Gay Pride: Embroiled In Flag Flap Space Needle Finds Charitable Solution
Last year, in an historic tribute to gay pride month, Seattle’s iconic Space Needle flew the gay pride flag. This year they declined — and met extreme disappointment and anger. So, they came up with a unique solution. Guest author and Seattle-area resident Stuart Wilber explains.
THE RAINBOW FLAG
Last year the Rainbow Flag flew atop the Space Needle on Pride weekend for the first time. It was a significant moment for Seattle, home to what is said to be the second-largest LGBT community in the country. People literally wept, posed for photos with the be-rainbowed Space Needle in the background, and sent hundreds of thank you messages to the corporation that owns it.Â And of course, the expected complaints about special treatment for â€˜The Gaysâ€™ also emerged.
THAT WAS LAST YEAR
On June 3, word got out that Seattle Out & Proud (SO&P), the organization responsible for the annual Pride Parade, had accepted the flag to use instead of it being flown atop the Needle. Within minutes a polite petition thanking the Space Needle Corporation (SNC) for flying the flag last year and asking them to re-consider their decision to not fly it again was initiated on change.org,Â and in eleven days, over 9700 people signed it and members of the City Council and columnists in both the alternative and mainstream media joined the clamor to fly the rainbow flag.
After all, when you see photos of the Eiffel Tower you think Paris, when you see the Needle you think Seattle. The Rainbow Flag flying on our iconic structure was a statement of inclusion and welcome. Not flying it seemed a rejection as hurtful as unrequited love or being turned down by a cutie at last call â€“ it stung!
I confess, I was part of the kerfuffle â€“ I e-mailed, I posted, I re-posted, I tweeted and re-tweeted, I harangued friends and strangers, activists and neighbors to join the fray and sign the petition. For the most part the reaction I received was positive and I am responsible for getting more than a few of those 9700 signatures. But I was also confronted by some stinging remarks. After all, marriage equality, DADT, ENDA, homeless LGBT youth and transgender bashing, not to mention the economy, famine and war, are more important than a piece of colored cloth flying on a corporate structure.
Then the Seattle Gay News (SGN) upped the ante by calling on all local businesses to fly the Pride Flag.Â Healio, a local cafÃ©, offered free pride flags to any business that would fly one. A flag-sewing party was proposed to take place at a counter-protest of the Westboro Church, which will be protesting the Pride Picnic. The image of drag queens dressed as Betsy Ross sewing strips of brightly colored cloth while the Phelps Gang shouts â€œGod Hates Fags!â€ made it into my dreams last night.
A PR NIGHTMARE
Now the Space Needle Corporation had a PR nightmare on their hands. Seattle Gay News reported the Space Needle had committed â€œto sponsoring a fundraiser on-site in the fall to benefit the community and create the program that would take the flag on tour and use it as an education and inspirational message.â€ Â SO&P had announced the giant flag would be leading the Pride Parade carried by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, The Abbey of St. Joan who said in a statement to the press, â€œwe are delighted and honoredâ€ to march with the flag. â€œAs we carry this beacon of hope through downtown Seattle, we will perpetuate our mission to support and represent our community in all its magnificent glory. The past and future of a particular flag we carry is of less import to us than ensuring that this powerful symbol is present on the parade route.â€ Even I in my enthusiasm to get that flag atop the Needle know better than to try to take it away from the Sisters.
A CORPORATE SOLUTION
SNC came up with a solution that allows the Sisters to carry the flag, SO&P to have their fundraiser and Seattle to see the Pride Flag fly again. Their press release states, â€œIn response to a ground swell of support requesting the Rainbow Flag being raised again on Seattle Pride Weekend, the Space Needle has issued an exciting new fundraising challenge. If the community can raise $50,000 for 4 local charities, the Space Needle will raise the Rainbow Flag on Sunday of Seattle Pride weekend in Seattle. The Space Needle will also kick off the challenge with an inaugural donation of $5000.00.”
