Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

« Source: Gay Pride Organizing G... | This Is Not A Coincidence, And... »

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Pride Parade

posted by on April 24 at 10:15 AM

SOaP—the group that moved the pride parade downtown last year—is having a meeting tonight to decide what the hell to do. They owe Seattle Center 100K and the planned post-parade festival at Seattle Center has already been cancelled. Tonight SOaP is meeting and may decide to disband and/or cancel the downtown pride parade too.

Let’s back up for a minute:

Last year whiners predicted that a downtown parade would be a poorly attended disaster and under the divisive “leadership” of the LGBT Center (never writing them a check) hosted a competing event on Capitol Hill. The Seattle Gay News did its level best to create the impression of controversy and predicted that the parade on the hill would be bigger and and better attended than the parade downtown.

On Pride Weekend 2006 Seattle’s gays and lesbians voted with their feet: the LGBT Center/SGN “Queer Fest” was a poorly attended disaster; the downtown parade and the festival at Seattle Center were a smash. The downtown parade attracted ten times as many people as the Capitol Hill parade. (And that’s if we accept the LGBT Center’s doubtless inflated estimates of Queer Fest attendance.) People were giddy after last year’s parade through downtown; the parade was invigorated, meaningful again, symbolic of the arrival of gays and lesbians in the mainstream of this city’s cultural life.

The shit storm over this year’s pride events can’t be allowed to erase the positive memories of last year’s event. It’s worth pausing for a moment to review some of the coverage of last year’s pride events. The 2006’s post-parade coverage can be read here, here, and here.

And here are some choice quotes from last year’s Pride Parade wrap-ups in the Seattle Times, PI, and Stranger:

The march traditionally has been held on Capitol Hill, the epicenter of the city’s gay community. But this year the parade for the first time marched from Westlake Park to Seattle Center. For many, the walk right through the heart of the city was special.

“There was a sense, marching down the streets today, of having arrived. Of being viewed as equal,” said state Rep. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, who strode down the broad, leafy avenues of Fourth Avenue holding hands with his longtime partner, Michael Shiosaki. “I think the fact that people felt comfortable downtown is new. Michael and I hold hands on the Hill. We don’t downtown. But we did today.”

Most interviewed at Sunday’s parade, supported the move to downtown. “With so much going on with legislation about our rights, it’s really important to be seen as just a part of the larger community,” said Keith Smith of Seattle as he stood near the Belltown fire station on Fourth Avenue.
On Saturday evening, the business-backed rival parade on Broadway, meant to be a finger in the eye of the Seattle Out and Proud committee, turned out to be little more than a whimpered lament grafted onto the normal night-before-Pride dyke march. Then, on Sunday morning, under a hot sun, more than 200,000 gays and gay-watchers voted with their feet, gathering along Fourth Avenue to watch Seattle’s first downtown Pride Parade. The sidewalks were clogged and the spectacle was well-received. The appearance of so many homosexuals (and their fans) in the heart of downtown Seattle accomplished its un-ghettoizing aim. And afterward, the Seattle Center grounds were packed with celebrants. A dykeish-looking female police officer was spotted dancing in the Center’s main fountain with a large group of half-naked homos.

That’s what really happened, folks: the leaders at SOaP made the right choice in moving the parade downtown. People went, people loved it—ten times as many people attended the parade downtown. Bear that in mind when you read quotes like this one from yesterday’s PI:

“They were doing things that were not the will of the people,” said Susan Benner, who helped coordinate last year’s Saturday-night parade. “I am very pleased to hear that it is not going to be downtown. Whatever happens up here on the hill will be much more to the people’s liking.”

Huh? Who is this douchebag and where does she get off speaking for “the people”? The will of the people was pretty clearly expressed last year: people preferred the parade downtown. There were ten times as many people at the parade downtown than there were at the Capitol Hill sulkfest. The parade downtown was much more to people’s liking than the parade on the hill.

