THE CENTER OF gay things to come couldn't be better situated: two blocks up from one boy bar, just around the corner from another. The Wild Rose (a dyke bar) and Basic Plumbing (a sex club for men) are even closer to the building that will, by all indications, house Seattle's long-awaited Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center. Last week, the Community Center signed a lease, and it plans to move into 1115 East Pike in August.
The timing couldn't be better. The queer community is starved for some good news. Recently, the Chicken Soup Brigade and Northwest AIDS Foundation have consolidated into a single organization, due to decreases in funding and volunteers; Gay City Health Project has lost its founder, John Leonard, and is looking for new leadership; and HIV infections are reportedly on the rise among Seattle men.
"The needs of the community are changing," says Karl Kaluza of Queen City Community Development, the group that is creating the Community Center. "The forward-thinking organizations are changing with it. The Community Center will provide a greater opportunity for our member organizations to work together, a greater opportunity for unity and shared resources."
Yet there are some troubling signs for this project. In the last few months, Queen City has changed the center's name from the Seattle Gay Cultural Center to the less attractive, but more inclusive-sounding, LGBT Community Center. They have already gone through one interim executive director and cut back on their ambitions: A long- entertained plan to build LGBT-friendly housing for seniors has been temporarily put on hold.
The building's central location is not insignificant. If the Community Center is successful, it will provide member organizations—there are currently 35 of them (including Gay City Health Project, Lesbian Resource Center, and PFLAG)—with more space and new resources to enhance effectiveness throughout the community.
The Community Center has raised $100,000 in donations and city grants that will go entirely toward renovating the building's structure and constructing conference rooms, offices, event space, a library, and other facilities. After the construction is completed—and the funds exhausted—the center will rely on donations to hire staff and begin offering services.