Capitol Hill’s Gay City has opened its new library and resource center on E Pike. It also has a new partner in the expanded space.
Gay City, which promotes wellness in Seattle’s LGBTQ community by providing health services, connecting people to needed resources, allowing for artistic expression, and building community, has maintained a growing library for years. The Michael C. Weidemann LGBT Library, at Gay City first opened in 2009, when the nonprofit inherited the LGBT Lending Library from the closing Seattle LGBT Community Center, and now houses more than 8,000 books..
“It’s really about making our existing resources more accessible,” Gay City executive director Fred Swanson said of the opening of the new, larger facility. “More space means more room for people to access services, and more opportunity for programing through the library.”
The library might want to make room for a few DVDs and Blu-ray discs. Longtime Capitol Hill film nonprofit Three Dollar Bill Cinema announced this week it is joining the Gay City complex.
“We are excited to announce that we will be moving in with our long-time partner Gay City, Seattle’s LGBTQ Center. We will start our move over on December 14th and will be full-time at Gay City by late December,” Three Dollar Bill Cinema executive director Ben McCarthy said in a statement on the move. “This move will not only allow us the opportunity to work more closely with Gay City, it will provide Three Dollar Bill Cinema with an opportunity to continue to regain financial stability as we navigate through some rough organizational waters.”
In 2014, the organization behind Seattle’s annual gay film festival and summer cinema in Cal Anderson Park, joined a handful of nonprofits in office space in new 12th Ave Arts building developed with housing and theater space by Capitol Hill Housing. Earlier this year, Three Dollar Bill Cinema executive director Jason Plourde departed the nonprofit. The organization is hoping that savings from the move will put it on more solid financial ground.
The opportunity for the Gay City expansion came as neighbor Kaladi Brothers Coffee moved back to its old, overhauled space a few doors down at 511 E Pike. That space opened up when Sun Liquor Distillery moved off the Hill last year. Sun had been using the space as a bottling facility for its contract to supply “minis” to Alaska Airlines.
In 2012, building owner Chip Ragen overhauled his property — the old building was part of what was once intended to be The Michigan, a project that would have been the tallest building in Pike/Pine — to provide a new expanded home for both Kaladi and the growing Gay City complex.
Gay City’s “storefront” library and resource center, while open, is not yet operating at full strength. The organization, located at 517 E Pike, is still trying to build up staffing capacity to ensure that all of the facility’s resources are fully available during operating hours, according to Swanson.
The official opening will be in January 2019. It is currently open 11 AM to 8 PM Monday through Friday and 12:30 PM to 5 PM on Saturday.
The new space, which is approximately 1,125 square feet, will host literary arts and community events once fully functioning in the coming months.
“It’s exciting to be able to expand, and to create more opportunities for LGBTQ folks to connect,” Swanson said. “We’re excited about all of the things that bring community into Gay City– testing services, community meetings, arts programing– and are eager to fill out the library calendar in the new year.”
Gay City has yet to choose a food and drink vendor to partner with in the space. Interested parties are still welcome to email the executive director at Fred@gaycity.org.
Gay City is located at 517 E Pike. You can learn more at gaycity.org.
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