The one thing the parade downtown failed to do, of course, was raise enough money to cover its expenses—some of which appear to have come as a surprise to SOaP. (From today’s Seattle Times: “On the surface, it appeared a huge success. Then the city sent a $97,000 bill — a figure that came as a surprise to some Seattle Out and Proud members — and letters asking for a payment plan.”)

So what to do? Well, SOaP—which in the time its taken me to write this post has moved from contemplating disbanding to actually disbanding—has the permits for a parade through downtown on Sunday June 24, 2007. What SOaP doesn’t have is the right to stage a festival at Seattle Center after. But as I pointed out yesterday, Seattle Center is open to the public—there’s actually nothing to stop SOaP—or the group they decide to hand off their parade permits to—from staging the pride parade along the downtown route. Then after it’s over the gays can quietly file back up the hill. Or we can storm into Seattle Center anyway, take over the fountain, and have a big DIY picnic party blowout. If you can’t party without booze, fill a water bottle with vodka. If you can’t enjoy the fountain without pounding house music, bring a boom box or your iPod. We can have what we had last year—just without the elephant ear stands and community group booths. And is that really a loss?

I also want to second, again, what Dom said yesterday. There’s a role for the city to play here. The pride parade had not only outgrown the Broadway route and the Volunteer Park rally site symbolically, it had outgrown both sites physically. It needs to be downtown, and the city knows it. And the city should step up, forgive the debt, create a new permitting process that makes Seattle Center available for “free-speech evnts” at reduced rates, and help make this event happen.

Sadly, as things stand now, the parade will most likely limp back up the hill and into the arms of the reactionary douchebags that did all they could to discredit last year’s move downtown. These douchebags claimed to speak for the whole community then—people like Susan Benner, the idiots at Seattle Gay News, a useless LGBT Center that actively works against the clearly expressed wishes of the gay community—and they’ll claim to speak for the whole community now. It’s galling enough to see them win. We don’t have to let them re-write history: The parade downtown was a success, people preferred it, and but for SOaP’s financial crack-up there would be no question about the route of this year’s parade.

RSS icon Comments


I would just like to point out that Susan Benner - who is quoted as speaking 'on behalf' of the people' is a city employee.

Posted by Disappointed | April 24, 2007 10:30 AM

Who in the city government has the authority to change the permitting process?

IOW, who do we all write to?

Anyone want to organize a letter/email-writing campaign on this?

Posted by Tiz | April 24, 2007 10:34 AM

Those are a bunch of haters. Especially SGN, which is a permanent bunch of losers.

Posted by Andrew | April 24, 2007 10:34 AM

Sounds like a great sponsorship opportunity for the Stranger...

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | April 24, 2007 10:34 AM

Jesus Christ. If Seattle has one defining characteristic, it's the inability to reach anything approaching consensus on any issue, no matter how large or trivial.

If you want true meaning and symbolism, move the parade to the viaduct.

Posted by Sean | April 24, 2007 10:50 AM

I'll say once again that if we did have to have the effing elephant ear stands (and I agree we don't) we could end the downtown route in Myrtle Edwards, which will be as "free" as Volunteer Park is/was.

Tho' I must admit I'm completely enamoured of the idea of TAKING OVER the Seattle Center and partying our asses off know...uninvited. As if we were citizens of Seattle choosing to enjoy a city landmark en masse....

Posted by el ganador | April 24, 2007 10:50 AM

Come on Dan, cough up the green and buy this thing. Then you’ll have editorial control and can turn it into the kick-ass party it should be. (Just think “The Stranger Gay Pride Parade” could be as iconic a brand as “The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade”.)

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | April 24, 2007 10:51 AM

If the gay community -- who is the direct beneficiary of this event -- can't pay for it, then the city certainly shouldn't. Or are you promising not to bat an eye when the Million Man March gets subsidized? Keep it privately financed and we keep control.

