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|Black Gay Pride attracts tens of thousands to Atlanta|
|by Dyana Bagby|
|September 16, 2011 00:00|
Tens of thousands of people thronged Atlanta to celebrate Black Gay Pride, considered the largest event of its kind in the U.S. From educational seminars to free HIV testing to massive parties, the Labor Day weekend event continues to offer something for everyone.
This year also marked the 15th anniversary of In the Life Atlanta, a non-profit organization that was founded to organize educational and cultural Black Gay Pride events to complement the many nightlife and social offerings.
Club promoters and ITLA now work together to put on many events, including the State of Black Gay America Summit begun five years ago by community advocate Darlene Hudson and Gregory Allen, president and CEO of Xtreme Entertainment Inc.
Earl Fowlkes, president and CEO of the International Federation of Black Gay Prides, was the keynote speaker at this year’s summit. Fowlkes announced he wanted to take the summit nationwide, bringing a round of applause from the dozens of attendees.
“We are perfect at identifying issues. I think the SBGA is an excellent idea and I’m proposing expanding it and doing it around the country,” Fowlkes said at the Sept. 3 summit.
“I have one caveat – I want to see us develop a black LGBTQ think tank to come up with solutions,” he added.
Through this think tank, Fowlkes said he envisioned receiving grants from large corporations and institutions to help tackle issues facing black LGBT people.
“We’re ready when you are,” Allen said after Fowlkes spoke.
Fowlkes noted the need to hold Black Gay Prides not to segregate but so people who look alike and share the same values can come together, while also creating a safe space in the larger black community.
Also recognizing the achievements of the State of Black Gay America Summit was Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. Although he did not attend the event, Reed issued a proclamation congratulating Hudson and Allen for their hard work over the years. The proclamation reads:
“Congratulations on behalf of the people of Atlanta. I commend the State of Black Gay America Summit, an annual event during Atlanta’s Black Gay Pride weekend celebration, for your exemplary service to the city of Atlanta. As an organization dedicated to promoting diversity and inclusion you have demonstrated a profound commitment to Atlanta’s proud gay and lesbian residents.
“Thank you for providing a platform where people from all walks of life regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or race can speak and be heard. We are delighted to honor such a dynamic and worthy event. Thank you for making a difference in the lives of our citizens. On behalf of the people of Atlanta, I salute you.”
Panels at this year’s SBGA included discussions on “Revitalizing Our Commitment to Leadership and Community,” media visibility, and issues like bullying, suicide prevention, aging and gearing up for the 2012 election.
New this year was the State of Young Gay America summit held Aug. 31 by Change Atlanta, a group seeking to bridge generational gaps.
ITLA hosted a candlelight vigil Aug. 31 to kick-off Black Gay Pride events by remembering those who have died. In addition to workshops, a literary café, film festival, fashion show and other events, ITLA also hosted a Crystal Ball celebrating its 15th anniversary.
Nightlife adds fun to Black Gay Pride
The biggest star to hit Atlanta this year for Black Gay Pride was R&B performer Brandy, who played for thousands of women at the Traxx Girls party at the Georgia Freight Depot on Sept. 3 and then again later that night for thousands of men at the final party at the Traxx club on Columbia Drive.
Also performing was R&B artist Ameriie at Compound for Girls in the Night’s “All Black Affair” party that attracted hundreds of women. Also at the Compound that night was B. Scott, the openly gay “media maven” who blogs and vlogs about pop culture as well as sings.
In addition to Traxx, Traxx Girls and Girls in the Night, nightlife events were hosted by promoters including Wassup N Atl, Xplosion Entertainment, RockStars Production, Lion’s Den and Ladies at Play.
Pool parties at the Melia Hotel were in full swing as well through different party promoters. Charis Books & More and Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse held Black Gay Pride literary events.
Piedmont Park again became a popular place for locals as well as those visiting from out of town to go and be seen on Sunday, Sept. 4, including this year for the first time a hospitality suite hosted by Traxx and Traxx Girls.
Top photo: Sunday in Piedmont Park during Atlanta's Black Gay Pride festival (by Brent Corcoran/RNZ Photography)
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