GA Spotlight

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Collin Kelley: ‘I’m a writer who happens to be gay’

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley is a writer. He writes for his job as editor of Atlanta INtown newspaper, he writes poems, he’s a prolific Tweeter, he helps organize the annual Atlanta Queer Literary Festival and, well, he’s also written two novels. This guy loves words.

His new novel “Remain in Light,” was released in October and is the second in a trilogy (the first, “Conquering Venus,” was published in 2009) that takes readers on a suspenseful murder mystery through Paris and America.

Kelley, 42, was born in Atlanta, raised in Fayetteville and now lives in the Old Fourth Ward.

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Euphoria Affairs offers respect, understanding for same-sex weddings

It was an awkward moment when Carol and Kesha McKnight raced to the DJ at a party they were invited to by their wedding planner. They were trying to accept the prize promised to the first engaged couple to come to the stage.

“The DJ asked if we were joking. We said no, we’re not playing. The DJ walked away — he wasn’t taking our relationship seriously,” says Carol. “It was very awkward and a bit hurtful.”

To ensure incidents like this don’t happen to other same-sex couples, Carol and Kesha started their own wedding planning business, Euphoria Affairs, that finds gay-friendly vendors for same-sex couples.

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Jesse Morgan: Girl, GlitterBomb! is the bomb for radical queer activism

Jesse Morgan

At 24, Jesse Morgan is a self-described “queerlicious dyke tyke” making his mark on LGBT and queer activism in Atlanta. He founded GlitterBomb! which makes a public showing at Atlanta Pride and has been active in organizing MondoHomo, Atlanta’s queer arts and music fest.

Born in the small town of Metter in south Georgia, Morgan works as a nanny for two children in Decatur while also studying psychology and sociology at Georgia State University with plans for a career in community heath for at-risk groups.

How did your queer activism begin?

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GA Spotlight: Celebrating 25 years, HLM Financial Group offers ‘one stop’ approach

HLM Financial Services

Described as a “one stop” shop for accounting, taxes, mortgages and other financial needs, HLM Financial Group is also a “family” business — in every sense of the word. The lesbian-owned company celebrates its 25th anniversary this month.

Lynn Pasqualetti, president and managing partner, founded HLM in 1986 after leaving her job at a CPA firm, inspired by a speaker at a tax seminar who encouraged attendees to embrace niche markets.

“All sorts of buzzers were going off in my head as I was thinking about the LGBT community and how my services would really allow same-sex couples and individuals an opportunity to be themselves in the already stressful environment of finances and tax related issues,” Pasqualetti says, noting that “while our client base is more diverse today, our client mix  is still made up of a majority of LGBT clients.”

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Trilogy offers unique books from a unique family

Trilogy Bookstore

Trilogy, which opened in October in the Atlanta suburb of Avondale Estates, is more than just a New Age bookstore. The serene, creative space also perfectly reflects the unique family that owns it.

Sean and Havilah Tonkin were married for 10 years and had two children together. But then Sean met Valentin, and the two men have now been married for three years.

When Sean and Valentin Tonkin decided to pursue their dream of opening a business, Havilah and her son moved to Georgia from Ohio to join them. The three parents now own the bookstore together, and live together with their three kids.

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Stylist Joe Stuckey on fashion faux pas and must haves

Joe StuckeyJoe Stuckey is a stylist to the stars — he’s worked with Toni Braxton, Fantasia Barrino, several of the Real Housewives of Atlanta as well as Tom Berenger and Lance Gross. His stylings have been featured in magazines including Esquire, Grape, Essence Magazine, 944 and Jezebel.

Being around such celebrities and helping ensure their makeup, wardrobe and hair are just perfect for a photo shoot is exciting, to be certain. But “at the end of the day, people are people, whether famous or not, rich or not,” says Stuckey, 36, of Dunwoody.

In 2000 he started his own business before taking off for five years and then revitalizing it two years ago. He’s offered up some of the keys to his success as well as some of his tips on how to be fashionable even in Atlanta’s overbearing heat.

