UTOPIA Seattle working to enhance the lives of queer and trans people in South King County

Taffy Johnson and her group want very much to be better understood, represented and included in the communities they serve.

It’s all part of a grassroots organization’s mission to be a part of a diverse and changing face of Kent and the greater South King County area.

Johnson is founder and executive director of UTOPIA Seattle (United Territories of Pacific Islanders Alliance), a queer and trans people of color-led organization working to advance the lives of LGBTQ people living primarily in Kent, Auburn and Federal Way.

As Johnson explains, UTOPIA Seattle was born out of the struggles, challenges, strength and resilience among the Pacific islander LGBTQ community.

“UTOPIA is family … that’s what it is all about, building relationships, bridging that gap,” Johnson said, “and making sure that our communities are not only still integrated into our cultural perspectives but also … to reach out to the communities as a whole.”

And to better represent the community and connect to services locally, the group secured a space — at 205 E. Meeker St. — after eight years as an all-volunteer organization. The center officially opened its doors last Saturday to family, friends and supporters. The center will serve as a hub for members and guests to gather, network and help those access resources they otherwise might not have in Seattle.

“We’re excited to have a space where all LGBTQ people are welcome to live their authentic selves free from discrimination,” said Johnson, a trans woman of color from Samoa who lives on Auburn’s West Hill.

Johnson, a queer and trans activist and community organizer, has a background in human services. She has been a resource, refuge and supporter to many Fa’afafine and Pacific islander individuals who have made the long journey to the Pacific Northwest in search of better opportunities, such as she did.

The group has made progress but considerable work remains as the organization — about 40 member strong — tries to become a stronger voice in community organization, political engagement and cultural stewardship. Just as significant, the group continues to fight for equitable access to education, employment, housing, health care and other services and resources for queer and trans Pacific islander youth, adults, elders and families.

“We want to make sure our voices are at the table as far as when we are fighting for civil rights, human rights in the communities,” said Joseph Seia, co-chair of UTOPIA Seattle. “We believe that elevating our voices, elevates all voices.”

Learn more at utopiaseattle.org.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@federalwaymirror.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.federalwaymirror.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Life

Highline student finds her voice

Umoja Black Scholars Program enhances the cultural and educational experiences of African-American students.

Multi-Service Center raises $156,000 at annual Crab Feed

Federal Way’s Multi-Service Center raised funds to support its programs at its annual Crab Feed on June 1.

Drive-thru Salmon Bake nets more than $15K

Last week’s take-away Salmon Bake fundraiser, hosted by the Kiwanis Club of… Continue reading

Washington State Fair cancelled

COVID-19 outbreak claims another event

Longtime South King Fire volunteer Bill Brand dies at 90

Federal Way resident Bill Brand was a volunteer battalion chief during his time with the department in the 1970s.

Historical Society of Federal Way offers virtual tour of WWII history exhibit

The Historical Society is also asking for community members to submit their stories of the pandemic.

TLG Motion Pictures CEO Erik Bernard and TLG founder Courtney LeMarco on a set. Photo courtesy TLG Motion Pictures.
Local production company seeking film, TV pitches from young minority creatives

The Big Pitch competition, put on by TLG Motion Pictures (“Hoarders”), started about six months ago.

Relay for Life of South King County moves online

American Cancer Society donations to be taken during May 30 virtual gathering

Federal Way resident organizes “pick-me-up” parade for senior communities

Alder Ridge Senior Apartments and Mill Ridge Village were visited by more than 100 people May 2.

Hometown Hero for April: Longtime resident supports local businesses, families in need through one-eyed selfies

Bruce Honda promotes Federal Way’s local businesses, coordinating with Communities in Schools to help families in need during COVID-19 pandemic.

Auburn Symphony Orchestra announces 2020-21 season

Begins with Summer Series scheduled to start June 21

Medic One Foundation’s Gratitude Meals offer support to first responders, local businesses

The initiative provides hearty lunches to first responders staffing the COVID-19 testing sites as they work to test their colleagues.