This event should not move back to the gay ghetto of Capitol Hill. Have the parade downtown and just congregate afterwards at the Seattle Center as suggested here. As for the missing food vendors and booths for community groups, they are not what this event is about. Ninety-nine percent of participants will not miss them. It's like the misplaced concern about Capitol Hill businesses losing business due to the change of venue. This event is not about providing a forum for community organizations or profits for gay-friendly businesses. It is about everybody in the community coming together.

Posted by Not on the Hill | April 24, 2007 10:53 AM

I don't understand this:

More than 200,000 people attended last year's celebrations, but Seattle Out and Proud didn't make enough money from sponsorships and donations to cover expenses, which were far greater at Seattle Center than when the events were on Capitol Hill.
So if everyone who visited dropped 50 cents in a bucket this wouldn't be an issue? If the downtown event was such a success, why don't they hold a fund raiser? set up a pay pal account and get people to put their money behind it if they like it so much.

if the people who go don't care enough to pay for it, why should the city?

Posted by hey buddy, spare fifty cents? | April 24, 2007 10:59 AM

I agree with Dan. Last year's downtown parade was a big success. There should be no going back to the crusty, lame BWay parade. It's stale, dated, and root-bound. The thing has grown up and needs to keep moving forward. The citizenry at large (read, not gay) also accepted and welcome the move. You can't not build on that.

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | April 24, 2007 11:00 AM

There must be at least 50,000 gays in Seattle, right? Everyone donate two dollars. Everyone has two dollars.

Posted by sniggles | April 24, 2007 11:08 AM

I wouldn't go around saying the hill-folk "won" so much as they simply persisted. A Salacious Crumb type of vermin, cockroach-like, hiding under the fridge until the owners move out.

Sometimes when shooting for the stars, the rocket blows up. Put that in your crack pipe and shmoke it.

Oh, and obviously soAp needs some folks with actual business acumen who would not be surprised by a $97,000 bill. That's not a "surprise," but a huge, staggering mistake that rightly cost the organization it's existence.

Posted by diggum | April 24, 2007 11:08 AM

@9 Sadly, they put out the donation boxes last year, which they borrowed from the Folklife Festival and got a total of about $25.

Posted by Disappointed | April 24, 2007 11:09 AM

It's true, last year's downtown parade was bigger than the one on the hill. But Dan points out that "the people" somehow "voted" between one or the other. Methinks that "the people" turned out on Sunday, the traditional day for the Pride Parade, out of habit. Saturday is always the smaller of the two events. I do agree downtown was and is better, but not because "the peeps" were thinking about it any more than they do any other year. So, if the Queer Fest had been held on Sunday, it would have been well attended and vice versa.

Posted by xu-tech | April 24, 2007 11:17 AM

They received $200 in donations in those "buckets" because they left a few on the grounds with no staffing, expecting a miracle.
~No grand announcements asking for the attendees to help.
~No explanation as to why money was needed (they knew the bill would be $100K).
They had a captive, supportive crowd at the Center and they just ignored the opportunity to engage. No excuses!

Posted by ummmm | April 24, 2007 11:18 AM

I like the Capitol Hill location for the parade. Having it there is a nod to the old timer gays who made the neighborhood safe to hold hands in. It serves as a connection to the past when just holding hands in that neighborhood would have ended up with police being called and the two dudes ending up in Western State Mental Hospital for the rest of their lives.

Up there, with the old building and familar haunts, I remember that Seattle's Stonewalls were there... and still are despite the haters who still today want to drive them out and down into hell. Downtown simply makes me think about how everyone breaths the same air, but in the shiny and new downtown. Feeling proud of the freedom is one thing, but forgeting why that 80 year old man with the ascot is crying, well, that's not right.

Forget the tourist trap downtown. It would be nice if the Power-that-be-Pride could have a march go up Olive or Denny. That metaphorical statement would be fab.

Except those are two damn steep hill to have a parade of cha cha heels on. Damn, this City has a lack of parade routes and suitable event parks, doesn't it?

