LGBTQAI community reacts to Spokane being named third gayest city | Community Spirit
The Advocate – a LGBT magazine – listed Spokane as the third “gayest city in America” in its issue that came out Wednesday.
“As much as we love fabulous soirees and mimosa brunches, there much more to LGBT life than that,” the article by Matthew Breen starts. “We live in little burgs and big cities and tons of places in between – so we're looking at the in-between.”
Spokane received seven points for having “LGBT elected officials,” according to Victory Fund endorsements, although all seven members listed by the group preside over jurisdictions on the West Side. The Lilac City got its biggest boost – five points – from recently passed legislation legalizing same-sex marriages. Also, the city received a point for “fabulous shopping” - namely the Pottery Barn downtown (718 West Main Avenue).
Other cities named on the list in the Pacific Northwest include: Salem, Ore. (No. 14), Eugene, Ore. (No. 7), Seattle (No. 5) and Tacoma (No. 1).
Although the methodology of the list may be slightly flawed – Breen admits that it is “totally subjective” – local LGBTQAI advocates believe Spokane is becoming increasingly friendly to their cause.
Michael Jepson, OutSpokane board member, said he was flattered by the shoutout to the group and thought it was a good thing that the article focused more than how fabulous a city is.
“I'm not saying it's not great to have a club to go dancing at,” Jepson said. “But that's not what defines the entirety of the LGBTQAI community.”
Jepson says he's seen great strides for the queer community over the last 20 years, and sees the recognition as a “well-deserved pat on the back for fighting for marriage equality.” He said that 20 years ago he wouldn't even consider being out at work, but now he is and his boss, who describes himself as “right of Genghis Khan,” accepts it and fosters a welcoming environment.
“We're finding more acceptance in Spokane all the time,” he said. “People aren't seeing us as 'the others' anymore. We're they're neighbors, brothers, friends.”
Jepson also said that Spokane has great resources for LGBTQAI members of all ages, from the Odyssey Youth Center to OutSpokane's annual Pride Celebration.
Sevan Bussell, operations coordinator for Odyssey, said the key to being a resource for the LGBTQAI community is just being there for the young people.
“For some of our youth, this is the only space where they feel understood, where they can express themselves, they might not be out to their parents yet. They can get support from people who know who they are.”
The community has come quite a way in the area. The Odyssey Youth Center is just one example of a place where LGBTQAI members can go for a safe space, and Bussell feels although the process might be slow, it certainly is advancing.
"I take a one day at a time, one step at a time approach," Bussell said. "If I can be there for some kids, then they'll go on to leading a more normal life, which I think is the goal."