Josh Castle’s petition on change.org asking the Seattle Space Needle to raise the pride flag this year has gotten a lot of reactions, good and bad. In addition to a lot of homophobic comments, most of the rest of the negative ones stemmed from the fact that readers felt that since the Space Needle was a private company, they shouldn’t be badgered into doing this.
When I read the petition, that wasn’t the opinion I formed. I didn’t feel that Josh was trying to pressure the company into raising the flag. My feeling was that all he wanted to do was gather a group of supporters to show the Space Needle how many people would appreciate the gesture. Well, he definitely accomplished that. At last count, about 8700 people had signed the petition.
For a while, it seemed that the Space Needle wouldn’t succumb to the public’s wishes. However, a short while ago they released a statement in which they issued a challenge to the supporters. They would fly the rainbow flag during Pride weekend this year if the community could raise $50,000 for four different charities. The charities selected were the Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA) Scholarship Program, Lambda Legal, the It Gets Better Campaign (Trevor Project) and Mary’s Place (a homeless shelter for women and children). The money would be divided equally between these four organizations and the Space Needle would make an additional $5000 inaugural donation.
Well, it’s getting down to the wire. This is Pride Weekend and the parade is tomorrow. As of now, the community has raised $39,835.27. So, please make any donation you can, no matter how small. To donate directly through facebook, just click here.
I also want to mention the ripple effect that this deal has made within the LGBT friendly business community of Seattle. In particular, there’s a small business called Healeo who gave out 120 gay flags to local businesses. However, he received a hate filled letter from a man he believed was from Kansas. At first, he thought about removing the flags. He’s a small business owner and therefore, very vulnerable to attack and has stated himself that he loses sleep worrying about things like this. However, he changed his mind in view of the positive responses he got.
Instead, he decided to post the letter on his Facebook page and he was astounded at the outpouring of support he received, everyone telling him that they were proud he was standing up for equality. His feelings were that we’re too progressive a society to take a step back now.
I, for one, applaud him. It’s easy to give in to attacks like these, especially when you’re a small business. You don’t always have the financial security and clout to be able to ignore such threat. So, to take that risk anyway exhibits a lot of courage and I wish their were more business owners like him.
Click here to view his full interview about the incident I mentioned above.