A pride event that will be held Saturday in Jimi Hendrix Park, Seattle, is charging white attendees from $10 to $50 in ‘reparations fees.’
The prompted backlash over whether the organizers were promoting “reverse racism.” The event is being hosted for black and brown members of the LGBTQ+ community and aims to lift their “voices, narratives, and contributions” according to organizers. “All are free to attend HOWEVER this is a BLACK AND BROWN QUEER TRANS CENTERED, PRIORITIZED, VALUED, EVENT,” organizers wrote on the event’s website, which is called “TAKING B(L)ACK PRIDE.”
The event was co-organized by nonprofits Trans Women of Color Solidarity Network, Queer the Land, and the Alphabet Alliance of Color. This event if different from Seattle Pride, which is holding its events virtually this year. The admission fee prompted the group Capitol Hill Pride to call for the city to look into whether organizers were committing an ethics violation by only making white attendees pay for the event.
“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 on Twitter (@SeattleHRC). “We will never charge admission over the color of a person’s skin and resent being attacked for standing in those values,” the letter continued.
LeFevre and Lipson have been the co-organizers of Capitol Hill Pride since 2009, according to the event’s website. They also explained that the event was being hosted by Nikkita Oliver, a former Capitol Hill Pride worker who quit the organization over its refusal to support Take B(l)ack Pride. The city’s Human Rights Commission ultimately sided with the event organizers.
“Black trans and queer peoples are among the most marginalized and persecuted peoples with the LGBTQIA2S+ community,” the commission wrote in a second letter posted to Twitter.
“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.”