There are currently two competing plans for a June 11th Seattle “sister march” in conjunction with the 2017 National Pride March in Washington D.C. And both are being planned for Capitol Hill.
Organizers of the Broadway-centered Capitol Hill Pride Festival are protesting a decision by Seattle PrideFest to hold a march planned to start in Cal Anderson on June 11th along with marches expected to take place in cities across the country. The Broadway festival organizers say their plans for the same date starting on Broadway have been in motion since January:
The Capitol Hill Pride Festival March & Rally organizers are strongly opposed to a second march traveling away from Capitol Hill to downtown not only because it is divisive but removes attendees from the heart of Seattle’s LGBT community, non-profit storefronts, restaurants with access to facilities, creates a hardship for Seniors and those less mobile in attending and participating in a march and strains police and fire resources.
But Capitol Hill Pride Festival organizers say they have been unable to meet with the city’s Special Event Committee, a group of city officials representing major City Hall departments including SDOT and SPD that meets monthly to sign off on planning around major events like the downtown Pride parade and Capitol Hill Block Party. Capitol Hill Pride Festival organizer Charlette LeFevre, who operated a tourist-oriented “mystery” museum on Broadway eventually moving the business off Hill, called an emergency meeting for supporters of her event Tuesday afternoon.
The issue marks the second year in a row LeFevre’s festival has run into issues trying to expand from a one-day block party held Pride weekend on blocks of Broadway north of John and E Olive Way. In 2016, LeFevre finally conceded after a long battle to expand the event to a second day on Pride Sunday. Organizers say even draws more than 35,000 to Broadway to celebrate Pride, enjoy performances and a doggie drag show, ride ponies, and visit restaurants and bars for food and drink. City officials said the permit was denied for Sunday because SPD did not have the resources to adequately cover the festival and the downtown parade and party at Seattle Center. The 2016 Seattle Dyke March, which shares Broadway on the Saturday night of the festival, was not affected by the street fair’s permit issues.
The annual festival that got its grassroots start in 2009 and has grown as part of Pride traditions around the city along with the crowds that continue to crowd Pike/Pine’s gay bars and the celebratory beer gardens they sprout in the neighborhood’s streets on Pride weekend.
LeFevre’s Broadway street fair has continued to draw crowds despite the introduction of a competing event in Cal Anderson from the producers of the PrideFest event at Seattle Center. In 2013, Seattle PrideFest expanded its activities back to the Hill with Family Day in Cal Anderson and later added a street festival on 11th Ave. We’ve asked PrideFest organizer for more information about their plans for June 11th and if there is room for any compromise with the Broadway group.
UPDATE: PrideFest’s Egan Orion tells CHS he has reached out to the other group — but, so far, there isn’t a match:
PrideFest is building a large coalition of Pride organizations and local non-profits for our Pride March from Cal Anderson to Seattle Center on June 11. We have repeatedly asked Capitol Hill Pride Festival organizers to join our coalition but they simply counter with, ‘Why don’t you join ours?’ We have secured the park and the Seattle Center and have non-profits as part of our coalition—including Seattle Pride, the GSBA, Gay City, Gender Justice League, Entre Hermanos, PFLAG, and others—that serve over a half a million people in the region, so we feel we’re off to a strong start. We’re very interested in having a united front in this effort, and will continue our efforts to involve any LGBTQ non-profit that wants to join with us to put on the largest march our community has seen in a generation.
The ultimate decision on how many Capitol Hill Pride marches the city can support on June 11th will likely come down to the Special Events Committee process. The group is next scheduled to meet on April 12th.
PrideFest, meantime, will return to Capitol Hill on Saturday, June 24th in Cal Anderson Park and at Capitol Hill Station’s Denny Way festival street.