Queer-friendly Olympia

Although no city can ever be completely free of discrimination, there are several businesses in Olympia that do their part to support and give back to the LGBTQ community.

“Olympia is a very accepting place for the LGBTQ community,” said outgoing Student Senator for Legislative Affairs and Capital City Pride Co-Chair Matthew Shrader.

Shrader said the reaction to the Westboro Baptist Church’s protest in front of the Capitol Building exemplified Olympia’s overall support for LGBTQ people. He said the Thurston County community used it as a chance to gather together and show their support for the queer community.

Year-round support is provided by Olympia’s many LGBTQ-friendly establishments and organizations. This year, 15 local businesses sponsored Capital City Pride and many more made donations or participated in the parade and festivities.

The following list is of several LGBTQ-friendly places in Olympia:

Shopping:

The downtown Olympia store Archibald Sisters has donated varying percentages of their profits made during Pride Weekend back to the Pride Foundation over the years. Store Manager Jen Leonard said, “We have always been supporters of the LGBTQ community…We always make sure to carry a range of products supporting [them].”

“[Archibald Sisters] is one of my favorite places. They are so gay-friendly, and there are gay people who work there,” SPSCC Queer-Straight Alliance member Greg Ha said, “It’s so much fun.”

The store carries a variety of gay-rights-themed items year round. These range from rainbow accessories to more political buttons and bumper stickers.

“My personal favorite right now is the ‘Support all Marriages’ sticker,” said Leonard.

Food and drink:

Olympia provides LGBTQ accepting places to eat, drink, and spend time with friends. Jake’s on Fourth was Olympia’s original queer bar. The bar is a hub for LGBTQ Olympians and allies throughout the week, and turns into a nightclub on the weekend.

“At night, there are weird people there, but during the day it’s nice. The people who work there are really funny,” said Ha.

Jake’s on Fourth is Olympia’s only self-proclaimed “queer bar.” It is known for hosting drag shows and amateur strip competitions. This year it hosted the “So You Think You Can Drag?” ameteur drag contest: a fundraiser that raised money for Capital City Pride this year.

“We are very appreciative to [the bar’s owner] Rob Cameron and Jake’s on Fourth for hosting our annual ‘So You Think You Can Drag?’ contest. That’s a big money-making event for us every year,” said Shrader. He said the contest “gets the community pumped up” for Pride.

“The New Moon Cafe [serves] wonderful breakfast food. They were a sponsor of Capital City Pride, as well as their October 2011 ‘Pay What You Can Day’ that assisted the LGBTQ and Ally Scholarship for the SPSCC College Foundation,” Shrader said.

The New Moon Cafe’s “Pay What You Can Day” is a monthly event in which customers pay self-determined donations instead of a set price for any item on the menu. The cafe’s owner Dylan Elkhart donates all event profits to a different organization or charitable cause every month.

The cafe donated $500 to Capital City Pride and $500 to the LGBTQ and Ally Scholarship this year.

“That’s a fairly significant amount when you’re talking about small local businesses. Their owner Dylan Elkhart really cares an awful lot about the community and tries to get involved as much as he can,” said Shrader.

Support:

Religious people can find others who share their beliefs and also support gay rights at the United Churches of Olympia. This combined Protestant and Congregational church has been very involved with pro-same-sex-marriage activism.

Assistant Pastor Jill Komura said, “The church has always flown the rainbow flag, partly just to let people know that [we] are part of [the gay rights movement].”

The church uses gender-and-sexual-orientation-inclusive language during services, has performed same-sex marriage ceremonies, and has an annual contingent in the Capital City Pride Parade.

“As a church, we believe that the gospel is about love and that we are all the children of God. We feel like we have to put our message as a congregation [out] publicly,” Komura said.

She said sexual orientation is hardly noticed at the United Church’s of Christ, so whether someone has a different or same-sex partner, the church is a safe place of worship for anyone.

Stonewall Youth is a support organization catering specifically to Olympia’s queer community under the age of 21 years old.

According to Stonewall Youth’s mission statement, they supply a safe environment that never discloses information about young members and offers a wide range of alternative events for those who may not feel comfortable attending mainstream youth events or adult-centered queer events.

In the past six months alone, they have held an art show at Darby’s Cafe, a queer prom, and several seminars for activists of all ages regarding issues facing young LGBTQ people.