With a change in administration causing anxiety for some LGBTQ Seattlelites, Pride is making inclusivity a priority this year.
Seattleites and Seattle Pride-goers often rely on festivities to be fun, colorful, queer and in recent years — woke.
Under a new federal administration, Seattle Pride board Vice President David Hale wants to emphasize that last quality. Being aware, politically informed feels especially important, he said.
“There’s always tension when it comes to Pride, making sure different groups’ wants and needs are being represented,” Hale said. “This year, with a new administration, people are rightfully scared.”
Hale identified policies such as President Donald Trump’s rollback of federal protections for transgender students that had allowed youths to use bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity, and the election of Vice President Mike Pence, who in his years in public service has taken a number of anti-LGBTQ stances.
Seattle Pride 2017
Pride board President Kevin Toovey announced on Inauguration Day that this year’s Pride would carry the theme, “Indivisible,” to show the need for marginalized communities to play a larger role in this year’s events and create a unified community.
In addition to traditional events such as Sunday’s Pride Parade, Seattle Pride planned activities dedicated to making political statements. In alignment with cities across the United States, Seattle Pride and a variety of other organizations and businesses held an Equality Marchthis past Sunday.
It was an opportunity, Hale said, to air concerns.
“Let’s get it all out,” he said “Let’s say what these concerns are and that this is not the direction we want the country to go in.”
The history of Pride has often been celebratory, Hale said, as LGBTQ people come together and be unabashedly themselves during Pride weekend. It’s also been a time for the LGBTQ community to press for equality and commemorate huge steps like the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision making marriage equality the law of the land.
This year, things feel less certain, Hale said.
“Our mission has slightly shifted,” he said. “There’s some progress, but a lot of conversations are ‘What’s next?’”
In an effort to make sure people of color, trans individuals and any others who might feel marginalized in Seattle are heard this year, Seattle Pride organizers have scheduled a new event. “Real Talk: LGBTQ Conversations for Change” will be held Thursday evening at the Frye Art Museum.
Randall Jenson, director the Kansas City-based company, SocialScope Productions, was invited to bring the town-hall program to Seattle after it had success in the Midwest. A panel of LGBTQ people of color will moderate a conversation about the intersections of race, sexuality and status for LGBTQ Seattleites.
A large part of the event, Jenson said, is giving space to groups who might not otherwise be heard.
“Having this event speaks so much to the tension around race,” Jenson said. “I’ve been to Seattle a few times and a lot of people in power are white progressives. I’m hoping that folks … are open to peeling some layers back on conversations that need to occur.”
In addition to the panel, the event will have a “fishbowl” activity during which attendees organize themselves into often-stigmatized groups: LGBTQ women, transgender and gender nonconforming people, LGBTQ white men and LQBTQ people of color. Everyone will have the chance to hear how these groups of people see the world, Randall said, and an open dialogue will happen after.
David Sotomayor, who competed on RuPaul’s “Drag Race” as Jade Sotomayor will also help facilitate conversation.
“At these events, we’re forcing people to talk about race as part of who they are and open a lot of doors for people to freely feel,” Sotomayor said. “Racists and racism comes from a lack of knowledge, so we want people to not feel bad that they’re asking these questions.”
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Hale said in organizing Pride events this year, race was intentionally forced into the conversation.
“If we don’t center the conversation around race, it won’t naturally happen here,” he said.
Events like these are what get a productive conversation going, organizers said, but it isn’t a solution.
“I just want to open people’s eyes,” Sotomayor said. “Because just feeling good in your skin is so important.”
The “Real Talk: LGBTQ Conversations for Change” event is from 6 — 8:30 p.m. Thursday at the Frye Art Museum. Tickets are $5, and a “Get Woke-Real Talk Afterparty” will be held at 9 p.m. at Kremwerk nightclub.