Speaking of Women's Rights: The Space Needle Likes Gay People…But Not Enough To Fly Our Flag

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Space Needle Likes Gay People…
But Not Enough To Fly Our Flag

I distinctly remember the day, last June, when I walked through my front door and caught a glimpse of the Space Needle out my window.  Could it be?  Was I seeing things?  Is that…a rainbow flag?!  I must’ve stared at it for 20 minutes, thinking about how welcome it made me feel in my own city and how important this gesture was going to be to a large population of LGBTQ youth, who never get to feel like they belong.  Here the same establishment that heralds football fanaticism and college sports was celebrating Pride with us.  It was an unbelievably good feeling.

To say that I was livid when I heard that the Space Needle would not be flying the Pride flag this year would be an understatement.  In a struggle where progress can be hard-won, and the tiniest steps forward feel like great sighs of relief, this seemed like a rug being pulled out from under.  Are we really supposed to celebrate weekend after next, under the Space Needle’s Pride-flagless shadow, and feel okay about it?
Reading the barrage of comments that have flooded the Space Needle Facebook Page has made me feel a little better.  Clearly I wasn’t the only one who had an emotional response to the raising of the flag last year.
“I moved to Seattle June 1st of last year... and lived just across the street from the Space Needle at the time... I remember the flag going up and being so proud to live in such an inclusive city... please fly the Pride Flag!” 
Dominic Aina
“Seeing the Pride Flag last year gave me hope as an LGBT youth. I was crushed when I heard that the space needle chose not to support it this year. You may be a private organization but the space needle is what makes Seattle, emerald city. The city where everyone is welcome. After hearing this I don't feel welcome. Please reconsider your decision and fly the flag proud and let Seattle be known forever for it's LGBT support and care. Thank You for your time and reading.”
Skylar Jason Kovach
Maybe the Space Needle folks don’t realize exactly what the Pride flag represents:  the anniversary of a very crucial moment in the LGBTQ rights movement.  And for those who remember the Stonewall Riots, as well as those who are struggling to grow up in an environment that won’t let them be who they are, the refusal to fly the Pride flag says “we don’t support you.”  Or at the very least “we don’t support you enough to say so on our very prominent building.”  The flag has been donated to Seattle Out and Proud to be carried in the Pride Parade, which is nice I suppose.  But it feels a little like we were totally in love last year, and now the Space Needle has asked to just be friends.  It’s easy to hand off the job of fighting for equality to someone else while claiming your support in press statements.  But as the old adage goes “actions speak louder than words.” 

I know that you all own a lot of fabulous rainbow attire.  Might I suggest that we gather at the Space Needle sometime this month and share it?  And in the meantime, you can always leave your polite plea on the Space Needle Facebook Page, or sign the petition here (4,000 of your friends already have).