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Friday, April 27, 2007

The LGBT Community Center Supports Capitol Hill—Except When It Doesn’t

posted by on April 27 at 11:59 AM

The LGBT Community Center wants to wrest control of the pride parade from SOaP and move it back to Capitol Hill.

They say they oppose the downtown parade because Capitol Hill is the historic home of Seattle’s gay and lesbian community. That’s why the parade belongs here. Moving the parade downtown and the rally to Seattle Center was, they insist, an unforgivable betrayal of the gay community and, more to the point, gay business owners on Capitol Hill. (In actual fact Capitol Hill only became Seattle’s gay neighborhood in the 1980s. Pioneer Square is the “historic” home of Seattle’s gay community. Maybe the parade belongs there?)

The LGBT Community Center’s biggest annual fundraising event is the Fruit Bowl Awards, which honors “individuals and organizations in Seattle whom have made significant contributions to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender community.” Last year the Fruit Bowl Awards ceremony was held on Broadway, at the old Safeway. And where is this year’s Fruit Bowl Awards ceremony being held?

Seattle Center.

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Say what you will, but I prefer to watch the parade on Capitol Hill.

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 27, 2007 11:56 AM

Score one for Dan, snnnnap!

And, @1, some of us queers prefer the symbolism AND the wider sidewalks for watching a downtown march:

Enough ghettoism. If we want full empowerment and civil rights, we have to take our "pride" and our struggle to the larger community instead of huddling defensively in our own little neighborhood.

And trying to maneuver behind the 6-people-deep crowds watching said parade is a LOT easier downtown than on the skinny sidewalks of Broadway, in front of boarded-up empty businesses...

Posted by andy niable | April 27, 2007 12:20 PM

That cracks me up...

Posted by D-Bot | April 27, 2007 12:24 PM

What about the thousands of gays and lesbians who DON'T live on Capitol Hill? The guys across the street from me don't get a special neighborhood parade. I think at some point the LGBT folks (not just the Community Center; everybody) need to decide whether they're interested in Seattle, or just celebrating their former ghetto.

There's something to be said for celebrating a former ghetto, if you're accepting that it is in large part a return to the place where it used to be, not a celebration of where it is now. As long as you accept what that is. The Fremont Solstice Parade is a little bit like that now, with Fremont increasingly being the home of cubicle droids and condo dwellers who have driven out many of the funky hippies who saved Fremont originally. A lot of those people have to return from elsewhere to participate.

Is the Pride Parade like that? Or does it address the whole city? Teh Gayz are all over the place now; Capitol Hill is probably still the gayest neighborhood, but not nearly as much so as it used to be. Do gays who live elsewhere (probably a majority of them) feel that Capitol Hill is in some way their spiritual home, the place they want to return to each year?

the poll is just about evenly divided.

If the parade belongs downtown (as I think it does) then people need to stop trying to sabotage it. Unfortunately, seemingly everybody in this city has a private agenda, and no interest at all in whether it works in the bigger picture or not. My feeling is that that is EXACTLY why the parade has typically sucked so hard compared to other cities. A couple of beer trucks and a bunch of people laboring under the impression that walking down the street in ordinary clothes is brave: that's not much of a parade. That's why I stopped going years ago (even before I moved off the hill). Moving it downtown is, I think, the first step in making it more universal, which is important, and making it more professional and exciting, which is important too.

Conversely, keeping it on the Hill keeps it small and ghettoized, and keeps it flaccid and dull.

Posted by Fnarf | April 27, 2007 12:27 PM

Wait a minute. Gay business owners on the Hill are furious about the parade going to Seattle Center, and so is the LGBT Community Center. And then they move their own event to Seattle Center?

Hypocritical much?

The Safeway was torn down. But what about the Century Ballroom? Or the Garage? Or the Temple de Beth Hirsh Shiney Eyes? (Can never remember how to spell that.) Or that community hall on 19th? Or the new hotel at Broadway and Madison?

There are TONS of places to hold this event on Capitol Hill. Why did the LGBT Community Center betray Capitol Hill? After the awards the attendees are going to leave and patronize the bars in Lower Queen Anne and not the gay bars on the Hill--and gay people are OBLIGATED to drink only in gay bars and ONLY on the Hill.

Right, Shannon?