Posted by Phencis | April 24, 2007 11:21 AM

And the city should step up, forgive the debt, create a new permitting process that makes Seattle Center available for “free-speech events” at reduced rates...

dan, seriously? i totally understand your passion and support for this event but, come on. "free-speech events" is a pretty broad umbrella.

why should the debt be forgiven? the city doesn't hand-hold other events that fail financially, no matter how many people are in attendance or how fun the party is.

i agree that PRIDE should be downtown. but, it seems apparent that the move was made with little thought given to the future and a lack of financial planning.

if PRIDE is to be taken seriously, it must behave responsibly. and that means the community needs to suck it up and stop the infighting that tarnishes this event.

Posted by kerri harrop | April 24, 2007 11:22 AM

Donation boxes need to be handled the way they are in SF. While not mandatory, revelers are channeled by ropes or fences past someone holding a donation box and a bunch of stickers indicating a donation. $5 is common. Anyone with a sticker is given a slight discount on beer and snacks within the party area (the vendors agree to this in order to take part in the festivities) People fork out the cash several times a year at each of the various street parties down in SF. I can't imagine it would be difficult for the lgbt community to get people to donate at one event.

Posted by Cameron | April 24, 2007 11:27 AM

@15 Yes, you are right, they were NOT staffed. And acutally they made $121. $100 went right to the NW Folklife Festival for use of the boxes. Not to make excuses or anything.

Posted by Disappointed | April 24, 2007 11:30 AM

The Fremont Solstice Parade seems to do a good job of raising money and asking for donations....and they do it without corporate whoring....

Posted by michael strangeways | April 24, 2007 11:41 AM

Corportae whoring huh, ever think about the fact that this is a way for businesses to give back to the Patrons that support THEM?? If you look at the website you will see that Macy's was to be a spnosor. I have spent a ton of money at Macy's and see this as them giving something back, helping fund our party. What a typical Seattle thing for you to say.

Posted by que sera sera | April 24, 2007 11:46 AM

@20 Yes, they do, but the Pride Parade was never the problem. It is the Festival.

Posted by Disappointed | April 24, 2007 11:47 AM

In SF we march right down the main street (Market St.) through the financial district, the shopping district and right to the steps of city hall where we dance the rest of the day away. It is sad that a city so often compared to SF does not embrace and cherish its LGBT community. Our mayor should call yours and tell him/her how it is done.

Posted by Sam | April 24, 2007 11:52 AM

Unlike Susan Benner, I won't pretend speak for the rest of the homo world. I can only speak for myself.

As a middle aged homo, I had grown completely bored with the tired Capitol Hill parade. I have not gone in years. I thought about going last year, but stayed home. Call it inertia. The parade has been boring for years, and I wasn't convinced that moving it would really make much difference one way or another. But everyone I talked to afterward, every article I read, all talked about how much more fun the downtown parade was.

I was actually getting excited to go to Pride this year. I haven't been excited about the Pride Parade since, oh, about 1990. I've gone a few times out of a sense of obligation and to hang out with friends, but haven't actually been excited about the idea in ages.

To Susan Benner, you do not speak for me.

To the SGN, LGBT Center, and whoever ends up taking over the parade this year: If it stays downtown, I plan to go. I'll be exited to go. I'll donate money to the cause. I'll encourage people I know to go too. I'll support the vendors and buy elephant ears or whatever.

If you move it back to the hill, this is one middle aged homo who will stay home. Bored. Again.

Posted by SDA in SEA | April 24, 2007 11:56 AM

Michael @ 20, the Solstice Parade is produced in conjunction with the Fremont Street Fair, which totally does it with "corporate whoring." The event is primarily sponsored by Adobe, Red Hook and Microsoft. But since Pride is a controversial political event, they probably could never raise enough corporate sponsorship to pay the massive Seattle Center tab.

Posted by Dominic Holden | April 24, 2007 12:02 PM

THEY should do this, THEY should've done that... what have YOU done to support Pride and/or make it what YOU want it to be?

