June is national LGBT Pride Month — President Obama even issued a proclamation for it on June 1. So why does Atlanta celebrate Stonewall Week this month instead?
Pride festivals are traditionally held the last weekend in June to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Riots, when patrons of the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City, fought back against police harassment in what is widely seen as a turning point for gay rights.

But after being celebrated the last weekend in June in Piedmont Park for most of its history, Atlanta Pride was forced to move in 2008 when city officials booted large festivals from the parched park due to a record drought.

Held over July Fourth weekend at the Civic Center the next year, Pride attendance and finances suffered. The festival moved back to Piedmont Park for 2009, but over Halloween, to get around city policies that limited festivals in the summer season due to drought concerns.

Why June means Stonewall Week, not Pride, for Atlanta

In 2010, the Atlanta Pride Committee announced it would hold future festivals on the weekend closest to National Coming Out Day, which is Oct. 11. For 2011, that means Oct. 8-9.

But the Atlanta Pride Committee still wants to honor the anniversary of the riots — hence, Stonewall Week.

“We definitely recognize the Stonewall Riots that people see as the pivotal point that made the gay rights movement what it is today,” says Atlanta Pride Executive Director James Sheffield. “This is an opportunity for us to harken back to that.”

Compared to the massive celebration that Atlanta Pride has become, Stonewall Week “is more grassroots and educational and more in line with what the feelings behind Stonewall really were,” he added.