“According to Jeff Wright, Chairman of Space Needle LLC, â€˜We want to harness the enthusiasm that has built up to raise the flag for the encore performance. Our entire community gets involved in whatever issue is at hand and we think that is what makes us so strong. This challenge can reap great benefits for these worthwhile organizations.â€™
Four charities have been selected to be the recipients of the fundraising challenge. Greater Seattle Business Association Scholarship Program, Lambda Legal, It Gets Better for The Trevor Project, and Mary’s Place, a homeless shelter for women and children. The $50,000 will be divided equally between the four organizations, SNC states.
For those not familiar with Seattle organizations, The GSBA Scholarship Program supports LGBTA students. Often such students, most belonging to a marginalized group, had no family support or financial aid from more traditional sources. Maryâ€™s Place is a shelter that, unlike most, is LGBT welcoming and inclusive. All are worthy causes â€“ ones I personally support. And I believe the challenge will probably be met.
Comments on the Space Needle Face Book page are mixed — most are hostile. Protests are being threatened. What was a PR Nightmare has become a PR catastrophe. Why didnâ€™t SNC just agree to fly the flag and issue the challenge? There should have been ropes attached to that flag, not strings. I still hope they will change their corporate mind.
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
I have been asked why it matters so much if the rainbow flag flies over the Space Needle again this year. My partner reminded me that our domestic partnership is only recognized in a few states and our marriage only in Canada and scolded me, saying I had more important issues to address. Some activist friends complained I should be devoting my time lobbying my senators and representatives as if I couldnâ€™t multi-task. Some told me that the Space Needle is privately owned so the decision to fly the flag is a corporate one and their decision should be respected. But a gift once given becomes more precious when it is taken away.
ANOTHER KIND OF ACTIVISM â€“ GENTLE PERSUASION
New media has transformed our ability to make things happen. With just a few clicks of a mouse we can sign a petition, post it to our Facebook page, tweet it and send our message to multiple recipients. The petitionÂ to the SNC was appreciative and polite. Some said it was too polite.
But when the Pride Flag flies on June 26Â â€“ there is no doubt in my mind that it will â€“ more than 9700 people will see their activism rewarded. And emboldened by this success, they may again sign a petition with a few clicks of a mouse, or call their representatives or even take to the streets when the cause warrants it.
Those of us who live in Seattle and Washington State are fortunate — many of our representatives are supportive of our equality. And when we saw that rainbow flag flying over the iconic Needle, we for a briefÂ time felt included and welcomed — a feeling many of us as LGBTQI folk never get to experience. Many of our youth are homeless and have no access to computers. Others watch the â€œIt Gets Betterâ€ videos and wonder, â€œwhen?â€
Our President and our Governor, the King County Council, the Seattle City Council and our Mayor again proclaim Gay Pride. The flag that flew over the Space Needle last yearÂ will lead the parade on June 26. But June 27, no one will remember that flag or those proclamations, but thousands would remember the disappointmentÂ of not seeing it fly over the Needle.
This year, when that flag flies over our Needle, everyone who sees it will know that it has already gotten a little better.
Stuart Wilber is a Seattle activist who skipped high school to watch the McCarthy-Army Hearings. Having seen it get better and worse and better again over the years, he continues to hope he will experience equality in his lifetime. The Space Needle Challenge can be accessed at Pride Needle.
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Trump Indictment Is a Massive 34 Counts: CNN
When he appears in New York next week, Donald Trump will face a 34-count indictment.
CNN’s John Miller on-air Thursday evening announced, “I am told by my sources that this is 34 counts of falsification of business records, which is probably a lot of charges involving each document, each thing that was submitted, as a separate count.”
JUST IN: CNN’s John Miller says Trump will face 34 counts related to falsifying business recordshttps://t.co/XqxXbMBcSC pic.twitter.com/oY1blHS8K0
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) March 30, 2023
Attorney Tristan Snell, who assisted in the successful prosecution of the Trump University case for the New York Attorney General’s Office, responded via Twitter:
“This is WAY more than expected. If this is correct, it could mean that the indictment covers FAR more than the Stormy Daniels hush money — like Karen McDougal hush money or other hush money/catch-and-kill cases.”
READ MORE: Manhattan District Attorney’s Office Says It Is Coordinating With Trump to ‘Surrender’
“My hunch for a while,” Snell adds, “given [David] Pecker’s involvement and the drawn-out timetable of the indictment, plus the TWENTY interviews of Michael Cohen with the DA, showed that something far larger than Stormy might be in the works.”
