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One of the Owners of Union Seattle Was a Small-Time Republican Donor. Do We Care?

Rashida

Oct. 09, 2019

The Supreme Court is poised to continue its trend of fucking over the LGBTQ community by deciding in three cases that businesses may discriminate against us. This will likely result in millions of Americans being forced back into the closet.
What will the gays do? Many will probably go to a gay bar to commiserate. If they go to Union Seattle , they should know that one of the owners, Steve Nyman, was a Republican Party donor from 2002 until 2015.
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According to public records , he donated a total of $3,800 over 13 years. He’s not exactly a Koch brother, and perhaps he has a legitimate explanation or a convincing reason why he stopped the donations four years ago. I’ve contacted him numerous times to ask for an interview. The invitation stands.
Since Nyman won’t speak to me, I also can’t ask about Thumpers , the gay bar he and his husband owned from the 1980s to the early 2000s. During the AIDS crisis, deaths would have been mourned at Thumpers while Ronald Reagan’s denial and inaction caused the disease to spread. Does Nyman know that Reagan’s communication director, Pat Buchanan, said AIDS was “nature’s revenge on gay men?”
"If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else, can I get an Amen?"
That’s how RuPaul ends every episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race . Season 12 will air soon and likely be screened at Union Seattle. How can you love yourself and justify these contributions to Republicans, Nyman?
The Gays Are Conflicted About Republicans
I told some friends about Nyman's contributions, and their reactions ranged from “Boycott that asshole” to “I’m not surprised” to “¯\_(ツ)_/¯”.
“It’s awful, but he’s not the only owner or employee,” said Danny Tonty. Union employs gay people, after all, and it’s a place for us to meet up in the gayborhood. Encouraging a boycott might do more harm than good.
Some friends disagree. They actively boycott Union Seattle and wish others would join them.
“I would never want my hard-earned money to end up in the hands of those who would discriminate against me because I’m gay. Fuck Republicans and anyone who gives money to them,” said Ben Lynn.
But the majority of folks I asked were like, “meh.” When discussing this indifference, Brad Medlin commented, “There’s an amorality to the privileged, comfortable LGBTQ Seattle resident.”
Gender Justice League board chair Sophia Lee said, “The rights of trans, non-binary, and people of color are forgotten by rich white gay men. By supporting the Republican Party and possibly Trump, [Nyman] is aligning himself with those who will fight against the LGBTQ community.”
I asked Medlin if he’d still go there, and he said, “Republicans technically run the country, but I’m not leaving. On the other hand, Republicans appoint people to the court that hate you.”
So What Should We Do?
If the Supreme Court decisions go the wrong way—and I'm not exactly hopeful—it will be the latest in a slew of attacks on our community under Trump.
The current administration has made it harder for trans students to use the bathroom in school . The Supreme Court upheld Trump’s transgender troops ban . In a roundabout way, the Supreme Court also upheld a Colorado cake shop’s decision to deny services to a gay couple wanting to purchase a wedding cake . Trump's proposed rule changes to allow insurance companies and medical providers to deny us medical care . And that's not to mention his disbandment of the HIV/AIDS council , and his failure to curb rising prescription prices. Truvada, aka “PrEP,” which prevents HIV infection, costs nearly $2,000 for a month's supply.
In the absence of an explanation from Nyman, I’m not going to drown my miseries about all this with booze from Union. But I’m also not planning to organize a boycott either.
That decision won’t result in the systemic change we need to oust Trump and realize our dream of a Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Utopia. But I will take affirmative action to make that dream come true.
I’ll do my part to elect a Democrat to be our next president (hopefully Warren). Unlike Republicans, most Democrats, Socialists, and Democratic Socialists give a shit about us. Since Democrats won control of the House, they passed the Equality Act , which would specifically add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. If the Senate and executive branch weren’t under Republican control, this would likely become law, making these SCOTUS decisions moot.
The life of every member of the LGBTQ community is a political one because our freedom depends on who has political power. All the while, there are gays—at least one—who've sold alcohol to other gays and then donated part of their profits to the Republican Party, which hates us. There might be a very good reason for gays to give their profits to anti-gay politicians. But I can’t think of one. In the meantime, until I hear back from Nyman, the least I can do is point out who has boosted politicians who want to see a boot on our neck. And not in a good way.
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