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No Queerfest in Volunteer Park
No Queerfest in Volunteer Park
Pride celebration hopes to secure venues "around Capitol Hill and beyond"

by Nick Ardizzone - SGN Staff Writer

On Thursday, Ivan Wright, newly-elected co-president of Seattle's beleaguered LGBT Community Center, called the Seattle Gay News to announce the board had reached the decision that Queerfest will not be held in Volunteer Park this summer. Instead, a scaled-back version will be held at smaller venues around the city.

"We want to get the word out that there is a Queerfest, the event will continue on," Wright said. "It's not going to be the same Queerfest we had last year or the year before, but there will be a Queerfest - it's just going to take a different form this year."

"It's not being held in the park," Wright continued. "We [the LGBT Community Center] had the permit [from the Parks Department] tentatively & we got together and discussed what we wanted to do, and decided it was in the best interests of the Center to do something different."

"It was our decision," he stressed.

Wright explained that there were "a couple of reasons" why the Community Center board came to the conclusion that Queerfest at Volunteer Park was infeasible. "One was that we didn't feel we had enough time to put on an event of that size, of that magnitude."

"Secondly, last year there were hard feelings, I guess you could say, or misunderstandings of what, exactly, that was all about," said Wright, referring to the financial difficulties which left the Community Center in debt after 2007's Queerfest.

"Also, putting it on the Saturday before the parade downtown just didn't make a great deal of sense, asking attendants to come up [to Capitol Hill] on Saturday and then have them go down to Seattle Center on Sunday," he added.

Wright explained the Center's new plans for this year's event. "What we're trying to put together now is a Queerfest event throughout the month of June, which will be held & certainly at Neighbours - they're one of the sponsors of the event - and beyond that I'm not sure. We're still very early into this in terms of bringing it together, but we're hoping to get several venues around Capitol Hill and beyond."

During the interview, the issue was raised that Queerfest would suffer without a central location. "I suppose that's a consideration," Wright said, but added that multiple, smaller events would ensure people with difficult schedules could still participate.

"These events can be pretty much anything people want to put together. Use your imagination; there are all sorts of bits and pieces and interesting little corners of the community that might very well be able to participate in something like that."

Even with its smaller scale, will this year's Queerfest be as successful as past events? "We'd like to think so," said Wright. "I think some people will like it, and some people will not. Some people will be in favor of it & and enjoy it more than last year, and some people won't. You're never going to have unanimity of opinion about something like this. We're going to do the best we can to put on something that will attract people and make them energized and a part of the community, and all in the spirit of pride. That's the goal."

As the Community Center works towards uniting the community, it also has to work against the lingering image of the closure of its Pike Street location on January 18. "We're sharing a space now with Equal Rights Washington," Wright said. "It's a pretty nice office space. I was hoping that we'd be moved out by now & it looks like May 15 is the date we have to be out of there." Wright addressed gossip which is still held that rather than moving into another space, the Center has closed forever. "I've heard some of those rumors myself," he laughed.

"The Center is going on. Programs at the Center are continuing," he said. "We haven't gone away, we're still here." The LGBT Community Center is currently located at 209 Harvard Ave. E., info@seattlelgbt.org.

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