit that made its way to the Washington State Court of Appeals which ruled that marriage was between a man and a woman only. What’s fascinating, of course, is that both men worked more from a fraternal understanding of how extended and innovative gay relationships could be constructed rather than a romantic mindset. Neither especially believed in that triple supremacy of romantic, heterosexual monogamy — but they did believe queers everywhere had a right to claim whatever type of relationship they wanted.  Theirs is one of the many stories you can read in Gay Seattle: Stories of Exile and Belonging.

For the present, the accolades go to those legislators, especially state Senator Ed Murray, who patiently worked through years of objections with a step-by-step approach: a judicial challenge to the states Defense of Marriage Act (sorry to say the judges had not enough courage to strike down the law); a domestic partnership law; an “everything but the marriage word” domestic partnership upgrade; and finally gubernatorial support and legislative success.  A new story for another edition of Gay Seattle!

Jump to excerpts from Gay Seattle about the first attempt by two gay men to secure a marriage license in Seattle in 1971

 For an update on current relations between the Seattle Catholic Archdiocese and the local LGBTQ community, following the recognition by Washington state of marriage equality, see “Mass Uprising” by Dominic Holden in The Stranger.