The Atlanta Pride Festival, by far the largest Pride festival in Georgia, may not take place until October, but there are plenty of other events around the state to mark June, which President Obama officially declared as LGBT Pride Month.

“As Americans, it is our birthright that all people are created equal and deserve the same rights, privileges, and opportunities.  Since our earliest days of independence, our Nation has striven to fulfill that promise.  An important chapter in our great, unfinished story is the movement for fairness and equality on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community,” the president’s proclamation reads.

Georgia celebrates Pride month

Pride month is observed in June to mark the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots, when patrons of the Stonewall Inn, a New York City gay bar, fought back against police harassment.


Augusta Pride
June 19
Parade: 10:30 a.m., assemble at 10th & Jones Street
Festival: 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., Augusta Commons

East Side Pride
Saturday, June 26, 1-5 p.m.
Milam Park, Pavilion One
3867 Norman Road, Clarkston, GA 30021

The rebellion is frequently seen as the launch of the modern gay rights movement, and in 1970, activists in cities around the country began holding marches and rallies during the last weekend in June to commemorate it.

“This month, as we recognize the immeasurable contributions of LGBT Americans, we renew our commitment to the struggle for equal rights for LGBT Americans and to ending prejudice and injustice wherever it exists,” Obama’s proclamation declares.

First Augusta Pride draws well-known entertainers, support from mayor

The first Pride festival in Augusta got off to a rocky start earlier this year, when some citizens of the city on the border of South Carolina contacted the mayor to protest a gay event in their town.

Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver responded by seeking a legal opinion confirming his belief that the First Amendment would prevent banning an LGBT event on city streets and property. And since then, it’s been full steam ahead for planning the June 19 parade and festival, according to Christopher Bannochie, PR and marketing director for Augusta Pride.

“There has been no further public response to the parade and festival,” Bannochie says, noting that “no requests for a protest demonstration permit have been received by the sheriff’s office.”

Copenhaver has also issued a proclamation declaring June 19 as “Augusta Pride Day” and urging “all citizens to recognize and applaud the numerous contributions of the Augusta Pride Committee as well as all gay and transgender community members.”

“Gay and transgender citizens contribue to the fabric of diversity within our community,” states the proclamation, which also notes that LGBT people “contribute to the success of our employers and businesses,” “donate their time, talent and labor to community organizations,” and “express the full range of faith traditions as other members of our community.”

Bannochie said Pride organizers are planning for about 2,000 attendees, and some 60 vendors are scheduled for the festival.

The event begins with a parade that steps off at 10:30 a.m. from 10th and Jones Street, coming down 10th Street along Broad Street to 6th Street, where it will disband at Reynolds for the festival to start at the Augusta Commons.

The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. with a variety of theater performances, musicians and guest speakers, including Elke Kennedy, whose son, Sean Kennedy, was killed by an attacker who used anti-gay slurs.

“American Idol” Frenchie Davis and Grammy winner Thelma Houston headline the festival. Davis performs at 4:45 p.m.; Houston takes the stage at 6 p.m. to close out Augusta Pride.

And with all that is scheduled, Bannochie says he is most excited just that “it is finally happening.”

“There has been tremendous growth in the overall community in accepting this event and by the LGBT community in coming forward and supporting it,” he says. “We’re already working on making 2011 Augusta Pride bigger and better.”

— Laura Douglas-Brown

East Side Pride seeks to unite LGBT community beyond Atlanta

Lorrie King jokingly describes herself as “a drag queen trapped in a bio woman’s body,” and more seriously as an LGBT rights advocate. So when her husband, Adam White, was elected to the City Council in Clarkston, the couple saw the opportunity to help unite gay residents of the area.

“We wanted there to be a recognized presence of the LGBT community,” King says.

The result is the first-ever East Side Pride, a picnic and potluck set for June 26 that focuses on Clarkston, Avondale Estates, Tucker, Stone Mountain and other areas east of Atlanta.

King says she reached out to her friend, Georgia Equality Executive Director Jeff Graham, who offered to send out information about the picnic to members in those cities.

“The response we got was amazingly postive,” King says. “Come to find out there is an awesome, thriving LGBT community on the east side that wants to be active socially, and it just took somebody to say, ‘Hey, let’s do it.’”

Last year, Clarkston added sexual orientation and gender identity to its non-discrimination policy. King says the “old guard” in Clarkston still might not be excited about the Pride event, but it is drawing some support from city leaders.

According to King, while the city declined to officially sponsor the picnic and list it on the city calendar, Mayor Howard Tygrett has said he will attend, as will another City Council member in addition to White.

The picnic is mostly informal, with attendees asked to bring items to grill and a side dish to share. There will also be a DJ, door prizes, and remarks from Georgia Equality’s Graham and State Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale), who was Georgia’s first openly gay state lawmaker.

“This is our first event out of the chute, so we will use it as a yardstick for how we will do it again next year,” King says. “We want it to be a regular thing.”

— Laura Douglas-Brown

East Point declares June as Gay & Lesbian Pride month

Close to a dozen gay and lesbian East Point residents gathered around Mayor Earnestine Pittman as she read a proclamation at the May 17 City Council meeting declaring June 2010 as Gay & Lesbian Pride Month.

“The city of East Point embraces diversity and understands that the Gay and Lesbian community is an important part of East Point’s diversity…” Pittman read as part of the proclamation.

The mayor also thanked residents Erik Friedly and Joel Tucker for their help in helping write the proclamation. The two openly gay men are also on the city’s Planning & Zoning Commission and Tucker serves also on the Ethics Board.

The proclamation was Pittman’s idea, Friedly and Tucker said.

After the acceptance speech was finished, Eric Morrow, who ran unsuccessfully for East Point City Council last year, presented Pittman with a Pride rainbow flag.

“The mayor has done a great thing for our community,” Morrow said.

— Dyana Bagby