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Seattle has competing plans for two June 11th Pride Marches — both on Capitol Hill

Seattle-Dyke-March-2015-15 (3)

The Seattle Dyke March, so far, faces no competition in 2017 (Image: CHS)

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.

LeFevre and festival organizers are objecting to this newly announced June 11th Pride March

LeFevre and festival organizers are objecting to this newly announced June 11th Pride March

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.



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15 thoughts on “Seattle has competing plans for two June 11th Pride Marches — both on Capitol Hill

  1. I support Egan Orion, PrideFest, and the other non-profits in his coalition to have a sister march on June 11th. I hope to be able to participate in the march and lets all join him in solidarity with the marches across the country!

    • Bob, the June 11 event is a non-commercial protest march for LGBTQ rights, coordinated to happen on the same day as other marches across the country (picture something like the Women’s March or the March for Science). Seattle Pride weekend is two weeks later, with all the regularly scheduled activities that go along with it (Pride Parade, picnics, street fair, Dyke March, etc.)

  2. (ahem) Are you the same Eric Bennett who resigned from Seattle Pride because you told Alaska Airlines they couldn’t wear their t-shirts after a Corporate sponsorship bidding war?

    And the same Eric Bennett who helped take the Parade out of Capitol Hill in 2007?

    Sorry, but I want to support my local community not to edify a pay-to -play rolling corporate billboard downtown.

    • So you want 30,000, 40,000, or 50,000 people cramming onto Broadway to watch a parade that would have nowhere to go, which then blasts Cal Anderson Park out of the water, or totally trashes Volunteer Park?

      If you recall, for the last couple of years the parade was on Broadway, it had become so stale that was passed for a “float” was a Budweiser truck with the bay doors pulled up with people dancing in them. Yeah, good times.

    • Agree with Jim. This ongoing hostility from the Capitol Hill Pride Festival organizers, especially Charlotte LeFevre, is getting really old. They are still mad that the gay pride parade was moved to the downtown route some years ago, because that meant the Broadway businesses wouldn’t make as much money. Get over it!

  3. Bob it’s more than about the money and merchants. Were”s the heart of the gay community? Capitol Hill. and that’s where the main event should be, not downtown.

  4. The heart of the gay community is no longer on Capitol Hill, it’s spread out everywhere in Seattle now because that is what we all fought for to happen. And that is a good thing. Now that it’s happened and now that we are just a normal part of everyday/everyone society throughout Seattle, why must certain people still hold onto a crutch that Capitol Hill should remain a gay neighborhood? The fact that I can meet my gay friends in any bar in any neighborhood in this city and be comfortable is something to celebrate not bemoan. Having the parade downtown celebrates and acknowledges that we have arrived and no longer wish to confine ourselves to a ghetto. Yes, Capitol Hill can be acknowledged that it *once* was the neighborhood where the gays congregated (or felt they had to in order to feel safe among the “tribe”) but this hasn’t been the case for at least 10 years. Our celebrations must advance with the reality of our progress. Get your butt out of 1990 and say hello to 2017, people!

    • All of this. It may have been an unintended consequence, but the fact is that we need not ghettoize ourselves into little enclaves anymore. Living our lives openly in an accepting city is a fantastic step forward. Downtown is ours as much as Capitol Hill is. That’s progress… and like it or lump it, it’s where we’re at.

    • From a strictly logistical standpoint, the parade simply won’t all fit on Capitol Hill anymore. It does fit downtown and at Seattle Center, and it’s gotten way, way bigger and illustrates our presence better. And it accommodates thousands more friends and allies. Besides all that, it’s hardly like all the gay and gay-friendly businesses on Capitol Hill don’t do very very well on Pride Weekend anyway. Parade or no parade. There is plenty enough business to go around. And as has been said, it’s not just about the money anyway– whether the parade is downtown or on Capitol Hill.

    • This is probably one of the most naïve things I’ve read in a long time. We did not fight to have our community spread across a geographic area, we fought for equal legal rights. We didn’t fight to lose or give up the things that make us beautifully different. “[W]e are just a normal part of everyday/everyone society throughout Seattle” and “we have arrived” are probably the worst things you wrote. You clearly are not a black or trans or homeless member of the LGBT community. You would really benefit from understanding your privilege. Having a neighborhood that you form a community in isn’t a crutch (by the way, for what?). I don’t care if the parade is downtown, but this conversation is clearly more about assimilating and diluting our community than anything else.

      • You’re just wrong about that. You don’t get to keep all the wonderful things about community while getting rid of the things in society that define the community in the first place. When those things go away, so do many of the things that anchored the community in the first place. You don’t have to like it, but is the natural consequence. You didn’t think it was going to come without costs, did you?

  5. the “REALITY” is that the majority of gay business, activity and events are on Capitol Hill. It’s still the heart of our community. I support having a celebration downtown to show we have arrived. I would hardly call the “Hill” a ghetto.

    • I also agree.

      I asked Egan Orion if there was a single LGBT non-profit downtown or Seattle Center. He couldn’t name one. “Vera Project” is not an LGBT organization.

      The fact is I do not see a single valid reason to march people three miles through a vacant downtown on a Sunday and to Seattle Center with no chairs, limited food vendors and limited restroom facilities. A march downtown does not help any non-profit or small business, bar or cafe and shuts out most people with limited mobility.

      Capitol Hill has the capacity, infrastructure and service to host thousands and most importantly the heart.