Looks like we have another Pride Scandal.
This one involves the Capitol Hill Pride Festival and the City of Seattle. Capitol Hill Pride Festival is that odd little Pride Saturday street event on Broadway in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood that has been going on since 2009 largely in response to Seattle Out and Proud moving the city’s official Pride event to downtown Seattle and Seattle Center in 2006. That move angered many in the community especially business owners on Capitol Hill who feared the loss of official Pride events would harm their businesses during the very profitable Pride Weekend. Several business owners and the Seattle Gay News got together with the Seattle LGBT Center to put on “Queerfest” in 2006 and 2007 but after the LGBT Center began its long lingering death, they had to bow out and “Capitol Hill Pride Festival” took over for their first small block party on Broadway in June of 2009.
Since that time, the quirky DIY charms of the Saturday event have pulled in a consistent audience of people who take at least one cruise through the six block long stretch from Denny to Roy Street on Broadway and its haphazardly laid out rows of booths touting various craft items, non-profit literature and an alarmingly large amount of offers to have your spine readjusted. There’s also a trio of performance stages featuring professional entertainers at Julia’s and amateur hour antics (for the most part) at the other stages. A “Doggy Drag Competition” is a chief highlight. Overseeing this yearly grassroots festival for the last few years are Charlette LeFevre and Philip Lipson who have passionately produced the annual event while simultaneously defending it from any naysayers, critics or perceived slights from competing events.
Earlier this year, LeFevre and Lipson announced that their perceived success of the festival prompted them to add a Sunday event to this year’s schedule. Eyebrows were raised in the community; was a Sunday event really needed? And, was competing with the official PrideFest event at Seattle Center a smart move or even welcomed? PrideFest itself puts on Saturday events at Cal Anderson Park and this year, moved many of their events to the Capitol Hill Light Rail Station building site which is immediately adjacent to Broadway and the Capitol Hill Festival area. Was CHPF retaliating against PrideFest by announcing a Sunday event?
Now, the City of Seattle has gotten involved with the controversy by denying Capitol Hill Pride Festival permission to hold the Sunday event, on June 26, 2016. The Seattle Special Events Committee turned down their request citing a lack of resources available that day to cover both the official Seattle Pride Parade and the official PrideFest celebration at Seattle Center as well as devote security coverage for the Capitol Hill event. The Capitol Hill Times broke the story last week with a story by Brandon Macz where he quotes Charlotte LeFevre’s response to the refusal:
LeFevre said permit applications were submitted to the Seattle Office of Film + Music + Special Events in February, but didn’t receive notice it was being denied the addition of another day for the Capitol Hill Pride Festival until May 13.
“And to not getting any response back for five months and to get something back with less than 45 days left is unfair,” she said.
LeFevre argues this is a civil rights issue and they shouldn’t be barred from adding a second day. If necessary, they claim they will stage a sit-in after the approved Saturday event and refuse to leave the street.
SGS received an email on Monday from LeFevre and Lipson indicating they will go on with that second day, regardless if they get permission or not.
We’ll keep you posted on “Seattle Pride Scandal #2” as we get more information.