May 4, 2007
Volume 35
Issue 18
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City Hall conference on Pride
City Hall conference on Pride
City Hall conference on Pride Councilmembers Rasmussen, Clark hold meeting with Pride event organizers

by Robert Raketty - SGN Staff Writer

Seattle City Councilmembers Tom Rasmussen and Sally Clark, both of whom are openly Gay, have called a meeting for Pride stakeholders at City Hall on the morning of Friday, May 4. Representatives of the Seattle LGBT Community Center, Seattle Out and Proud and the Broadway Improvement Association are among the invitees.

I am a convener of a meeting between the two organizations primarily responsible for Pride activities to clarify what their plans are and offer to mediate any differences that might still exist; any misunderstandings, said Rasmussen. If there are two groups trying to do two different things, we wanted to try to make sure that they are successful, supportive of one another, and not critical or disparaging.

Sally and I have been discussing it among ourselves for the past 10 days, two-weeks, and decided that, perhaps, the best thing we could do at this point was to see if we can have the best Pride possible.

Clark said the meeting was necessary to address community concerns about the chaotic events of the last several weeks. I think both Councilmember Rasmussen and I have had conversations over the past two weeks with people in the community who are concerned and really hoping that something good can be pulled out of what has been a little bit chaotic, she said.

This is, obviously, a big event for the [Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender] community in Seattle, but it is also a big Seattle event now. It has a profile in not just our city, but in other parts of the country. It is a great community festival. It is a great celebration of who we are and certain triumphs. I think people want to be able enjoy that.

In a series of press releases beginning on Saturday, April 21, SOAP announced plans to cancel their events and declare bankruptcy as a result of past due debts totaling approximately $140,000, according to SOAPs own estimates. On Tuesday, April 24, however, the group changed course and said they will move ahead with plans to organize a parade along Fourth Avenue on Sunday, June 24, but without a festival at the end of the proposed parade.

The Seattle LGBT Community Center will hold its parade/march and festival on Seattles Capitol Hill on Saturday, June 23. The parade/march will follow a route down Broadway to Volunteer Park, where a festival will be held.

Spokespersons for both groups declined to speak with the SGN this week about their plans. We are working at putting our heads together and see what we can accomplish but, until we have those meetings, any comments would be premature, said Troy Campbell, a SOAP board member and current media spokesperson.

Likewise, Brad Davis, a media consultant to the Seattle LGBT Community Center, said they appreciate[d] ... the SGNs continued interest in this story but that [t]here is nothing to report at this time.

Rasmussen seemed to support elements of both plans, saying he preferred a parade and festival on the same day, but did not think two parades on different days was a worthwhile endeavor. Ideally, he admits, there would be only one event.

It is really hard for a community to get their groups to two different locations at two different days or two different times. That is challenging, just logistically. So, I think it would be best to just have one, he said. A lot of parades just end and there is nothing afterwards. There is no food, no dancing and no music. I think it is really nice to have the parade and a festival following or an event following. It seems that is kind of a nice end to a parade.

The location of the Pride festivities mattered little to Rasmussen, who said each had its pros and cons. I, frankly, dont have a preference, personally, as to whether it is downtown or on Capitol Hill. I thought the downtown event last year was wildly successful. It was well attended, he said. Logistically, it might be challenging to do it downtown. It just seems a more daunting and challenging venue than on Broadway. ... But, you know, either place is fine. The main thing is just to have a good parade.

What I heard last year is that the people on Capitol Hill were discouraging people from going downtown and maybe some of that was occurring vice versa. I just dont see anything good coming of that.

Clark said time was running out for both groups and decisions needed to be made. We are less than two months from Pride. The scope of it is so large now that it really does take quite a bit of work to pull it off -- as a lot of people who will be involved in the meeting tomorrow morning know, she said. Obviously, SOAP has had some difficulty in pulling off a large event. ... We do want to know how far along people are and how confident they feel in being able to pull off their particular events.

Clark added that the discussions will focus on the immediate, not future plans for Pride festivities in 2008 or beyond. It is not a conversation to figure out what happens with the Pride celebrations long term, she said. What happens in 2008 is a different conversation. I think what these groups are focused on is trying to pull together some great events for 2007 and it is just around the corner.

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