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Veteran journalist who covered Capitol Hill Occupied Protest new owner at Seattle Gay News

(Image: Renee Raketty)

Raketty, center, appeared on a Trans Journalists Association panel at the Society of Professional Journalists regional conference in Seattle earlier this year (Image: Renee Raketty)

Seattle Gay News, one of the oldest queer news publications in the nation, is celebrating its 50th year of bringing LGBTQ+-news to the Pacific Northwest.

While the passing of longtime editor George Bakan in 2020 led to years of change, writer, leader in the trans journalism community, and current editor of SGN Renee Raketty has officially taken ownership.

“There is no doubt that this paper has been a lifeline to the LGBTQIA+ community in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. I’ve been told we are the nation’s third-oldest LGBTQIA+ newspaper. I’ve dedicated nearly a decade of my life to SGN, but I’m just one of many people who have contributed to the paper over the last 50 years,” Raketty told CHS. “It is truly an honor that Mike has chosen me to lead the paper into the next 50 years.”

Prior to his death, publishers and Capitol Hill character Bakan created arrangements for his family to take over as owner and publisher but SGN was sold last fall to Stratus Group to add to its LGBTQ+ newsmagazine business with publications including Coastal Pride of Ocean Shores, Washington and outlets in Bellingham and Spokane.

But changes in life plans has put the SGN on the move again. Stratus owner Mike Schultz and his husband are moving to California to be closer to family. After being associated with the paper on and off for a decade and a tour of duty as managing editor under the Stratus ownership, Raketty has the opportunity to lead the Seattle queer newspaper into a new era under her ownership.

It comes after Raketty has built a distinguished career in journalism that included work covering the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests and the police clashes around CHOP that took place on her home Seattle turf.

Raketty was part of a $10 million settlement in the class-action lawsuit surrounding the 2020 protests brought by a group of protesters and journalists over the Seattle Police Department’s use of excessive force during the unrest, the SGN reported in the wake of the settlement earlier this year:

“Being a journalist, I was only interested in the aspects related to informing the citizenry about what was happening in our community,” said Raketty, who observed the events as a reporter, not as a participant. “Originally these protests began downtown but quickly escalated to Capitol Hill,” she said. In the middle of this growing unrest, Raketty retreated to a fire escape on 11th Avenue and Pine Street after falling back into police lines, which is a standard practice for journalists. Overwhelmed by the events as protesters and police clashed around 11th Avenue, she watched a bicycle officer park, approach her, and throw a blast ball in her direction. Raketty recorded the incident with her camera, with the recording giving out just prior to the blast as she braced for the explosion.

While Raketty and Schultz are keeping the terms of the SGN sale under wraps, Schultz will retain the rights to the paper’s archive of content. Raketty said she could not think of a better custodian of SGN’s LGBTQIA+ history.

“Mike has generously ensured that the SGN archives will continue to be available free of charge on our website. During the transition period, he has been an invaluable partner in ensuring all our vendors and systems are smoothly transferred to my company, Prism Pride Press LLC,” Raketty said. “This includes the bulk of SGN assets. I expect that Mike will continue to be an advisor during the months following the acquisition. He is now part of the SGN family, folks who have contributed significantly to the paper over the last 50 years.”

Raketty said SGN will continue to share diverse experiences and stories of LGBTQIA+ community members, as the paper has always belonged to the community in Seattle and across the Pacific Northwest, and it will continue to do so.

During Raketty’s reporting experience, she has written about social conservatives seeking to limit queer rights by spreading lies and fear-mongering. Raketty said similar tactics are being used today against the Transgender community.

“George Bakan, editor and publisher from 1982-2020, taught me about the power of the SGN as a unifying force and organizing tool to tell our stories and influence policy,” Raketty said. “We must stand together to defend the rights of the Transgender community. Trans folks, like myself, cannot do it alone. Bigoted policies are denying our human rights and creating a dangerous climate.”

Raketty said she is proud of her gender identity, but that it’s the least interesting thing about her. She recognizes how she has been provided a powerful platform to advocate for her fellow Trans community members, and she intends to fully embrace this responsibility.

SGN will continue publishing print materials by offering a monthly news magazine that will continue to bring the community together through providing crucial information and the sharing of stories. SGN will also work towards growing their online presence through featuring daily content on their website, introducing a community-wide event calendar, and continuing to regularly post educational materials on social media channels.

“I often hear from people how the SGN saved their lives, helped them find resources, or led them to find the love of their lives. I plan to keep this paper free to our community so we can continue to fulfill that vital mission,” Raketty said.

Learn more at sgn.org.

CORRECTIONWhen first posted, this story included an incorrect final year for George Bakan as publisher of SGN. Bakan served as editor and publisher from 1982 to 2020.

 

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