May 12, 2006
Volume 34
Issue 19
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Tuesday, Aug 11, 2020



conspiracy - continued
[Editor's Note: The following letter is from Shannon Thomas, Executive Director of the Seattle LGBT Community Center. It has not been edited and appears here in its entirety.]

"Yes, it is true that in the last week of April, Seattle Out and Proud demanded (via a Cease and Desist letter) that The Seattle LGBT Community Center not use the name "Seattle Pride" and claimed that The Center had misrepresented itself and interfered in some way with their ability to attract sponsors for its event at the Seattle Center. The Center empathically maintains that we have never used the phrase "Seattle Pride" nor did we direct the SGN or any vendor or supporter to do so.

"We praise the SGN for its long-standing support of all Pride and community-based events, including those hosted by Seattle Out and Proud (formerly Freedom Day Committee and Seattle Pride Committee). Their dutiful coverage of Pride activities for so many years is a testament to keeping our Pride and LGBT history alive and well in Seattle.

"We believe that the dispute over the use of the word "Pride" is not only baseless but also unnecessarily divisive to the community. According to our Intellectual Property Attorney, Leslie Ruiter, with Stokes Lawrence, P.S., "It is doubtful that Seattle Out and Proud has any exclusive rights to the term 'pride' in relation to an event, parade, march or festival conducted by or for the LGBT community."

"The Center diligently further states that we participated in open, competitive application processes for all funding that has been received to-date for any nonprofit special events. Many sponsors have chosen to support the mission of The Center and our activities that build community - both throughout the year and during Pride month - based upon the impact we make in the community and the vigor and vision of those involved in our LGBT communities and The Center.

"Our co-counsel, Beth McCaw, states that their allegations that we 'conspired with the effectuate torturous interference with SOAP's ability to operate' are also completely without merit. The Center continues to maintain that the events we are working with the community on are separate and distinct.

"We also feel confident that the community will support our proposition that we have always acted with integrity and in the best interest of all our LGBTQ communities and organizations. We are in the trenches daily with our community - and our goal of a new LGBT Community Center in Seattle, possibly with Senior Affordable LGBT Housing, is the light at the end of our tunnel...We remain steadfast in our strategies to reach this goal.

"The Raise Your Voice March and Rally is a result of community members asking The Center for support in continuing the tradition of a political march on Capitol Hill (Broadway). Due to the large number of community members who requested the march remain on Broadway, The Center took a leadership role to collaborate and support our LGBT communities' request.

"Since the march permit was approved in April, we have received an outpouring of support - and again, maintain this march is not in competition with Sunday's parade downtown. During these politically divisive and turbulent times, the last thing our LGBTQ communities can afford is further divisiveness, apathy, and lack of involvement.

"The Center has steadfastly held this position. "Community", while often nebulous, is actually the doorway to change. If we do not stand up together, support one another, and raise our voices loudly - in every neighborhood and venue in the City and in our lives - then the conservative right-wing agenda will continue to dominate our culture, our society, and our politic.

"The event at Volunteer Park, Queerstock, is also a result of the community requesting complementary Pride activities on Capitol Hill. It is indeed a new event never before produced by The Center. In collaboration with Bent: A Queer Writing Institute and Three Dollar Bill Cinema, it will be a music and spoken word festival that is a vehicle for out artists to be themselves and showcase their talents in safe, independent and supportive environments.

"We invite audiences of all ages, sexualities, genders, backgrounds, and beliefs to come and experience freedom of expression in every form. Our goal for this festival coincides with the vision of The Center: to bridge the social, economic, political and generational gaps in the LGBTQ community. This is not duplicative in any way of the events being produced at Seattle Center. We believe there is room for many viewpoints, many activities, and many celebrations.

"It is also important to note that before moving forward with planning complementary events at the request of our communities, The Center took the initiative and actively sought out and conferred with Seattle Out and Proud and met numerous times to brainstorm ways that we could both be successful. The Center has always approached this organization with respect and a desire to come together for the benefit of our communities. We did not move forward in a vacuum whatsoever.

"While SOAP refused to sign a more formal memorandum of understanding, we did indeed have verbal agreements to make this Pride a winner for everyone. In fact, The Center actively supported this organization when it was the Freedom Day Committee and Seattle Pride Committee with Pride activities. Hence, it came as a complete shock to receive a Cease and Desist order with no other contact from their Board of Directors. I understand they might feel threatened by a lack of community support (the basis of their allegations in their Cease and Desist), but we firmly believe this is not the way to build a strong and vibrant LGBT community.

"The Center has a solid ten-year history, a strong board of directors and staff, a physical location for our community, and thousands of supporters, including the leaders of our 80 LGBTQ Organizational Members. Having just completed a year-long Strategic Planning process in which we received thousands of surveys and comments, we have realigned our mission, vision and programs with the pulse of our LGTBQ communities in order to be more responsive.

"Stepping up in a leadership role when there is a critical 'community' issue is one goal that resulted from the process. The Pride issue was our first challenge. We believe that The Center rose to the challenge and has the full support of our Organizational Members, community leaders, and community members in our community-building endeavors. We also thank the Seattle Gay News and George Bakan, Robert Raketty, and Marty Weisbrod for their continuing support of The Center and our mission.

"Above all we want to emphasize that The Seattle LGBT Community Center's events (Fruit Bowl Awards, Raise Your Voice March, Queerstock) are thriving and that they are well-supported and will be successful. It is still the hope of The Center that all members of the community will participate in as many of the Pride month and weekend's activities as possible, including those at the Seattle Center as well as Capitol Hill.

"The Center and many of our LGBTQ community leaders believe we must focus on the reality that building our community over the long term is far more important than any quick wins or territorial feuds. We must move beyond this mind-numbing controversy and get back to the work of building the vibrant, connected and proud community we are.

"We must be willing to be visible as LGBTQ people, and always speak honestly about our lives, without disingenuous whitewashing and sanitizing to make us more acceptable to the 'mainstream.' The key to progressive wins - and Pride in Seattle - is that everyone is included and no one gets left behind - not people of color, not elders, not trans people, not disabled people, not bi people, not Native people, not leather people, not youth - not anyone, not anymore.

"The Center will continue to raise its voice for our communities, this June and always."

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