OUR STORY

I was first inspired to start throwing events because after traveling to other queer events and events in other cities. We learned how far behind the queer community in Seattle actually is, and we had our work cut out for us.

 

Community is what “fringe groups” in society need to survive. Support, representation, visibility and numbers. When we started out, we functioned under another name, we were threatened with legal action from another queer group. I do not bring this up because believe me, I am the first one that wants to move on, but I bring it up because it is a prime example of the ROOT of the issue I see in Seattle. If we don’t work together and support each other we will remain in segregated groups across the city.

 

Another argument that we could come up with is, Seattle is predominantly White. 68% of our population in fact. Putting us at the 13th whitest city in the United States. Could it be that the majority of the queer owned and operated groups in Seattle are white? I will be the first to tell you, as a white woman, that being white provides you with privileged and not even second-guessing taking space instead of sharing it for the greater good of community.

 

Here is where my belief lies in the issues with the Seattle Queer scene. Because we are predominantly white, we have historically never had to depend on community and numbers to effect change.

 

I believe that I have been able to uniquely draw a line between this issue, race and community, because of experience. I am white. A white third generation Italian queer women. I have analyzed the differences between my white friends and how they grew up, and how I grew up. Then compared it to how my POC friends have grown up.  

 

An observation I have come to is Italians are rooted in community and family. I went to bed every night begging my grandma to read to me her father’s photo album instead of story books. I learned of faraway lands, I was taught about why my grandfather left his family before WW1, in hopes to leave the poverty ridden region in which they lived in southern Italy, to come to the United States. I learned about how they needed community to survive. Years later he sent for his family, built the house that my grandma grew up in, my mom grew up in, and I grew up in. I know the importance of my history and the influence it has when you are rooted in such a thing.

 

My largest influence in my life is my grandpa Del. I always heard stories of things he did that were beyond what you expect of one man. Raising his brothers and sisters, then raised 6 of his own kids, but also did community work.

 

My grandfather was the president of the Community Action Counsel of Spokane. Community Action Agencies (CAA) are local private and public non-profit organizations that carry out the Community Action Program (CAP), which was founded by the 1964 Economic Opportunity Act to fight poverty by empowering the poor as part of the War on Poverty. They provide services, assistance, and other activities of sufficient scope and size to give promise of progress toward elimination of poverty or a cause or causes of poverty through developing employment opportunities, improving human performance, motivation, and productivity, or bettering the conditions under which people live, learn, and work.

 

There is one story that my grandpa told about the time he worked for social change. Spokane Washington is in fact the 7th whitest city in America. I grew up next to one of the largest Neo-Nazi organizations in the world. The Aryan Nations is an American anti-semiticneo-Naziwhite supremacist terrorist organization that was originally based in Kootenai CountyIdaho. Just 15 minutes from Spokane. I saw them walking around town, wearing their tattoos like badges of honor. You knew to stay away from anyone wearing a white tank top and tall laced up army boots. My grandfather always taught us the dangers of hate, and how dangerous this group of people were.

 

The story starts with my grandfather’s community work for the underprivileged. It leads to pipe bombs being left in their front yard. My grandfather’s belief in helping, in providing recourses and a platform for other human beings, left his life and the life of his kids and wife in danger. To do what was right. To do what he believed in. Risk his life and the life of his family. I want to be able to fill those type of shoes.

  

My influences are many. Italians weren’t largely popular during the world wars, so I heard stories of suppression, but also stories of thriving, and working hard to provide change for community. Which subsequent leads me to my next observation. Classism and Racism are two completely different types of suppression. I just want to let ya’all know I understand that saying “I am not racist; I grew up poor and around POC” actually is racist. I still have a lot of opportunities afforded to me because I grew up poor but am white, and I may have worked my ass to get to where I am, but I truly never will understand what it is like to live as a person of color. But I can educate myself and others to help elevate my community and become a stronger whole, and we all exist as the beautiful humans we are, we can have our own groups, but imagine how powerful we could be if we can get on the same level.  

 

I also cannot express enough the need and value for the POC community in Seattle to be seen and represented. If you go into a POC event or community, people need to understand the history, the influences, and educate yourself as to why the POC community might not feel comfortable having a historically suppressive community among their events.

 

That brings me to my conclusion of what I believe we can achieve as a business, group, and resource. We at Queery Seattle want change. To effect change we need numbers. We need to provide resources to the underserved and underrepresented so we can elevate each other to the same level of respect and importance. This requires education and action on our side. Change starts here. With a problem and a solution to that problem. We aren’t going to do everything perfectly; we love feedback as well as educating us on things we do not understand and your forgiveness if we fuck up. But if you are with us, it starts with respect, resources and education.

 

If you haven’t read “White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism is a 2018 non-fiction book written by Robin DiAngelo.” I highly recommend doing so.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read what we are about. Now, let’s change the world.