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Monday, May 7, 2007

Marching in Different Directions

posted by on May 7 at 9:30 AM

I wasn’t here for last Friday’s announcement that there will definitely be two Pride Parades this year, one on the morning of Saturday, June 23, on Capitol Hill, and the other on the morning of Sunday, June 24, in downtown.

But I wanted to say, a few days late though I may be: This is ridiculous.

The two gay Seattle City Councilmembers, Tom Rasmussen and Sally Clark, called the competing parade organizers down to City Hall on Friday, with Rasmussen saying in advance of the meeting that one parade was preferable to two. Which is completely sensible. And yet the meeting ended with… two parades.


One of the things I meant to say in my Stranger piece on the future of Pride is that Seattle’s parade organizing mess is exactly the kind of community squabble that calls for intervention by the politicians who represent that community.

Kudos to Rasmussen and Clark for trying, but it doesn’t sound to me like they were ready to really play the heavies and tell the squabbling children what was going to happen. Instead, we have a solution designed to offend no one and annoy everyone. We have two parades (and, in a departure from last year, both of them will start at 11 a.m. on their respective days, making them even more similar) and we also have talk of creating yet another community organization to oversee Pride planning in the future.

When bickering community organizations are the problem, the last thing needed is another community organization. And, having two competing parades this year is not just silly, it’s a pain—for the organizers, the police, the confused parade-goers, and, not least, for the interest groups and politicians who have to decide which parade to attend.

It sounds like some gay politicians plan to march in both parades this year, and I guess it’s a lot to ask a politician to stay away from a parade, but here, again, is a missed opportunity for leadership from the elected gays who have huge sway in the gay community.

What gay politicians should do is pick a parade. And they should pick the downtown parade, which a majority of the community prefers. They should say to the Capitol Hill paraders: If you want to have your parade, fine, but we’re not marching in it.

If Tom Rasmussen and Sally Clark (and also Sen. Ed Murray and Rep. Jamie Pedersen, who both represent Capitol Hill in the state legislature), all said they were sticking with one parade this year, in an effort to stop the annoying intra-gay competition and confusion and, in that favored phrase of politicians, “move forward,” people would listen. The community would listen. Other politicians (meaning, straight politicians) would listen. It would send a huge signal about which way Seattle’s Pride celebration is going.

The result would be very un-Seattle, but it would be very helpful. We would have leaders showing leadership, and we would know where to follow them: Downtown.

RSS icon Comments


That is never going to happen though. I will boycott the Saturday parade even though it is near my house, I think that is going in the wrong direction.

Posted by Transit Man | May 7, 2007 9:35 AM

Though none of us were in the room, I suspect that both Tom and Sally did not play the hardball they could have to resolve this. These are emotionally charged activists and expecting them to be reasonable is like asking for a good martini in Yelm. I hope the Ed comes in a plays bruiser, it actually serves the community better than passive aggressive city council methods.

Posted by StrangerDanger | May 7, 2007 9:36 AM

OR we could stop bitching about it accept it as a fact for this year try to make it the best damn pride we can have. THEN after pride we can get to the bitchin figure this shit out for NEXT year so we Don't have this happen again. Really we need to get organized before oh you know the last 2 months.

my second problem with all your slogs on this is how we have to keep hereing how awsome lst years downtown parade was.
Id actully be intersted in seeing the #'s on both parades this year if the sunday one doesn't have an offical rally at seattle center to add to its pull. It seems stupid to say that the sunday parade last year was better attended OF COURSE IT WAS it was at 11 am and there was a fucking huge party afterwards.

Posted by CodyBolt | May 7, 2007 9:43 AM

we need strong politicians to take over the democratic processes and re-order our priorities away from small-minded neighborhood concerns and toward downtown.

where have i heard that before?...

Posted by wf | May 7, 2007 9:53 AM

Cody, you were one of those people who said "This is going to be the best prom ever!" in High School after the town got flooded and the gym was destroyed, weren't you?

Posted by DE Dono | May 7, 2007 10:05 AM

Josh, I was totally with you about the stupidity of two competing parades, about the apparent uselessness of the meeting with Clark and Rasmussen, about yet another new community organization.

But the suggestion that the politicians skip the Capitol Hill parade, and attend only the downtown parade isn't going to happen.

The result of the meeting and the two parades is that the downtown parade is supposed to be the big fun party parade, and the Capitol Hill parade is supposed to be the political march and rally. (What is left unsaid is that there will be huge overlap in both parades.) Despite the Stranger's universal and strong promotion of the downtown parade, your own straw poll showed 45% of SLOG readers still want a Capitol Hill parade.

