Rantz: Agency director resigns, while activist defends stripping at Seattle homeless conference

Dec 17, 2019, 6:07 AM
Homeless conference controversy...
A controversy continues for DCHS All Home. (KIRO 7)
(KIRO 7)

Reasonable people, and even generally unreasonable ones, know hosting a performer who strips, twerks, provocatively touches a man’s leg, and rubs her breasts in the faces of conference-goers without consent is unwise. But this is Seattle, so the event has its crazy defenders.

We recently learned at a conference hosted by All Home King County, a county agency that connects the homeless with services, that a transgender performer stripped and lip-synced, while collecting dollar bills from conference-goers. They did not say this particular performance would occur, only that there would be a “cultural performance” during the lunch.

Kira Zylstra, the director of the agency who had been placed on leave pending an investigation, resigned from her $123,000 a year job. But she has her defenders.

In what must be the most absurd and almost parodic defense, failed mayoral candidate Nikkita Oliver wondered on Twitter if “people get this mad when gospel choirs are the cultural performance at non-Christian conferences.”


Does the choir strip and twerk and inappropriately touch the conference goers? Do they give lap dances at this imaginary conference?

Oliver claims the performance was burlesque, which qualifies, she says, as a cultural performance. Indeed, it’s especially important because homelessness is an “issue which deeply impacts trans & queer communities, artists & sex workers.” She says she was in attendance, which partially explains why the county’s homelessness efforts have failed.

While it strains credulity to call the performance burlesque and the intersection of homelessness and trans communities is irrelevant in this context, it obviously doesn’t matter. This is a publicly funded, work conference. It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist, or a Socialist activist, to understand why a sexualized performance like this is inappropriate and even potentially opens up the county to a lawsuit.

When Oliver was called out for her laughable commentary, she went on a woke offensive: “It’s this kind of fixation, mostly held by the housed cultural majority residents and electeds, that is leading us away from listening to and implementing the solutions which come from those most affected by housing instability—which includes queer & trans burlesque dancers.”

If you want to know why homelessness isn’t getting better in the region, just take a gander at Oliver’s Twitter feed and bizarre defenses. She’s not interested in solutions. She’s interested in throwing out Progressive buzzwords to establish her political bona fides.

“It was great focusing on decolonizing our services & nonprofits which purport to serve our residents experiencing homelessness,” she Tweeted. But: this doesn’t mean anything.

She’s woke and learned — she need not focus on results; she focuses, instead, on fringe academic theories.

“If we are serious about impacted peoples being at the center of solution building & implementation this would also include bringing in cultural performance which reflect the community,” she said of the performer… from Spokane, which isn’t the community the conference serves.

Oliver is rightfully getting dragged on Twitter. And even when she thinks she’s backing up her own points, she ends up undercutting them.

“Also, people aren’t mad their [sic] was a cultural presentation,” she said. “They are mad about what it was.”

Correct. It was an inappropriate sexual display. Go talk to literally any Human Resources manager and you’ll quickly discover why it was wrong. It’s one thing to spend a small amount of money on entertainment for a conference, however unnecessary. We’re in another universe when you think it’s appropriate to hire someone to strip.

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Rantz: Agency director resigns, while activist defends stripping at Seattle homeless conference