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Interview with Sarah Toce from The Seattle Lesbian

Website for Lesbians in Seattle


Sarah Toce and Charlene Strong from The Seattle Lesbian

Sarah Toce and Charlene Strong from The Seattle Lesbian

© Jeff Myers

Lesbian Life: Give me a little of the background on The Seattle Lesbian. What was your idea in starting the site? Why a site just for lesbians in Seattle?

Sarah Toce: The Seattle Lesbian is the first of its kind in Seattle. Before The Seattle Lesbian, we didn’t have a lesbian-geared news source and, when we were mentioned as a part of the community in our local LGBT paper, it was a mere sentence – a blip on the radar. If I am to be frank, I had grown quite tired of being published all over the country (Advocate/SheWired, Windy City Times, Cherry Grrl, Examiner, Yahoo!) but not able to break into the all-male game in Seattle media. I had a deep-seated feeling that the women reading the papers in town were growing tired of not being recognized and, as I would soon find out, they sure were.

What were you hoping to do with the site when you first started it?

There was a definite need to fill a void in the global LGBT community (as well as Seattle's) and we wanted to be a part of that. Our main objective was (and continues to be) to provide timely, substantial, LGBT-based news, entertainment and real-life stories to our community through real-time reporting and research.

Far too often the LGBT community is divided by different monikers and earth-bending pre-set notions when, really, we all want the same thing. Equality. Peace. Love. Understanding. Joy. Hopefully The Seattle Lesbian will help bridge the gap between the letters we so often spell out when forced to label one another and ourselves.

You’ve had some pretty impressive interviews: Meredith Baxter, Joy Behar, Lily Tomlin, Sarah McLachlan, Laurel Holloman, Crystal Chappell, Chely Wright, Nicole Pacent. How did you score those?

Some of the aforementioned ladies are my friends and others are women I admire with really amazing projects behind them. I have been very fortunate and blessed throughout my career to connect with some pretty amazing people. Just when I think it can’t get any better…it does. Life is an adventure and you have to ride the wave.

Who is your readership?

The thing that is interesting is that we may be called The Seattle Lesbian, but we have readers all around the world from France to Italy, China, Holland, and throughout Canada. Many of our readers are gay men, straight women, bisexual women, lesbian women, or identify as transgender. We’re based locally, but our stories, interviews, features, and exclusives reach farther than the U.S. border – exponentially. The internet connects all of us in a way that benefits the LGBT community and our allies now more than ever. We feel so blessed to be welcomed into our readers’ homes and to share a part of their lives through the work we do.

What are some of your most popular articles?

Definitely some of our bigger interviews like Sarah McLachlan, Joy Behar, Meredith Baxter, and others…then there are the everyday stories we post from around the world chronicling the fight for equality in the courts (DOMA, Proposition 8), on the battlefield (DADT) and in our everyday lives walking into the grocery store and being discriminated against, for example. Our readers are eclectic, diverse, come from all walks of life, but we all share one major thing in common: we want to be equal. We demand to be equal. Our most popular articles and interviews share a common thread – in truth there is power.

Is there one interview or story that you’ve written that stands out?

The Seattle Lesbian was invited to attend two mid-term election rallies with former President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama. The invitations came to our office one month after the magazine launch (I am not kidding!) so we were really humbled beyond words. We also knew that we must’ve been onto something pretty special with our little online news magazine that could! Those rallies will always hold a very special place in my heart. I was so honored to be able to report live from the stadium so that everyone could enjoy the experience sitting at home. Those are the moments when you sit back and go, “Yes, this feels so right. We are onto something.”

I notice you have a whole section dedicated to suicide prevention. How did that come about?

My wife’s father committed suicide and I have seen the devastation that kind of violence leaves behind for everyone involved. Seattle’s Aurora Bridge is second in the nation to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge for suicide jumpers. Suicide is a topic we have swept under the rug for so long in this country because it is most often associated with mental illness and there is a large amount of shame that goes along with it. The feelings and thoughts associated with depression and anxiety are almost unbearable at times for some and, unfortunately, suicide appears to be the only way out. The thing is…there are other ways past the hurt and fear. The Seattle Lesbian aims to shine a light on this epidemic and offer a community resource for those affected by suicide in any capacity.

Didn’t you broker some kind of deal with the Seattle Storm? What is that?

[Laughs] The Seattle Lesbian actually has an all-access pass to the full 2012 season. Yes, we’ve been in the locker room. No, we can’t tell you what it is like…You can read our game coverage and check out exclusive images from the court in our Sports section.

Political activist and public speaker Charlene Strong recently joined the staff of The Seattle Lesbian. What will her role be?

Charlene is such a fabulous addition to The Seattle Lesbian. We are excited beyond words to welcome her as our co-editor. Her work for equality, end-of life healthcare decision-making, marriage rights, and social justice precede her. She is also the Human Rights Commissioner in Washington State.

As co-editor of The Seattle Lesbian, Charlene will work very closely with me on making sure our goals, values and objectives are met…while changing the world one story at a time.

What are your hopes for the Seattle Lesbian in the next five years?

We have big plans, but I cannot reveal them yet. What I can say is that this is just the beginning of a very inspired journey. There is a synchronistic feeling flowing throughout The Seattle Lesbian and we are so excited to share it all with you…soon!
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