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Friday, June 27, 2008

Proud in a Hostile Land!

posted by on June 27 at 10:56 AM

Somewhere between here and Portland lies, among other things, a peculiar little berg called “Centralia”. I know. I’ve never heard of it either. But while we Seattlers or whatever twitter and fuss over our own meager Pride doings, the gays of Centralia Community College are fearing for their proud gay lives.

A spokesdyke from the Centralia Community College Gay Straight Alliance appeared on KING 5 News last night to share the flurry of hate-messages and evil letters that her group has received since they announce their intention to march in Centralia’s annual Fourth of July Parade. She expressed the growing fear for their personal safety in light of the mean-spirited barrage, and says that at this point, unless an armored car or Spiderman or something is provided for their gay, gay protection, she and the group are opting the hell out.

“I don’t want someone to get shot…I don’t want someone to get beaten up afterwards…”

The full report from KING 5 can, and should, be seen here.

(And please forgive Jean Enersen’s face. It’s not her fault.)

RSS icon Comments


All I know about Centralia is that they have a restaurant just off the freeway called "The Country Cousin"... where they use goldfish as croutons!

I can also see where the homophobia comes from; I went there with a pack of loud queens, and I thought we'd get rolled in the parking lot for sure.

Posted by UNPAID BLOGGER | June 27, 2008 11:10 AM

I've only blown through Centralia during the STP, but it's a nice place to have a massacre I think.

Posted by kinaidos | June 27, 2008 11:13 AM

Lewis county is basically a little patch of Idaho in western WA, complete with methlabs and white supremacists.

Posted by Jerod | June 27, 2008 11:17 AM
a peculiar little berg called “Centralia”. I know. I’ve never heard of it either.

Yeah, it's only the site of one of the most important events in the history of the state. Why on earth would you have heard of it?

Posted by Judah | June 27, 2008 11:18 AM

As a kid, I got beat up in Lewis County just cause I liked the Pet Shop Boys and not Country music. Glad I got out of that place.

Posted by m | June 27, 2008 11:19 AM

If you go to support them in the parade, clap extra loud for the rainy city roller girls too. It's not easy being in a small town.

Posted by jkjk | June 27, 2008 11:24 AM

Oh and go drink at McMenamins there, it's actually pretty awesome.

Posted by jkjk | June 27, 2008 11:25 AM

The I-5 corridor between Centralia at the north end, and roughly Battleground to the south, is chock-full of unabashed racists; even my own maternal grandmother, an otherwise sweet and innoffensive woman, has been known to drop the "n word" in casual conversation.

Centralia, is also infamous for being the site of the 1919 "Centralia Massacre", in which four members of the local American outpost were killed by members of the IWW after allegedly attempting to raid their union hall during the Armistice Day celebration.

Even though the event occured nearly 90 years ago, there are still families in Centralia who refuse to have dealings with each other because of which side their ancestors supported.

Posted by COMTE | June 27, 2008 11:33 AM

@2 & 3: Wow. I think my grandma and her parents were living in Chehalis then. But I've never heard of any of this; thanks for linking it. I guess it's not something they want to teach in middle school when we all get state history-fied. (Though I'm going to mention it to my friend who is teaching that very class this year...)

Posted by Organized Lightning | June 27, 2008 11:38 AM

I've been to Centralia quite a few times. It has the northernmost Burgerville on Earth.

And some outlet stores -- including a huge Christian Family Stores outlet with a big VeggieTales billboard abutting the offramp. Hmm, gee.

History tells us that Centralia does not like lefty commies et al, so teh gayes may have good reason to worry.

Posted by K | June 27, 2008 11:44 AM

Centralia has quite a history of bloody marches.

Posted by Jason | June 27, 2008 11:45 AM

Centralia really, really doesn't like to talk about the Wobblies murders, even today. But it's a nice little town. My grandparents lived there (he taught at Centralia College), and I spent many happy hours there. Even though the highlight was always a trip down to Chehalis to go to Yard Birds.

The Olympic (the McMenamins place mentioned by jkjk above) is an awesome pretty much untouched pool hall, bar, and restaurant. The food's pretty crappy, but it's a gorgeous set of rooms. The men's room is one of the Wonders of Washington. And the outdoor patio is a pretty nice place to drink a beer on a hot day with trains rolling by.

But I can definitely see how it would be much less attractive a town if you were gay there. Shame.