Posted by Quoting Oscar Wilde | April 27, 2007 12:28 PM

Funny Shannon Thomas doesn't even live in her beloved - Cap. Hill
She crosses the bridge like the rest of us to her home in WEST SEATTLE !!!!

Posted by BridgeTroll | April 27, 2007 12:32 PM

All this fighting and whining and bitterness certainly supports Seattle's reputation as the Number Two Gay City in America.

Except I think "number two" refers to shit, not rank.

Posted by Boomer in NYC | April 27, 2007 12:47 PM

@ #1 I agree Will if for no other reason but because its easier to roll out of bed after a fun saturday night.

Posted by CodyBolt | April 27, 2007 12:49 PM

Some of us really do not care if the parade even happens at all. Ever consider the reason many of us go is the same reason people slow down to watch a car accident? Just a thought.

Drop the parade and just have what we all want: An all out orgy!! I'll bring the peanut butter and lube!

Posted by Just Me | April 27, 2007 12:55 PM

There are great reasons to have the parade downtown, and great reasons to do it on the hill. It could be a great event in either location, or, as seems more likely, it could be lame in either location.

Dan, neither of your attempts to smear LGBT have been especially convincing. Rather than demonizing them, how about acknowledging that their position is reasonable (which it is), praising them for their dedication to the pride events (which they deserve), and seeking out a compromise (the hill gets Saturday and downtown gets Sunday, or the parade alternates locations every other year).

Step up, man.

Posted by Sean | April 27, 2007 1:51 PM

That's actually my position, Sean. Why can't we have both? Downtown and the Hill? But the SGN and the LGBT Community Center don't see it that way. They want to kill the downtown parade and festival. It would be easier to praise LGBT Community Center's efforts if they were as willing to support the SOaP and the downtown pride events as SOaP was and is willing to support the hill.

Folks that liked the parade downtown don't see this as either/or. That's how the SGN, Shannon Thomas, a handful of bar owners, and the LGBT Community see it though.

Posted by Dan Savage | April 27, 2007 1:57 PM

Good summation, Fnarf. The Hill is surely less gay than well before any condos started to appear. Didn't the 90's Hill gays all leave to buy houses?

South End Steam Baths, Pioneer Square: My memory of the place was directly related to the mickey mouse plumbing of the Colourbox, above, where I worked. Plumbing fails, angry phone call from downstairs ensues, wrenches and staff dispatched. I remember betoweled men, rows of cedar-plank rooms, a tiled pool, and steam, steam, steam.

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | April 27, 2007 2:44 PM

FNARF: never, never, never should a pride parade be flacid! Good word choice!

Posted by josef | April 27, 2007 3:05 PM

Dan, I'm sure there's plenty of history here, and maybe they are being maddeningly stubborn.

Regardless, given last year's financial issues, it seems the parade needs their support. To that end, you want to frame negotiations in a way that makes it easy and honorable for them to come around. The swipes you've taken here do the opposite - any compromise on their part at this point would be a humiliating public defeat that no self-respecting gay or lesbian would voluntarily submit to.

It's fine to be hard on the issue, but in this case I think you'll get further by being soft on the people involved. That's my $.02, anyway.

Posted by Sean | April 27, 2007 3:37 PM


It's not about stubborness. It's about underhanded dirty pool.

The LGBT Community Center helped to orchestrate SOaP's financial troubles by scaring off sponsors last year. SOaP still had problems (which the Stranger drove home in this week's story by Eli Sander), but they wouldn't be facing the debt they are now without the efforts of the above to bump them off financially.

If the LGBT Community Center wants to be handled gently by the likes of Dan Savage, and wants to claim that no one should take pop at them because they're a well meaning community-based non-profit, then they should behave gently with OTHER COMMUNITY BASED NON-PROFITS.

And I think it is completely legitimate for Dan to point out that the LGBT Community Center is pulling a "do as I say not as I do" when it comes to moving GLBT community events off of Capitol Hill and down to Seattle Center. If the Fruit Bowl Awards are good enough for Seattle Center, so is the Pride Festival.

