On July 19, Seattle, Washington will have a new LGBT landmark in their city: Capitol Hill will become the home of the new Seattle LGBT Visitors Center.
Credit for the new center goes to the Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA); it is the largest LGBT Chamber in the United States and has over 1,000 members.
President and CEO of GSBA, Louise Chernin, told 429Magazine that this was a clear choice to make. Considering GSBA created Travel Gay Seattle, a website that guides the user on how to “Get Here, Stay Here, Play Here, and Then Play There”, three years ago. Chernin explains, “GSBA wanted to create a welcoming place for LGBT and Allied visitors to have a place to stop in and find out about all that Seattle has to offer all visitors but in particular, the LGBT community.”
The 200-square-foot facility is clearly original. Seattle continues to be a progressive city; in addition to the legalization of marriage equality statewide, the city truly welcomes every visitor that travels there. C
hernin expands on why this center will be different then the rest in Seattle: “of course, the LGBT visitor enjoys many of the same attractions as all visitors; but it is nice to get that ‘insider’ perspective as to what will be especially fun and pleasing to you as an LGBT visitor: What’s on the Hill, Capitol Hill, in terms of nightlife; what bars are best for the LGBT visitor.”
Many other organizations in the Seattle community are coming together as sponsors in support of the Seattle LGBT Visitors Center. Visit Seattle and 1st Security Bank are partners with GSBA, and Sheraton Seattle Hotel, Amtrak, and Sound Transit are among the list of sponsors.
The Vice President of Communications for Visit Seattle, David Blandford, told 429Magazine that he and the company are more than happy to have an ongoing partnership with GSBA and encourages the actions the center will take. “We hope this furthers the message to prospective LGBT visitors that Seattle welcomes them throughout the year,” he said.
Chief Executive Officer Joe Adams of 1st Security Bank told 429Magazine, “We are a local community bank that believes it is important to find ways to ‘give back’ to the communities we serve. When we were thinking about opening a branch on Capitol Hill we had discussions about the needs of the Capitol Hill community with Louise Chernin,” he said. He was open and told us that the bank felt, after a little convincing from Chernin, that the center would be a good idea to have in their bank located in Capital Hill. “Louise was passionate that a LGBT visitor center would be a great benefit for the ‘Hill.’ She convinced us a center would bring in tourist dollars to the local merchants and it would allow the GSBA team to showcase Seattle’s vibrant, progressive and welcoming community.”
Adams said 1st Security Bank has always supported the LGBT community: “One of the bank’s Core Values is ‘We Celebrate Diversity and Support Equality for All.’ Our support of the travel center is simply one way for us to live this very important Core Value.”
Chernin said the support she has seen from Seattle has been “wonderful,” and “very enthusiastic from all sectors.”
Chernin, Blandford, and Adams all said they have not received any negative backlash for creating this center and supporting it—instead, all say they have only heard and received positive feedback.
All things considered, Seattle is the 2nd highest LGBT populated per capita of any city in the United States.
Chernin explains, “After all, Capitol Hill is a very dense urban neighborhood and who wouldn’t want to have a drop in Visitors Center at which to pick up information about our beautiful city and region?”
The LGBT center will staff part-time employees and will open July 19, 2013 on Capital Hill, inside the 1st Security Bank.