After two months of online balloting and tens of thousands of votes cast, we present to you your favorites in dozens of categories in our fifth annual Best of Atlanta awards.

Many people like to say these awards are nothing but a popularity contest. We don’t deny that at all, because in the end, the winners are decided by one thing only: your votes.

Our first round of voting took place in May and we gave readers a chance to nominate their favorites in categories of Community, People, Places, Shopping, Eats, Arts & Entertainment, Nightlife, Pets and Services. In most cases, the top three vote-getters (or more if there was a tie) were named finalists and moved on to the second stage of multiple-choice voting, which lasted through the end of June.

Many organizations, people and businesses let their fates be determined unprompted. Others mounted organized campaigns, usually through Facebook and Twitter, to convince fans and to garner votes from fans and friends and others. Both approaches are valuable and any group or business that has a devoted fan base willing to vote every day is worth checking out.

Be sure to congratulate the winners. And if your favorite didn’t make it to the finals, plan on doing something about that next year by nominating and voting early and often.

The best part of this issue is the party we throw for it, a party for the winners, finalists and for everyone who makes this community a great place to live, work and play.

We hope to see you there on July 17 at the Georgian Terrace. We couldn’t throw the party without the kindness and generosity of the gorgeous Midtown hotel as well as Green’s Liquor and Barefoot Wine, Henry’s Midtown, Campagnolo Restaurant & Bar, Green Ginger, Southern Sweets, our emcee Ian Aber of A Bear Comedy Show and DJ Vicki Powell.

Congratulations to all our winners, and thank you to all of our communities who share their stories with us and therefore empower all of us.

PEOPLE

IMG_8771BEST ACTIVIST
RICK WESTBROOK
It was a tough fight but Rick Westbrook emerged in the end as our Best Activist winner. He is a co-founder of the long-running and successful East Point Possums Show as well as co-founder of Lost-N-Found, which offers a wide array of services for the city’s LGBT homeless youth. Westbrook continues to fight the good fight every day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

bestofatlanta-people-body-7-8-11Chandler Bearden placed second.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_9208-750x400 Cathy Woolard came in third.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ICON
DIAMOND LIL
It takes a special person to be considered an icon, and readers chose to bestow that rare title on Diamond Lil. She’s been doing drag shows in Atlanta since before Stonewall, and continues to don the dress and hit the stage to this day. If you haven’t heard this gem belt her favorite torch songs, you’re missing out.
Baton Bob came in second and Cathy Woolard rounded out the group in third.

john lewis muralSTRAIGHT ALLY
U.S. REP. JOHN LEWIS
No surprises here. Congressman John Lewis is straight royalty for Atlanta’s LGBT community, and readers came out in force to make sure it was known. Lewis is a fixture at the city’s biggest LGBT events, lending his esteemed presence and thundering voice in support of our cause. He is a true legend.
Atlanta City Councilmember Mary Norwood came in second place and state senator and gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter came in third.

POLITICIAN
U.S. REP. JOHN LEWIS
It takes a special politician to be chosen
over two gay finalists as the LGBT commu- nity’s favorite, but Congressman John Lewis is just that kind of special to us. When this civil rights icon speaks, his fellow members of Congress listen, and he continues to passionately speak up for our causes every day.
State Rep. Simone Bell placed second while Atlanta City Councilmember Alex Wan came in third.

ATHLETE
SAM PENG
Readers voted tennis player Sam Peng Best Local Athlete. Peng is an active, long- time member of the Atlanta Team Tennis Association (ATTA), the local LGBT tennis league. He’s known for having an outgoing on-court personality, a fierce competitive streak and a wicked backhand.
• Gary Durden Oswalt of the Atlanta Bucks Rugby team and a star in the Hotlanta Softball League came in second place.

BUSINESS PERSON
BOB FAWCETT
Bob Fawcett is president of Trebor Productions, a motion picture and video distribution company, but is better known as the longtime owner of The Pet Set. The popular pet store has a unique selection of accessories and products for dogs and cats, as well as a grooming spa, day care play area and a boarding facility.
• Emilio Lordes placed second, Art Smith came in third and Bill Kaelin finished in fourth.

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