Atlanta Pride announces 2016 Parade Grand Marshals

The wait is over. The Atlanta Pride Committee has announced this year’s Atlanta Pride Parade Grand Marshals. A total of twelve LGBT luminaries, including LGBT and social justice organizations made the cut. But enough of the intro, here are the names you’ve been waiting on.

The 2016 Atlanta Pride Parade Grand Marshals are:

  • Anne “Sarge” Barr
  • Simone Bell
  • Cheryl C. Courtney-Evans
  • David Hayward
  • For the Kid in All of Us
  • Leo Martinez
  • Out on Film
  • Estrella Sanchez
  • Anneliese Singh, PhD, LPC
  • Southerners On New Ground
  • The Solutions NOT Punishment Coalition

Atlanta Pride Committee Executive Director, Jamie Fergerson, explains the process behind selecting this year’s Grand Marshals in a statement to Georgia Voice.

“The selection of Grand Marshals not only allows us to recognize the people and organizations who have made and are making contributions to the Atlanta LGBTQ community; it also allows us to enact Atlanta Pride’s mission by bringing attention to the causes that are important to our organization and community.”

Six years ago, the Atlanta Pride Committee chose to expand the categories and criteria by which Grand Marshals were selected.

When we chose only two Grand Marshals (one male identified and one female identified) – there was no way to fully recognize the richness of identities and causes that are important to Atlanta Pride. We are so much bigger and more colorful than two binary categories could ever showcase, so we invited more people to the party!”

Some background info on the 2016 Atlanta Pride Parade Grand Marshals:


Anne “Sarge” Barr

Anne “Sarge” Barr is the Founder and Commissioner of The Decatur Women’s Sports League, originating in 2007.  DWSL provides a fun, safe, place for all women to play sports, meet friends, get exercise, and help others through charitable donations and civic pride.

Sarge fights for equality and believes that change is always possible for the good. As an Atlanta native, Barr was a lead volunteer for Atlanta Pride for 10 years, a Hotlanta softball coach for 8 years, and she worked for Project Open Hand delivering Meals On Wheels for 7 years. She is a member of AA and is proud and grateful for her 15 years of sobriety. Anne has a big heart and cares for others. She finds joy in seeing happiness through the grace of God and love of community. Pet sitting is what Sarge does for a living. She adores dogs and shares a special bond with animals.

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Simone Bell

Simone Bell is the Southern Regional Director for Lambda Legal, the nation’s largest legal organization dedicated to securing the full civil rights of the LGBT community and those with HIV. After winning a special election in 2009, Bell became the first Black, out lesbian to serve in a state legislature in the United States, serving in Georgia from 2009 until 2015. Bell served in several leadership positions within the legislature including Chief Deputy Whip.

Bell previously worked as Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office Outreach Associate and Volunteer Manager, educating communities about the need for access to affordable and quality health care, workplace equality, safe schools for all children and fighting HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination. She also mobilized the LGBTQ community to work towards securing rights and policies that set standards for full equality and civil rights. She’s been a strong advocate for women’s rights, affordable housing, senior issues and youth empowerment for decades. She has received numerous awards for her work in community building, advocacy and organizing.

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Cheryl Courtney-Evans

Cheryl Courtney-Evans has been the Executive Director of Transgender Individuals Living Their Truth, Incorporated since 2007. In April, 2009, Ms. Courtney-Evans participated with over 200 transgender individuals, sponsored by the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), in Lobby Days on Capital Hill in Washington, D.C. to lobby Congress members for passage of the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act with gender identity included as one of the protected groups, as well as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). The former was signed into law in 2010. She is the recipient of the 2012 Pioneer Award, issued by the Transfaith In Color Conference & the Freedom Center for Social Justice, of Charlotte, NC.

In her role with TILTT, the first transgender support & advocacy organization to serve both trans men and women in the area, she has assisted and advocated for a broad swath of Atlanta’s transgender community, and participates in numerous human rights efforts in the greater Atlanta area.


