The history behind Seattle’s Pride parade

The Seattle Pride Parade begins at 4th Avenue and Pike at 11 a.m. | Photo by Nate Gowdy

With more than 400,000 annual visitors, Seattle’s Pride Parade happening this Sunday — marches as the fourth largest one of its kind in the US. And er… for context, Seattle’s population sits just under 750,000 people

With this year’s festivities being the first in-person run since the pandemic began, it’s sure to be an absolute banger.

But the event’s popularity comes after decades of work + struggle. Here’s how Seattle Pride got its start.

🏳️‍🌈 A little bit o’ history

The story behind Seattle Pride begins back in the 1970s. Around that time, Capitol Hill was full of a lot of old buildings that were beginning to empty as the area’s automotive + furniture industry moved out. The once-inhabited buildings became prime real estate for folks looking for cheaper rent, artists looking for studio space, and restaurateurs looking for dining space.

The new, diverse population moving in during this time was accompanied by the establishment of new LGBTQ+-centric service organizations and bars. The Dorian House, the Gay Community Center, the Elite Tavern, and Shelly’s Leg all began appearing during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The way the neighborhood developed created a safer place for members of the LGBTQ+ community in the various bars + other businesses. 

Seattle’s first Pride Parade happened in June 1974 — four years after the Stonewall Riots. Though 50 participants marched in the inaugural event, the tradition grew — and in 1979, Mayor Charles Royer proclaimed June 24-July 1 as the city’s first Lesbian/Gay Pride Week.

🏳️‍🌈 So about that parade

Here are a few things you’ll need to know before you go:

  • When: Sun., June 26 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Where: The parade begins at the corner of Pike + Fourth Ave. and ends at the corner of Second Ave. + Denny Way. There’s a full map on Seattle Pride’s website.
  • Parking: Oof, that’s going to be rough. Leave early and carpool if you want to find a spot, or give King County Metro + Sound Transit some use. KIRO-7 will also livestream the first two hours of the parade on their app
  • Party: Beer gardens and stages are posted up along the route, and the parade will culminate in a big ol’ party that lasts until 8 p.m. at Seattle Center.