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Sweetgrass Salon & Spa reflects relaxed vibe of Little 5

Sweetgrass Salon and Spa

Serving its community in Little 5 Points for 11 years, Sweetgrass Salon & Spa started out as simply a hair salon. Described by manager Brian Baj as having been a “come-in/clipper cut kind of thing,” Sweetgrass took cues from the bohemian environment of its Little 5 Points neighborhood to transform into the salon and spa it is today.  “Massage therapists started coming in and, lo and behold, before you know it, it’s now a full-functioning spa,” Baj says.

A quick look around the salon shows the full glory of that statement.

Sweetgrass is not your typical fountain-and-zen whitewashed spa. Like the community around it, it is as vibrant and colorful as a rainbow, with enough swirls and shades to make even peacocks think twice about challenging it.

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DJ Mike Pope on day jobs, finding Prince Charming and Lady Gaga

DJ Mike Pope

Since 2009, Mike Pope has been the resident DJ for the popular Joining Hearts party and HIV fundraiser. This year’s event is set for Saturday, July 23, at the Piedmont Park pool, with Pope and DJ Seth Cooper providing the beats. Pope, 39, also spins at numerous other dance parties, including at the Heretic, where he is the rotating resident DJ, and at Mixx.

Born near Baltimore, Md., and raised in Columbia, Md., Pope moved to Atlanta 14 years ago where the boys love him and his disco house, tribal house and vocal house beats. He took a few moments out of his busy schedule to discuss his swimsuit selection for the Joining Hearts party as well as who gets his top vote in a match between Lady Gaga and Madonna.

Do you have a day job? What is it?

Yep, I'm not a jet-setting international DJ quite yet (but hopefully someday). I am the Media Services Analyst at The Art Institute of Atlanta. I manage the audio and video equipment and recording studios for the Audio & Digital Film-making Programs at the college. I've been doing that for the last eight years.

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All My Children strives to help African-American LGBT youth

Monique CarrySitting in Outwrite Bookstore, awash in Sunday morning light, Monique Carry appears radiant as she speaks about the All My Children project’s unique marriage of academic research and social justice. AMC is the nonprofit organization that Carry co-founded with her research partner Shannon J. Miller in order to help African-American LGBT youth and their families. Carry and Miller serve as co-executive directors of the group.

AMC works to understand the dynamics of LGBT youth and their families and communities, and “raise awareness about the consequences of anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning bias within African American families, faith centers, and communities,” states the group’s website.

Carry elaborates on this, saying that both LGBT youth of color and white LGBT youth deal with many of the same issues, though in uniquely different ways, leading to social isolation. AMC understands that the social isolation faced by African-American youth dealing with sexual orientation and gender identity is created in part by growing up within a culture that does not address these issues.

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Big Peach softball tourney’s co-director says, ‘Batter up!’

Kyle Miller is co-director of the Hotlanta Softball League’s Big Peach tournament

The Hotlanta Softball Leagues hosts its annual Big Peach softball tournament July 2-3 at the Southside Sports Complex and it’s sure to be a sizzler. With 41 teams signed up to compete in the annual event, there will be plenty of action on the diamond.

Action will take place off the field, too, beginning with a bar crawl on Saturday night, July 2, including stops at Woofs and the Atlanta Eagle. We asked Kyle Miller, a player with the HSL HitMob team and co-director of the tournament along with Rick “Kitchen” McCracken, to give us some insight into the tournament and his most embarrassing moment on the field.

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GA Spotlight: Your pets are like his own

Tom Patterson from Like My Own Pet Sitting

Tom Patterson, who prefers to say he is “mature” rather than give his actual age, opened up his business, Like My Own Pet Sitting, in October. Patterson says the relationships he builds with clients — and their pets — are fulfilling in every way.

He started the business he worked at the Georgia Department of Labor and decided the fit was, well, not good.

“It was everything you think a state job is … not healthy,” Patterson says with a laugh.