Posted by blameitonthebossanova | April 24, 2007 12:03 PM

whatever, que sera, sera....

grow up....

MOST of the monster corporations don't fund pride events out of the goodness of their hearts....IT'S A MARKETING OPPORTUNITY!! don't be so fucking naive...

and you know what, i don't MIND Budweiser sponsoring and appearing in the parade, just DO A FUCKING FLOAT OR ANYTHING CREATIVE INSTEAD OF DRIVING A BEER TRUCK DOWN THE STREET!! (of course that goes for everyone...our parades SUCK because there is very little creativity put into the entries..)

and you did a typical Seattle 'thing' and entirely missed the point of my post....the Fremont folks put on an ENORMOUS parade and festival every year, DON'T have financial disasters AND do it in a fun, creative way...


Posted by michael strangeways | April 24, 2007 12:07 PM

thanks Dominic...i knew that but didn't make it clear in my post...i admire Fremont because they don't allow advertising IN the parade...

BUT other cities put on Parades/Pride Festivals with huge corporate funding, (NY, LA, SF).... why on earth should Seattle Pride be any different? The LGBT Film Festival gets major corporate sponsors and some of the films they show are pretty raw...

It all boils down to the fact that amateurs have been running Pride for the last 30 years and it's time for folks to realize they need to hire PROFESSIONALS to fundraise and organize an event this huge...

Posted by michael strangeways | April 24, 2007 12:12 PM

Phencis @ 16, You should know your Gay Seattle history: The original pride marches (which really were marches) took place downtown, because that's where the gay bars were. It wasn't until the early 80's that the bars started relocating onto Capitol Hill in any numbers. Prior to that time, Broadway was the "restaurant and furniture store district". Really.

Why don't we have the march START at the center and end at Westlake? There's a fountain there, and it's a nice stroll up the hill.

Posted by Old man with Ascot | April 24, 2007 12:17 PM

I think forgiving the debt this once would not be a bad idea, if some strings came attached. The existing organizers would probably have to step aside, and their replacements would have to rehire those fundraisers and other professionals who would keep the festival and parade afloat.

And if it doesn't happen and we invade Seattle Center (guerilla Pride Festival?), leave the house music at home. I think it would be really fucking refreshing if I could go to one fucking gay event without having to hear fucking house music.

I will say this though. If the parade isn't downtown this year, I ain't going, I ain't participating, and I'll spend my Sunday with my dog at Magnuson Park. After last year's parade, I just can't go back to that piece of shit that hasn't been impressive since I was 18 and experiencing my first Pride.

Posted by Gitai | April 24, 2007 12:18 PM

Its naive to offer a different perspecitve rather than villify corporate sponsorship? They can choose to sponsor or not and many decline to do so for fear of their image. From post #25 its obvious that you are the naive one as you were clueless that the Freemont Festival DOES have much do you donate to this festival you love so much? Where do you think the money to put it on comes from?

Posted by que sera sera | April 24, 2007 12:19 PM

I'm poor...of money....
I'm rich....of spirit...

I donate my TIME....
I donate my CREATIVITY....
I volunteer about 30 hours a month to QArts...
I'm making a float......

What the hell are you doing?

Posted by michael strangeways | April 24, 2007 12:27 PM

I like the idea of starting at the Center and ending at Westlake. I sure this is ridiculously implausible, but what about Nordstrom and/or Macy's sponsoring the after parade events? After all, Nordy's is hometown, and they both certainly owe a lot to the gays (or the gays - at least many that I know - owe a lot to Nordstrom and Macys ;-)

Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay | April 24, 2007 12:33 PM

So the answer is $0.0 I take it. And yet you villify sponsorhip. hmmmm.

Posted by que sera sera | April 24, 2007 12:38 PM

Why not start the parade at Westlake and end it at Cal Anderson Park?

