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|Big events on tap as Stonewall Month winds down in Ga.|
|by Laura Douglas-Brown|
|June 22, 2012 00:00|
As cities around the nation celebrate LGBT Pride the last weekend in June, Atlanta’s Stonewall Month winds down with several Pride-themed events. From sports to festivals and even a “Sugarbutch” blogger, there is plenty to do before the month wraps up.
Pride festivals are traditionally held the last weekend in June to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Riots, when patrons of the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City, fought back against police harassment in what is widely seen as a turning point for gay rights.
But after being celebrated the last weekend in June in Piedmont Park for most of its history, Atlanta Pride was forced to move in 2008 when a record drought booted all large festivals from the park. After an unpopular July 4 festival in 2009, Atlanta Pride organizers announced future festivals would be held in Piedmont Park to coincide with National Coming Out Day, Oct. 11.
That puts this year’s Atlanta Pride on the weekend of Oct. 13-14. Yet the city still celebrates Stonewall Month in June, and several events retain “Pride” in their names.
Plenty of ‘Pride’ in June
There is plenty of “Pride” in store for this weekend, in Atlanta and two other Georgia cities. On Friday, June 22, Congregation Bet Haverim, Atlanta’s LGBT-founded synagogue, hosts its annual Pride Seder; the next day, the Atlanta Pride Run steps off from Piedmont Park.
This year’s Pride Seder service is entitled “No Place Like Home” and will place an emphasis on homelessness in the LGBT community, particularly among young people, according to Congregation Bet Haverim Rabbi Joshua Lesser.
“We want to educate ourselves and our community,” Lesser said. “This is a broader issue outside of the gay Jewish community.”
The service is set for 7 p.m. June 22 at Central Congregational Church.
The next morning, another annual tradition, the Atlanta Pride Run, gets underway from the aquatic center at Piedmont Park. The route will cover an area through and near the park. In addition to the run is a Friday night pre-dinner taking place at Einstein’s from 7-9 p.m. and a brunch at 5 Napkin Burger from 9:30-11 a.m. after the run.
Also on Saturday, June 23, the city of Augusta hosts its third annual Pride festival, with organizers hoping to draw as many as 10,000 for the downtown parade and festival at the Augusta Commons. Headliners include Tom Goss, Josh Zuckerman, Dee Hemingway and She N She.
This year’s theme is “It’s Time.”
“That refers to it being time to be unified, time to put up gay artists in front of the community,” said Travis Jenkins, Augusta Pride president.
“When the parade starts on Saturday morning you will see tears of joy streaming down the faces of the crowd,” Jenkins added. “It’s not just the pride in being able to be who you are, it’s also the pride of the community being able to come together to make Augusta Pride possible.”
And while it isn’t listed on the Atlanta Pride Committee’s Stonewall Month calendar, East Side Pride is also set for June 23. Held at Milam Park in Clarkston, the event targets the eastern suburbs of Atlanta, though all are welcome for entertainment and a potluck meal. The park’s new pool is open, so attendees are also encouraged to bring bathing suits.
Finally, the Doc Chey’s restaurant chain, which has hosted “Dine with Pride” days all month to benefit the Atlanta Pride Committee, hosts its final event June 27 at the Doc Chey’s in Morningside.
‘Evening for Equality’ and ‘Out in the Stands’
Not all Stonewall Month events are expressly Pride-themed, but all reflect the spirit of equality and openness made possible by those early activists.
On Friday, June 22, Atlanta honors its own activists as Georgia Equality hosts its Evening for Equality, a fundraiser expected to draw close to 300 to the Twelve Hotel at Atlantic Station.
Along with dinner and a silent auction, the event includes awards honoring those advancing the cause of LGBT equality here in Georgia.
This year a special award, the Champion for Equality Award, will be given to U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who is a recognized leader in the civil rights movement and a long time LGBT ally. Darlene Hudson and Craig Washington, co-founders of the Bayard Rustin-Audre Lorde Breakfast taking place on Martin Luther King holiday, will receive the Community Builder award.
Larry Lehman, who serves as the executive director/CEO of AID Gwinnett, will receive the Guiding Star Award. Jerry Gonzalez, the founding and current executive director of Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, will receive the 2012 Allen Thornell Political Advancement Award.
Another big Stonewall Month event is the second annual “Out in the Stands” night at the Atlanta Braves. The June 27 game is a Wednesday night clash against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Proceeds from special tickets will benefit the StandUp Foundation, an anti-bullying advocacy organization founded by English rugby star Ben Cohen.
Based in Atlanta, the StandUp Foundation works to raise awareness of bullying, with an emphasis on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth. It is also dedicated to decreasing homophobia in sports.
Bloggers, panels and more
Stonewall Month offers a diverse mix of fun and educational events; Charis Books & More, Atlanta’s lesbian-owned feminist bookstore, joined in by co-hosting two reading/discussion series.
The first, focused on late gay civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, concluded last week. The second features author/blogger Sinclair Sexsmith, who writes the Sugarbutch Chronicles (www.sugarbutch.net). The visit includes workshops on June 29 (radical queer masculinity and body confidence) and June 30 (reading from “Say Please: Lesbian BDSM Erotica”). Charis also hosts a queer story hour for kids on July 1, billed as a bonus event for Stonewall Month.
Rounding out Stonewall Month, the third annual Sylvia Rivera community event takes place June 30 at the Phillip Rush Center. The event is named after Rivera, a transgender woman who was a veteran of the Stonewall Riots. It is co-sponsored by Atlanta Pride, Juxtaposed Center for Transformation, and Transgender Individuals Living Their Truth.
“(The event) was named in her honor because of the role she played in the Stonewall riots and her activism to include the transgender community in the larger context of the queer community,” said Glen Paul Freedman, Atlanta Pride Committee board chair.
Top photo: The 15th Annual East Point Possums Show, a marquee event for Atlanta’s Stonewall Month, took place June 15 in the East Point Commons with some 28 drag performances raising funds for the Phillip Rush Center. Possums ‘matriarch’ Rick Westbrook announced that next year’s event would benefit Lost-n-Found, a homeless LGBT youth advocacy organization he helped found. (by Dyana Bagby)
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