In our first month of voting, you told us on a “fill in the blank” ballot your favorites in dozens of categories. At the end of May, the top-three vote-getters were named finalists and moved on to the second stage of multiple-choice voting, which lasted throughout June.
Whether a business is an advertiser or not, or even whether we agree with readers’ nominees in a particular category, doesn’t matter. The only time we will remove a winner is if it is obviously, factually inaccurate (like when a restaurant that didn’t serve brunch made it to the finals for Best Brunch last year), or if someone for personal reasons asks to be taken off the ballot (as happened in one category this year).
Some individuals, organizations and companies sat back and let readers decide their fate unprompted, while others mounted organized campaigns — especially through Facebook — to garner votes. We think both approaches are valid, and the fact that a business or group has fans who are devoted enough to vote every day is a great reason to check them out.
If you are thrilled to see a place or person you love among the winners, be sure to congratulate them the next time you visit — too often, we reach out with criticism but not praise. And if you are sad that your favorite organization or business didn’t make the top three, plan to vote early and often, as they say, next year.
We especially want to thank our cover models for this issue, who were great sports during a morning of photography and who illustrate the diversity in styles and approaches that make LGBT Atlanta so exciting: State Rep. Simone Bell (Best Politician), Chandler Bearden (Best Male Activist), Ria Pell (Best Chef and owner of Ria’s Bluebird, winner for Best Breakfast) and Rick Westbrook (Best OTP Activist, and a member of the Atlanta Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, which won Local Icon).
We also invite you to join us Friday, July 15, for our Best of Atlanta party from 7-10 p.m. at Altitude on the 27th floor of the W Midtown. Come celebrate with us as we honor the winners and party with emcee Melissa Carter and DJs Vicki Powell and Mike Pope.
We’ll have complimentary wine from Barefoot Wine & Bubbly from 7-8 p.m., our awards presentation at 8 p.m., incredible food from Feast Catering, delectable desserts from Southern Sweets Bakery, and of course a cash bar as well.
And even as we celebrate these winners, please remember that you can be part of the best of LGBT Atlanta every day of the year.
Our community is at its best when we have the courage to be who we are, support each other, refuse to be hobbled by infighting, and never accept anything less than full equality.
If all of that would fit on a ballot, we would vote for all of you who inspire us every day to keep telling your stories.