Mayfield: LGBTQ+ rights may be at seminal moment

Jun 27, 2023, 7:00 AM | Updated: 7:08 am

Photos by Courtney Aalbu

Tens of thousands attended Pride Parades around the Puget Sound last weekend. On The Gee & Ursula Show, guest host Travis Mayfield talked about the new challenges the community faces in a time of political turmoil.

Travis has been public about being gay since 1995. He has a husband and kids.

“My strategy has always been ‘I’m just going to be me,'” Travis said. “And people are going to look at me on TV or see me in their community and be like, ‘Oh, well, he’s just as boring as the rest of us.’ And maybe that’s the way gay people like to be seen, like, he’s normal and he’s cool.”

Travis said that’s always been his kind of “pride.” But he said something has changed of late.

“I’ve loved many pride parades and festivals over the years. But I’m gonna be honest, that this year, my husband and I sat down and we (said) ‘Well, politically, it feels like an important year to be visible,'” Travis explained. “It feels like there’s so much hate out there and anti-LGBTQ sentiment and law. It seems to be fomenting out there.”

‘Things feel dangerous to me’

Travis said there wasn’t a credible threat against any of the events that he was aware of. “But, things feel dangerous to me.”

Ursula commented that she was eavesdropping on a conversation Travis was having with KIRO Newsradio’s Micki Gamez, who is also gay. She asked why Micki and Travis don’t feel as safe as they used to.

“I feel the same way (that Travis does),” Micki said. “But you know, I have a job to do. And so I come in, and I do my job every day, and I live my life. That’s it. But we didn’t celebrate. We went to Burien Pride and that was good enough for me. We did it in a small way.”

Travis said he and his daughter went to the Seattle Sounders Pride Match. “We were sitting next to the Emerald City supporters, and they had giant banners that were like LGBTQ+ lives are important, like keep them safe. And it was just amazing and beautiful.”

Ursula said that as an organization, the Sounders don’t hide their support.

Travis explained that the way people and organizations support the community has been shifting. For example, the National Hockey League announced they are trying to “take politics out of the league” after some players refused to wear LGBTQ+ uniforms.

More: Party and protest mix as LGBTQ+ pride parades kick off across the US

Travis said he went to Capitol Hill on a date night over the weekend. He said it was definitely celebratory, but “I feel like it was like a balancing act for us to be visible. We were visible, but we didn’t want to put my family in a place that was unsafe.”

He does have some fear at the moment.

Travis noted it felt like gay rights had gotten through the storm and he felt as though people don’t hate us, but now “suddenly, we’re back in a place where it’s almost worse.”

“Before I really genuinely believed that if you get to know me, you’ll see that I’m not all the scary things that you think I am,” he added. “And now they know me, and they hate me still and sometimes more. And so that isn’t about them seeing that I’m a boring normal dad next door, who does the same things that you do.”

Ursula said Travis had said in an earlier conversation he had allies, but now he’s not sure that they would be willing to fight for him.

“And that hurts my heart,” she said.

‘Stand up for your LGBTQ friends’

“I really hope we emerge on the other side,” Travis projected. “And then my message to any street folk out there is just stand up for your LGBTQ friends, neighbors, even strangers, like speak up. If somebody says something, don’t let it slide. It matters. I see it, I hear it. We do, and I feel safer when you do.”

Listen to Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Mayfield: LGBTQ+ rights may be at seminal moment