Dawn Griffin / United Ebony Council
Greg: You get that air of regality. Especially if you get your UEC crown on. She’s very statuesque.
Dawn: Because if you move it falls off your head!
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I’ve been involved in Gay Pride parades, but reigning was very different. The parade float was the most wonderful team-building event I’ve ever seen the UEC do. We had organizers; we had people that were good at ideas; we had people that wanted to do pieces; we had people who could only stay a couple of hours, but they came. We had the person who I called the chief procurement officer, one of the guys that you give a list and say, “I need this.”
We needed carpet rolls because we were doing Cleopatra’s entrance into Egypt. We got paint donated. They ran all over town. Everybody pulled together. It was raining and they all had to run and cover everything up the night before the parade. They’d never won a thing the entire organizational history; they wanted to at least get recognized. “Can we do this?” I said, “You can do anything you want. Have a blast. Wave at people.” They came in third in the float contest and they were on that high for weeks.
Greg: It looked like Cleopatra’s barge -- very regal, very grand.
Dawn: They had me sitting up in the back. Harry Altman made me Cleopatra’s headdress with the eye of Horus, the eagle in the back, all black and gold glitter. I had leopard gloves.
Greg: My leopard gloves.
Dawn: Our Ms. Unity is permanently in a wheelchair. He was in the front, dressed as King Tut. Ivana Tinkle was his drag name.
After the parade our host bar wanted us to come to see them, so even though everybody wanted to get out of costume they drove the entire float with us on it down Broadway, back to the bar. It was such a bizarre sight in the middle of Seattle. We were waving and hollering, and having a great time.
When I told them I was proud of them, I had tears in my eyes. I was very proud of them, because it taught them that even though they were a smaller organization, they can do anything they set their minds to. It made them more brave, to go forward and say, “We can do this.”
Lesbian and Gay Black Lives
Oral history interview with Dawn Griffin and Greg Swales, October 13 and November 4, 1998.
Interviewed by: Ruth Pettis and Walter Grodzik
Transcribed by: Teri Balkenende
Seattle, WA: Northwest Lesbian and Gay History Museum Project.