• A Sudden Light Interior


Portrait of William Rufus King

Portrait of William Rufus King, circa 1840’s

When mansions like Riddell House were built, the project foreman often first built a small but comfortable cottage on the property.  Later, this cottage was turned into a guesthouse or the caretaker’s house.  The cottage on The North Estate was the perfect place for Ben and Harry to share time together.

Homosexuality has been alive and well in Seattle for a very long time; in fact, Seattle is famous for an openly gay bar, The Casino, which opened in 1930 and allowed same sex dancing, which was prohibited at the time. 

Seattle’s county, King County, was named after William Rufus King, briefly the 13th vice president of the United States, and longtime companion of James Buchanan.  King and Buchanan lived together for many years, and were often referred to as “Miss Nancy,” and “Aunt Fancy” by their Washington DC friends.  So it seems that the Northwest is steeped in a GLBT tradition.

Benjamin Riddell, Elijah Riddell’s gay son, espoused ideas that reflected those of 19th Century thinkers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, David Thoreau, and even reaching back further to the wonderful poetry of Walt Whitman, who was both a “modern” thinker and quite possibly homosexual or bisexual, or, as one critic suggests, “omni-sexual,” because his love for the earth is as great as his love for any man or woman.

 From A Sudden Light

page 99
“Gays are everywhere,” he said. “Throughout time.”

“So, it was common?” I asked. “You know, the gay thing?”

“The gay thing is always common. It’s just a matter of how it’s accepted by the culture of the time.”

 More about GLBT