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Taking B(l)ack Pride presents: Seachella

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From last year's event — Photo provided by Taking B(l)ack Pride
From last year's event — Photo provided by Taking B(l)ack Pride

Dedicated organizers and community members are working overtime as the days tick down to the coolest Pride event of the summer on June 25: Seachella, presented by Taking B(l)ack Pride, celebrating "the unique, eclectic, artistic, vibrant, summa time aesthetic of the Black and Brown Trans and Queer community."

"Taking B(l)ack Pride centers BIPOC on every facet of the Trans and Queer community, including families," said Mattie, co-founder and the operations and logistics manager. "Everyone is welcome at the event. However, we need to be up-front about the intention of the spaces that center and celebrate folks who have been historically marginalized, even within the LGBTQ community. We ask that people honor and respect that."

Photo provided by Taking B(l)ack Pride  

"Taking B(l)ack Pride was created to lift the voices, narratives, and contributions of Black Queer and Trans people," added Lourdez, the vendor and accessibility manager. "It's about centering who we are and what we need to feel empowered, joyful, and heard."

The event will be family friendly and is open to community members of all ages. "It is a space where QTBIPOC can celebrate and be centered," Lourdez said. "We are also partnering with Families of Color Seattle for family-friendly activities during the first part of the day!"

Photo provided by Taking B(l)ack Pride  

Overcoming white-fabricated controversies
Last year's event gained attention for having a reparation charge, through which white allies were asked to donate while attending the event. The request was sensationalized by some members of Seattle's LGBTQ+ community, including Capitol Hill Pride organizer Charlette LeFevre, who accused Taking B(l)ack Pride of being racist.

"I think the characterization of 'charging white participants' is pretty sensationalizing of a mechanism that is really about requesting that white allies donate to help sustain the event," Mattie said. "People love to make that sound far more nefarious than it is, when so many other collectives and orgs do the same thing.

"Real Rent Duwamish requests that those living on Native land give rent to those whose land this is. King County Equity Now requests that supporters 'pay the fee' to sustain their work and advocacy. These are reparative methods for acknowledging injustice that has occurred systemically, and there is nothing wrong with that.

"At the end of the day, we want to share space with those who support us and our community. Those who do have had zero issues with supporting the event with a donation. Those who have shared disagreement have typically been overwhelmingly cis het and cis gay men with pretty violent, threatening, and nasty things to say, which is unfortunate but serves to show in real time why BIPOC Trans folks do not feel safe in mainstream Pride spaces."

Despite the backlash from white people in the community, Taking B(l)ack Pride 2021 was a huge success. "Last year's event was so special!" Lourdez said. "Even though we were navigating the heat wave and threats to our safety from the publicity we received about our reparations model, our community came together to create safety and still center celebration! The performances were amazing! To be able to witness Black and Brown Queer and Trans joy was so healing!

"Also witnessing young Queer and Trans folks feel safe to be their whole selves and be held in that made me tear up! Last year was a beautiful success, and we thank the community for celebrating with us!"

This year's event is still planning on requesting donations from allies who can give, Lourdez said.

"We are preparing in case of another heat wave with donations of lots of water. We purchased lots of popsicles from Seattle Pops that will be passed out to guests at the event," they continued. "We also have canopies for vendors, shaded tree areas, and a low-sensory tent in the Mural Amphitheater event space that people can retreat to, as well as first-aid medics and harm-reduction specialists on deck to support people who need care due to the heat."

"Last year's event was a complete success. We wanted people to feel at home and safe," Mattie added. "We wanted folks to open themselves up to Black and Brown Trans/Queer artists that they haven't heard of, we wanted to showcase what liberatory Pride spaces look like, and we feel great about being able to accomplish that despite the media attention and negativity."

Photo provided by Taking B(l)ack Pride  

Looking forward to another hot event
This year the organizers are preparing for even more fun.

"I am most excited to see and listen to the amazing performers!" Mattie said. "I'm also excited that we are even having a third year. It's taken a lot of sweat equity, planning, and... tears to get here!"

"One of my favorite duos will be returning," Lourdez added. "Lucchi! Their performances are so beautiful!" Other performers will include Palmer, Fly Young Red, Nyla Belladonna, Coco Rich, Brittany Davis, and many more.

Taking B(l)ack Pride will have more than just live performances, however. "We have an array of QTBIPOC vendors I'm excited [about]: Mutual Aid Books, Aunty Monstera, Brujita Medicine to name a few," Lourdez said. "We also will have a booth with Alphabet Alliance of Color and Everyday Medicine... Fancy Plant Designs will continue making floral crown designs for the Black Trans community. An altar for our transcestors is [being] built, and healing practitioners (massage and reiki) will be available for attendees."

Photo provided by Taking B(l)ack Pride  

A community staple
Taking B(l)ack Pride has become a staple for members of the LGBTQ+ community. It is a safe space for QTBIPOC people who often do not feel included in other Queer spaces. "TBP is important for the community, because QTBIPOC, especially our Black Trans and Queer siblings, are worthy of spaces that center joy and liberation," Lourdez said.

"We are deserving of spaces that we can see ourselves reflected in, that are full of care, that [are] organized by and for our community. We deserve spaces of healing that bring laughter, and smiles and are intergenerational spaces to be together. TBP is a celebration that brings all these elements of the community together," they continued.

"We hope that folks enjoy an event that truly is a labor of love from us to the community," added Mattie.

Taking B(l)ack Pride Presents: Seachella will be at the Seattle Center Mural Amphitheater from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 25.