Homo Clark and Rasmussen Fail to Unite Pride
posted by May 4 at 11:31 AMon
Yesterday Seattle City Council member Tom Rasmussen had this to say about today’s pride parade meeting at City Hall…
It gets very complicated very quickly, particularly for community groups, when there are two parades or festivals over two different days in two different locations,” says Rasmussen. “They have to get volunteers and materials and staff to two different places, and that’s taxing. Ideally we should have one event..”
Rasmussen and Sally Clark—the two gay members of the Seattle City Council—sat down this morning with representatives from SOaP, the group that moved the pride parade downtown last year, and the LGBT Community Center, the organization that ran a rival parade the night before on Capitol Hill. Rasmussen was a few minutes late because he stopped to pick up cupcakes from Cupcake Royal.
As everyone now knows, last year’s downtown pride parade was popular success—more than 200,000 people attended—but the equally-if-not-more-popular festival at Seattle Center after the parade was a financial disaster, leaving SOaP $100,000 in debt. The LGBT Community Center’s rival parade on Capitol Hill attracted far fewer participants; the Center claims 20,000, people that attended put the number at 3,000. A few weeks ago SOaP announced that it was disbanding and declaring bankruptcy; the LGBT Community Center pounced, announced that it would be organizing pride—and moving the parade back to Capitol Hill, and the festival back to Volunteer Park. Then SOaP reversed course, decided not to disband, cancelled the festival but committed itself to organizing the parade downtown on Sunday.
This morning’s meeting had the stated goal of bringing both groups together to work on one set of pride events—i.e. one parade, one rally. But after the meeting Clark and Rasmussen announced that Seattle is going to have two pride parades, on two different days, in two neighborhoods—but at the same hour of the morning. The LGBT Community Center will organizing a Capitol Hill parade on Saturday morning, June 23, at 11 AM; SOaP will be organizing a downtown parade on Sunday morning, June 24, also at 11 AM.
According to Clark and Rasmussen, SOaP and the LGBT Community Center had already been meeting to coordinate their efforts.
“Maybe the fact that they knew they were going to be meeting with Sally and me helped,” said Rasmussen.
The groups pledged to Clark and Rasmussen that they would continue to work together.
“We pressed them on that. What does working together mean? They agreed to weekly meetings, to go over where everyone is at. Shannon [Thomas] was clear that the LGBT Community Center was working on Queer Fest 2007, or the Pride Festival, or whatever they’re calling it. And their march is scheduled for 11 AM Saturday.”
Last year the LGBT Community Center’s parade was held at night before SOaP’s parade, which did help to distinguish it in some ways from Sunday morning’s parade. However, the LGBT Community Center and the Seattle Gay News actively encouraged people to attend the Saturday night event and in place of the traditional Sunday morning parade. With both events scheduled for the same time but 24 hours apart, the distinction between them seems blurrier than ever.
“Look at it this way,” said Clark. “You have many things to choose from for pride weekend, and you can set alarm at 10 AM for both days.”
In this morning’s meeting the LGBT Community Center argued that their parade will be distinct from SOaP’s. “Shannon was clear that her thing is supposed to be more of a political march,” said Clark, “and less of a colorful celebration or a ‘parade.’ They’re doing something different, and they’re not interested in competing. They’re just trying to respond to community members that say they want pride events on Capitol Hill.”
Rasmussen is confident that Seattle’s two pride parades will be distinct.
“The Capitol Hill one is going to be much more a walking neighborhood ‘parade,’ political type of event, no floats—those kind of limitations,” said Rasmussen. “The downtown will be the one with floats and a lot larger. Each one will have its own unique style and appeal.”
But the logistical headaches posed by two parades—for participants, not organizers—remain.
“Logistically, sure, for organizations like Lifelong or the GSBA, for nonprofits and politicians, it’s going to be like, ‘Oh, my god, we have to get the troops out to one or the other or both.’ That’s still an issue. But I’m going to get out to both and I hope everyone will.”
Two other developments came out of this morning’s meeting:
The groups floated the idea of creating a community advisory board. “Some sort of umbrella group to oversee and advise the many organizations that do events for pride,” said Clark. “They’re not sure now if it would be an informal group, or network, or a seperate 501c3 that does fundraising for pride events as well as overseeing them.”
The groups also hope to hire one person to coordinate sponsorships for both events.