Atlanta is no stranger to celebrating and fighting for its LGBTQ community. Launching only two years after the Stonewall Raids on 1969, Atlanta Pride – originally the Georgia Gay Liberation Front – is renowned as one of the best Pride celebrations in the country. Both the local and national LGBTQ communities anxiously await the festival and parade throughout the year, and this year is no different. We sat down with Jamie Fergerson, the Executive Director of Atlanta Pride, to find out what we can expect to see at the 49th Atlanta Pride, as well as what the organization has planned to commemorate Pride month across the city.
Although Atlanta’s official Pride isn’t until fall – October 11-13, to be exact – the city isn’t sleeping on June, the national month of LGBTQ celebration and remembrance of Stonewall. “Every year we have a full month of activities in June for Stonewall Month,” Fergerson told the Georgia Voice. “This year we’re amping that up even more than normal.” And she’s not lying – this year, the Atlanta Pride Committee is doing something never before seen in Atlanta.
“We are hosting a Stonewall for the first time,” Fergerson continued. “It’s a march put together on the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. It’s going to be on June 30th.” Don’t get it confused; this isn’t the same as the parade we’ll see in October, but rather a march and rally. “We’re inviting people to come out and speak on the topics that are important to them and to our community,” she said. The march isn’t the only way they’re commemorating the historic Stonewall Riots. “We haven’t announced a lot of our programming yet, but we do have a lot of art installations and parade installations that will specifically honor the 50th anniversary of Stonewall,” Fergerson said. “We are also doing some work with ‘Out on Film’ around the anniversary of Stonewall. It will be a theme you’ll see throughout our magazine, performances, and programming throughout the week.”
Because this year marks such a momentous anniversary of the gay rights movement, many, including Fergerson, are reminiscing on the years past and the progress that has been made.“50 years is a great marker where we can take a moment to see where we are and how far we’ve come,” she told us. “We’ve come a long way. Our events are bigger, we have a bigger voice, but we’re still dealing with homophobia, biphobia, racism, and sexism. Over the long term, we have a lot to celebrate and there’s a lot of work that we still need to do.”
As for this year’s Pride celebration, Atlanta’s got a lot to look forward to. Registration for the parade – which will close out the festivities on October 13 – is already full, with approximately 300 entries, surpassing last year’s levels. The festival will also tout a star-studded list of Grand Marshals, individuals and non-profits recognized by the community for their work advancing the LGBTQ community across the city and state. This year’s Grand Marshals are Dr. Annise Mabry, Rev. Dr. Beth LaRocca-Pitts, Chanel Haley, Emily Halden Brown, Feroza Syed, Rev. Kimberly Jackson, Latino LinQ, Raksha, Royce Mann, The Honorable Stacey Abrams, Stephanie Cho, and Thrive SS. As always, the Atlanta Pride Committee strives to cater to the community and include all in their celebration.
“We are a community movement, so we have to respond and listen,” Fergerson said. “I think that respectful dialogue is really important. Being open and accessible to all members of our community is important. All voices from our community are welcome.”