This year's Pride celebration in Seattle, in the face of an attack on gay and lesbian rights spearheaded by Tim Eyman and the Religious Right, reflects an increasingly divided gay and lesbian community. A few months ago the (male) leaders of Seattle Pride announced, as a done deal, that they had moved the 31-year-old Seattle Pride celebration from the heart of Seattle's lesbian and gay community in Capitol Hill to the nonambient, tourist-y, commercial-like, mostly-concrete Seattle Center. Local gay- and lesbian-owned businesses and residents of Capitol Hill were outraged and presented a petition signed by 8,000 people to Pride organizers to no avail. The decision had already been made. In response, a number of organizations and individuals have planned a separate celebration for Capitol Hill and Volunteer Park. While both sides are making some attempt to keep the lid on the conflict (at least publicly), it isn't working so well, and yesterday the fight made the local newspaper. Critics of the move say it was made without the support of the community, that it will hurt local businesses who depend on annual week-long Pride events, that it is a move in the direction of corporatization and depoliticization, and that the move was made in part because the Seattle Center is fenced, which will allow organizers to charge those attending (over 100,000 people last year).
I've watched the controversy as it's been playing out since last year's Pride. The "board" of Pride (now "Seattle Out and Proud") is all men (although from the looks of their website, they seem to have recently added a few women, not to the board but as "directors," though as yet there are as yet no photos or biographical information). This year's Dyke March and Rally and Dykes on Bykes will remain on Capitol Hill where they have been for 31 years, and where Seattle's oldest and only remaining dyke bar is located. The Seattle Center event is, in my opinion, clearly designed to court corporate power and money. The Capitol Hill event remains, as it has always been, a celebration that is both political and personal.
Having said all of that, according to the Seattle Times article linked above, Microsoft is supporting the Capitol Hill event, as is the local vendor for Anheuser-Busch, meaning the Seattle Center event has lost some important sponsors. While I hate watching this kind of ugliness unfold in a movement, I have to say, I like the way this event is making the "L" in Seattle's "LGBT" community a little bit more visible.