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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 10 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 32
Lifelong's 'Gay Bingo' draws enthusiastic crowd
Section One
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Lifelong's 'Gay Bingo' draws enthusiastic crowd

by James Whitely - SGN Staff Writer

Approximately 900 people gathered August 4 at Seattle Center's Exhibition Hall for the long-awaited return of Gay Bingo, a popular Lifelong AIDS Alliance fundraising event that was last held two years ago. Seattle drag superstar Gaysha Starr served as emcee.

'We hosted Gay Bingo to a sold-out crowd,' Randy Russell, CEO of Lifelong AIDS Alliance, told SGN. 'We were thrilled to see the community come together in support of Lifelong and the fight against HIV/AIDS. The partnership with the Seattle Center and the 50th anniversary of the Seattle World's Fair was perfect. Go Bingo!'

'Gay Bingo brings people together from all walks of life for a few hours for a good time and to raise money for Lifelong,' said Starr. 'I know a lot of people were disappointed' when Lifelong ended it, she said, 'but I think that they are the only organization that can put together the event to this scale and fun.'

Lifelong officials, who announced in 2010 that they would no longer host Gay Bingo, promoted the August 4 event as a 'one night only' reprise.

Gay Bingo has a signature rowdiness of sorts that bingo players just won't find anywhere else and is a 21+ event. One of Gay Bingo's traditions is to have the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence from the Abbey of St. Joan check a player's cards meticulously once they call 'Bingo' - and if they've made a mistake, they pay! But all in good fun, of course.

This time, the Sisters weren't the only volunteers. Many players from Seattle Quake Rugby, which began its season this week, helped out by selling cards for games with special prizes. Representatives from Washington United for Marriage also were present, urging everyone to help Approve Referendum 74 in November for marriage equality.

WHERE WERE YOU IN '62?
In keeping with the salute to the 1962 World's Fair, the evening's theme was 'Mod Men,' and Lifelong encouraged participants to dress accordingly.

It's important to note that Gay Bingo players aren't all Gay, organizers say. Many are straights who just love a good bingo game.

While Lifelong hasn't yet tabulated how much the event raised, Gay Bingo has been a tremendously successful fundraiser for the organization for almost 20 years.

'Raising money for Lifelong, especially in [these] tough economic times, is important because Lifelong, like so many nonprofits, depends on donations and sponsorships to run their programs and support their clients,' Starr told SGN. 'With Gay Bingo you get a chance to help Lifelong and at the same time have a great time.'

'Hosting Gay Bingo is fun because it challenges me with being quick on my feet with the mic - gives me a chance to run with the themes, costuming, and performances - but most importantly [gives me] a chance to see a lot of familiar faces that I often don't,' said Starr.

Lifelong AIDS Alliance is dedicated to empowering people living with or at risk of HIV/AIDS and other chronic conditions to lead healthier lives. Learn more at www.llaa.org.

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