Participating in the actual event taught me so much about Atlanta’s rich gay history. I didn’t know anything about the Jolly 12 or the Joy Lounge, much less the genesis of our lesbian communities playing out on the softball diamond or the police raids during the screening of “Lonesome Cowboy.”
I’m positive that many of my friends still don’t.
Walking in the footsteps of our gay fathers and mothers allowed me to create my own bit of history, and John Q’s living catalog asked me to relive my own experience in the context of the history itself.
Hearing the audio from the softball field, reviewing the footage from the Joy Lounge and counting those 24 empty boots gave me sudden pause: this isn’t their history or my history. It’s our history, still living and breathing as we create more.
Our collective “gay community,” is absolutely as diverse as the “straight community.” While we spend a lot of time letting tangents of inequality unite us, it is really our history as one people that truly defines us.
We should be inspired by the work of John Q Collective, as we search our past for inspiration and create new memories and milestones of our own.
I thank John Q: Wesley Chenault, Andy Ditzler and Joey Orr for their invitation to be a part of this project.
Top photo: Shadows cast by anonymous walkers during a Memory Flash exhibit (by Bo Shell)