Posted by Fnarf | June 27, 2008 11:50 AM

@ 4, it would have been useful to actually impart some knowledge rather than demean Adrian for not knowing Centralia's history. For those of us who are not from the NW, we appreciate the education.

Posted by Thanks | June 27, 2008 12:00 PM

I think it would be folly for them not to march. People have gone against far greater danger for many causes, and for these kids to not walk because of "fear of a beating" is a disgrace to the multitude of gay people before them (not to mention any minority or cause).

Hell, them walking and standing proud against the haters will be a testament to the other young people there, perhaps too afriad to come out. It also puts a face to the bigotry, rather than staying in silence.

While I am not gay and can't fathom how hard it is, I do know it will be worth it for those people to stand up for themselves and their rights.

Posted by Original Monique | June 27, 2008 12:17 PM


There was a link to the Centralia Massacre in the comment prior to mine.

The Centralia Massacre, like the Everett Massacre 3 years earlier and the Fort Lawton riot during WWII are seminal events in the history of the region, prior to the tech boom of the 1990s. None of it really matters now because so many new people have moved here that the cultural antecedents of the 20th Century have been rendered more or less moot. I think it would be fair to say that the Chicago fire is probably more historically relevant to the current population of Seattle than the Seattle fire was.

But those of us who grew up here, and who considered the Centralia Massacre to be important in our cultural and regional history, are bound to be a little irritated when someone like Adrian makes it obvious just how thoroughly the living history of the region -- my history, Comte's history and and the history of other regional natives -- has been obliterated by immigration from other parts of the country.

I'm not offended by Adrian's ignorance, so much as I'm offended by his accidental display of it; it's rather on the scale of moving to New York City and referring to Hell's Kitchen as "Clinton" in a casual conversation with a New York native, or moving to Seattle and calling Downtown "the West Edge" because that's what you saw on the signs when you were walking around down there.

Posted by Judah | June 27, 2008 12:17 PM

Most of Thruston, Lewis and Cowlitz counties are as "red state" as it gets. I sometimes wonder if the Chehalis river tosses out biblical type floods every ten years or so because that's the God they believe in down there in the hollar.

Although I do miss Yardbirds. Walmart is such a pale shadow of that place.

Posted by Westside forever | June 27, 2008 12:18 PM

@ 14 - are you going down to Centralia?

Posted by UnoriginalAndrew | June 27, 2008 12:19 PM



Posted by Judah | June 27, 2008 12:22 PM

Thruston County! Innocent typo @16, but it made my day-- thanks.

Posted by Joe M | June 27, 2008 12:29 PM

Centralia is also home to the best mexican food I have ever had in this state (and yes, I've been to eastern WA), La Tarasca

Posted by jess | June 27, 2008 12:30 PM

Being on the opposite coast, the only Centralia *I* have heard of is the one in Pennsylvania - which is abandoned because of a fire in the coal mines beneath the town. So thanks for the history lesson - it was intresting.

But I feel sorry for the kids in the gay-straight alliance, it must be Hell living amounst Neaderthals.

Posted by Schweighsr | June 27, 2008 12:36 PM

@17 and 18:

I would, but I don't go to that school. I'd be some asshat from Seattle. People in that community need to speak out. Like I said, I know its hard...not saying it's easy!!!! But the benefits are so huge.

BTW, I have marched in gay pride parades, been part of the gay-straight alliance, fought anti-gay people openly at: school (high school and college), on the street (ripping apart bibles, spitting on religious nut-bags, etc), on the internet, in my family (extended family that is mormon), at church (when I was forced to go to mormon church I brought my openly bi friend- he went in a skirt), etc.

I also have done the same for womens rights, when the religious bigots protested my high school 3 times a year with pictures of dead babies (you kmow, cause that is what abortion looks like...). Several times being physically removed by school officials before the cops came.

So yeah, if that was my school I'd walk alone if I had to.

Posted by Original Monique | June 27, 2008 12:39 PM

Centralia is worth a drive through for two things, their more authentic than usual McMennamins and THIS GUY:

He will take you for a tour if'n you happen to catch him at home.

That sucks that the bigots are winning. I hope they get rained on.

Posted by merve | June 27, 2008 1:02 PM

Please excuse Adrian Ryan's vague bitterness toward everything.

Being so alone and make a girl that way.

Posted by Non | June 27, 2008 1:09 PM

original monique? will you kick non's ass for me please?

