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|Black Gay Pride: In the Life Atlanta offers full slate of empowering events|
|by Laura Douglas-Brown|
|September 02, 2011 00:00|
In the Life Atlanta celebrates its crystal anniversary this year, marking 15 years of building community empowerment through Black Gay Pride weekend.
“The overarching theme for our anniversary this year is ‘In the present, learning from the past to shape the future.’ We chose the crystal ball because it’s been 15 years; 15 is the crystal year,” explained ITLA President Raymond Duke at a press conference late last month.
The non-profit organization formed in 1996 to bring a cultural component to Black Gay Pride, which began as an informal network of house parties, nightlife and other gatherings.
Now, organizers want to celebrate the past while also looking to the future.
“As for the ball, rather than say, a crystal goblet or the crystal itself, when you gaze into it, you can see what’s going on now and what’s happened in the past to get us to where we are now. And then it will also take you into the future to see what’s up ahead,” Duke said.
ITLA offers five days of events this year. Official activities kicked off on a reflective note with a candlelight vigil on Wednesday, Aug. 31, to honor community members who have passed away. Thursday evening featured the VIP reception and gala “Crystal Ball” to celebrate the group’s anniversary.
Official ITLA events continue throughout the weekend, with most held at the sold-out Melia Hotel. The offerings are designed to embrace mind, body and spirit.
“We are an organization that, for the past 15 years, has worked diligently to educate our community, to provide cultural services to our community, to look at the nuances of our population of men and women who are of African descent who could be transgendered — people who identify or don’t into certain sub-populations,” Duke said.
Friday’s ITLA schedule ranges from informative, like the all-day Black Pride Marketplace and Youth Track, to the sexy, with the annual SpeakFire night of erotic poetry. In between is the 2011 Opening Ceremony.
Saturday’s events include workshops, the Black Pride marketplace, health and life expo, and the See Us in the Life film festival. Also on tap are the Trans-I-Matter Mini Conference, literary café, and the White Party hosted by Cee Jay Jones.
Sunday features more workshops, the ongoing marketplace and film festival, plus a Jazz Brunch, interfaith worship service and fashion show.
In the Life Atlanta events wrap up on Monday with a last chance for attendees to visit the marketplace, which remains open until 5 p.m.
The ITLA Pride Pass costs $100 and includes admission to most events.
“Atlanta has one of the largest black LGBT populations in the country and has become a welcoming, melting pot of diverse communities,” ITLA organizers note in a press release.
Top photo: ITLA President Raymond Duke says the organization is looking to the future as it celebrates its crystal anniversary. (via Facebook)
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