Oct 7, 2005
Volume 33
Issue 40

Tuesday, Dec 01, 2020 02:43

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The park doesn't give you a picture of Cal Anderson the man, so we want your remembrances,anecdotes and stories to give an accurate tribute
The park doesn't give you a picture of Cal Anderson the man, so we want your remembrances,anecdotes and stories to give
By Rajkhet Dirzhud-Rashid - SGN A&E Writer

I wasn't there for the opening ceremonies to welcome the public into the newly opened Cal Anderson Park, but my editor was, and George and I decided that that ceremony left something out. That something was the essence of who Anderson was, who we remembered when we looked back. So, this story, mine, kicks off what I hope will be a series about just that, Cal Anderson, the person, the man the park is named for.

I was a new reporter at SGN, having just moved to Seattle and immediately joined the staff of the paper, which was then located on Pike street, next to the old location of R Place. The bill that would make it illegal to knowingly transmit AIDS to another person was being debated on the Olympia Senate floor and Anderson was a fiery, but grounded young legislator, and openly Gay politician who wanted to make sure Gay rights had a voice in Olympia.

He came into the office, introduced himself, because I was in the front office, not busy and I think I might have been the first person he saw and the fact that I was new made him want to know me. We chatted about the bill, about other things I've now forgotten eighteen years later, and he accompanied me to the backroom, the layout room and we talked some more as I gave my story to the layout person, Otter. Otter left and Anderson looked at me, eye to eye and asked if I thought he was doing a good job as legislator. I said 'yes', I thought he was, and when he shook my hand, I said he had a firm handshake, something I valued, particularly in a politician. He smiled, a very generous, genuine, but also humble smile and said he appreciated my honesty (or something similar), and said that I was to tell him if I ever thought he wasn't doing a good job, if he wasn't working for the Gay community and all of the people who trusted him. We shook again, and I said I would, and he went back into the front office area and probably talked with my editor some more. I've never forgotten that moment, and when Anderson died from AIDS-related illnesses several years ago, I got tears in my eyes, because I knew that not only had the Gay/Lesbian/Bi/Trans community lost a leader, but Washington had lost a great legislator and that kind of innocence and openness had been lost too.

Send in your anecdotes, remembrances to and do keep them brief, and we'll print them together in an upcoming issue.

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October 15- 23, 2005

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