…an emotional night…


Over the past weekend I had the privilege to attend the Equalux Taste of GSBA event. This event is one the most unique and inspiring events the Seattle community has to offer, and it has become the large LGBTQ and allies Gala in the PNW. This event hosts over 1,000 supporters coming together to raise funds to empower the future of LGBTQ and allied leaders. This isn’t an average fundraiser. Guest are sophisticated, eclectic artistic, individualistic lovers of the arts and culture, they love great wine, wonderful food, and supporting the businesses that support the GSBA.

Going to the event that was from 5:00pm-10:30pm you would wonder what an event like this would look like. With the Seattle Blue Thunder Drumline, dancers dressed as the space needle, several stations with top Seattle chef appetizers, a silent auction room, a premium auction room, a live band playing Jukebox inspired music dressed in dresses, and so much more activity.

We were fortunate enough to donate four frames to the GSBA cause. During the silent auction guests of the event were able to bid and outbid each other to win the auction item. To my surprise all four frames were auctioned off. Those bid winners will then bring their voucher to our mobile appointment and will pick out any frame they want, and then we will place lenses in them! Happily, with our donation we were able to contribute $1,498 to the fundraiser!

After a couple of hours of socializing, browsing the auction items, grabbing a couple glasses of wine, doing a very strong participation of the “Electric Slide,” it was time to take our seats to a 5-course meal and the true highlight of the night. After finding our seats, and hearing all the introductions’ and thank you, it was time to start the live auctions.

With over 1,000 people in the room, auction paddles ready, there were 22 items (vacations, sporting event tickets, gourmet dining experiences and so much more) up for bid. Seeing these items going for thousands of dollars, it was clear there would be a high amount raised for the scholarship fund.

Halfway through the live auctions is where the true emotions and magic begun. Hearing a speech from a scholarship receiver from almost 20 years ago that is now in a position in the legislative office was just the beginning. Soon after a tear-jerking speech, they started what they call a “paddle auction.” During this time, they suggest a donation amount, and if guests were interested in donating that amount, they would tally up the donations live. One couple started the paddle auction with a $120,000 donation. Then it was an hour of continuous donations, $50,000, $25,000, $10,000, $5,000 all the way down to $100.


You see the paddles going up, you hear the auctioneer spouting out bidders’ numbers, but it wasn’t until about 20 minutes after this event that you really feel the impact. The President of GSBA, Louise comes to the center stage, with their 16-member powerful staff members standing behind her, she announces the amount raised in the 5.5-hour event… $1,700,000.00. An astonishing amount in a small time, and to an amazing cause. Sending scholarship funds to 60 new scholars for the next four years, as a guest you knew that you made an impact in that number, and you realize you have made a change to these 60 young adults.

This event reminded me exactly of what I wanted for Coopers Optique. My store isn’t just a hobby for me. It’s not an outlet for me to “just make money.” This is for the Seattle community, and especially the LGBTQ community. I want to provide a safe place for everyone to come and express themselves with eyewear without fear, paranoia, or worry of being themselves. Coopers Optique is a place to host events for other people that need a space to express themselves, whether it’s a support group, an artist wanting to have a gallery showing, a fashion show… Coopers Optique is here to sell eyewear, but most importantly become a family member of the community.


Photography but Nate Gowdy