Roger Winters, who gave keynote at first Seattle Pride, remembered for lifetime of LGBTQIA civil rights work

By Renee Raketty

Seattle mourned the passing of Roger Winters, an early pioneer in the movement for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. He passed away this week in his Shoreline home after suffering a recent bout of pneumonia. The former Capitol Hill resident and property owner was 75 years old.

“The Seattle community — and the world at large — lost a true champion for gay rights with his passing,” said Krystal Marx, Executive Director of Seattle Pride. “Roger’s decades of advocacy and political savvy helped to propel LGBTQIA+ rights forward in a way we would not have had without his involvement.”

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan agreed. In a written statement to CHS, she spoke of his relentless efforts to obtain equality for the LGBTQIA+ community. “Roger Winters worked for decades to ensure the dignity, rights and true equality for LGBTQ individuals. His voice and personal courage were unflagging over the almost 30 years that it took for LGBTQ people to get civil rights legislation,” said Durkan. “In the last four years, we have seen that these rights are far from guaranteed. This administration has directly targeted the transgender community and critical LGBTQ protections. In just the last few weeks, a U. S. Supreme Court Justice stated that hard fought wins for LGBTQ equality should be rolled back, and that some discrimination against LGBTQ individuals is a constitutional right. To honor the memory of Roger Winters and all of the other LGBTQ leaders we have lost this year, we must continue to fight.”

Susan Priebe, who met Winters in 2002 and became close friends, spoke with me to discuss Winters’ passing. She has agreed to handle his affairs on behalf of his family.

“Roger was deeply intellectual and also a fun-loving character — going from a profound philosophical statement one minute, to singing a ditty from a 50’s sitcom the next. He was a very loving and caring person, spending hours upon hours of personal time on issues and projects to improve everyone’s lives,” she said. “Roger was an insanely involved person, politically astute, a creative soul, and a very devout atheist… In the LGBT arena alone, Roger was involved with many groups from 1977 through the rest of his life.”

“Roger was a go-to leader and pioneer who helped pave the way for LGBTQ equality,” former Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen said.

Winters grew up in a conservative Christian household in Indianapolis and spent time on farms during his youth. He attended Indiana University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government. He went on to attend Harvard University on a fellowship where he became a Senior Tutor at Dudley House on campus and, later, graduated with honors in Political Science. He became an intern for Senator Birch E. Bayh, Jr., a Democrat from Indiana. In 1972, he joined the faculty of Central Washington University, where he was a Assistant Professor of Political Science. It was here, when he became involved in Seattle politics. He traveled from Kittitas County, where CWU is located, to attend board meetings of the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington in Seattle.

“We white boys started out conservative because we were invisible enough to pass in a gay-unfriendly world,” Winters wrote to me in a text on March 23, 2019, while discussing his upbringing and personal growth. “Those of us who got active recognized that other people who couldn’t or wouldn’t pass were really needing the legal protection and anti-discrimination [law] we were after but we didn’t understand their point of view. We embraced diversity and sought to be inclusive.”

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Queer identity, connection, and belonging on Capitol Hill: Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore’s new memoir The Freezer Door

(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore’s new memoir The Freezer Door, available November 24th, describes a search for belonging and connection in pre-COVID times — a story told through vignettes of desire, intimacy and social interaction in bars and public spaces on Capitol Hill. She wondered if it would still be relevant during its pandemic release.

“I was worried because I wrote the book very much in a present tense and it’s very much about what I consider now,” Sycamore said. “[But I’ve found] the themes of loneliness and alienation and the search for connection are actually even more accessible to people.”

Told in a mix of prose and poetry, Sycamore takes the reader through her daily life experiences visiting Capitol Hill landmarks from Volunteer Park to the Broadway Market, all the while reflecting on queerness, embodiment, trauma, loss, desire, belonging and the gentrification of the neighborhood and city at large. Continue reading

How Referendum-90 on sex ed in schools could change the course for Washington’s LGBTQ students

Gay City is a Seattle LGBTQ Center that has pledged its support on R-90. Located in Capitol Hill, they provide testing and community for many LGBTQ people and are currently searching for a new home. (Image: Chamidae Ford)

By Chamidae Ford, UW News Lab/Special to CHS

Just days from one of the most divisive and consuming presidential elections in recent history, some of the other decisions on Washington’s November 3rd ballot are having a hard time gathering attention.

One of those smaller decisions that will still make a huge impact is Referendum 90, which asks Washington voters to support or repeal recently-passed legislation, Senate Bill 5395, that requires schools to provide comprehensive sex education. It’s a dire need.

“If safe spaces are not developed for youth to have these discussions, there’s a high chance they will seek unsafe spaces to learn or be misinformed,” said Melvin Givens, director of communications for Capitol Hill’s Gay City, a Seattle LGBTQ center.

The new law, signed by Gov. Jay Inslee in March, sparked outrage among some parents and conservative groups. Opponents believe that the law would lead to inappropriate content being taught to children. The opponent’s successful efforts to place R-90 on the ballot garnered over 266,000 signatures.

