'Reparations Fee' to Be Charged for White People at Seattle Gay Pride Event

A Pride event in Seattle will charge white people a "reparations fee" to attend, organizers said.

"White people and their accomplices" will have to pay anywhere from $10 to $50 at the TAKING B[L]ACK PRIDE event, according to the event's webpage.

The Trans Women of Color Solidarity Network is organizing the event in collaboration with Queer the Land. The event is not associated with Seattle Pride, which will be hosting all of their events virtually this year, a spokesperson for Seattle Pride told Newsweek.

"TAKING B[L]ACK PRIDE is about lifting the voices, narratives, and contributions of Black queer and trans voices. It's about centering who we are and what we need to feel empowered, joyful and heard," the organizers said about the event this Saturday at Jimi Hendrix Park.

The event is specifically being held for Black and Brown members of the LGBTQ community and is "centered, prioritized and valued" around them. The reparation fee for white attendees is a way for the organizers to keep the event free for minority LGBTQ attendees, the event page said.

The Capitol Hill Pride organizers asked the Seattle Human Rights Commission to look into the situation citing "reverse racism." The commission weighed in on the legality of the event in a statement, which they posted to Twitter.

"Black trans and queer peoples are among the most marginalized and persecuted peoples with the LGBTQIA2S+ community. They often face shame not only from the cis-heteronormative community, but within the queer community at large as well. In making the event free for the Black Queer community, the organizers of this event are extending a courtesy so rarely extended; by providing a free and safe space to express joy, share story, and be in community."

Pride Event
Members and allies of the LGBTQ community participate in the Pride Walk and Rally through downtown Washington, D.C. on June 12. A Seattle gay pride event is charging white people a "reparations fee" for attendance. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Washington United Territories of Pacific Islanders Alliance supported the event's organizers and condemned the Capitol Hill Pride directors in a Facebook post.

"We are disgusted by the actions of Capitol Hill Pride Directors, Charlette LeFevre and Philip Lipson, who felt emboldened to make claims of 'reverse racism' for the only community-led Pride event this year that truly centers and honors the kaleidoscopic lived experiences and truths of all Black, Indigenous, Brown, two-spirit, queer, trans, nonbinary, intersex, gender diverse loved ones that tend to the needs of our communities with deep care, tenderness, trust, and patience," the statement said.

According to the Seattle Municipal Code section that prohibits discrimination, "It is unlawful for any person occupying or using any park or recreation facility for any event, activity or exhibition open to the public, whether or not under a permit and whether or not an admission or entrance fee is charged, to deny to any other person the full use and enjoyment of such park and recreation facility because of race."

The Seattle Parks and Recreation office did not immediately respond to Newsweek for comment on whether or not the TAKING B[L]ACK PRIDE event on Saturday is permitted in the park.

The Trans Women of Color Solidarity Network told Newsweek in a statement that the reparations are not new and that last year's event also asked for reparation donations.

"Our allies, supporters and accomplices pay our sliding scale donation 'reparations' because they are able to understand that as folks with privilege, equity can start with making sure that people who possess various levels of marginalization are able to have spaces that center their needs, safety, identities and contributions to LGBTQI culture," the statement said.

The network also said that allies often choose to donate more than what they are asked for and some even offer to volunteer at the event.

"The LGBTQ community has NEVER been safe for Black and Brown queer and trans folks. Nor have Pride events. It is not wildly out of line to create your own when you don't feel safe," the organizers said. "We refuse to gamble on the safety of our community."

The statement also criticized the Capitol Hill Pride organizers for their comments about the event and called for vendors, performers and guests to boycott the Capitol Hill Pride events.

The event details that informed guests of the reparations have since been removed from the event page. Comments on the Facebook event have also been turned off.

This story was updated on June 22 at 11:30 a.m. with a comment from the Trans Women of Color Solidarity Network.