For the Kid

For The Kid in All of Us is an all-volunteer organization whose mission is bridging communities to brighten the lives of Georgia children in need.   In 2003, a circle of friends noticed a troubling trend: the increasing number of families in greater Atlanta struggling to make ends meet. The group set out to make a difference in the community, and their efforts led to The Toy Party, a toy drive aimed at bringing together a diverse mix of supporters to brighten the lives of Georgia families. That first gathering of friends quickly blossomed into one of the city’s must-attend holiday happenings, and FTK was born.

FTK is best known for The Toy Party, Atlanta’s largest LGBTQ cocktail party with a cause. FTK is also responsible for Backpack in The Park, a back-to-school benefit that collects schools supplies for children.  Since 2003, For The Kid in All of Us projects have touched the lives of countless Georgia families by distributing over 45,000 toys and 14,500 backpacks. The group has raised over $475,000 to donate to youth and family service organizations.


Dave Bryant Hayward

Since 2002, Dave Bryant Hayward has coordinated Touching Up Our Roots, Inc.:  Georgia’s LGBT History Project to promote, preserve, and publicize the contributions LGBT Georgians have made to the world. As one of the first openly gay writers (and actors) in Georgia, Hayward has published locally, nationally, and internationally in lgbt and mainstream media. In 1972 he served as one of the “core collective” of the Georgia Gay Liberation Front, which produced the 1972 Atlanta Gay Pride, and has aided and abetted every Pride since. In 1979 he and his former partner Greg James created the first two Atlanta LGBTQ film festivals, under the auspices of the newly formed Atlanta Gay and Lesbian Center. Out of the Democratic National Convention here in 1988, Hayward was one of the co-founders of the first Atlanta chapter of ACT UP, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power. In 2015, he wrote the 50-year narrative for the LGBT Exhibit at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, launching the LGBT Institute at the Center. Despite protesting, picketing, sitting in and “dying-in” for over four decades, Hayward is both proud and ashamed to say he has never been arrested.


Leo Martinez

Leo Martinez is the Board President for Latino LinQ, a non-profit organization providing services to Latin@s of any sexual orientation and any gender identity. He is also a consultant for the Georgia Commission on Family Violence (GCFV), a state agency in charge of overseeing and providing coordinated community response to family violence in Georgia. Leo is an advocate for the Latin@, Immigrant and LGBTQ communities and victims of domestic violence. He was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina and immigrated to the US in 1997. With GCFV he monitors Family Violence Intervention Programs (FVIP) around the state, as well as coordinates and provides training. With Latino LinQ he oversees the operations, training and engagement efforts of the organization in the Latin@ LGBTQ community of Georgia. He facilitates workshops at many local, regional and national conferences on domestic violence and cultural competence. He was recently appointed to the City of East Point Ethics Board.


Out on Film

Out On Film celebrates its 29th anniversary in 2016. One of the oldest and largest LGBTQ film festivals in the country, each year Out On Film showcases the best in queer cinema, from new and exciting films and voices to classic retrospectives, from around the world and our own backyard. Out On Film is the recipient of a 2013 grant from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the Oscars) for its visiting filmmaker series, which includes John Waters, RuPaul, Mink Stole, Carrie Preston, Wendell Pierce, Patrik-Ian Polk, Del Shores, Alec Mapa, Guinevere Turner, Gerald McCullouch, Chamique Holdsclaw and more.  Their major event is the fall festival, but they also host year-round programming into their mission.

PFLAG Atlanta

PFLAG Atlanta is the Atlanta chapter of PFLAG National. “PFLAG” is Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians And Gays. They are a national support, education and advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, their families, friends and allies. With 200,000 members and supporters, and local affiliates in more than 500 communities across the U.S. and abroad, PFLAG is the largest grassroots-based family organization of its kind. PFLAG is a non-profit organization and is not affiliated with any religious or political institutions.

PFLAG Atlanta has been serving the local Atlanta community for 30 years since 1986. They help and encourage LGBT kids to come out to their parents and families. They encourage parents to educate themselves about this new information their children are giving them. They encourage and support one another through monthly support meetings at various locations throughout Atlanta.


