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Seattle’s Lesbian Voice

TheSeattleLesbianSarah Toce has developed her career by becoming a respected journalist and writer who has worked with many national lesbian and LGBTQ-related media outlets and has interviewed a multitude of celebrities along the way. However, now she is no longer just writing about the news… she’s making it.

A self-described advocate for the underdog, Sarah wanted to give a voice and a space for the stories and people who often get overlooked in the day-to-day news cycle.  Through the creation of her highly successful website, The Seattle Lesbian, Sarah has done just that and in the process has become a leader for the people in her community of Seattle and beyond.

My conversation with nationally acclaimed journalist and advocate, Sarah Toce:

So what made you want to start the The Seattle Lesbian and what were you doing before then?

ST: The Seattle Lesbian was started in 2010.  Up until that point, I was working as a freelance journalist as well as having worked with a variety of major publications, Curve, Shewired, Windy City Media Group to name a few.  I was covering a lot of national stories and doing a lot of celebrity interviews, but I noticed that there were a lot of good stories being missed out on locally and not being covered in Seattle.  There wasn’t a website for lesbian women in Seattle where they could get their news.  I also wanted to create a more unified voice with The Seattle Lesbian and cover a wide range of LGBTQ topics.

 

What has been the best part of all of this now that the site has earned a significant following?

ST: I think it’s when I get messages and emails coming from readers all over the country and abroad saying that they really appreciate what we do here at The Seattle Lesbian and that it has become a source of information for them no matter where they live.  I received a message from a lady who was in our military stationed overseas and she wanted to tell me how she gets her news from our site and appreciated what we do.  Stuff like that makes all of my efforts well worth it.

 

When did you realize that you were now more than just a writer, but now an advocate and leader for your community?

ST: I think it’s a big transition when you start putting yourself out there and becoming involved with different organizations.  I have developed a close working relationship with Social Outreach Seattle and have worked with the Seattle Gay News as well, both of which have long standing historical ties in our community.  I seek to build relationships and rally support around important causes.  I think it’s my responsibility to not only cover the news but to also help make the news and help make things better for everybody.

I went down to the President’s inauguration this year on assignment which was an amazing experience.  We get calls from different news outlets frequently asking about news stories that we are covering in our community that maybe they didn’t know about and want to pick up.

 

ChelySo I know you have interviewed many interesting celebrities. Who have been some of your favorites?

ST: I don’t have a favorite necessarily.  A couple that come to mind for me were ones that I did with Meredith Baxter and Lily Tomlin.

I also have to say my interview with Chely Wright was very enjoyable.  It was planned to be a 20 minute interview which turned into a 3 hour conversation with her.  She’s very personable and honest which is what I think a lot of people like about her.  She’s real and [has] shown herself to be very brave despite a lot of pressure that was put on her to stay in the closet.  We still keep in touch today and I ended up leaving that interview with a new friend.

I also really appreciated my time with Cleve Jones, who I interviewed in my work with the Windy City Times on the AIDS @ 30 series.

 

If you could interview anybody who would it be?

ST:  President Obama.  I think I enjoy the most interviewing people who are politicians, policy makers, organizational leaders, people who are making a real difference in our society.

 

So tell me about your relationship with Windy City Times?

ST: I have done a lot of freelance writing with Windy City and most notably I reported on the Windy City Times’ AIDS @ 30 series.  It was an amazing experience for me; the project won the prestigious Peter Lisagor Award from the Chicago Headline Club, and it was nominated for a national Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Award which was in the same category with The New York Times and The Boston Globe.  I feel that I offer a unique outside perspective being as that I don’t live in Chicago.  I have maintained a long standing relationship with the Windy City Times and they do some great work.

 

What are some of the motivating factors behind what drives you as an advocate?

ST: I tend to be somebody who fights for the underdog.  I feel like even within our own community, we’re so quick to tear each other down rather than try to lift each other up.  I think it’s a problem within the LGBTQ community when certain groups of people get left out of our broader political agendas.

 

So, for those of us (myself included) who have not been to Seattle, what can we expect?

ST:  Seattle is both a big city and a little city.  It has a good mix of urban landscapes and wildlife.  We like our outdoors activities and are environmentally friendly.  Capitol Hill is the gay area, but I feel like we are losing our identity a bit within the neighborhood.  We have one lesbian bar that has been there for a long time.  The social scene for lesbians isn’t as vibrant as some places, but it has a good foundation.  We just have to get people activated.  For gay men, this appears to be easier to do; I’m working on trying to get lesbians in Seattle to be more active.

 

For More Information on Sarah Toce, please visit her website or you can check out the The Seattle Lesbian.

Guest Blogger – Mallorie DeRiggi
TeamMallorieMallorie DeRiggi is a 20 something marketing manager and communications professional who moved to Chicago over 3 years ago at the start of her career.  Mallorie works in the software/internet marketing space and possesses a strong creative ability to communicate ideas and develop strategy to make those ideas persuasive to others.  She loves to travel and has had a passion for learning new things about the world ever since she was little.  She speaks Italian and Spanish and is working on learning another language in the future.  She loves to write and is in the process of writing a novel.  She has passion for LGBT advocacy, politics, fashion, technology, cooking and following her favorite hockey team.  In her free time, she’s often out and about at different restaurants and bars hanging out with her friends or going out dancing on occasion.

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