WEST COAST CHARMS
With one of the largest gay populations of any city in America, Seattle has become a growing destination for gay vacationers since Washington state legalized same-sex marriage in 2013. Rachael Brister, deputy director of the Greater Seattle Business Association, the city’s LGBT chamber of commerce, says that 20 percent of the samesex marriages performed in Seattle were from out-of-state couples.
“We have this program where if you don’t know anyone locally you can call my office and get witnesses for the marriage permit,” Brister says. “We have volunteers who will come out and witness your marriage. I’ve personally witnessed five marriages since it was legalized in 2013.”
Marriage is just one potential draw for travelers, many of whom visit for the mild weather and to go to Capitol Hill, the city’s historically gay-friendly district.
“Weatherwise, Seattle in the summer, there is nothing like it. It’s sunny, very pleasant and we also have a lot of outdoor events,” Brister says.
Seattle’s Pride is one of the largest outdoor events and starts during the last week of June with a transgender Pride event and climaxes in a massive outdoor festival at Seattle Center, the site of the 1962 World’s Fair and iconic Space Needle.
Seattle is host to a number of picturesque and historic attractions, but Brister says to skip the “original” Starbucks in Pike Place Market.
“The thing is it’s not the original Starbucks, and it’s just like every other Starbucks,” she says. “The thing is Starbucks has built some other locations in town with really beautiful architecture, and it’s the same coffee you get at Pike Place Market.”
The city offers walking tours, LGBT film festivals, and a thriving foodie scene, but one of the attractions Brister recommends isn’t in Seattle, but under it.
“One of my favorite things, and it’s not necessarily a gay thing, is the Seattle Underground tour,” she said. Seattle was basically built twice, and they rebuilt the waterfront and there are all these tunnels you can access that used to be above ground, it’s really interesting.”
This year also marks the 40th anniversary of Seattle Pride. Seattle celebrates Pride with numerous events throughout the month of June, including a Trans March, a Dyke March and a Family Pride Day. The month concludes on June 29 with a huge festival and parade. Celebrity grand marshal for this year’s parade is George Takei.
Washington state may be known for drab weather, but it’s always sunny for Seattle Pride.