And, we quickly move to Round Two of “The Great Airline Gay Sponsorship Skirmish of 2016” as both Seattle Pride and Delta Airlines issue statements in regard to reports they were banning employees from Alaska Airlines from marching in the 2016 Seattle Pride Parade while displaying any form of corporate logo. Delta outbid Alaska, Seattle’s hometown airline, to become the official airline sponsor for Seattle Pride for the next 3 years. Both Delta and Alaska are vying for market share in Seattle and across the US.
Since news broke yesterday of the alleged Alaska Airlines “snub”, Seattle’s LGBTQ community has been in an uproar over the reports marchers could be denied the right to participate in the parade with many taking to social media to express their outrage and strongly critical of both Delta and Seattle Pride, the producer of the parade and formerly known as Seattle Out and Proud.
Delta’s Erin Maude released the following statement this afternoon:
We are disheartened that we were not contacted prior to the publication of the Times story, which misrepresents Delta’s values and our stance on Seattle Pride events.
Had we been contacted, we would have shared that as a partner of Seattle Pride and Pride events around the world, Delta celebrates the inclusive spirit of Pride and all members of the LGBTQ community. While our sponsorship allows us to display Delta branding at the event, Delta has in no way restricted the participation or attire of any individual or group participating in Seattle Pride events. Each year, Delta people proudly walk alongside airlines and other companies in support of the LGBTQ community at Pride events around the country. True to the spirit of Pride and our belief in inclusivity, we welcome participation from all members of the community.
And, mid-afternoon, Seattle Pride jumps in with their clarification:
We write to clarify a tremendous misunderstanding of the position of the Board of Directors of Seattle Pride printed in the The Seattle Times yesterday, May 17, 2016. In this article, the Seattle Times reports that Seattle Pride is preventing the members of the LGBT employee affinity group of Alaska Airlines, Globe, from marching in the 2016 Seattle Pride Parade. This is not the case. Seattle Pride welcomes Globe, as we do all members of our community, to join us in celebrating our diversity at this year’s Pride Parade.
Seattle Pride has always held the position that any and all members of our community are encouraged to participate in the annual Pride Parade in downtown Seattle. We continue to work to include each and every organization, company, and individual who wishes to join us in that solidarity and celebration.
Our Pride sponsors make it possible to host the Seattle Pride Parade – we celebrate and thank them with all gratitude because there would be no Seattle Pride Parade without their unwavering support. The Parade sponsors also join Seattle Pride in our mission to offer the most inclusive, diverse, and Representative Pride Parade that we can. In this regard, Seattle Pride has never and would never prevent a member of our community, like Globe, from marching in the Seattle Pride Parade.
We are extremely proud that the Seattle Pride Parade has grown to become one of the largest, most diverse, and well-attended pride celebrations in the United States. We look forward to continuing that tradition this year and hope that the LGBT employee affinity group of Alaska Airlines, Globe, will join us as they have these past several years.
On behalf of the Board of Directors of Seattle Pride, please know that our highest principles of inclusion and diversity still govern the Seattle Pride Parade and we are working quickly to clarify this matter.
Eric Bennett, President, Seattle Pride
Kevin Toovey, Vice President, Seattle Pride
David Hale, Sponsorship Director, Seattle Pride
It should be noted that Colin Bishop, a public-relations spokesperson for the Seattle Pride Parade who was quoted in the Times article, is not listed as a signatory on that letter from Seattle Pride.
There are numerous omissions and out of date information on Seattle Pride’s website. It states that:
The Seattle Pride Board of Directors meets every third Wednesday at 6:00 PM at Seattle Pride’s Office. For more information, please email us at email@example.com.
Seattle Gay Scene has learned that Seattle Pride’s next scheduled board meeting is June 1 at 6:30 pm at Planned Parenthood.
Alaska Airline employees have indicated they will be staging an alternative event during this year’s Seattle Pride Parade on Sunday, June 26th.
Seattle PrideFest, the separate non-profit producing organization that puts on Seattle PrideFest at Seattle Center after the parade, has come under attack from some people who mistakenly think PrideFest and Seattle Pride are the same organization. Executive Director Egan Orion and PrideFest Board President Rachael Brister released the following statement just minutes ago:
This statement is in response to yesterday’s Seattle Times column regarding Delta Air Lines’ exclusive sponsorship of the Seattle Pride Parade. We at PrideFest do not produce the Pride Parade, but Delta is our presenting sponsor and Seattle Pride is a partner organization. Because of our connection to these parties, we feel compelled to comment on the story.
For their part, Delta has assured us that they never had an expectation of exclusivity concerning other employee groups, including Alaska Airlines, marching in the Parade. At Pride Parades across the country—even in places where Delta holds a category exclusive—employee groups of competitors are allowed to march without issue. That should be the case here in Seattle, too. Our belief is that any contracts with exclusivity clauses in them should only apply to marketing and promotions, not to an individual’s ability to participate in Pride events. We feel strongly that LGBTQ people who want to march in the Parade should be able to.
In the early days of the LGBTQ rights movement, companies steered clear of our community. Today, we are a highly coveted target demographic. In light of these huge shifts, community non-profits must remain mindful of who we serve: you. Sponsorship money is essential for producing large free events like the parade and festival, but ultimately organizations like PrideFest and Seattle Pride need to be vigilant that we don’t trade our core values for money, sign away our inclusiveness through exclusive contracts, and that we as a community retain control of our own guiding principles and not cede them to outside forces.
We struggled for the right to stand up and be counted. We fought to be able to march. With the community under attack in the anti-trans measure I-1515, it’s more important than ever for us to work together for a common future we can all be proud of.
Executive Director, PrideFest
Board President, PrideFest
More on this story as it develops.