Team Diva is Only as Strong as Our Seattle Community
Team Diva has long been a huge supporter of our local community. Kim and Chavi met and fell in love doing advocacy work for the Northwest AIDS Foundation. Advocacy is in our veins. Last year we saw huge rewards professionally. And were dismayed that many people in our community came under intense attack nationally. We watched as a Planned Parenthood clinic was attached in Colorado. We were stunned at how the construction workers and developers walked over kids sleeping in the streets outside of our office. And heartbroken at the vicious rhetoric towards our international and locally born Muslim friends. I’m sorry – but what the hell is happening?
Well – we were not going to take it sitting down. This last year we fundraised and personally donated over $25,000 to keep Seattle strong and our local communities thriving places for our Diva Dwellers to live. Below is a round-up of the big and small organizations we supported during 2015.
NARAL Pro-Choice Washington
Chavi’s grandmother had to endure a back alley abortion in the early 1960s. She was married to an abusive alcoholic and was trying to support three young girls. The horror of women of any age putting themselves personally at risk because of the lack of access to safe and LEGAL health services is beyond unacceptable. It is also equally as important for women to be able to access birth control and family planning services from understanding doctors!
Team Diva is a proud supporter of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington. In the last year, we saw an escalation of violent rhetoric against pro-choice groups that boiled over into actual violence. Misinformation abounds and politicians seeking an edge in elections have sponsored bill after bill reducing access to reproductive healthcare across America, especially for women seeking to end a pregnancy. It is essential that women be able to make decisions regarding their own health and bodies, and, therefore, organizations such as NARAL are as important as ever—perhaps more important than ever. NARAL is also fighting for passage of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act in Washington state, which guarantees reasonable accommodation of the needs of pregnant women by their employers. Fifteen states, the District of Columbia and four cities have already passed laws like this. It’s time for Washington to join them. Learn more about NARAL online.
FIUTS (The Foundation for International Understanding Through Students)
The Divas and Dudes have long been involved with FIUTS. We have hosted students from all over the world. Not only has it expanded our network of friends but also opened our eyes to other cultures. Here is an idea. If more people in our country took the time to host a student from a foreign country, they would have a harder time stirring up fear of people who practice different faiths or traditions than they do.
The UW-based FIUTS promotes cross-cultural communication on the individual level through its programs, which connect international students studying at the UW to local communities and high schools. Team Diva has been hosting international students through FIUTS since 2008, and it has been a deeply rewarding experience. During our travels last year, we were able to reconnect with some of our French, Swedish and Danish friends we made through this program, proving that the rewards of participation continue for years to come. We are proud to be community partners with FIUTS and love it when our friends join us in hosting as well. To find out more about hosting go to http://www.fiuts.org/
PSKS (Peace for the Streets by Kids from the Streets)
The Homeless population outside of our DivaHQ has skyrocketed this last year. One of our friends, Steven, lived outside of Caffe Vita for a good portion of 2015. During his tenure this summer on the streets he had his jaw broken and his dog Chewy stolen. Luckily he found Chewy but was kicked off his corner by people “cleaning” up the street. It is shocking that we treat our most vulnerable community members this way!
Team Diva supports PSKS because the directly work with kids like Steven. Engaging with and supporting the next generation is the most fundamental part of being a steward of one’s community, and there are many programs devoted to supporting youth and education. And yet, homeless youth are among the most visible, vulnerable and under-served groups nationally and locally. In Seattle, where homelessness has been declared a state of emergency, there are many homeless youths, a disproportionate number of whom are LGBTQ. Shelters that serve adults are frequently unsafe for youths and few programs reach out to them specifically in ways that make sense and help them overcome the hurdles to being self-sufficient.
PSKS is an amazing organization that has fought for its own existence in the face of community indifference, but now serves hundreds of youths in the city, providing essential services and temporary shelter, as well as supplying state IDs and GED testing. Several employees are formerly homeless themselves and through their personal experiences and tenacity have found ways of doing outreach that makes a real difference.
Team Diva was honored to be part of two major fundraising events for PSKS this year. Our own annual Divas Take the Hill kicks off Pride Week each year to benefit local nonprofits. This year, we were able to get a slew of talented drag and burlesque performers to entertain the crowd, and the riotous celebration raised $8,000, well exceeding our goal of $5,000 for the night. Thanks to Team Diva’s community partnership program, a home sale added another $1,400 dollars to PSKS’s coffers. Read our recap of the night.
PSKS hosted their own Emerald Jubilee gala in October, celebrating 20 years since the organization began in the living room of founder Elaine Simons. Guests wined, dined, played and raised their paddles. Team Diva was proud to be the organization’s presenting sponsor at the gala. A new record of $140K was raised, thanks to the generosity of the community and the compassionate, innovative leadership of PSKS. Read our recap of the night.
Bacon Strip with Sylvia O’Stayformore
Speaking of parties—well, who doesn’t love a good one? Especially a gender-bending Queer and very naughty party. We sure do, and we love that local drag legend and Diva Dweller Sylvia O’Stayformore is keeping Seattle funky with her quarterly Bacon Strip event. From glamorous drag numbers to bawdy skits to energetic DJ sets, it’s a rare kind of intergenerational event that welcomes weirdos and feels genuinely communal. We have been proud to sponsor Bacon Strip in 2015 and look forward to what Sylvia and company have in store for Seattle in 2016.
We are proud to announce that we will be sponsoring Bacon Strip in 2016!
Three Dollar Bill Cinema
Seattle is a big town for film, and Three Dollar Bill Cinema helps to ensure that the heady blend of international and independent films screened here includes LGBTQ voices by sponsoring screenings, workshops, and lectures (including those young, aspiring filmmakers through its Reel Queer Youth summer program), and of course the Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and Translations: The Seattle Transgender Film Festival. We are proud supporters of Three Dollar Bill Cinema and sponsors of the 2015 Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. We also sponsored Valley of the Dolls by Sylvia O’Stayformore. We encourage you to check out their many upcoming events, including an Oscar Party in February and their 9th annual gala at MOHAI in April. The Diva Team will be there hosting a table so if you want to be part of the fun – let us know. Learn more about Thee Dollar Bill Cinema’s community programs online.
Divas Sponsor “Drag Becomes Him” Film Premier
Last but not least is Team Diva’s sponsorship of “Drag Becomes Him”. Filmed by Alex Berry and starring Seattle’s own Jinxk Monsoon. Jinkx and Team Diva go way back to a time when things were bad and the market sucked. The Great Recession. We would save up $20 to plop into the Major and Jinkx’s glass at the Rosebud. Years later Alex Berry is now our videographer. Jinkx won Ru Paul’s Drag Race. And the Producer of the film, Basil Shadid, is also a Diva Dweller. So it was a big YES when we were asked to sponsor the premiere of Drag Becomes Him.
Cause more Queer Art makes Seattle strong!
Other Awesome Community Members Team Diva Supported in 2015
- Community Lunch – Feeding Capitol Hill’s Homeless
- Honey Badgers Softball Team
- Imperial Sovereign Court of Seattle (one of our newest Community Partnerships)
- Common Area Maintenance – Gallery Space for Artists
- GSBA – GLBTQ Business Support Organization
- Sightline – Environmental Thinktank
- KT Niehoff’s Glimmer – Divas hosted one the dancers at Chez Diva for for five weeks.
Thank you Divaland for supporting the Lesbian Power Realtors (as Jinkx says), One Gay Diva Dude, One Straight Diva Dude, and one Diva Desk Dude who also does Drag. We will always fight for you in real estate and keeping our community awesome!