Today’s ‘Best Bets’

The Cotillion Ball is a time honored Southern tradition of presenting young women to the upper crust of society, but a group of gay men continue to turn tradition on its ear by becoming “debutantes” themselves to raise funds to fight HIV and AIDS.

Over the past decade, the Atlanta Cotillion has raised more than $750,000 for AID Atlanta by playfully mocking tradition. Men dressed as women — but this is too formal an event to call it drag — compete for the title of Queen by raising funds.

Even though this is a rough financial year, Cotillion chairperson Darrell Burke hopes to raise $125,000, one of the larger amounts ever donated by a Cotillion.

“We’ve always hovered between a $100,000 and a $128,000, so $125,000 is up there, but wouldn’t be our record,” Burke said. “We’re also looking to surpass the 400 guest mark. We traditionally have been between 360 and 380 and we think we can realistically meet or exceed 400.”

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Other events happening today

Saturday, Sept. 17

DJ Ron Pullman spins for Deeper Love at 10 p.m. Mixx Atlanta, 1492 Piedmont Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30309,

With live music (including plenty of queer-inclusive bands), vendors, a 5k run and, of course, a parade, the East Atlanta Strut celebrates the city’s hippest neighborhood. 10 a.m. – 11 p.m. with parade at 2 p.m. at East Atlanta Village, at the intersection of Glenwood and Flat Shoals.

Head to Valdosta for South Georgia Pride, featuring entertainment, basketball shootout and the first annual Pride Pet Show, with winners in five categories. Noon to 6 p.m. at John W. Saunders Memorial Park, 1151 River St., Valdosta, Ga., 31601,

Get your game on with College Football Saturdays, followed by Jealouse’s Daring Divas at 11 p.m. at Blake’s on the Park, 227 10th St NE, Atlanta, GA 30309,

The gay Atlanta Bucks rugby team plays a match against GA Tech at the Tech campus, then hosts its monthly bar night at 10 p.m. at the Atlanta Eagle, 306 Ponce De Leon Ave., Atlanta, GA 30308,

The Atlanta Cotillion Ball raises funds for AID Atlanta and includes the crowning of the 2011 Cotillion queen, the male debutante who has raised the most funds for the organization. 7-11 p.m. at The Foundry at Puritan Mill, 916 Joseph E. Lowery Boulevard, Atlanta, GA 30318,

Bellissima throws a Glow Party to celebrate winning “Best Place to Meet Women” in the GA Voice Best of Atlanta awards. Green glow sticks mean single; red means taken. Bellissima, 560 Amsterdam Ave., Atlanta, GA 30306,

Join the Armorettes for the Heretic Backroom Burlesque Show featuring Gunza Blazin and Vanessa Mykals. Show starts at 8 p.m. and all proceeds benefit AID Gwinnett. Heretic, 2069 Cheshire Bridge Road, Atlanta, GA 30324,

Get your costume ready as Bedlam presents ‘80s Prom Night. 10 p.m. at My Sister’s Room, 1271 Glenwood Ave., Atlanta, GA 30316,

DJ Phil Romano spins at 10 p.m. at Jungle, 2115 Faulkner Rd., Atlanta, GA 30324,

Saturday, Sept. 17 – Sunday, Sept. 18

The Atlanta Arts Festival features an artist market, demonstrations, vendors, and live music. Saturday 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. at Piedmont Park.

Sunday, Sept. 18

The National Flag Football League of Atlanta, the city’s gay league, plays fall season games through Oct. 2. 11 a.m. at Grant Park, 840 Cherokee Ave. SE, Atlanta, GA 30315,

Brandi Carlile opens for Ray LaMontagne at 7 p.m. at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park, 2200 Encore Parkway, Alpharetta, GA 30009,

Equally Wed presents the “Love is Love” Wedding Show, featuring the city’s best gay-friendly wedding vendors. 1-4 p.m. at Altitude at the W Hotel – Midtown, 188 14th Street, Atlanta, GA 30361,

Hotlanta Softball League’s Atlanta Titans host a carwash with the hot men of Swinging Richards. 1-5 p.m. at Swinging Richards, 1400 Northside Drive, Atlanta, GA 30318.

PFLAG Atlanta holds its monthly Third Sunday meeting. 2:45 – 5 p.m. at First MCC, 1379 Tullie Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30329-2308,

The Atlanta Lesbian Health Initiative hosts its 16th annual Fall Garden Party. 4-8 p.m. at Einstein’s, 1077 Juniper St., Atlanta, GA 30309,

Choose a word and quote that fit your passion, then turn out for the Real Rolemodels Campaign photo shoot at 5 p.m. at Blake’s on the Park, 227 10th St NE, Atlanta, GA 30309,

Celebrate a historic victory as the American Veterans for Equal Rights, led by Danny Ingram, hosts a formal retreat ceremony to mark the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” 7-8 p.m. at the Veterans Marker in front of Piedmont Park at 1071 Piedmont Ave., Atlanta, GA 30309. Celebration follows at Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse, 991 Piedmont Ave., Atlanta, GA 30309,