Joe Mirabella

Space Needle: If Community Raises $50k We'll Raise the Pride Flag

Filed By Joe Mirabella | June 14, 2011 5:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Action Alerts, Living
Tags: fundraisers, Greater Seattle Business Association, It Gets Better, Lambda Legal, Mary's Place, pride 2011, Seattle pride, space needle, Trevor Project

Seattle Pride Flag.jpgIn a dramatic change of course, Seattle's Space Needle has announced that they will fly the Pride flag again this year during Seattle Pride Weekend, if the community can help them raise $50,000 for four organizations that support the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. The news comes after 9,000 people signed a petition started by Seattle resident Josh Castle.

The Space Needle's $50,000 fundraising challenge will benefit four different organizations that support the LGBT community: the Greater Seattle Business Association (the GSBA) LGBT and allied scholarship fund; the It Gets Better Project, which supports the Trevor Project; Lambda Legal; and Mary's Place, a trans inclusive women's shelter in Seattle.

On June 3, the Space Needle told Seattle's LGBT community they would not fly the Pride flag again as the organization did last year for the first time. Lifetime Seattle resident Josh Castle wanted to urge the Space Needle to change their mind, so he started a petition asking the Space Needle to, "Please raise the Pride flag during Seattle Pride weekend."

"I could not be more excited about the Space Needle's decision," said Josh Castle. "The Space Needle chose four charities that I am proud to support. Now let's all pitch in so we can raise the flag!"

The Space Needle has donated $5,000 towards the fundraising goal and is asking the community to raise an additional $45,000. More than $10,000 has been raised so far. Those interested in supporting the fundraising campaign can contribute through a fundraising tool on Facebook.

Josh asked me to ask for your help. "I'm going to need your help once more to raise the Pride flag on the Space Needle," Castle said. "Please visit and contribute what you can. We will raise $50,000 for charity and we will raise the Pride flag!"

Disclosure: I am an organizing manager at I serve on several non-profits' boards, including the Greater Seattle Business Association (the GSBA). The charities were chosen exclusively by the Space Needle and the fundraising challenge was created by the Space Needle employees independently. The Space Needle is a member of GSBA. Photo by Joe Mirabella, 2010

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Here's a better suggestion: rather than forcing LGBT people, who are already suffering under the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression (thanks to Obama) without the benefit of the jobs protections that the Employee Free Choice Act and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act would provide, to pay any more, why don't we make the corporations and billionaires that Mr. Mirabella gets moist from hanging out with pay their fair share? Washington is home to some of the planet's wealthiest corporations and at least two of the richest people on the planet. They don't pay their fair share of taxes and queers suffer for it.

What happens when Joe's pals, Mr. and Mrs. Gates, don't pay their fair share of taxes? Well, for one thing, all kinds of services get cut, including mental health services. We currently have a mentally ill man on trial in our city for raping a lesbian couple and murdering one of them.

What happens when Joe's pals, Mr. and Mrs. Gates, don't pay their fair share of taxes? Queer youth centers are closed down in the city of Tacoma and queer kids in Seattle for told to raise their own money for their own youth spaces.

Not every queer is wealthy like Mr. Mirabella. Some of us don't get invited to the White House to suck up to Obama. Some of us, hell a LOT of us, are fighting just to pay the rent every month. It's time to make the rich pay, including rich queers who have been sucking the rest of us dry.

Wow, Bill and Melinda Gates don't pay their taxes? Must be the billions of dollars they contribute to desperately needed HIV/STI research, intervention, development, capacity building and outreach across the globe for women, men, and children.

I don't particularly get the logic behind this move. What message does it send to the community that they should pony up money to their own cause to have their own cause represented by the Needle? If anything, you would ask others. It's not awful, especially since I imagine that many of those charities suffer a ton of lip service and little actual monetary or volunteer support from the community. But again, I would rather have the Needle encourage its partners to donate to those charities themselves even without raising the flag.

But then, I never felt entitled to have the flag flown twice to begin with. But I suppose if they can choose to fly the 12th Man flag more than once, they can break the rules for us, too.

I just think everything leading up to this made us look bad. At least Trevor Project will get something out of it.

Damn that Obama, retroactively causing the recession.

Wow, Lonnie. You should really check out the post from earlier today about how annoying it is to have some jerk run in and just vomit up nasty remarks on a post. Instead of just making snide remarks about Joe and throwing in some opinion to try and make it look like something, why not actually engage on a subject without having to act like an asshole?

I might not have phrased things quite the same way as Lonnie, but the critique is still pertinent. Furthermore, this feels a lot like blackmail, frankly - we'll do this if you raise money. We could argue that the money goes to organisations etc. but...who gets to choose these and why? And, as Lonnie is trying to point out, I think, we need more systemic change than philanthropy can ever grant. There's also something to be said about how such measures end up reinforcing economic privilege amongst queers who are persistently assumed, by the mainstream, to be a giant well of funds. The truth is that most of us, like the rest of the country, are tapped out and struggling.

And, lastly, all this because the Space Needle wouldn't fly a rainbow flag? Is the flag so much the be-all and end-all of queer existence in Seattle? Are queers there less queer without a flag? I'm reminded of Jake's previous post here:

I'm curious: The It Gets Better Project is a bunch of people making supportive videos for Queer youth and a book. Why exactly does this "organization" need donations? What do they do with them? Is there an actual organization involved with this effort? And if so, who are they, what is their mission and what do they do with the donation funds they raise?

I think they are contributing them to a group that supports gay youth, can't remember the name just now. Whether or not you support the It Gets Better approach and tactics, they *are* helping gay youth in tangible ways. :)