Posted by Not Coming This Year | April 27, 2007 3:49 PM

For those folks out there that think putting on the Pride Parade and any festival is like planning a cocktail party, you're dumber than you look. The LGBT community center, SOaP, Freedom Day, The Big Gay Silly group of Big Gay Silly people, or what/who ever wants to put on the Parade will face the EXACT SAME challenges that are now faced by SOaP. Those challenges being bitchy gay folk that won't lift a finger to help but are full of ideas, dizzy queens that make suggestions on what should be done but never work to see them happen, and offensive know-it-alls that have the arrogance to suggest that Capital Hill is home to everything Gay. And one more point while I'm at it; I would like to see an accounting from the Capital Hill Business showing how much cash over the past 5 years they have given directly to the Parade and Festival. I bet it's under $1000 Total for that past 5 years.

Posted by Sargon Bighorn | April 27, 2007 4:05 PM

If I am not mistaken, the very first pride "march" - and I'm talking the early 70's, maybe even as a response to Stonewall, took place on Fifth Avenue. It wasn't a parade - it was a protest.

But after that, according to Historylink, the first pride festival was held in Pioneer Square in 1974. (with auxillary events on Capitol Hill):

The LGBT center should, at the very least, learn their Seattle history.

Posted by catalina vel-duray | April 27, 2007 4:31 PM

A few thoughts, observations and ideas (talk amongst yourselves):

1. Holding the Pride Parade downtown gives it better exposure to the whole metropolitan community, generates wider interest and participation throughout the metropolitan area and provides plenty of room to expand and grow. Soliciting sponsorship from larger corporations becomes easier, especially if the event is properly promoted and, of course, televised. Though it may have stumbled and even fallen down a bit in regards to its financial management, SOaP still seems to be the best qualified to produce the Pride Parade downtown this year.

2. The Pride Festival at Volunteer Park provides a good venue for community nonprofits and social groups to connect with the greater LGBT community that live outside Capitol Hill. It’s also a good place for a free, outdoor event. The Seattle LGBT Center seems willing, able and qualified to produce this event in cooperation with other nonprofits and Capitol Hill businesses.

3. Seattle Center provides a great venue for future, ticketed concerts and events. Properly managed by professional event companies in cooperation with SOaP, these ticketed events could pay for themselves and provide a revenue share opportunity for SOaP and other nonprofits like the Seattle LGBT Center that help to produce Pride Week and Pride Weekend.

4. Make the connection. Speak with the city about the possibility of creating a special bus route on Sunday that connects Seattle Center directly with Volunteer Park. Call the bus route the “Pride Express” and promote the hell out of it. The bus route would reduce traffic congestion, expand the available parking for both events, and provide a convenient way of bringing the two events and the greater community together.

5. The more, the merrier. Encourage local bars and businesses on Capitol Hill to host street fairs and block parties the week and weekend of Pride. You might even be able to add a couple of them as stops for the bus route (see #4).

If you don’t like how SOaP or the Seattle LGBT Center is managing itself, please volunteer, get involved and make a change. Whining and gawking from the sidelines won’t change anything except the level of noise and vanity.

Leadership requires that your focus extend beyond yourself…so does community. ;)

Things, which matter most, should never be at the mercy of things, which matter least. - Goethe

Posted by whodabear | April 27, 2007 8:09 PM

I read the article by Dan Savage claiming that the Seattle LGBT Community Center (The Center) is trying to "wrest contol" of the Pride Celebration for the purpose of moving it back to Capitol Hill. I suppose that if you prefer to take facts out of context that it would certainly appear to be so.

However, the truth of the matter is that SOaP left our community saddled with a debt of more than $100,000.00 and then released statements to the press that they were going to file bankrupcy. Not even twenty-four hours later, breaking their agreement to work with The Center on this years festivities in an open an honest dialogue and in an effort to make good on our debt to the Seattle Center, they once again thwarted the attempts of more responsible organizations to unify the community by announcing that they are going to hold Pride downtown and at the Seattle Center this year. This was done with no notice to The Center...

Now, I don't know about you, but the issue appears to me to be one of fiscal prudence, community involvement in decision making, and clearcut direction, versus indebting ourselves further and without substantial sponsorship or planning. Add to that a last minute quick fix effort to entice us to buy overpriced event tickets to help releive the outstanding debt, and it should be clearer to you that The Center's goal is not what Dan Savage proclaimed it to be.

Sure - many people would like for the Pride Celebration to be downtown and at the Seattle Center, and for it to be as much fun or more than last year. But we have to consider the risk of such a gamble; and make no mistake - it IS a gamble.

