Sigh. Well, we have our first fuss of the year concerning Gay Pride…pretty much every year there’s someone having a hissy fit about some aspect of Gay Pride celebrations in Seattle. Last year it was “The Pride Flag On The Space Needle” (probably to be repeated this year; stay tuned!) and in previous years it has been the furor over moving the official events from Broadway/Capitol Hill to Downtown/Seattle Center…or, the financial issues of the parade organizing committee, Seattle Out & Proud.
Seattle Out & Proud has regained some solid financial footing in recent years, but it’s also at the heart of this year’s mishegoss. Dominic Holden of Seattle’s Pulitzer Prize winning alternative weekly newspaper/blog The Stranger, posted a piece online yesterday slamming SO&P for charging politicians wishing to register for the parade more money than local businesses and non-profits. A price hike went into effect this year that raised the fee charged to elected officials/candidates/political organizations to $1200 while local small businesses are charged $700.
What the hell, pride?
Those elected officials, with the help of political organizations, passed same-sex marriage this year. And now we’re going to be defending it on the ballot. This year is about marriage—but is pride about marriage?
State senator Ed Murray, the Seattle lawmaker who orchestrated the six-year legislative strategy to pass the most important gay-rights bill in state history, wasn’t asked to be the parade’s grand marshal. Nor were Representative Jamie Pedersen and Representative Laurie Jinkins, two of the movement’s other heroes this year. Instead, they all have to pay to enter a parade that they should be leading. Adding insult to idiocy, they have to pay $500 more than some goddamn real-estate agent, bar, or burger joint.
Mr. Holden goes on to mention that:
- He hates this year’s parade theme: “The Many Faces of Pride” (We agree with him there; rather a bland and mundane theme, but, most themes are…)
- He thinks Murray, Pedersen and Jinkins should have been Grand Marshals for this year’ parade. (Perhaps. But, they got a bigger name: The Governor. “Stars” always trump the folks “behind the camera”.)
- He gripes that he called and emailed SO&P but no one responded and says “And now they probably never will”. We personally spoke to someone last night who works at SO&P who told us, “He called at noon (Thursday, ie yesterday, the same day Dominic wrote and posted his piece) and emailed later in the afternoon.” In other words, Dominic basically gave them a couple of hours to reply before blasting off his piece. If this was a major, breaking story (“SO&P Kills Baby Seals!” “SO&P Leaders Caught in Heterosexual Love Nest!”) then it would be warranted to run the story, but “I’m annoyed that politicians I like might have possibly been treated unfairly!” isn’t really a hot news story; it’s a NON-story. SO&P’s registration page has been up for months and until this story broke, not one politician has complained of unfair treatment. And, any individual can participate with other groups marching. If Jaimie Pedersen or Ed Murray so desire, they could, and probably will, march or ride with another group in the parade. It’s such NOT a big deal. (And, SO&P Director Adam Rosencrantz did respond with a statement later in the evening.)
Is Seattle Out & Proud perfect? Of course not. It’s a non-profit organization largely staffed by volunteers that face a non-stop barrage of pressures and tons of partisan bitching about an event that could never please everyone. Personally, if I was on the Board or involved, I might have questioned the big price hike for politicians, but it’s not that egregious of an issue. And, I have to point out that EVERYONE in the parade is advertising something, regardless if it’s a business hawking their wares, or a group pushing their advocacy, or a politician who’s always required to sell themselves to get re-elected. That’s the nature of the beast. It’s not just about expressing personal “Pride”; it’s also about deliberately letting the community know that you’re “Here and Queer (or Queer Friendly)” and seeking their approval, whether it be in the form of admiration, awareness, cold hard cash, readers/web hits, or votes in the next election.
And, it behooves me to note that, yes, we are Media Sponsors/Partners of Seattle Out & Proud and friends with people who work there. But, we’re not “defending” them because of that and we’ve certainly snarked on them in the past, and probably will in the future. (Yeah, the theme is awful, and the parade is too long, and something needs to be done to encourage more and better floats, and the announcers are ALWAYS drag queens, and blah, blah, blah…) And, while we really like Dominic Holden and think he’s a good writer, we also think he’s made a mountain out of a molehill and this “controversy” doesn’t amount to much of anything in the long run other than drumming up web hits and mostly moronic comments on the SLOG. And, if The Stranger is so bloody annoyed with the Pride Parade, why don’t they sponsor it again, or offer up cash prizes for best float like they did a few years back? Or, pay for Pedersen, Murray and Jinkins to be in the parade? Just sayin’…
It’s just…tired. And, we need to move on with more important things.
Hey! Space Needle! Are you flying the Pride Flag this year?
(Note: we contacted them a few weeks back and have not received a response. And, before you start bugging SO&P or One Degree Events, who put on Pride Fest at Seattle Center, they don’t know anything about it either, and have no control over the Space Needle. Also note that we thought last year’s Pride Flag at The Needle controversy was also a load of hogwash. It’s not a right, but a privilege…but we’ll save that discussion for next week when we assume the caca about THAT gets raging…)