Losing George Bakan leaves a huge hole in our LGBTQ community. George, Publisher of the Seattle Gay News, was a friend, GSBA Member, and fierce longtime LGBTQ activist.
George began his career with SGN in the early 1980’s, when LGBTQ Seattleites depended on each week’s edition of the Seattle Gay News to not only tie them to their community, but to stay informed about the HIV/AIDS epidemic. George printed every scrap of news on research, prevention, and resources to help fight the disease. As the death toll mounted, George filled the pages with the names of our community members who were lost, and published obituaries for free.
He helped see our community through some of its darkest days, and continued to fight for LGBTQ equality for decades, also leaving his mark on the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and marriage equality movements.
George was a powerhouse. He was never afraid to speak truth to power. He was blunt, and told you how it was - whether you wanted to hear it or not. He was known for his ongoing calls to every LGBTQ nonprofit, and GSBA was right up there receiving our daily one or more George Bakan calls, to hold us accountable, go on about community news, challenge us on what we didn’t do or should do, and other times - just for conversation.
As we approach our 40th anniversary next year, we find it amazing that we can look back on every year throughout our history as an organization - and George was there. He never missed an event. He loved the GSBA Public Policy Task Force, was proud of our community having an LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce, and cared deeply about the GSBA Scholarship & Education Fund.
After the last EQUALUX - TASTE of GSBA in November, we picked up the phone to hear George say it was “one of the most powerful events” he’d ever attended, and he went as far as to contact the Mayor’s Office and have the day declared as “EQUALUX Day in Seattle.” Of course, the Mayor’s Office was also familiar with George’s calls and understood that life would be easier if they did what he asked.
That was George, opinionated, irreverent, knowledgeable, incorrigible, and loved. His activist mold was one of a kind and his legacy within Seattle’s LGBTQ history is indelible. We were so lucky to call him a member and friend.