A “yes” vote on R-90 would preserve the law; a “no” vote would repeal it. Continue reading

Sunday, you can add to the rapidly filling ballot drop box on Broadway and Drag Out The Vote

A Vote With Pride event earlier this month on Broadway (Image: Nate Gowdy)

Ballots for the big November 2020 General Election were sent out to King County voters this week and already there have been reports of people lining up and a full ballot drop box on Broadway outside Seattle Central College.

Don’t worry — the line moves quickly and King County Elections workers have been on the case quickly to get the box emptied and the ballots secured for tabulation.

And, if you’re not yet registered, it’s not too late to be part of the celebration of democracy. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Community Post | Seattle Pride Launches ‘Vote with Pride’ Campaign; Capitol Hill Events Planned for Sundays through Election Day

From Seattle Pride

Seattle Pride is launching a new month-long Vote with Pride campaign in an effort to grow LGBTQIA+ voter registration and participation in the upcoming general election.

Beginning at noon on Sunday, Oct. 4, on the Seattle Central College campus (at the corner of Broadway & East Pine Street) on Seattle’s Capitol Hill, LGBTQIA+ advocacy group Seattle Pride (organizers of the annual Seattle Pride in the Park and Seattle Pride Parade) will host the first of five weekly pop-up events in which people can register to vote and receive free Vote with Pride yard signs, window signs and campaign stickers.

“The LGBTQIA+ community has made great strides in recent years, but now human rights in all forms are being challenged at every turn – so we need to come together with a powerful voice, and it comes in the form of a ballot,” said Seattle Pride Executive Director Krystal Marx. Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s Northwest Film Forum centers 2020 Local Sightings festival on underrepresented BIPOC and LGBTQ+ artists

From Danny Denial’s CONDITIONER

By Lena Mercer

Though its home screens at 12th Ave’s Northwest Film Forum remain dark, the Local Sightings Film Festival will feature over 135 short films from the Pacific Northwest from September 18th to the 27th. The ten-day event will be fully online this year to accommodate COVID-19 pandemic gathering restrictions. In an effort to maintain affordability during the economic woes of the pandemic all festival passes and programs are available on a sliding scale.

In 2020, Local Sightings has a theme that will resonate after a summer of protests and the nearby CHOP as it “centers BIPOC and LGBTQ+ artists” and examines “how film and mediamakers traditionally underrepresented in mainstream media hold perspectives which are vital to furthering the important conversations of the current moment.”

Local filmmaker Danny Denial says that kind of space is something that BIPOC and LGBTQ+ have been fighting for.

“It feels like each movement or wave such as this gets us one step closer. I love that NWFF is committing to that initiative and elevating the artists in that ‘othered’ category.” Continue reading

Capitol Hill gay bar Union making four-block move

(Image: Union)

Capitol Hill gay bar Union has found a new home in the neighborhood and it won’t even have to change its name.

“I hope that the community that we service and that has adopted us as a second home joins in the excitement of our ability to relocate and reopen,” Union partner Greg Scheaffer tells CHS about the planned move. Continue reading

Seattle Counseling Service — ‘oldest LGBTQ-focused community mental health agency in the world’ — finds new home off Capitol Hill

The last moving day at SCS was 16 years ago (Image: Seattle Counseling Services)

By Lena Mercer

For 51 years, Seattle Counseling Service has been an integral part of the city’s LGBTQ+ community providing mental health and general wellness services. That has meant being part of the Capitol Hill community, too.  In the early 2000s, SCS moved into the Melrose Pine building at 1216 Pine. In the middle of a pandemic crisis, the organization has now completed a move to a larger location off the Hill that will allow it to expand its services and provide help to more people in Seattle.

“Expansion was the main factor, being able to provide, and evolve as the needs of the community expanded as well,” SCS’s Al Guerra said.

But their new home for “the oldest LGBTQ-focused community mental health agency in the world” in the Sixth & Lenora Building also represents yet another clear sign that Seattle’s LGBTQ communities are spread far beyond Capitol Hill. Continue reading

500-block E Pike home to Gay City, Kaladi lined up for mixed-use development

A new generation of Capitol Hill is experiencing its Bauhaus moment this week as word spreads about plans for a new mixed-use development destined to replace the block currently home to LGBTQ+ nonprofit Gay City and the E Pike Kaladi Brothers.

Capitol Hill-based Hunters Capital confirms its is entering into an agreement to develop the property at the corner of Belmont and E Pike into a new eight-story apartment building with street-level retail. As with most developers, a spokesperson for Hunters who confirmed the plans with CHS emphasized the long-term and said construction is still years away.

But for those who consider the 500 block of E Pike a second home, once the development clock begins ticking, it’s difficult not to worry about what the future will bring. Continue reading

Seattle Schools will add curriculum requirements for queer history and select a ‘LGBTQI+ hero’ to honor with school name change

(Image: Seattle Public Schools)

Seattle School Board president Zachary DeWolf points out a Seattle media oversight this Pride weekend.

As the COVID-19 restricted year has moved into summer break, Seattle Public Schools has committed to a slate of initiatives including ensuring at least one gender-neutral restroom in all school construction projects, opening up the district curriculum process to add LGBTQIA+ history and other underrepresented histories, and an effort to honor a to be determined “LGBTQI+ local or national hero” that might just be of interest to the community at Capitol Hill’s Stevens Elementary.

Here’s DeWolf on the resolution (PDF) passed by his board: Continue reading