City Marching in Different Directions
posted by May 7 at 9:30 AMon
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.