As we sit around the Thanksgiving table counting our blessings, we won’t forget to put the best of life in LGBT Atlanta on our list. Sure, we live in a blue oasis in a red state. Sure, we’re still fighting to pass an LGBT-inclusive hate crimes law and employment non-discrimination law, and same-sex marriage remains illegal here. Sure, the bars close earlier now than they once did.
But just like the relative that everyone always complains about but still fiercely loves and can’t wait to see during the holidays, we can’t imagine our lives without this city.
Here are 15 of the people, places and things that make us grateful to live in the undisputed LGBT Mecca of the South.
1. Great LGBT Pride festivals: Atlanta Pride, the state’s largest LGBT event, packs Piedmont Park for two days in October and ranks among the biggest Pride festivals in the country. Black Gay Pride hits on Labor Day Weekend, drawing tens of thousands for fun and fellowship in what may be the world’s biggest celebration of its kind. Add to that plenty of other inspiring Pride events around the state, from larger festivals in Augusta and Savannah to growing events in Valdosta, Athens, Marietta and Clarkston.
2. Lots more big LGBT weekends/weeks: Atlanta Pride and Black Gay Pride aren’t the only big queer weekends (or weeks) in Atlanta. Check out these other major LGBT festivals throughout the year: partying in Atlanta’s black gay scene during Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, gay sports tournaments and the Mondo Homo queer arts festival over Memorial Day, Stonewall Month in June, Joining Hearts weekend, and a fall schedule packed with the Southern Comfort transgender conference, Out on Film, and more. And this list only scratches the surface.
3. Diverse LGBT nightlife: Many of us still mourn the closing of Backstreet, but that shouldn’t obscure the fact that Atlanta’s LGBT nightlife scene is incredibly diverse. Like big DJs? Country music? Leather? Hip-hop? Drag? Bears? Sports? Smoke-free? Or, dare we say it in the male-heavy bar scene, women who like women? Whatever your LGBT nightlife niche, there’s a bar for you in Atlanta. Or several. Check out the list here.
4. Something queer to do every day and night of the week: Atlanta may not quite live up to its reputation as “the city too busy too hate,” but it’s definitely the city too busy to sleep. From the long list of LGBT bars to gay nights at mainstream venues, from theater openings to concerts, from community group meetings to LGBT sports and spirituality — there’s something cool to do all week in LGBT Atlanta. Need help sorting it out? Check out our Best Bets calendar.
6. Political progress: Yes, we have a long way to go in Georgia, but we also can’t discount how far we have come. From three openly lesbian state legislators, to more openly gay elected officials, to the ongoing fight for the Fair Employment Practices Act, we are slowly making progress for LGBT rights even here in the Peach state.
7. Legal groups fighting for our rights: When it comes time to fight for domestic partner benefits, strike down an anti-gay law, defend gay-straight alliances in state schools, or protect a lesbian mom’s right to adopt, we known Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office, the ACLU of Georgia, and the attorneys who make up the Stonewall Bar Association have our backs.
8. Many diverse AIDS service organizations: Atlanta’s AIDS service organizations represent a broad spectrum of efforts to fight the virus through prevention, education, treatment and services. Need help managing your medications, tools for lobbying your lawmakers to increase HIV funding, or even help feeding yourself or your pets? Look no further than these groups that are always happy to lend a hand.
9. One umbrella LGBT health organization: Founded as the Atlanta Lesbian Cancer Initiative, it broadened its mission to become the Atlanta Lesbian Health Initiative, and then grew again to become simply The Health Initiative, dedicated to health and wellness for all LGBT people.
10. Gay sports groups: Looking to get some exercise with like-minded folks? Atlanta’s gay and gay-inclusive sports leagues range from softball, soccer, rugby and flag football, to bowling, billiards, roller derby and groups for outdoor enthusiasts. Butch or femme, there’s no reason you can’t be part of one of these teams.
11. LGBT-inclusive spiritual congregations: Whatever your faith and denomination, Atlanta probably has an LGBT congregation or organization to support and lift you up.
12. LGBT and LGBT-friendly businesses: Looking for holiday gifts? Don’t forget to check out our annual Gift Guide, which is filled with items from local businesses that support you and our community. Remember to support them now and throughout the year.
13. Support for LGBT youth and elders:Lost-n-Found Youth, one of Atlanta’s newest LGBT organizations, supports LGBT youth who are either homeless or about to be homeless. JustUS Atl provides a youth-led discussion forum, while CHRIS Kids offers a transitional housing program for LGBT as well as other youth. On the other end of the spectrum, SAGE Atlanta offers support, social and advocacy opportunities for LGBT elders.
14. Parties with a purpose: If there’s anything LGBT Atlanta loves more than a good party, it’s a good party for a good cause. Set for Dec. 2, the upcoming Toy Party, the biggest annual event by For the Kid in All of Us, is the perfect example of how we party and give back. There are plenty of other opportunities profiled in every issue of GA Voice — at least an average of one per week, and often more.
15. You. Whether you represent the L, G, B or T — or Q (queer or questioning), I i(intersex) or the critically important A (Allies, of course!) — we are grateful today to have you as part of our GA Voice family. It’s an honor to cover our community, and we are thankful for the privilege.