Posted by Trey | April 24, 2007 1:21 PM

People from Chicago come to New York for Gay Pride.

People from Minneapolis go to Chicago for Gay Pride.

People from North Dakota go to Minneapolis for Gay Pride.

Clearly, the only answer to this dilemna is that everybody in Seattle go to North Dakota for Gay Pride.

Enjoy Fargo!

Posted by Boomer in NYC | April 24, 2007 1:21 PM

Hey...tired old doris day song....(and i love that song, so you are ruining it for me....)no....i'm making a float...floats cost one is giving me any money so i'm imagining i'll have to pay for some of it and you still haven't answered my question...WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO SUPPORT THE COMMUNITY? (i'm not really impressed by giving $10 in cash...that's nice, but actually getting off your tired ass would be more impressive....)

Posted by michael strangeways | April 24, 2007 2:54 PM

My "tired ass" donates approx. 10-20 hours per week to a gay non-profit, I have helped them secure sponsorship opportunites for their events with nothing in it for me (which is why I am of course disturbed by your whoring comment)
In addition I have helped Gay City, the LGBT Community Center and HRC secure donations of products and services that they have used as prizes and in Silent Auctions for fundraising events. I have also created a program through my company that can either create an added values to become a member to a non-profit organization or be used in a way to reaise funds for them. I have worked with Flying House Productions, the American Cancer Society, the Arthriits Foundation and the Leukemia Society. If you MUST know. Probably was more fun when you just thought I was somebody who sat on my ass and simply bitched about things huh.

Oh ... and I donated my old car to the humane society last year.

Good look with your float.

Posted by que sera sera | April 24, 2007 3:17 PM

good for you; i stand're a wonderful assest to the community...(seriously)...BUT, i donate my time too so don't give me shit 'cause i'm poor and can't donate money.....and i don't 'just' make floats.....(which is important too, by the way....)And I still think Fremont runs the best parade/festival in town cause they have intelligence, principles, artistic vision and integrity....AND they don't let beer trucks in their parade...which was the original point of my post, which you failed to notice...(and Budweiser could give a rats ass about gays, or anyone else for the matter; they sponsor EVERYTHING cause people drink beer at events...its NOT out of the kindness of their big, warm old hearts...which makes them whores but i never said i didn't like whores...i just like them painted up and not driving a goddamned beer truck down the street)...peace...

Posted by michael strangeways | April 24, 2007 3:28 PM

I agree, the Solstice Parade is fantastic and well.....its still operating. :-)

Now dont be letting me ruin Doris Day for you! Nobody's nasty slog should have the power to do that!

Cheers Michael and again good look with your float.

Posted by que sera sera | April 24, 2007 3:39 PM

fights are's making up...

we want the same thing...

peace, love, happiness...

and i hate the Oscars 'cause they haven't given Doris Day an Honorary Oscar....

Posted by michael strangeways | April 24, 2007 3:53 PM

I still think Cameron has the best idea. Filter people past a donation box, and have a donation be good for a discount from vendors. BOOM, I bet you make the money you need, even with minimal sponsorship.

Posted by Gomez | April 24, 2007 4:00 PM

Gomez - Why not just charge a modest admission. I know tha gay boys understand how a cover charge works...

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | April 24, 2007 4:06 PM

FYI - if you change the use of the Seattle Center from a free Festival to one that chares admission the fee to use the center increases DRAMATICALLY - plus you then need to bring in fencing and baricades to colse it off as you now really cant afford people to sneak in. What Folklife festival does is the best way around it and why they do that.

Posted by que sera sera | April 24, 2007 4:19 PM

You know why they don't charge admission for parades? Because it's hard enough to reasonably seal off a several block stretch of road from traffic, let alone tying to set up gates at every nook and cranny for admission. That sucker would get crashed like Woodstock.

Posted by Gomez | April 24, 2007 6:37 PM

Comments Closed

In order to combat spam, we are no longer accepting comments on this post (or any post more than 14 days old).