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Petition launched to save Seattle's nude beach
Denny Blaine Park: A community's struggle to preserve a cultural and nudist landmark
SEATTLE, WA — Denny Blaine Park, an iconic nudist and queer-friendly space in Seattle, Washington, is facing a significant change. The City of Seattle is planning to add a children’s play area to this popular park, renowned for its clothing-optional beach and as a queer community hub.1 The proposed play area, intended to fill a gap in local amenities, is slated to be built on the park’s northwest edge, an area with public access to Lake Washington. Amidst these developments, a petition was launched to halt the construction of the play area, rapidly gaining hundreds of supporters within the first 24 hours of its creation.
This plan, budgeted at $550,000, is set for community engagement and design in Fall 2023, with construction expected to begin in late Summer or early Fall 2024. A community meeting to discuss this development will be held on December 6, 2023, at the Martin Luther King FAME Community Center.
A history of nudism and inclusivity
Denny-Blaine Park, rooted in the early 20th-century development of Seattle’s Denny-Blaine neighborhood, has a rich history. Originating from the vision of Elbert F. Blaine and Charles L. Denny, the neighborhood was designed with a focus on natural landscapes and lake views. The park, initially a part of this planned community, was later absorbed by the city in 1932. Its beach area, exposed by the lowering of Lake Washington’s level in 1917, became a distinctive feature.2
Over the years, the park has been a haven for the nudist community and has been affectionately nicknamed “Dykiki” due to its popularity among lesbians who frequented the beach for nude and topfree use.3
The park’s reputation as a nude-friendly space was further cemented with events like the World Naked Bike Ride Seattle, which held its bodypainting party there in 2008 and 2009.4
‘Save Denny Blaine’
In response to the proposed development, an online petition and letter campaign have been established under the banner ‘Save Denny Blaine.’ The petition argues that the park is a critical space for queer and trans individuals to express and celebrate their identities in a world that often marginalizes them. The initiatives point out that while Seattle has many green spaces suitable for children's play areas, nude beaches like Denny Blaine are scarce and serve a unique purpose in the community. The campaign urges locals to reach out to officials suggesting alternatives like Viretta Park, Lakeview Park, William Grose Park, Alvin Larkins Park, or Madrona Park as more suitable locations for the new play area.
Historically, it is not uncommon for nude beaches to be threatened by community development plans. The situation at Denny Blaine Park mirrors a recent incident at Hanlan’s Point in Toronto. In early 2023, a proposal to build a 20,000-person festival venue near Hanlan's Point, a historic queer space and nudist beach, sparked significant backlash from the community. The plan was eventually dropped following organized community action which highlighted the beach’s historical and cultural importance as a queer and nude-friendly space.5
The ‘Save Denny Blaine’ petition has attracted hundreds of signatures in just the first twenty four hours since it was first published on Change.org on November 17th. Public comments have also already begun to populate on the page. Many of the comments underscore the beach’s importance to the LGBTQ+ community. A very small sample of notable comments follows:
“This is a historic and precious part of the queer community in Seattle. Please don't take away this important resource. I personally bike down to Denny Blaine quite often in the summer. It’s a spot I feel safe and accepted, and can enjoy the lake with a book, or strike up a conversation with like-minded new friends. The naturist community does not equate nudity with sexuality, a fact particularly relevant to my feeling safe hanging out alone, as a female-bodied person. I am extremely grateful that Seattle has a space like this.” - Leslie J.
“I frequent Denny Blaine park, and this is not a place to encourage children to go. It is very peaceful, but it is nude. The people who go here do not harm anyone, and it is legal to do so here. The community has been going for many years, and disrupting it is messing with important Seattle culture that gives its citizens a special, social and accepting environment. Just put the playground somewhere else!” - Tara S.
“This is a crucial community space for queer folks.” - Haven W.
“Denny Blaine is an important space to me and the queer community to feel open and free about our bodies. It’s a beautiful queer space in the city to enjoy the sun, hang with friends, and vibe in one of the only openly nudist spaces in the surrounding areas. Please do not allow the city to build a children’s play area at this park! It would sanitize and erasing yet another queer space from the city. The optics look horrible and will cause unnecessary conflict by turning a notoriously nudist park into a place where families will bring their children. Please reconsider the creation of this play area, and look to other parks in the area to fulfill this desire.” - Jacob L.
The upcoming community meeting on December 6th is a crucial platform for local residents and Denny Blaine Park supporters to express their concerns and help shape the future of this valued space. If you live in or around Seattle, we urge you to attend this meeting and voice your opposition to the project.
Your involvement doesn’t have to stop there. You can further support the cause by signing the Change.org petition and contributing to the letters initiative, particularly if you have fond memories of the beach. Find all the relevant links below.
This is more than just a local issue; it's about preserving a unique cultural and natural space for future generations. By taking action, whether it’s attending the meeting, signing the petition, or sharing this message with others, you become a part of a larger movement to protect our communal spaces. Let’s stand together for Denny Blaine Park and ensure its legacy continues unaltered. 🪐
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jseattle. (2023, November 16). City of Seattle planning addition of ‘children’s play area’ to popular nude hangout Denny Blaine Park. Capitol Hill Seattle. https://www.capitolhillseattle.com/2023/11/city-of-seattle-planning-addition-of-childrens-play-area-to-popular-nude-hangout-denny-blaine-park/
Tess Faury on behalf of Seattle Academy. “Denny Blaine Park.” Clio: Your Guide to History. June 5, 2020. Accessed November 18, 2023. https://theclio.com/entry/105531
Wikipedia contributors. (2023, August 23). Denny-Blaine Park. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved [2023, November 18], from https://en.m.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?oldid=&title=Denny-Blaine_Park [revision ID 16:48, 23 August 2023]
Wikipedia contributors. (2023).
Atkins, C. (2023, June 6). Nude revival: Toronto’s Hanlan’s Point Beach will now be bigger than ever. Planet Nude. https://www.planetnude.co/p/nude-revival-torontos-hanlans-point