Posted by adian | June 27, 2008 1:35 PM

According to friends who work in the area, Centralia is actually the most liberal of the local burgs thanks to its Wobbly heritage. Chehalis (a couple miles south) is reportedly even more batshit nuts backwards.

"One big union, that's our plan ... "

Posted by Kalakalot | June 27, 2008 1:50 PM

@Non, don't be an asshat. And yeah, if you if honestly think "Being so alone and (I assume you mean can) make a girl that way"
Then I will bet me, Poe, and ECB can easily find reason to "kick some ass" for:

1) being offensive and annoying to adrian
2) being offensive and annoying to women
3) being offensive and annoying to slog

All in 1 post! You are shooting for a record.

Posted by Original Monique | June 27, 2008 1:52 PM

thank you o.m. thank you.

Posted by adrian | June 27, 2008 2:02 PM


Well aren't you just a martyr for the cause.

But the point you're clearly too self-righteous to grasp is that no amount of zeal on your part gives you the right to armchair quarterback someone else's activism when the threat of immanent physical harm is involved.

Posted by Judah | June 27, 2008 2:25 PM

Ignore the threats! Really! Be brave and have as many cameras with you as you can. I have marched since the days when they jailed us for dancing together. I didn't care if they did beat me. I found there is an amount of safety in numbers. Carry cameras and photograph the threats.

Posted by Vince | June 27, 2008 2:36 PM

(copy + paste)

Honestly though your bitterness is going to ruin what is left of you.

If you check into anything you have ever written and look at it through the eyes of a casual reader, you might find yourself wondering: "who exactly is this guy mad at?" "where does this hate come from that he is projecting on even the most innocent of subjects (i.e. Jean Ennerson)?"

It's painfully obvious that you have a bone to pick with somebody...or yourself.

Or maybe it is just your schtik.

Either way, it's pathetic.

Posted by Non | June 27, 2008 3:33 PM

One of my favorite little getaways is to jump on the Amtrak to Centralia, spend a few hours shopping on the somewhat depressing (but full of antique shops) main street, topped off my a nice lunch at the Olympic, then back home on the train.

One of the antique stores has the most fabulous staircase that tells me that there must have been some homos there at one time or another. Staircases like that just don't happen.

I'd be on the train to Centralia for the parade to show my solidarity in a hot second, but I have to go to Omaha, which is worse.

Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay | June 27, 2008 4:39 PM

ok, Non, fuck off! you're starting to irritate the hell out of me. I AM one of the people in the GSA who wrote to Adrian about this...I know Adrian, even though he's never been there , he is aware of the attitudes from Lewis County.
The reason we aren't marching in the 4th of July parade is simple, hate crime...
All the things Sarah Block was reading off is here. and After you get there type centralia college pride in the search bar and read the comments.

Don't piss me off Non. I will be the one to show you what a bitch from Lewis County can really do!

Posted by brandon berlin | June 27, 2008 10:48 PM

@Judah: gay rights is a human rights issue, and has nothing to do with zeal. it has to do with conviction. If you are fine with bigots in your area, fine. If not, then do something.

people in the 60s and 70s dealt with more than we could imgaine, so good for them and shame on us..."oh no! I might get beat up by some jocks!" instead of "oh i might get killed by cops!"

@non: you're a moron, and it's painful to imagine you, being so ignorant. Just sayin.

Posted by Original Monique | June 27, 2008 11:27 PM

@Original Monique

Yes, well, I was there for the marches in the '70s and, honestly, the WTO thing here in Seattle was a lot more violent and involved a much heavier-handed use of police force than pretty much anything I'd seen before.

Look, basically the problem here is that you've mythologized public protest into some kind of epic battle of good against evil -- which, for the most part, it isn't and rarely has been. It is sometimes necessary to risk getting into a physical confrontation with an angry mob but there are usually faster and more radical ways to create change with a computer and a little elbow grease.

You're right that gay rights is a human rights issue, and has nothing to do with zeal. So it's not entirely clear to me why you think you're in a position to judge someone else's activities based purely on what you perceive to be a lack of zeal. A person's enthusiasm for being severely beaten or killed isn't actually an accurate measure of their commitment to the cause of justice. If it demonstrates anything, most of the time it simply demonstrates a profound lack of imagination.

Posted by Judah | June 28, 2008 10:54 AM

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