“May still be wrong, of course. But 34 counts is a LOT!”
Manhattan District Attorney’s Office Says It Is Coordinating With Trump to ‘Surrender’
Donald Trump’s attorneys were notified Thursday afternoon a Manhattan grand jury had voted to indict him on felony charges related to his alleged hush money payoff of a porn star he reported slept with.
The ex-president’ attorney recently said if indicted Trump would travel to New York to turn himself in.
The Office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has just issued a strongly-worded statement saying it is “coordinating” with Trump’s attorneys for his “surrender.”
“This evening we contacted Mr. Trump’s attorney to coordinate his surrender to the Manhattan D.A.’s Office for arraignment on a Supreme Court indictment, which remains under seal. Guidance will be provided when the arraignment date is selected,” the statement reads.
READ MORE: ‘You Can’t Stand on Fifth Avenue and Just Shoot Somebody’: Donald Trump Indicted – Legal Experts Respond
The Daily Beast’s Jose Pagliery posted the statement to Twitter.
Breaking news: Manhattan DA is negotiating for Trump’s “surrender.” pic.twitter.com/9fFx7heiGA
— Jose Pagliery (@Jose_Pagliery) March 30, 2023
NBC News explains the process, noting he is expected to be arraigned next week.
“After the indictment, Trump will be arrested and taken into custody. He will likely have a mug shot and fingerprints taken,” NBC reports. “Trump will then appear in court to be arraigned, where he will hear charges and enter a plea. Two sources familiar with the situation told NBC News that the former president is likely to be arraigned next week. Trump will either be jailed or released while pre-trial hearings take place.”
'INDICTED FOR HIS BEHAVIOR'
‘You Can’t Stand on Fifth Avenue and Just Shoot Somebody’: Donald Trump Indicted – Legal Experts Respond
Just past 5:00 PM ET The New York Times broke the news that Donald Trump, the ex-president, had been indicted by a Manhattan grand jury on felony charges.
It is a historic moment.
Legal experts are weighing in to help guide Americans through an event that has never before happened in this country.
Former Watergate prosecutor Nick Ackerman says the fact that this is the first time in U.S. history a president is facing criminal charges is itself a problem.
“I think it would have not been a novel event,” Ackerman said on MSNBC, “if we had done this 49 years ago with Richard Nixon, and he had not been pardoned, this will not be a big event [that] it is today.”
READ MORE: New Poll Sends Trump Damning Message About 2024 if He’s Criminally Indicted
“Everybody should be held accountable,” Ackerman added, citing former Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s earlier remarks. Cohen testified repeatedly before the Manhattan grand jury that indicted Trump late Thursday afternoon after a three-hour session.
Ackerman lamented that despite over 30 people being indicted during Watergate, “Richard Nixon was pardoned, he wasn’t held accountable.”
“I think this is very important,” Ackerman continued, “establishing a principle, a line in the sand, that even if you’re the President of the United States, and you commit a crime, you can’t stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and just shoot somebody.”
Ackerman was referring to Trump’s infamous comments during the 2016 election, when he bragged he could “stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”
Attorney and civil rights activist Maya Wiley, also on MSNBC, said, “It’s important and sobering that we had somebody who had the highest office of this country who has now ben indicted for his behavior, his acts, in order to win that office, but also faces what are more shoes that will drop, I believe.”
“It is a sobering moment for this country, that we are witnessing this happened to somebody who was entrusted with such power who has now had a jury of his peers, because that is what a grand jury also is, say we believe he had to face the music.”
READ MORE: Here’s How Five Republicans in Congress Are Responding to the Mass Shooting of 3 Children and 3 Adults in Nashville (Video)
Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, now a professor of law, called this a “moment where we would do well to seriously assess who we are as Americans and who we are not as Americans, because we re all so familiar with Donald Trump’s tactics.”
Fmr. federal prosecutor @JoyceWhiteVance joins “The Beat” on news of Donald Trump’s indictment – “A moment where we would do well to seriously assess who we are as Americans and who we are not as Americans.” pic.twitter.com/H4odpLre3C
— The Beat with Ari Melber 📺 (@TheBeatWithAri) March 30, 2023
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