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Friday, September 9, 2005

It all began innocently enough…

Posted by on September 9 at 13:05 PM

An organizer with Lambda Legal asked me if the Stranger wanted to pitch in with the “day of the decision” party @ Volunteer Park to celebrate the (expected) state Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality. I passed that request along to Dan (I’ve got no power around here).

Now, we obviously love the gays, and we love a party. But Dan immediately, and loudly, declined, because there’s a glaring problem with this Volunteer Park celebration: Location, location, location:

The celebration should be in a civic space, not the gay ghetto.

In other words, let’s celebrate at the county building, where licenses are issued, and where this state Supreme Court case literally began, when Ron Sims escorted couples into the marriage licensing office (only to turn down their requests for applications). The county building is the most logical and meaningful gathering place, just as the downtown Federal Courthouse was the best place to gather in impromptu celebration of the Lawrence v. Texas U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Volunteer Park, as Dan points out, is mainly symbolic of Seattle’s gay ghetto. It’s in the middle of Capitol Hill, it’s known for hook-ups in the bushes, and it’s the annual (at least until next year) end point of the debaucherous gay pride parade.

I pointed this out to Sarah, at Lambda Legal. She replied:

Hi, Amy, Thanks for letting me know about Dan's blog! I believe the intention of the gathering in Volunteer Park is for there to be a LGBT community gathering, not a media event per se. Perhaps a separate event should be planned, as Dan suggests, for mainstream media consumption.

That's flawed logic. This is a HUGE decision, and a massive news story. The medialocal TV station camera crews, the city's daily papers, even national news reportersare going to be itching for celebration scenes for their stories, and they'll definitely head to Volunteer Park, if that's where gay community groups have decided to hold a "community gathering." The media won't differentiate between a community gathering and an official press conference downtown at the county building, if one should happen. (Sarah seems to suggest the Stranger should organize it. Wasn't organizing a protest march, and sparking the damn lawsuit enough?)

The "community gathering," given the magnitude of this decision, needs to be planned with an eye toward how it'll play on the front pages the next day. Because the media will be there.

That's my two cents, at least. Dan has seven or eight more, in response to Sarah:

I didn't say the event was solely for media consumption, i said it was a considerationif they do anything to the word out about the event (which they'll have to do if they want any GLBTs to hear about it and show up), the mainstream media will know about it. And they'll come, invited or not. And you can't exactly have a private "just for the GLBT community" gathering in a public park.

Also, where is it written that LGBT gatherings, if that's what this is, have to take place in sleazy public parks? Where is it written that Seattle's LGBTs can't gather in a large civic space to celebrate our full civil equality?

And a second event for "mainstream media consumption"? That's ridiculous. The MSM will not only come to the park party, I have no doubt the planners will INVITE them. And it's going to be wrongit will look wrong, and it will communicate the wrong things about who we are, what this means, what we want.

Clearly whatever money we raise at the event the Stranger does, isn't going to Lambda. I love Lambda's national groupthey're the only gay rights group I send big checks to. But the local folks seem to be dopesfrom Jamie [Pederson] sliming me in the Seattle Times to this woman failing to understand the importance of this event, or the symbolism of gathering in a civic space (as opposed to a public sex environment!), the local Lambda people seem pretty dim.

(Add a few cents of your own, in the forums.)