As we celebrate Pride Month and recognize the ongoing fight for LGBTQ+ rights, we wanted to share this local history of the movement compiled by Solid Ground’s own Will Ross. A longtime advocate for Seattle’s LGBTQ+ community, Will now works as an attorney with Solid Ground’s Benefits Legal Assistance team, where he helps people with low incomes who’ve had their public benefits reduced or denied. Will’s history about the evolution of the LGBTQ+ movement in Seattle was first published on Front Porch, the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods blog. He writes:
“The year 1991 had been a turbulent one for Seattle’s lesbian and gay community. AIDS deaths were soaring; anti-gay violence on Capitol Hill had reached epidemic levels; and lesbian and gay military personnel were being dishonorably discharged by the military. The new year was looking even less promising with the Capitol Hill Police Riot in January and the emergence of Oregon Citizens Alliance with its promise of anti-gay citizens’ initiatives in the months and years to come.
“These factors may have created a feeling that the community was under siege, but it also gave birth to a new form of activism, a Queer Revolution. It was unapologetic, unabashed, and in your face. Demanding unconditional acceptance as queer people replaced a strategy of waiting for acceptance by appearing respectable. A younger generation galvanized by Act Up and Queer Nation – more racially diverse and proud to defy gender expectations and boundaries – was driving this new activism. The revolution created the dynamics of a community both under fire and on fire. It was a clarion call for marginalized queer folk to come out of the shadows; a call heard by Seattle’s transgender community.”