Estrella Sanchez

Estrella Sanchez, a Trans Latina, was born an activist in Veracruz , Mexico. She challenged the norms of her family, community, church, and ultimately her country. She fled to the US to pursue a better life free of oppression and persecution, and awaits permission to live in the US as a citizen. Miss Sanchez became the Trans Latina Coalition’s Coordinator for GA in 2013.  In this volunteer position, she supports TransLatinas in growing self-esteem and finding their voices through coordinating demonstrations and access to services.  She volunteers for AID Atlanta, LatinoLinQ, Latin Prevention in GA, and GLAHR. Her activism, altruism, and story of survival have been featured in the New York Times and on MSNBC. She challenges society to know trans people beyond the label of “trans” and to embrace trans women as fellow humans with souls, hearts, feelings and contributions to help this world. She is committed to carrying the torch of the Trans Latina Coalition and upholding its mission to advocate for the specific needs of the Trans Latina community and to plan strategies that improve their quality of life.


Anneliese Singh, PhD, LPC

Anneliese Singh is an Associate Professor at The University of Georgia and a licensed counselor and psychologist. Anneliese founded the Trans Resilience Project to translate her research findings on the resilience that trans people develop to navigate societal oppression. She co-founded the Georgia Safe Schools Coalition to address intersections of heterosexism, racism, sexism, and other oppressions, creating safe school environments. Anneliese actively works to be a better ally to trans people and develop empowering spaces for people of color who have survived sexual abuse. She delivered a successful Tedx Talk titled “Trans Liberation is for Everybody,” encouraging cisgender people to explore how their personal gender liberation is connected to many of the struggles trans people face – such as narrowly defined gender roles and expectations. Anneliese is a multiracial, South Asian, Sikh American from New Orleans, who began her social justice organizing in HIV/AIDS, reproductive justice, and immigrant rights. She serves on the Rustin-Lorde Breakfast organizing team, works with international queer and trans activists, and organizes the Queer and Trans Youth Liberation Space at Atlanta Pride. Anneliese strives to live by Dr. King’s vision of the beloved community, as well as Audre Lorde’s quote: “Without community, there is no liberation.”


SNaPCo (The Solutions Not Punishment Coalition)

SNaPCo works to build a Black Trans Feminist Framework for Practical Abolition as the way to liberation. The Solutions Not Punishment Coalition is a Black, Trans-led, broad based coalition working for a new Atlanta where every person has the opportunity to grow and thrive without facing unfair barriers, especially from the criminal justice system. SNaPCo is a coalition led by LaGender, Inc., Racial Justice Action Center, Transforming, Women on the Rise, and Trans Leadership Connection. Since 2013 the fearless leaders of SNaPCo have worked to transform the city of Atlanta. Recent accomplishments include East Point adopted the People’s Standards Operating Procedure that was written and created by SNaPCo and other Atlanta trans leaders. They launched the Trans Leadership Connection Internship (TLC) and graduated 5 black trans interns. SNaPCo’s campaign, Pre-Arrest Diversion will pilot in the District 2 of Atlanta in 2017 which will assist and redirect ALL people, particularly trans women and gender non conforming people of color, who are profiled, approached and/or arrested by the Atlanta Police Department for misdemeanor offenses.


Southerners on New Ground

Southerners On New Ground (SONG) is a regional Queer Liberation organization made up of people of color, immigrants, undocumented people, people with disabilities, working class and rural and small town, LGBTQ people in the South.  They believe that we are bound together by a shared desire for ourselves, each other, and our communities to survive and thrive. They believe that community organizing is the best way for us to build collective power and transform the South. Out of this belief they are committed to building freedom movements rooted in southern traditions like community organizing, political education, storytelling, music, breaking bread, resistance, humor, performance, critical thinking, and celebration. They build, sustain, and connect a southern regional base of LBGTQ people in order to transform the region through strategic projects and campaigns developed in response to the current conditions in our communities.