So in the end, the politicians can't afford to snub the Capitol Hill parade. At least not in its current form. If they decide to skip one, they can more easily justify skipping the downtown parade since (A) the Capitol Hill parade is supposed to be the political march, and (B) the downtown parade will supposedly be attended by partying young twinks and hipsters who don't vote anyway (not entirely true, of course, but you get the drift).

No, the only way you are going to get one parade is if the city issues only one parade permit, or if someone drags SOaP and the LGBT center into a room and forces them to agree on one parade.

Posted by SDA in SEA | May 7, 2007 10:10 AM

My dojo (we once won Best Drill Team) isn't marching in the Saturday parade. We can't. For the past twelve years, we've held a testing on the Saturday of Pride Weekend and marched on Sunday. I suspect that there are a lot of other organizations with similar dilemmas, that they have tons of stuff to do on Saturday that precludes participation. Personally though, I would never participate in another Capitol Hill parade. It represents that point of view that says Seattle should NEVER change, no matter what, that everything in Seattle has already been made perfect, and that anyone who wants to change things isn't a legitimate Seattlite.

Posted by Gitai | May 7, 2007 10:20 AM

Here's a thought. The city tells the organizers they will only permit ONE parade, and the organizers have ONE week to decide which parade the want to go through with. If the bitchy little queens can't reach a compromise, the permit will go to the parade that applied first.

Posted by samdinista | May 7, 2007 10:22 AM

Here's a thought. The city tells the organizers they will only permit ONE parade, and the organizers have ONE week to decide which parade the want to go through with. If the bitchy little queens can't reach a compromise, the permit will go to the parade that applied first.

Posted by samdinista | May 7, 2007 10:22 AM

The city tells the organizers they will only permit ONE parade, and the organizers have ONE week to decide which parade the want to go through with.

1) It's not the city's job to sort out the issues between Seattle's premier Gay Origination's

2) The city would get sued for discrimination if they denied permits to one and not to the other.

Posted by DOH! | May 7, 2007 10:40 AM


If that were to happen samdinista we'd be having the Capitol Hill March because SOaP doesn't even have a permit yet, they're due for their hearing on Wednesday.
Hell, we still might have one if the permit board doesn't feel like babying SOaP after not living up to their commitments last year.

Posted by Enigma | May 7, 2007 10:42 AM

Great, now the WHOLE city will be covered in litter!

Posted by Steamboat Willie | May 7, 2007 10:43 AM

Whatever we do this year we've got to get this fixed by next year.

Posted by CodyBolt | May 7, 2007 10:44 AM

For anyone who still thinks duel parades is a good idea, I refer you to the split over the Gay Games last year.

The official Gay Games was originally scheduled to be in Montreal in 2006. But because the previous several Gay Games lost money (sound familiar?) they wanted to have a more modest event with better financial planning and transparency. Montreal organizers wanted a huge event, twice the size of previous Gay Games. Gay Games freaked, pulled their backing, and moved Gay Games to Chicago instead. Montreal changed the name and went ahead with a competing games. So one week apart, last year there was Gay Games in Chicago and World Outgames in Montreal.

It should surprise no one that both were poorly attended. Serious athletes cannot compete at that level at two events one week apart. Lots of people cant take time off work for both. There is also the issue of the money necessary to attend both events. Team sports were impacted much more than individual sports. Likewise, not many spectators were willing or able to attend both events. They had trouble getting sponsorships for two competing games (sound familiar?).

Outgames in Montreal lost over $5 million. Gay Games in Chicago lost money too, although less because they planned a more modest event.

Despite crappy attendance, lack of sponsors, and loosing money, both are still saying they will have competing events next time (Outgames in Copenhagen in 2009, Gay Games in Cologne in 2010).

Like our parade(s), there was a lot of behind the scenes backstabbing and infighting over the gay games. Like our parade(s), most casual participants and spectators were only vaguely aware of all the behind the scenes problems, and simply had to choose one to attend, or skip it altogether.

I'm not sure what the solution to the parade problem is, or how to get the SOaP and the LGBT center to cooperate. But I know for certain that holding two competing parades a day apart is a really shitty idea.

Posted by SDA in SEA | May 7, 2007 10:46 AM

They should create a committee to study the matter, then mail out a survey.

Posted by Jameson | May 7, 2007 10:57 AM

There is only one Seattle Pride Parade. It's downtown. It has been happening for decades and has been being planned since last year, it already has dozens of individual donors supporting it financially, multiple sponsors, a permit in process, a website (, an experienced organizer who has worked on it for the last 8 years, a large print sponsor, a float contest, a board made just to run it, a sponsorship director, a marketing director, dikes on bikes, a confirmed grand marshal, etc, etc, etc.

