Stonewall Week celebrates Atlanta’s LGBT heritage

Pride Seder marks spiritual side of LGBT liberation

Atlanta’s LGBT Jewish community will celebrate a Pride Seder as part of Stonewall Week. The seder, set for Friday, June 24, is hosted by Congregation Bet Haverim and also sponsored by the Atlanta Pride Committee.

According to Rabbi Joshua Lesser of Congregation Bet Haverim, the Pride Seder will celebrate LGBT liberation in the same way that the Jewish faith celebrates Passover. Being Jewish, however, is not a requirement to attend the Pride Seder, Lesser said.

“We want to incorporate a Jewish community service where our allies are invited to attend. We try each year to build a bridge to the larger community,” he said.


Pride Seder
Friday, June 24, 6:30 p.m.
Central Congregational UCC
2676 Clairmont Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30329

The Pride Seder celebration will be held at Central Congregational United Church of Christ. The event is free and open to the public.

Wesley Chenault, author of “Gay & Lesbian Atlanta,” will be a featured guest and the congregation’s chorus is planning a special (and secret) musical performance, Lesser said. The service will also commemorate the 30th anniversary of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

“The idea is to have fun while honoring key moments,” Lesser said.

Lesser also says that he and other LGBT Jewish leaders are working with the Atlanta Pride Committee after the annual festival’s announced dates conflicted with the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. A “Break the Fast”Pride-sponsored celebration has been announced and Jewish guests will be invited to the festival. Lesser said that other projects are in the works, but declined to comment further until more details were available.

Atlanta Pride will take place Oct. 8-9 at Atlanta’s Piedmont Park and will coincide with National Coming Out Day.


Sylvia Rivera community event focuses on transgender issues

Atlanta offers trans workshops during Stonewall Week

For the second annual Sylvia Rivera Stonewall Community Event, transgender organizers will hold a mini-summit on the issues that face the “T” in the “LGBT” community — issues that often get overlooked, according to James Sheffield, executive director of Atlanta Pride and a trans man.

“I still get emails and calls asking why T is part of LGB. We can’t really create a scenario at the festival in October to really dig into that. What we do in June [with Stonewall Week] lets us dig into that,” he said.

Sylvia Rivera was a transgender woman and a veteran of the Stonewall uprising in 1969.

The event is being held June 25 at 11 a.m. in the Phillip Rush Center. Specifics are still being hammered out, but plans are to create a “mini summit” of panel discussions and workshops. Presented by Juxtaposed Center for Transformation, TILTT and the Atlanta Pride Committee, it will be free, with a $5 suggested donation.


Sylvia Rivera Stonewall Community Event
Saturday, June 25, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Phillip Rush Center
1530 Dekalb Ave. NE, Suite A
Atlanta, GA 30307

“We’re planning it to be a day where you can walk away having learned something. Or, if you are a member of the trans community, information on such issues as how to get your name changed, or your gender marker,” Sheffield said.

Tracee McDaniel, founder of the Juxtaposed Center for Transformation, says adding more components this year should make the event more exciting — and fun — for participants.

“It’s very important to keep the efforts and contributions of the transgender community out in the open,” McDaniel said. “We’re all one community, and it’s important to have our voices heard.”


Top photo: Last year’s Sylvia Rivera Stonewall event included panel discussions from several trans activists (file)


Atlanta Pride Run races to help kids with HIV

The 21st edition of the Atlanta Pride Run is set to step off June 25 in Piedmont Park to raise money for an organization that improves the lives of HIV-positive children.

T. Jackson Keenan of Front Runners said the organization looks forward to its signature run turning 21.

“I think it’s very impressive that any event can make it so many years,” he said.

The run started as part of the Atlanta Pride celebration and even though Pride has moved to the fall, the race has remained on its traditional weekend. Oorganizers now expect up to 600 runners.


Atlanta Pride Run
Saturday, June 25
7:30 a.m. check in; 8 a.m. race starts
Piedmont Park near Aquatic Center

Front Runners is a gay running club that organizes multiple weekly runs in Midtown, plus the annual Atlanta Pride 5k Run. Organizers hope this year’s run will raise between $10,000 and $13,000 for HERO for Children.

HERO provides recreational and mentoring opportunities for HIV-positive children in the metro Atlanta area.

“The money that we do receive from the Pride Run does allow us to provide more programs for the children and stretch out the programs so that we can include more kids in those programs,” said Donna Drakes, HERO program and development Associate.

Einstein’s restaurant will host an all-you-can-eat pasta “carb loading” dinner the night before the race with all proceeds going to HERO for Children.


Top photo: The Atlanta Pride Run turns 21 this year. (Courtesy