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Community leaders address gentrification in Seattle’s queer landscape

By Elizabeth Turnbull

In addition to celebrations in honor of Pride, Real Change and KVRU 105.7 FM hosted a panel this week to explore why queer Seattle also feels gentrified and why BIPOC queer people are not always protected and safe.

Several queer BIPOC community leaders spoke at the panel including Aleksa Manila, Leinani Lucas, LC, and Moni Tep while Luzviminda Uzuri Carpenter, the station manager at KVRU, and Guy Oron, staff reporter at Real Change, co-moderated the event.

Gentrification was a center of conversation and panelists talked about how the queer neighborhoods in the city have shifted, moving from Renton Hill and Pioneer Square to Capitol Hill where ongoing changes and gentrification have taken place.

“I no longer see a sea of family-owned queer-owned brown-owned businesses,” Aleksa Manila, the founder of Pride Asia said at the panel. “… I can only think of two very specific queer POC owned businesses, or a handful [that are still there].”

In their place, Aleksa said she sees corporate-owned businesses—surrounded by housing that many queer BIPOC people can no longer afford.

Manila spoke to a trend where queer Black and Brown communities will build up a neighborhood only to have it become targeted by gentrification.

“Black and Brown folks, usually artists, queer artists, migrate into a neighborhood, make it their own, a neighborhood that probably was being frowned upon by the rich and famous, but then we beautify it for us,” Manila said. “And then they start noticing it. Oh, well, that’s pretty now we should move in there. Okay, you, you people over there that made it pretty. Okay, now move, move, move.”

Other panelists noted an increase in white people and the genocidal nature of forcing people to uproot their lives through gentrification.

“I think the reason why we have gentrification is so then people who have power can have all those things that we’re losing, right?” LC, a leader in health equity said. “They have family, they have access, they have care, health, food, and all of these things. And so they move into these places to be able to secure that for their community. And we’re not able to do it for ours.”

In addition to highlighting current issues, panelists explored whether or not solutions to gentrification are possible and what actions can be taken to maintain support for the community.

Panelists highlighted traditional methods such as voting, hosting more panels and discussions, and being at the table with local decision makers. In addition to practical applications, some also emphasized the importance of resistance.

“I have to remind everybody that that pride was a riot,” Leinani said. “It was because you know, trans women of color were loud, they would not be silent.”


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