New coalition seeks to unite Seattle LGBT, allied communities

Seattle Space Needle with rainbow balloons

Photo courtesy of Steph Brusig

Lesbian.com, September 10, 2012

Last Thursday a new coalition launched officially in Seattle, Wash., with the distinct goal of uniting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities and allies in a way that has never been done before.

Social Outreach Seattle (SOSea) is a coalition of LGBTQ and allied persons who care about the issues, politics, and social inequalities that exist in the world. Since July 2012, founding members have worked with local LGBTQ and allied businesses, orgs, clubs, groups, and individuals that believe in the SOSea mission. SOSea is governed by a dedicated group of local LGBTQ and allied committee members.

Founder of SOSea, Shaun Knittel, said, “I think there is no better time than now for a coalition like SOSea. We are in the midst of the most important LGBTQ legislative battle in Washington State’s history. Coalition and bridge-building between the LGBTQ and allied communities is our only realistic option to win this thing and secure the freedom to marry for all Washington couples when we Approve Referendum 74 in November. The committee at SOSea is going to do all we can to ensure victory at the ballot box.”

SOSea is governed by a committee, staffed by a dedicated group of local LGBTQ and allied community members that includes Social Outreach Seattle’s founder and Chair Shaun Knittel, Co-Chair Ryan Crawford, Co-Chair Sarah Toce, Secretary Yee-Shin Huang, Treasurer Benjamin Minlee Haong, Community Outreach Director Dru Dinero, Community Outreach Co-Director Daniel Hanks, Internal Communications Director Aleksa Manila, Youth Outreach Director Jack Mozie, Suicide Prevention/Anti-Bullying Director Heather Carter, Communities of Color Outreach Coordinator Howard Russel (Lady Chablis), Director of Events Robert Matencio (Gaysha Starr), March & Rally Director Mike Andrew, and committee members Alexander Mentele, Robbie Turner, Chase Silva, Ceasar Hart, and Kelsey Hart.

“SOSea is a coalition whose time has come. We seek to inspire, motivate, and embrace our differences as a blended community in a creative fashion so that we might catapult interest into the areas of our lives that ultimately matter most – family, friends, love, marriage, service to ourselves and others, health and wellness,” said Sarah Toce, SOSea Co-Chair. “This is a grassroots effort that is bound to change the course of LGBT history in Seattle as we know it. I am honored to serve as co-chair.”

The coalition’s mission is to empower the Seattle LGBTQ and allied communities to work together to address and ultimately fix social justice issues in Seattle and beyond. SOSea uses social media, video production, photo messaging, editorial content and more, to get the message out that inequality will not be tolerated. In addition, SOSea will support the businesses, orgs, clubs, groups and individuals that are equality-minded; this may include, but is not limited to: LGBTQ and allied candidates for public office, citizens in need of an advocate, youth organizations, equality rallies and more.

SOSea’s vision is a community where LGBTQ and allied communities come together in response to social justice issues they support or condemn, help LGBTQ and allied businesses, orgs, clubs, and individuals in need of advocacy, and organize public rallies for visibility.

Knittel said, “Seattle’s LGBTQ and allied communities do co-exist well together but it is never really publicized or put to good use. And although we have some of the best LGBTQ legislators in the country right here in Washington State, there remains a gap in social leadership from within the LGBTQ community.”

Adding, “In many ways Seattle’s LGBTQ population has fallen victim to our own success meaning that with so many services offered, safe-spaces provided and so on, the good work, good will, and overall acknowledgment that these organizations, businesses, clubs, and individuals are doing some really great work is often lost in the shuffle of the daily grind.”

SOSea’s first order of business is the freedom to marry in Washington State. SOSea officials are currently filming a series of Approve Referendum 74 commercials starring local clubs, orgs, groups, and individuals and filmed at local LGBTQ owned and allied businesses that will debut October 1 – 10. In addition, SOSea will hold an official launch party October 1 at The Grill on Broadway, 7:30 – 10 pm that will include live entertainment, viewing of the commercials, a community Q&A, coalition building, and more; produce an Approve Referendum 74 poster project; produce a “ROCK THE VOTE” 18+ live entertainment event to promote voter awareness on October 3, and organize an October 6 Approve Referendum march and rally.

To learn more and to see how you can get involved with SOSea, “Like” the coalition on Facebook and Tweet the love on Twitter.

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