I hear there is now also a 'political march' on Broadway outside of the new frat bars and empty buildings. It's been being planned for about a week. Not sure why the organizers want to create a competing event, maybe they are too tired to walk down the hill.

Posted by tbf | May 7, 2007 11:02 AM

"On the West Coast, 60% of the bee population is missing. Here on the over-achieving East Coast 70% has gone missing. It's called CCD - Colony Collapse Disorder when a bee hive's inhabitants suddenly disappear, leaving only queens, eggs and few immature workers. Sounds like a Gay Pride planning meeting I attended once." -- Comedian Kate Clinton

Posted by andy niable | May 7, 2007 11:18 AM

Same old shit, different year. This isn't the first time this town has seen two Pride parades and won't be the last - '84 was the last time, and it just about happened in '97.

Party vs Politics. Corporate vs Grass Roots. It never ends.

Two parades suck, both will be poorly attended, and with any luck most of the organizers of both events will fade back away into the woodwork after it's all over.

SOAP threw a big fun event that screwed the pooch for everyone in town with their less than stellar organizational skills. Failure.

LGBT Center threw a smaller, deliberately non-competing event last year, and at least broke even; but wasn't *fun* for a lot of people. Again, Failure.

'07 is locked in. Quit beating the horse, attend what you will, support what you will, and start thinking of how we avoid this mess in '08.

And the Hill event isn't going away in '08 - too many folks willing to step forward and do it themselves if the current organizers step aside.

Posted by pixel | May 7, 2007 11:25 AM

Because nothing will bring the community together quite like making the parade process MORE politically divisive!

I read your piece Eli, and it was as laughably biased as any piece written by Dan or ECB. I love how the backstory of your 'news feature' was 70-80% personal opinion, one your editor and a few influential friends happen to share and have successfully incoulated a good portion of the LGBT community with.

Congratulations, Stranger, on successfully creating a conflict out of nothing!

Posted by Gomez | May 7, 2007 11:37 AM

Exactlly #18 I love The Stranger but its time to stop crying about this and start getting ready for pride. THEN we really need to focus on fixing next year some how.

Posted by CodyBolt | May 7, 2007 12:01 PM

@19: My story wasn't labeled a 'news feature.' It's an opinionated feature, and I think/hope that is made pretty clear by its tone and its packaging.

Posted by Eli Sanders | May 7, 2007 12:04 PM

I thought of it as an essay, actually.

Still, Eli, you're a monster. How do you sleep at night?

Posted by Dan Savage | May 7, 2007 12:09 PM

@11 - currently neither march has a permit. SOaP has a history of getting their's though. And last year their march did live up to it's commitments, in fact it made money. It's their festival that didn't work out, and they wisely chose not to do that this year. But for 2007, SOaP has both community support in the form of volunteers, sponsors and individual donors, internal structural support in the form of a board, sponsorship director, and marketing folks, etc.

The reality is, whatever mistakes SOaP made in the past they have learned from them and improved their organization to put on a successful event. LGBT Center hasn't. That is evidenced at every level . Consider their financial supporters, the number of volunteers each has, and the amount of people who attended each of their events last year. Look at their websites. At every level SOaP is the winner. LGBT Center should just do what they do best, run an LGBT Center, and they should be worrying about how they will pay their bills, not taking on another major project.

Posted by tbf | May 7, 2007 12:48 PM

Hmmm, I think the Eastside needs a competing Pride event... Kemper Freeman can we borrow your Christmas drummers?

Posted by Cameron | May 7, 2007 12:49 PM

@ 23

The LGBT Center has permits for a Saturday March along Broadway and Rally/Festival in Volunteer Park. They've had them for over a month now.
And the Festival is one way The Center has decided to raise funds and support the community.

Posted by Enigma | May 7, 2007 1:05 PM

#23 Have you been asleep?

About the time SOaP was collapsing or declaring bankruptcy - the C. Hill event was issued a final - all OK - permit by the city. Done, sealed and delivered.

Just checked with the city - park people said SOaP will get a permit too, with conditions for more potties and better cleanup - later this week.

Going to all of them in costume and very lots of pride.

(Rumor - RINSE is doing parade in Ballard, SUDS contemplating an event on Queen Anne Hill)

Posted by pride fairy | May 7, 2007 1:11 PM

This is a broken record. Dan and Eli are cranky cuz someone took away their discord binky.

