1:31 PM PDT, June 23, 2021
The event organizers say the day aims to lift up their “voices, narratives, and contributions.”
“All are free to attend HOWEVER this is a BLACK AND BROWN QUEER TRANS CENTERED, PRIORITIZED, VALUED, EVENT,” organizers wrote on their event website, which is called “TAKING B[L]ACK PRIDE.”
“White allies and accomplices are welcome to attend but will be charged a $10 to $50 reparations fee that will be used to keep this event free of cost for BLACK AND BROWN Trans and Queer COMMUNITY,” the organizers wrote.
Once the word got out that white attendees would be charged, Capitol Hill Pride called for the city to look into whether organizers were committing an ethics violation, the Seattle Human Rights Commission said.
“We consider this reverse discrimination in its worse [sic] form and we feel we are being attacked for not supporting due to disparaging and hostile e-mails,” Capitol Hill Pride directors Philip Lipson and Charlette LeFevre wrote in a letter. “We will never charge admission over the color of a person’s skin and resent being attacked for standing in those values.”
The city, however, sided with the event organizers.
“Black trans and queer peoples are among the most marginalized and persecuted peoples with the LGBTQIA2S+ community,” the Seattle Human Rights Commission wrote.
“They often face shame not only from the cis-heteronormative community, but within the queer community at large as well. In making the event free for the Black Queer community, the organizers of this event are extending a courtesy so rarely extended; by providing a free and safe space to express joy, share story [sic] and be in community,” the letter added.
The commission also asked Lipson and LeFerve to “examine the very real social dynamics and ramifications of this issue.”
In the wake of their letter, Capitol Hill Pride faced a wave of backlash including many cancellations to their Pride events, according to Capitol Hill Seattle.
Lipson and LeFevre have issued apologies for their initial letter, Capitol Hill Seattle reported.
“We apologize for the inquiry to the City of Seattle regarding Take B(l)ack Pride, it was not meant to be an attack or divide but to ensure equality for all,” they said in a statement obtained by Capitol Hill Seattle. “Capitol Hill Pride encourages community events and our mission is to recognize the LGBTQ+ community and all spectrums.”