Queer youth in Cobb County are proclaiming their identities proudly and ready to show off on the dance floor with the first “Gaybie Hawkins Dance” — a way for LGBT teens from outside Atlanta to gather with others who are like them.

Planned for Feb. 18 and organized by the Metro Atlanta Queer & Allied Teens (MAQAT), the dance — a gay take on traditional Sadie Hawkins Dances — aims to become an annual party held near Valentine’s Day.

Being open about your sexual orientation and gender identity in the very socially conservative Cobb County (home of Newt Gingrich) is not easy, but is something queer teens want desperately to be able to do.

First ‘Gaybie Hawkins Dance’ brings LGBT teens together for fun, fellowship

Gaybie Hawkins Dance
Friday, Feb. 18, 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Allure Dance Studio
2980 Cobb Parkway Suite 104
Atlanta, GA 30339

“Where we live up here, there’s nothing for us. The majority of students don’t drive. Some do, but most of us don’t. Getting to a place like YouthPride in downtown Atlanta is really hard. To connect to these other schools creates a support system for all of us,” says Alex Moore of North Cobb High’s Diversity Alliance.

Parrish Turner, a self-identified transman, serves as the president of Roswell High’s Gay-Straight Alliance. He offers another perspective.

“Our GSA is really, really small. I know, personally, that it makes a difference to meet someone else who knows exactly what you’re going through,” he said. “I met a guy who was just like me and he probably saved my life. By widening the circle of people that you can talk to and meeting someone who you can identify with and talk to, it makes a big difference.”

Planning an event has been no small feat for the organizers. The venue has had to be changed several times and the schools will not allow the use of their names or any type of on-campus advertising. There is also the pesky matter of having an adult sign the contracts.

“This dance has taken a lot of planning and been really stressful for us leaders. We haven’t given up because, in the end, we really want for it to be a place where a boy can dance with his boyfriend and not be afraid,” says Ryan Jones, co-president of the GSA at Sprayberry High School in Cobb County.

“It’s kind of depressing to me that there are places where I can’t hold my boyfriend’s hand and where I can’t kiss him and I have to worry about getting beat up if I do like I would if I went to my own school’s homecoming,” Jones adds.

A place to ‘be yourself and relax’

The teens are not alone in their enthusiasm. Some have the support of their parents.

“I’m excited,” said parent Christine Wilson. “I am a little scared that there might be people who would try to protest it or ruin it. But I also know that the people that we’re promoting it to are people who would be interested in coming.

“For most of them, they still have to be in the closet because there’s not enough for them to do as openly gay,” Wilson says. “This dance is where they can go and feel free to be themselves. That’s the most important thing.”

The organizers all seem to agree on the common theme that this dance will be a place where teens can be out, be themselves and have fun.

“I think it’s just a coming together of people trying to have fun and not have to worry about anything,” says Turner.

“We’ll be ourselves. It will be a place where we don’t have to worry and we can have fun.  It won’t matter what people will think,” Moore adds. “When you’re with other kids who feel similar to you, you can just be yourself and relax.”

The party is open to all LGBTQ students from anywhere in Georgia and their straight allies as long as they are high school students. A student ID or a valid state-issued ID is required.

Admission is $5. Proceeds from the event will go to theTrevor Project, a national LGBT suicide prevention program; and YouthPride in Atlanta. Adult chaperones will be on site and drugs and alcohol are prohibited.