Politically, LGBT persons are more heavily scrutinized today than ever before. We can no longer afford to give the impression that we are not conducting responsible business in our community (or any other, for that matter) while celebrating diversity and striving for equality.

This is about responsibility, not a power play for "who wants what, and where". We all should be working together, not conducting ourselves as rogue cannons in the community and bullishly attempting to control the rest of us with out of control press releases from a group of disoriented but alleged "well meaning" party planners.

Dennis Cavalier, Seattle

Posted by Dennis Cavalier | April 27, 2007 9:09 PM

Dennis, you lost me after your ridiculous claim that SOAP "left our community saddled with a debt of more than $100,000.00"

First off, I think the idea of a gay "community" is BS. The word "community" is overused at best, and in no way resembles the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people who happen to live in Seattle.

Furthermore, the "community" was not saddled with any debt, unless the City has implemented some sort of sodomy tax that I am unaware of.

Lastly, the involvement of "the community" is exactly why our parades and festivals have been so very, very dreary prior to last year. Let's face it: Socialists, while admirable, are not known for their sense of fun. They are the last people who should be planning any sort of celebration.

Your whiny little let's-not-set-our-sights-too-high-or-the-straight-folks-might-not-take-us-seriously routine is both depressing and offensive.

Posted by LGBT/GLTB/BTLG/Whatever | April 27, 2007 9:29 PM

Dear "Whatever",

I hear you loud and clear, and if you mean to suggest that telling the truth and pointing out incorrectness in others' public statements is "whiny" - then please pass the fruit and cheese.

There was a need for clarity, and a suggestion that others whom are NOT stakeholders in this issue might just be enjoying themselves by stirring up the pot and standing back to watch the ensuing brawl - without making any constructive contributions. (I don't think that is too far off base, frankly.)

Your attempt to marginalize how the rest of the world sees us is curious to me as well. Obviously, you don't grasp the concept of inequality or responsibility too firmly.

Perhaps you might let go of whatever it is that you DO have your hand on, and use it to open a book or something?

Dennis Cavalier

Posted by Dennis Cavalier | April 28, 2007 9:24 AM

If anyone was offended by what I had to say, that was not my intention, so please accept my apology and feel free to offer a solution to these issues that is - in turn - non offensive.

Open constructive dialogue, and let's just get this event underway in a manner that will be a win-win, not a win-lose proposition.

Posted by Dennis Cavalier | April 28, 2007 10:32 AM

That will be easier to do Dennis is the SGN and LGBT Center stop trying to kill off the downtown event. It's not helpful to tell SOaP that they just need to get along with groups and individuals that are trying to destroy their organization and event.

Posted by Not Going This Year | April 28, 2007 11:05 AM

Call me cynical and jaded (guilty on both counts, I'm afraid) but I suspect that behind the "Capitol Hill is our neighborhood" crowd (who are wrong and getting wronger, if I may be permitted a gramatical error to make a point) are some bar and restaurant owners who don't want to risk losing any customers on their big day.

These same business owners may be putting pressure on the beer distributors to not sponsor any sort of Seattle Center event.

The beer distributors, eager to avoid a Big Gay Drama, oblige. And I can't say I blame them: I worked in a gay bar for seven years, and they are huge drama generators. Good bar owners know how to keep the pot stirred, because that's what keeps the cash register ringing.

So, as usual, when you look close enough, it's all about money - it's just done up in rainbow-patterned gift wrapping, with a big bow of glurgy sentiment about "the community" on top.

And the LGBT Center and the SGN have bought into it hook, line and sinker.

Posted by catalina vel-duray | April 28, 2007 11:49 AM

@19. Where do you get your information. Sounds like it is coming from Shannon, or someone working on the board for Queerfest/LGBT Community Center or SGN.

SOAP did not leave this so called "community" with 100,000 debt. It is a debt they wracked up putting on a FREE event for us. They still owe the money, not us. Should we not do our part and help? I noticed on their website that a lot of people are donating to help out. We all should!

I reviewed all of the press releases that SOAP sent out, and they did not claim they were filing bankruptsy. That was something someone made up. They did say they were stepping down. However, they got a lot of support to keep the parade downtown, so when the board met, they decided that the parade was financially feasible, and should stay downtown, and they are the best ones to do it.

How do you know The Center was not given notice?

Posted by pride diva | May 3, 2007 12:11 AM

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