Art by B. Xavier

Southern Fried Queer Pride Begins June 24

June is here, and that means Pride events are back. As things become safer after COVID-19, Southern Fried Queer Pride is bringing back their end-of-the-month festivities to Atlanta. This annual festival began in 2015 and works to uplift the idea that you can be a Southern queer person and be happy and thriving.

The festival is in honor of the Stonewall riots. It is a celebration of the arts and activist communities, in Atlanta and across the south. The events kick off June 24th, marking the week of the uprising and putting a memorable end to Pride month.

Taylor Alxndr, co-founder and executive director of SFQP, summed up the purpose of the organization in an interview with Georgia Voice: “Southern Fried Queer Pride is a queer and trans, arts and community organization and festival based here in Atlanta, with roots all over the south.”

The past year has not only been challenging due to the pandemic but has been tragic for Black and Brown communities. While coping with the loss of jobs and loved ones, housing and food insecurities and other struggles due to COVID-19, Black lives and Black trans lives have continuously been taken at the hands of the police.

Mass shootings have also been devastating to the country and to Atlanta this year, as eight Asian people were killed in late March. On the front lines of many of the year’s protests and rallies, queer and trans people of color continue to be of loud voice and presence. They have gathered their communities across Atlanta to stand up against hate, to protest, petition and to vote.

The Stonewall riots took place 52 years ago, and the mission still rings true. Queer and trans, Black and Brown people are still being brutalized and killed. June is intended to be a month to remember those riots, and to show Pride for the strength and unity of the community.

This year, Pride month and the SFQP festival serve to be more than a time to remember. It is a reminder of the continued struggle for freedom, but also a time to celebrate the small victories in between. More than ever, Atlanta needs this festival.

While vaccines have rolled out in the U.S. and mask mandates have changed, SFQP is ensuring that the events are safe for all in attendance. Masks will be required at all in person events, and all events will be outdoors and socially distanced. The necessary steps are being taken to ensure the community feels comfortable, while enjoying the celebration. Some of the events provide the option to join online. Attendees can even stream the HAWT SAUCE! A Queer Dance Party on June 25th. It’s a great way to experience a dance party without having to be around large crowds.

SWEET TEA! A Queer Variety Show will also have the option to stream online the next day at 8 p.m. The community can enjoy drag, comedy, and live performances from the comfort of their home. This event features performers such as Ocean Kelly and Siena Liggins, with La DJ Cochino providing the sounds.

The dance party is for people 18 and up, but the rest of the festival has something to offer to all ages. At the core of SFQP is providing space and platforms for Black and Brown, queer and trans people. The Gallery Exhibition was created to do just that for featured artists. On June 24th, people can go to RECLAIM at The Bakery Atlanta, the first event of the festival. The artists will be reclaiming the year 2020, with pieces that express their feelings and emotions towards this time. The organization recognizes this as being a painful year, but also wants to acknowledge the resilience and joy that has been shown within Atlanta’s communities.

If you want to do more than just attend the events, SFQP accepts donations and volunteers. The organization has raised $130,000 from their fundraiser campaign that started last year. Alxndr pointed out that there is currently no community center in Atlanta for Black and Brown, queer and trans people and wants this year’s festival to be a continued effort towards this project: “Our major goal for this year’s festival is to continue fundraising for Atlanta’s first black, queer-owned community center.”

You can donate to SFQP, learn more about the festival, and RSVP for events here