How to Support Seattle's LGBTQ Community During the Pandemic

Every bit helps.

Repair Revolution
Repair Revolution | Courtesy of Steph Araiza
Repair Revolution | Courtesy of Steph Araiza

It’s always been true that Pride is a year-round commitment -- not just a month-long celebration. But this is an especially important slice of wisdom to remember right now: Because of the global pandemic and the ongoing protests against systemic racism, Pride was largely eclipsed this year, and queer businesses missed out on what is typically their busiest and most profitable month. And they’ve been struggling for months now -- most, if not all, businesses in Seattle have been partially or totally closed since mid-March.

Not all businesses will survive the pandemic -- many have already shuttered for good -- and it’s up to the broader community to support those that we know and love. For queer folks, that means frequenting your local gay-owned coffee shop, priortizing local businesses over national chains, attending protests for Black lives, and getting involved in those life-saving LGBTQ non-profits that are doing the work. Ahead, here are all the ways to (safely!) support the Seattle LGBTQ community during the coronavirus pandemic.

Continue the resistance alongside queer BIPOC 

A commitment to intersectionality necessitates that we continue to show up for BIPOC queers -- especially with our physical presence at marches and protests. Youth For Defund Seattle PD and Decriminalize Seattle are both good accounts to follow for protest and City Council updates. Beyond that, King County Equity Now is a whole coalition of Black-led community orgs demanding an end to gentrification and predatory development in central Seattle, as well as a redistribution of $180 million from the SPD budget, among other things -- all of which will inevitably impact Black queer residents living in the neighborhood. 

Over on Rainier Beach, Wa-BLOC has been running a weekly Feed The Beach pop-up all summer with free hot food and Defund SPD T-shirts (also free), and they’ll be continuing through the school year; check their Facebook page for updates. 

Last but not least, Lavender Rights Project is doing the vital work of providing legal support to LGBTQ communities all over Washington -- if you’re an attorney, law student, or licensed professional, there’s likely a volunteer opportunity here for you. Their new project, the WA Black Trans Task Force, is particularly relevant to the current crisis of police violence against Black trans folks -- and playing a crucial role in the fight to save lives.

Seattle Queer Film Festival 2019 | Courtesy of Sabel Roizen

Dive into queer arts and culture

Mark your calendar for the 2020 Seattle Queer Film Festival, which is going virtual this year for its 25th anniversary, October 15-25, and continuing its mission of “connecting and reflecting diverse communities through queer film and media.” Lion’s Main Art Collective is doing similar work in showcasing queer and trans artists; keep an eye out for their next show. You can also donate to Blanket Fort Films, the non-profit empowering women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community with free film education and gear.

For a daily dose of trans celebration and healing, follow the Black Trans Prayer Book on Instagram, a project founded by Seattle-based artist J Mase III. And if your weekend (or workweek) needs a soundtrack, tune into nonbinary Seattle rapper Da Qween, or LuluNation on KHUH Radio, a weekly Tuesday night show led by queer and trans people of color. 

Donate your time, money, or skills to an LGBTQ non-profit

While volunteer opportunities are largely on pause because of coronavirus precautions, there’s always the option to send cash instead and support non-profits financially. Consider donating to Lambert House -- which empowers queer youth -- or Gay City -- an all-ages community center in downtown Seattle -- the next time you’re itching to get involved. Ingersoll Gender Center is another important organization, created by and for the transgender and gender nonconforming communities, which they’ve been serving since 1977. And grassroots collective Gender Justice League is continuing their work of “empowering trans and gender diverse people” in Seattle and across Washington (both organizations are accepting donations and volunteer applications).

Spend your coin at queer-owned local businesses 

If you’re spending the rest of summer lakeside, why not support an LGBTQ-owned business while you lounge? TomboyX is the gender-neutral underwear company that also makes some of the best swimwear around, and the brand just so happens to be based right here in Seattle. For local in-store shopping, check out Phantom Quartz, a metaphysical boutique in Mount Baker, Station 7 in Capitol Hill, or Nomadia Creatives, a shop nestled inside of Cupcake Royale by a self-described “queer art gang.”

Alternatively, if you’re looking to create your very own merch, Brand | Pride can help -- they specialize in promotional materials and are lesbian-owned and operated. And next time you need an oil change, pop by Repair Revolution -- the queer auto body shop founded by Eli Allison that’s committed to disrupting the industry with inclusivity and transparency.

Make your next meal a gay one

Support your local LGBTQ chef and pick up a sweet treat from the aforementioned Cupcake Royale, a queer-owned cupcake mecca that has ruled the Seattle dessert scene for over 16 years (The Gay, a rainbow cupcake, is available year-round). We’d also recommend the wood-fired neapolitan pizza from Tutta Bella, a six-pack of cold ones from Stoup Brewing, and an espresso to go from Fuel Coffee or Union Coffee -- all four of which are LGBTQ-owned. The Station in Beacon Hill is another neighborhood watering hole worth a visit -- co-owner Leona Moore-Rodriguez is a black queer woman who describes her cafe as a “social justice coffee shop.” Marination has also reopened all three of its locations, which is good news if you’re a fan of their Hawaiian-Korean fusion cooking (who isn’t?). 

Pay it forward with a cocktail (or two)

If you’ve ever had a damn good night at a gay bar, now’s a really good time to double down on your support. Quite a few spots have reopened: try Changes in Wallingford (fondly compared to the Cheers bar), or, if you’re in Capitol Hill, The Cuff Complex, Madison Pub or Wildrose (one of the oldest lesbian bars on the West Coast). Unfortunately Queer/Bar, Pony, Re-bar, The Swallow Bar, and Neighbours Night Club are all still closed. For those that are open, we recommend checking on a bar’s status before you go out, as things are constantly in flux. And, if you’d rather stay home instead, keep an eye on queer-owned The Velvet Elk’s website (they’ll be launching a to-go cocktail program very soon). 

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Emma Banks is a contributor for Thrillist.