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Pride 2020 on Capitol Hill: Black Queer Lives Matter

According to Joey Burgess, owner of 11th Ave’s Queer/Bar, Pride is taking a different yet necessary shape this year as Seattle protests centered on Capitol Hill press on.

“We typically do giant three-day outdoor celebrations with huge street parties. All of that is gone this year, but we have a different type of outside event and that’s the protests — that is what Pride looks like this year and should,” Burgess said.

Although the Seattle LGBTQ Commission’s kickoff Pride Flag raising event at City Hall was postponed, June 1st marked the beginning of Pride — a time that has filled Capitol Hill with celebration for nearly half a century. Celebrations will hold a different tone this year as LGBTQ organizations plan virtual events in the midst of local and global protesting against police brutality and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, protests that have maintained a strong presence in Capitol Hill for almost two weeks now.

“Our announcement has been delayed because we’re standing in solidarity with the protestors now, and so we don’t want to step on any of the protests and the actions that are happening,” Seattle PrideFest executive director Egan Orion tells CHS.

(Image: CHS)

This year’s Pride will center around Together For Pride, a free, registration-required virtual event featuring a variety of workshops, speakers and performances over the weekend of June 26th to 28th. Information regarding timing and programming is being released on a rolling basis throughout the month, according to the event’s press release.

  • Friday, June 26: Gender Justice League will produce Trans Pride programming from 5-10 p.m., featuring a presentation from trans activist Blossom Brown, short film screenings, and a resource fair.
  • Saturday, June 27: Seattle Pridefest will hold a 12-hour livestream event from noon-midnight. The live-cast will feature a youth-led queer youth Pride event hosted by LGBTQ nonprofit Gay City as well as a dance party featuring drag king, drag queens, and musical headliners like Mary Lambert.
  • Sunday, June 28: Seattle Pride will wrap up the weekend’s events with programming “centered on matters of activism and centering black and brown voices” from noon-6 p.m., featuring sessions on youth activism and COVID 19’s effect on LGBTQIA+ communities. The day will also have a “Nonprofit Virtual Exhibition Hall and Vendor Virtual Village” with virtual “booths” attendees can tune in for.

“We feel strongly — all three organizations — that by providing this platform that we’re really reaching not only folks in Seattle but throughout the region so that they know that there is a safe place for them to tune in, to validate their identity, where they can see people like them, get resources if need be,” Orion said. “Black and Brown communities have been impacted greatly by police violence, and there’s a lot of LGBTQ people who are part of those statistics, so we want to center the discussion this month around that.”

LGBTQ Allyship will be taking part in Together For Pride, leading a Friday workshop on housing and employment rights during the coronavirus crisis and a Sunday workshop on LGBTQ census participation as part of Queer the Census. The nonprofit will also be speaking at the virtual Seattle Dyke March on Saturday, June 27 from 5-8 p.m.

“We’re all coming out in solidarity as organizations and really keeping track of how we can be allies to Black communities around this,” Executive Director of LGBTQ Allyship Debbie Carlsen said.

The GSBA, Washington’s LGBTQ and allied chamber of commerce, is also adjusting to the online format of Pride as staff plan a virtual ceremony on June 17 to unveil the organization’s 39th directory — a fully digitized list of LGBTQ and ally-owned businesses.

“I imagine all the celebrations will be less of a celebration this year given how serious things are in our community and really about talking about our own history and our own liberation which started with the Stonewall riots,” GSBA’s Louise Chernin said. “We’re hoping that this particular time, as we focus more on the systemic racism throughout our entire society — healthcare, education, policing, that maybe those of us in the LGBTQ community will also look at how to make sure we are good allies and especially with our LGBTQ communities of color.”

Pike and 11th’s Wildrose bar is also adjusting to not being able to celebrate pride as the large-scale event of years past. Co-owner Shelley Brothers is determined the business will celebrate in some form, potentially with a live-streamed indoor celebration over Pride weekend, given that King County food and drink establishments can now begin 25% indoor capacity as part of phase 1.5.

“It’s usually a huge amount of planning and it’s real weird not to be doing any of that right now — we’ve been doing our block party for twenty years now. It’s a big source of revenue, I mean it’s a super expensive event to put on but it’s the most fun event we could do,” Brothers said. “We’ll be celebrating pride, we’re not sure in what form, but we will definitely be celebrating pride.”

Together For Pride organizers are also making plans for an in-person Pride event later in the year depending on COVID-19 restrictions, and Seattle PrideFest is holding out hope that an event will be possible later this summer.

“We wanted to make sure that we were able to celebrate pride in June when we normally celebrate it,” Orion said. “If it’s safe to do so later on this summer, we will celebrate in-person as well.”


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2 years ago

Pride is virtual because of COVID-19, not because of the BLM movement and protest activity on Capitol Hill.

First part of this article could benefit from that clarification!