|International Day Against Homophobia returns to Atlanta|
|Written by Ryan Watkins|
|Friday, 11 May 2012 00:00|
2012 marks the third year Atlanta has hosted events meant to draw attention to homophobia and how it continues to impact the lives of LGBT people throughout the world.
From bullying, to violence, to employment discrimination and marriage rights, LGBT people still face an uphill battle seeking the most basic protections. The International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO), marked by rallies, vigils and gatherings across the world, celebrates its 10th year May 17.
Local organizers are planning three days of events in Atlanta, Toccoa and Hapeville, Ga.
Atlanta’s IDAHO events are organized by Betty Couvertier, the host of the LGBT radio program Alternative Perspectives, which airs on WRFG.
“In the first year, it was just a one day event,” Couvertier says. “This year, we’re doing three days. Hopefully, we can keep expanding it and have a full week in 2014.”
Couvertier says the goal of the events is to raise awareness of homophobia, especially in areas of the state that aren’t known to be gay hubs — like Hapeville and Toccoa.
“Taking [conversations] out of Atlanta, into the suburbs, where we run into the problems when it comes to legislation, it’s time to let them know what the dynamics are,” Couvertier says.
IDAHO officially kicks off on Sunday, May 13, with a “church without walls” service led by Gentle Spirit Christian Church’s Rev. Paul Turner at Candler Park. The service will include a potluck picnic and will also feature GA Voice columnist and former Q100 DJ Melissa Carter.
Later in the week, on May 17, organizers will meet at Village Church in Hapeville, Ga., to present proclamations from local governments honoring IDAHO.
Vandy Beth Glenn, who was fired from her job at the Georgia General Assembly when she informed her boss of her gender transition, will be the keynote speaker of the Thursday night event. Glenn sued the state and won a ruling that she was wrongfully terminated.
The event will also feature Cole Agendabenda Thomas, Johnnie Curran, Julianna Illari and Rev. Antonio Jones as additional speakers.
This year’s IDAHO theme is “sexual diversity in the workplace,” but Couvertier notes many issues that affect the state’s LGBT communities will be highlighted during IDAHO’s events, from housing and employment to healthcare and safe schools.
“These issues affect the public. We’re a part of the public, but they affect us in a unique way,” Couvertier says.
“After the conversation, there’s a better understanding of what we mean when we say ‘equality,’” she adds.
On May 18, IDAHO organizers will partner with the Habersham Democratic Party to host the First Annual Northeast Georgia Progressive Forum at New Day Worship Center in Toccoa.
Local activist Paul Schappaugh, Larry Pelligrini of Georgia Rural Urban Summit, Louis Elrod of the Young Democrats of Georgia and Couvertier will participate in the panel discussion.
“Once the conversations are had, people view us as the same. That’s what it’s all about. There’s no special privileges or rights, just the same rights,” Couvertier says.
Top photo: Betty Couvertier holds a proclamation from the City of Atlanta recognizing the International Day Against Homophobia at a 2011 IDAHO event. (by Dyana Bagby)
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