The organizing committee for Atlanta’s citywide MLK march and rally has always been explicit in welcoming LGBT participation, and Washington says the first breakfast in 2002 was an attempt to build bridges between the two communities.
“The [citywide MLK] march was something that I thought should be more touted among the Atlanta LGBT community,” Washington says. “So here was the opportunity to provide people with a chance to connect before going to the march, have a bite to eat, get some coffee.”
The early years of the Rustin/Lorde breakfast attracted several dozen attendees, many of whom were plugged into progressive activism. However, the event has become increasingly popular for people who might not usually wake up early on a holiday Monday.
“As this sort of social justice-themed event, it’s definitely user-friendly, or even pop-friendly,” Washington says. “I think it models for us how we can go about this work in a way that people don’t feel like they have to have that activist label, or some formal social-action experience to contribute or participate.”
Washington credits the breakfast’s panache to the young people who have joined him and Hudson as organizers of the annual event. Cultivating young leaders will be one of the focuses of this year’s breakfast, along with gender and transgender justice, and drawing attention to the impact of HIV/AIDS on blacks and gay men as the disease approaches its 30th anniversary. Washington says he is in awe of how the breakfast has evolved over the past decade. “It confirms possibilities,” he says.