Queery Seattle: A Feeling, A Hurricane, and a Play on Words

Article & Photography by Megan Williams

Emily Bryan will tell you that Queery Seattle is, “A queer-owned and operated creative agency that prices unique community resources and programs to help the queer community. Using branding, content, strategy, and creativity to give back and help elevate our LGBTQIA+ family.”

If we are talking about a bare-bones definition of Queery Seattle, she’s right and spot on. But if we are talking about the environment, the sensation, the vibe, the palpation of what a Queery Seattle event feels like; well, it’s much like a hurricane. It’s all encompassing, overwhelming, comes and goes like a flash and leaves strong feelings and bonds in its wake. Which is remarkably fitting considering the idea for Queery Seattle came to Bryan as she was in the middle of a literal hurricane in Puerto Vallarta on the tail end of a queer womxn’s getaway called Uhaul Vacation.

Uhaul Vacation is run by the owner of Jolene’s bar in San Francisco, Jolene Linsangan. Bryan had gone on the trip after going through a break-up, and as most of us do after a hardship, decided to get out of her comfort zone and partake. While there, Bryan felt the love, the community, the safety, the reassurance and the care-free vibe of being with other queer humans. She couldn’t put her finger on what that feeling was or what to call it, but she knew it was there and she knew it felt good.

Once the weekend was over and everyone was making their way back to their respective homes a hurricane moved in. Bryan was one of the last remaining Uhaul vacationers along with Linsangan who was stuck at the resort with no flights back to Seattle available. She was going to have to ride the hurricane out in Puerto Vallarta. While the hurricane was making its way towards them Bryan says Linsangan checked in on her and the rest of the vacationers left, something that has stuck with her even today because in Bryan’s words, “She didn’t have to do that…She kept her people safe”.

The sense of community was apparent and later when Bryan saw Linsangan at the airport when they finally got to fly home, they had a heart to heart that Bryan says she’ll always keep close to the vest. But did divulge that it was the jumping off point to getting to work on pinpointing “that feeling” she felt during her time on the Uhaul Vacation.

The real question Bryan ached for an answer to was, “How can I quantify what makes a group of people or community great?” and how to make Seattle’s existing queer scene less “cold”.

At this moment in time Bryan was working at a gaming company doing several things, data analysis being one of them. During her time at this company, she would run a program used to extract data from a database called a “SQL”. Within this program she would run “queries” on the data pulled.

With a switch of a letter, Queery Seattle was born from a play on words. More importantly, it also symbolized the intersection between the goal of the organization, which was to figure out how to make Seattle’s queer scene less cold, and how to inquire and analyze how other places and markets have successful and warm queer environments.

In order to do that Bryan set out to go to every big queer city, have as many conversations and experiences as possible, and compile her information to make a safe space for her community.

In the weeks and months after she had accrued her data, she felt like she really nailed down what makes a queer space warm, and a great experience for all: it starts with a safe place, to bring other passionate humans in your life to vibe out in one destination. From there it’s important to have a platform to lift other unique, creative humans up and allow space for everyone to be elevated in the ways that they need. Within all of that fun and great energy has to be a main artery of which a great gathering flows.

In mid-August, during Alki Beach Pride, which is just west of Seattle, Bryan, with some helpers put on a Queery Seattle party at West Seattle Brewing Company. The safety, the representation, the entertainers, the energy, the crowd, the community, even down to the security guards were the summation of Bryan’s effort to correctly and consciously throw an event where everyone would be and could be safe. I won’t share all of Bryan’s secrets to success here, but I will say the effort, mindfulness, time, and energy that she has put into her recipe for a better queer scene is spot on and incredible. It points to the caliber of human being that Bryan is. Being one of the lucky party-goers that day, I will say it was unlike any other shared community experience I have ever been a part of.

Community can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. And somehow Bryan, through incredible effort and impassioned care seemed to find the right formula for a group of LGBTQIA+ strangers to turn into friends. Who knew an indescribable feeling, a hurricane and a play on words could drive a wildly powerful idea forward? Remember the name Queery Seattle, she’s taking over.

Las Vegas PRIDE Magazine - Issue 36

This article was originally published in the Mental Health & PRIDE Celebration Issue of Las Vegas PRIDE Magazine, and can be read in its original format here.