JASON RANTZ

Rantz: Gay pride event in Seattle city park charging whites ‘reparations fee’

Jun 20, 2021, 5:24 PM | Updated: Jun 21, 2021, 2:14 pm
conversion therapy, seattle reparations fee...
(AP file)
(AP file)

Story has been updated at 10:50am on 06-21-21 to include a new statement from Seattle Parks and a new move by the organizers. It’s been included at the end of the story.

Organizers for a Seattle gay pride event say they’re charging white people a “reparations fee” to attend. They have the support of Seattle City Council president and mayoral candidate Lorena Gonzalez and the Seattle Human Rights Commission.

TAKING B(L)ACK PRIDE organizers say all are welcome to attend. However, “white allies and accomplices” must pay the reparations fee. It will be charged on a sliding scale of $10 to $50 depending on one’s ability to pay. The event location is Jimi Hendrix Park, owned by the city of Seattle. This raises questions about the legality of a reparations fee.

Critics question whether race-based admissions fees are appropriate. Seattle Municipal Code clearly prohibits racial discrimination. But organizers have pushed back, calling criticism of their admissions structure “casual violence.”

Gay pride event at Seattle park

Organizers promote TAKING B[L]ACK PRIDE as an event to amplify “the voices, narratives, and contributions of black queer and trans voices.”

There will be live musical performances, commentators, “art healing spaces,” prize giveaways, and a COVID-19 vaccine clinic. According to the event’s listing, they say they will focus on “centering who we are and what we need to feel empowered, joyful, and heard.”

Apparently, they need a so-called reparations fee to feel empowered. Their event page details their racist admissions policy:

All are free to attend HOWEVER this is a BLACK AND BROWN QUEER TRANS CENTERED, PRIORITIZED, VALUED, EVENT. 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.

Is it legal to deny white people entry who refuse to pay? It doesn’t appear so.

City clearly prohibits racial discrimination

Seattle Parks and Recreation explicitly prohibits racial discrimination in their parks. And it applies to event organizers using the park, with or without a permit.

According to Seattle Municipal Code (18.12.280):

It is unlawful for any person occupying or using any park or recreation facility for any event, activity or exhibition open to the public, whether or not under a permit and whether or not an admission or entrance fee is charged, to deny to any other person the full use and enjoyment of such park and recreation facility because of race…

Seattle Parks and Recreation did not respond to email requests for comment. It’s unclear if this event is permitted.

Critics of the reparations fee include organizers of the Capitol Hill Pride Rally and March — the same ones who banned gay and straight police officers from attending their event.

Criticism from a group that banned gay cops from their event

Charlette LeFevre and Philip Lipson, the organizers behind Capitol Hill Pride, complained about the reparations fee to the Seattle Human Rights Commission. The SHRC is a far-left, activist group that helps advise the City of Seattle on human rights issues.

In the email that the SHRC posted, LeFevre and Lipson argue that a reparations fee represents “reverse discrimination.” They say it’s a violation of local and federal anti-discrimination laws.

But the SHRC strongly disagreed.

Human Rights Commission, City Council president defend reparations fee

The SHRC defended the event, urging the organizers to “examine the very real social dynamics and ramifications of this issue.”

“Black trans and queer peoples are among the most marginalized and persecuted peoples within the LGBTQIA2S+ community,” the 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, and be in community.”

Seattle City Council president and mayoral candidate Lorena Gonzalez also jumped into the fray.

Gonzalez supports a ban on gay police officers at a pride event. But question the reparations fee, and you’ve gone too far. So offended by LeFevre and Lipson, Gonazlez canceled her scheduled appearance at Capitol Hill Pride.

“After a year that has taken an unbelievable toll on all of our communities, I was looking forward to this opportunity to celebrate Pride in person,” Gonzalez tweeted. “However, I simply cannot support an organization that is trying to stop Black people in the LGBTQ+ community from celebrating Pride in the manner that they choose.”

Criticism is violence

TAKING B[L]ACK PRIDE is obviously defending their reparations fee while slamming the “audacity of Capitol Hill Pride.”

“Our allies, supporters, and accomplices, pay our sliding scale donation ‘reparations” because they are able to understand that as folks with privilege, equity can start with making sure that people who possess various levels of marginalization are able to have spaces that center their needs, safety, identities, and contributions to LGBTQI culture,” TAKING B[L]ACK PRIDE organizers write.

They argue their reparations fee is not discriminatory because “Black and Brown LGBTQI folks do not possess the institutional power or enforcement of that power to be racially “‘oppressive’ to white folks.”

It gets personal

They also called out LeFevre specifically.

“She has decided to use her power and privilege as a white passing woman to elicit an emotional response & dangerous reaction from people like herself in order to create unsafe and potentially life threatening conditions for Black and Brown LGBTQIA folks,” the group argued.

“Charlette LaFevre acted out of entitlement and casual violence because she was mad, and felt that her hurt feelings gave her the right to make Black and Brown trans folks, sick and disabled folks, sex workers, migrants, elders, youth, and communities already under constant threat of violence and criminalization pay with their safety and potentially their lives. This is not ok. SUCH is the fallacy of LGBTQIA white and white passing liberals,” they continued.

Update: 06-21-21 at 10:50 am

Seattle Parks emailed the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH and confirmed this is not a permitted event. However, they did not respond to direct questions on how the city will proceed. An unnamed spokesperson wrote:

At this time, we are scheduling no events at Jimi Hendrix Park, due to a scheduled construction project.
Unpermitted events happen in parks from time to time, the nature of the event and concerns raised would determine if a response from the City would be warranted.
The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH confirmed that Jesús Aguirre, Superintendent of Seattle Parks, received at least one complaint about the event.

Update: 06-21-21 at 2:13 pm

Seattle Parks indicates that Aguirre won’t pursue an investigation into the event. But now the organizers are scrubbing mention of the reparations fee from some of their event pages. As of 2:13pm Monday afternoon, their Facebook event page no longer includes language about the reparations fee. Seattle Pride’s event page, however, still has it up.

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Rantz: Gay pride event in Seattle city park charging whites ‘reparations fee’