Being LGBQT on Vashon Island

VIDEO: LGBQT history on Vashon Island

VASHON ISLAND, Wash. — Seattle Pride is recognizing the Vashon Heritage Museum for telling the rich history of LGBTQ people on Vashon Island. As Seattle Pride’s media partner, KIRO 7, is dedicated to raising awareness for inclusion and therefore highlights issues directly impacting the LGBTQ community.

The Vashon Heritage Museum’s, “In and Out, Being LGBTQ on Vashon Island,” is a thought-provoking exhibit from the moment you step inside.

“As you enter the exhibit, you enter a closet—a dark and closed space. You hear epithets being thrown at you. You see images of clothing, and then you go through this curtain, and when you emerge from the curtain, you emerge into this bright lit colorful space,” said Bruce Haulman, museum historian and board president.

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Haulman said he hopes the exhibit gives people an in-depth understanding of Vashon Island’s LGBTQ challenges, accomplishments and contributions.

“They are our neighbors and our friends,” he said. “They are people we work with. They are everywhere in the most positive way, and they bring things to our community and to ourselves, our lives, that are fundamental to being a diverse community.”

Vashon Island has the highest per capita population of LGBTQ people in Washington, but the history is not widely known.

“When stories are repressed, when people are subjugated and ignored and (when) there’s prejudice, violence used against them, it tends to repress their humanity,” Haulman explained.

The LGBTQ community’s struggle for equality is similar to the worldwide Black Lives Matter movement, Haulman said. The two efforts focus on bringing change.

“Black lives matter. Deaths have been going on for generations in the United States, but it takes a moment in time, and this is the moment in time,” he said. “Those attitudes are changing, and I think that applies to the LGBTQ community as well. It’s the recognition (that) we can’t live like we did in the past.”

Due to the museum’s closure during the pandemic, the exhibit has been extended through at least April 2021. Right now it can be viewed online.