Diverse leaders, HIV activists to serve as Atlanta Pride 2011 grand marshals

The grand marshals are:

Lynn Barfield — The woman who keeps the guys in line at Blake’s on the Park and is known affectionally as “Mama Lynn” had nearly 600 people sign on to a Facebook event to nominate her as Atlanta Pride grand marshal. Barfield has also volunteered for several LGBT groups including YouthPride, CHRIS Kids, the AIDS Walk and Open Hand, states a press release from the APC. She served as executive director of Enlight Atlanta, a group that worked to help students organize gay-straight alliances.

Dee Dee Chamblee — A longtime transgender activist, Chamblee is the founder of LaGender Inc. and was recently honored by the White House as a “Champion of Courage.” She also serves on the advisory board of the Center of Excellence for Transgender Health.

Duchess Claud — Known as “The Duchess,” this leather woman came out in 1959, long before there were gay pride parades. She volunteers with Touching Up Our Roots, an Atlanta gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender history project. She’s also active in organizing the annual Mondo Homo queer arts and music fest.

Paulina Hernandez — Hernandez is co-director of Southerners on New Ground, an organization working for equality for working class LGBTQ people , people of color and those living in rural areas. She is also an artist and self-proclaimed “queer femme cha-cha girl & trouble-maker-at-large” who was born in from Veracruz, Mexico, and moved to the U.S. when she was 12. She is currently one of many at the forefront of leading a fight against Georgia’s immigration bill HB 87.

Topher Payne — He’s an award-winning playwright and actor (including from GA Voice readers), has written a book, blogs about Comcast’s poor customer service and doesn’t mind wearing a dress to portray the legendary Joan Crawford. He can also portray a grimy alcoholic and then write the critically acclaimed original 2011 comedy about life in Columbus, Ga. Payne also writes the regular column “Domestically Disturbed for the GA Voice.

Rick Westbrook – Westbrook is a community outreach coordinator for Positive Impact, an Atlanta-based AIDS service organization, as well as office manager for the First Existentialist Congregation. When not performing these duties, Westbrook is tireless in his efforts as co-founder of the Chuck Jenkins Foundation, the nonprofit that produces the annual East Point Possums Show. Westbrook is also Sister Rapture Divine Cox for the Atlanta Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and won Dragnique 2 with a performance about HIV.

This year, Atlanta Pride will have a “Group of Honor” — representatives of HIV/AIDS organizations from across the state to mark the 30th anniversary of the epidemic.

Sheffield said over the next several weeks, Atlanta Pride will be contacting AIDS service organizations to identify individuals to represent their group.

“Given the 30 year history of the epidemic, it seemed impossible to select just one representative to serve as Grand Marshal to mark the anniversary,” Sheffield said.

“Selecting a group provides the opportunity to honor individuals, while providing a visual impact to our patrons that shows the magnitude of community involvement. This also provides the ASO’s with an opportunity to have control over who is selected, as they see the work individuals put in every day,” he added.

Atlanta Pride will be held Oct. 8-9 in conjunction with National Coming Out Day. The official kick-off party for Atlanta Pride will be Oct. 7 at the Georgia Aquarium.

Top photo: Parade watchers enjoy last year’s Atlanta Pride parade. (File photo)