Somoene needs a nap...

Since both organizations agreed to this gig don't you think it's time for you guys to stop bitching? And, Eli, telling people not to march on Saturday? Maybe you are a monster...

Posted by dr. thompkins | May 7, 2007 1:42 PM

@25 and @26

If LGBT Center has a march permit, it's not for the morning unless they made plans to do this before SOaP released their info about not doing the festival. I'm sure their permit was for what Shannon did (and barely pulled off) last year. But good for them, everyone has a permit.

If Shannon is plannig on raising money for 'the community', let's hear who she is giving the money to. And since her event didn't make money last year, what money exactly are they planning on giving out?

Posted by tbf | May 7, 2007 2:17 PM

None of this would be an issue if the festival at Seattle Center had made money last year. Why didn't it make any money (or enough money)? Because Seattle lesbians and bears are too damn cheap (like this isn't whispered about). If people just wanna plunk their asses down and watch it all go by then give 'em a shit parade and let them savor that shit sandwich for a year until the next Pride comes around. The tune might start changing come February.

Posted by Kitty | May 7, 2007 2:51 PM

Fund acquisition was part of that, I've got to admit. They had all those people there last year, but no real method in place to acquire financial support or gratuity from them. I hope, for all this bickering, that developing a method is a key topic of discussion.

Posted by Gomez | May 7, 2007 3:06 PM

Gay "Pride" is not very evident in all this sniping.

Posted by Tulach | May 7, 2007 3:55 PM

At the parade - on the route - they passed buckets, I put in a twenty as did most of the people around me, two people, big metal buckets almost full of cash.

What happened? Just one part of a giant crowd very willing to donate. Sorry, All the SEAFAIR events are free except the hydros for premium seats.

Better advance fundraising, accounting and cash controls are called for. Doesn't not matter which pride event, all needed.

Posted by pride fairy | May 7, 2007 4:38 PM

There's the very real possibility that this could turn into a good thing. Don't want to sit through a parade with lottsa political types and no floats? Go downtown. Can't stand dico boys and beer trucks? Go to the the Hill. A whole weekend of Pride all over the city with lots of options for screaming or cheering is not such a bad idea.

But a reporter telling you to boycott one or the other? Despicable.

Posted by dr. thompkins | May 7, 2007 5:43 PM

Ummm...that would be disco boys not dico boys...freudian slip...

Posted by dr. thompkins | May 7, 2007 5:44 PM


The Saturday Capitol Hill event should have been modeled after San Francisco's Saturday night festivities in the Castro - an evening Dyke march followed by a huge street party. If it doesn't adapt and the downtown folks get their shit together, the Capitol Hill parade will die in a year or two.

As an aside, I went to Castro event once and was completely bent at the time. Was I imagining all the hardcore stuff I think I saw, or was that shit real?

Posted by Sean | May 7, 2007 6:24 PM

Sean - this is a really good idea. The Saturday/Sunday thing could morph into something really great.

(Eli and Dan - see what you can come up with when not blinded with misplaced rage?)

Posted by dr. thompkins | May 7, 2007 8:11 PM

Uh... Dr. Thompkins?

Please read Eli's feature in last week's Stranger.

Posted by Dan Savage | May 7, 2007 8:22 PM

Dan, Eli's article was great. I can't think of a journalist with more insight into Seattle's various social crises, especially (but not limited to) those involving gays and jews. I'm probably Eli's biggest fan.

That said, his pitch for Saturday was a little soft, and it was oddly fixated on parks, Cal Anderson in particular. Phrases like "if the parks department could be persuaded to agree" and "if people insist" make Saturday sound like a meaningless token concession. As anyone who's been to the Castro street party knows, it's not. It's when the real fun happens. Sure the parade is fun, too, but in a hungover Sunday sort of way.

The Saturday party should be in the streets where the businesses are, the businesses who are understandably a little upset because someone took their parade and its revenue and moved it downtown. Block off Broadway, Pike, and Pine, and let the gayest neighborhood in the nation's 2nd gayest city throw down like its big sister, the Castro. And fuck the food courts and beer gardens when there are scores of beloved restaurants and bars in our neighborhood who have dedicated their livelihoods to indulging our appetites.

Posted by Sean | May 8, 2007 12:55 AM

Sean should run Pride.

Posted by dr. thompkins | May 8, 2007 8:29 AM


Posted by Bill | May 12, 2007 6:50 PM


Posted by Bill | May 12, 2007 6:51 PM


Posted by Bill | May 12, 2007 6:51 PM

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