The bathrooms at Optimism Brewing Company in Seattle’s Capitol Hill don’t have signs instructing people of different genders where they need to ‘use the facilities’. Instead, this self-professed “kid and dog friendly” brewery has one big restroom without a door: one giant fountain sink, and two rows of private stalls with fixtures divided into two categories: toilets and urinals. There they go, being logical and rational, right?
(someone tell the folks in Alabama, right?)
Gay Gilmore, one half of the husband-wife team that launched Optimism last December, says the decision to have a unisex bathroom was originally one borne of practicality. “When we were going through all the architectural planning for all of this, we found out there’s code that tells you how many toilet fixtures need to be in the men’s and women’s room,” she says. “We were like, this is just ridiculous. As a woman, realizing that there are often two toilet stalls unused in the men’s room all the time, I realized this is a tremendous, inefficient use of resources.”
Gilmore decided that she wanted all the fixtures to be made available to all patrons at all times. She said that it took weeks for the city to agree to the idea of a unisex bathroom. After many meetings, Gay said she was able to convince City inspectors to allow the setup that features one large room of single stalls, half with toilets and half with urinals.
Now that the bathroom has been in use for six months, Gilmore says that patrons have come up to her to thank her for it. “I have friends whose kids are transgender,” Gilmore says. “This is one of the pivotal times in their lives when they’re judged by their gender and that is very difficult. I’ve had people who’ve come up to us in tears just saying, ‘This is a place where my kid can feel safe.’ That makes me feel really great as a mom and a business that really wants to be a safe place for all LGBTQ people in Seattle.”
There are additional benefits to a unisex bathroom, too. “As a mom, the baby-changing table is always in the women’s restroom and never in the men’s restroom,” Gilmore says. “And so we were like, we’re putting it in the generic restroom and now everyone can change their babies’ diapers!
Gilmore also has a theory that the Optimism bathroom encourages patrons to wash their hands. She says: “I feel like there’s an added advantage because when everyone’s in the same room you’re going to be judged if you don’t wash your hands on the way out.”
“Optimism makes challenging things seem possible. Optimism is the will to challenge yourself, to embrace and learn from failure, to stay positive. Optimism is progress. Optimism is positive. Optimism is rewarding. Optimism is fun. Optimism makes the world a better place.” So they say on their website.
We’re very, very optimistic about the chances of their future success.