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Seattle Gay History: The 922
Section One
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Seattle Gay History: The 922

by Don Paulson - SGN Contributing Writer

Bill Parkin, owner of the 1960s Pike Street Tavern and who still knows everyone on the planet (and then some), was bartender at the 922 Madison Tavern from 1970 to 1976. It was owned by Mac and John, who changed the bar's name to the 922. They also owned the Gay 614 First Ave. and the 611 Second Ave. and were whistleblowers that brought down the infamous police payoff system. The 922 represents the movement of Gay bars from Pioneer Square to midtown, and eventually to Capitol Hill.

Bill Parkin remembers: "The 922 was a straight tavern that became a women's bar circa 1960, the first of its four incarnations. Gay men then never called Gay women Lesbians; we called them dykes and the butch ones bull dykes that you never messed with.

"The owner of the 922 would get impatient with the women because they'd order a beer and nurse it all evening. One night a woman got mad, grabbed the jukebox and slung it across the room where it rolled and hit the wall. The owner got so mad he turned on the lights and closed the tavern.

"When I was hired on, me and my big mouth got to working and the guys started coming in and the women gradually stopped. It became kind of a leather/biker/pool/pinball bar, but it was a comfortable place, not raw edge. I wore my Wellington leather pants. The biker club the Border Riders made the 922 their home base. If you had a bike, you got a beer stein with your patch on it. I let them park their bikes inside the tavern because they would be stolen by roving guys in trucks. They even had ramps on their trucks. There were never more than two bikes inside but I never let them start their engines inside."

Rose Bohanan remembers: "The men and women had a good relationship at the Madison/922, the only place we could meet as equals, not like Madame Peabody's Dancing Academy where we preferred to separate. Same-sex clientele could not dance with each other - we still did but when a cop came in we'd quickly switch partners. This straight guy kept asking this Lesbian sitting at a table next to me to dance but she refused every time. A guy sitting at her table finally said, 'Maybe you'd rather dance with me?' The straight guy flew into a rage and a fistfight began, but the bouncer put a stop to it. In 1968, one of the biggest knock-down, drag-out fights occurred at the tavern. It had been a women's bar for quite some time when they started building the First National Bank across the street. Quite often sailors came up from First Avenue and tried to crash this 'bar for women.' One night they all arrived at the same time as well as hardhat workers next door. We had a room full of tough Lesbians and women in high heels. They all came in at once and before the night was over the fight had begun. The women were not going to be pushed or talked back to, so all hell broke loose. The fixtures were torn off the walls and women were dragging these men out on the sidewalk just beating them to death. It was a grand and glorious evening. We made a statement, it was our Stonewall."

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