As the temperature falls from the high 90s to the low 80s, Atlanta’s social calendar picks up with some of the biggest LGBT events of the year.
The season offers a bit of everything, from huge outdoor events like Atlanta Pride and AIDS Walk Atlanta, to smaller fundraisers, Halloween galas, and even somber occasions like Transgender Day of Remembrance and World AIDS Day.
Fall is so crowded with LGBT gatherings that two garden party fundraisers will overlap with each other. Both the Health Initiative and Lambda Legal will hold garden parties in Midtown on Sept. 23.
Since changing its name last year from the Atlanta Lesbian Health initiative to The Health Initiative, the group’s focus has also changed. It no longer exclusively a lesbian health organization but now address the health needs of all in the LGBT community.
“Since we have broadened our mission to include everyone, we have had some new challenges that we knew we might face when we planned to make these changes almost two years ago. Mainly, we want to ensure that we cover the full continuum of the lives of our clients,” says Jo Giraudo, board co-chair.
The funds from the Garden Party, which is held at Einstein’s, will go into the general fund. According to Executive Director Linda Ellis, the party is the Initiative’s largest source of unrestricted funds.
“Much of the most important work we do — like training new low-cost clinic partners or helping individuals access care thorough the Health Fund — is not easily funded by grants,” Ellis says.
“We have more folks calling each day and asking for support,” she adds. “What that means for us is we have to do double time in managing the Health Fund and in building partnerships with new providers, especially in areas outside of Metro Atlanta.”
Prepare for Pride
Fall is also home to the Southeast’s largest LGBT event: Atlanta Pride. This year’s festival, set for Oct. 13-14 in Piedmont Park, boasts an increased calendar of events and headlining artists Andy Bell of Erasure and Amy Ray of Indigo Girls fame.
“This year we really have expanded it to include a lot of different groups and different bars so that’s really cool,” Pride Chairman Glen Paul Fredeman says. “We’ve been getting a lot of support from other Pride organizations and corporate sponsors, and that’s really allowed us to make this year’s festival bigger and more diverse.”
Pride again hosts popular lead-up “Stride into Pride” events, as well as the AIDS Vigil (Oct. 10), Commitment Ceremony (Oct. 11) and Georgia Aquarium Kick-Off Party (Oct. 12). The Oct. 14 parade will continue on its traditional route, and looks to be larger than in other years.
“It seems like a lot of people want to participate this year, maybe it’s the election, maybe it’s because it’s the second year of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ being repealed, but we’re getting a lot of applications to walk in the parade,” Freedman said.
Fun and fundraisers
The week after Atlanta Pride, LGBT Atlantans will head back to Piedmont Park to join in the annual AIDS Walk Atlanta and 5k Run, set for Oct. 21.
Billy Jones, a spokesman for the AIDS Walk, says organizers have set an ambitious goal for this year’s event, hoping that 10,000 walkers and runners will raise $1.25 million for the eight participating organizations.
Last year, the walk raised over $1 million for the second time in its history, and organizers hope increased effort by the runners and walkers will result in a record haul.
“It’s really cool to see. We always get new friends and family coming on board,” Jones says. “We’ve seen an increase in our corporate teams, and a number of our teams who have been with us for a long time really step up in their fundraising.”
WSB-TV news anchor Jovita Moore will serve as master of ceremonies, but other details of the event have yet to be announced.
One the key points of the AIDS Walk is that all the money is used locally.
“What we want to continue to remind people is that the money raised at AIDS Walk Atlanta goes to AIDS Atlanta and the seven other AIDS service organizations,” Jones says. “If you write a check to AID Atlanta then that is going to our clients, and supports our service.”
After Pride and the AIDS Walk, there will be a number of events that are either new to the calendar, or have changed their focus for 2012.
The new theme for Jerusalem House’s popular Halloween party is “Ghosts of Hollywood,” coming to the Foundry at Puritan Mill on Oct. 26. For the Kid in All of Us has added a new event series “For the Foodie In All of Us,” featuring top chefs, leading up to the annual Toy Party, which is scheduled for Dec. 2, though other details have not yet been announced.
The National Transgender Day of Remembrance is Nov. 20, but plans for Atlanta’s commemoration have not yet been made public.
Visit www.thegavoice.com for updates on all of these events as they approach.