Portrait of a community: An LGBT Atlanta timeline

August 5, 1969

Atlanta police raid George Ellis’ Film Forum, which was showing Andy Warhol’s movie “Lonesome Cowboys,” and take photos of audience members. One of them, a minister, files a $500,000 lawsuit against the police.

Early 1971

Local activists form a Georgia chapter of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF).

June 1971

The GLF organizes Atlanta’s first permit-authorized Gay Pride March, with 125-150 people participating.

June 23, 1972

First meeting of the Atlanta Lesbian Feminist Alliance (ALFA), a major force in the local lesbian community for the next two decades.


Atlanta mayor Sam Massell appoints Charles St. John to the city’s Community Relations Commission, the first appointment by a city official of a spokesperson for local gay and lesbian communities.

Fall 1973

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution fires employee Charles St. John for putting flyers advertising Gay Pride activities in newsroom mailboxes.

Late 1973

The Georgia Gay Liberation Front folds due to internal dissent and public disinterest.

November 1974

Atlanta resident Linda Bryant opens, in Little 5 Points, Charis Books and More, the first lesbian/feminist bookstore in the Southeast.


Bill Smith begins publishing The Barb, a free gay newspaper distributed in gay bars locally and elsewhere until 1983.

June 26, 1976

Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson officially proclaims Gay Pride Day in Atlanta.


Patrick Cuccaro and Michael Chafin produce the first gay male theater piece shown in Atlanta, “The Boys in the Band” at Buckhead’s Academy Theatre.

June 1977

An estimated 1,500 people march in the local Pride Parade, with an estimated 3,000 attending the rally at the parade’s conclusion.

July 2, 1977

Gil Robison, Liz Throop, Beth Coonan and other gay activists form the city’s first gay political action committee, calling it the First Tuesday Democratic [Party] Club.

June 11, 1978

Approximately 1,800 to 2,000 Atlanta gay men, lesbians, and their supporters from a coalition of human rights groups picket Anita Bryant’s keynote speech to the Southern Baptist Convention’s conference at the Georgia World Congress Center.

April 11, 1979

First meeting of Atlanta’s Liberal Religious Gay Council.

June, 1979

Shortly after Channel 11 runs a series on male prostitution, the Fulton County Solicitor issues warrants for the arrest of three gay owners and employees of local gay publications Score and Cruise Weekly on charges of distributing obscene materials.

June 24, 1979

Atlanta’s annual Gay Pride Day parade celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Over 700 attend.

August 1979

Some 200 people show up for the first “Hotlanta Raft Race” down the Chattahoochee, an annual event eventually attracting gays and lesbians from around the country.

June 21, 1980

Gay Pride Day renamed Lesbian, Gay, Transperson Pride Day; 1,200 people attend the annual march.

June 1980

Gene Loring opens Christopher’s Kind, a gay bookstore, in Midtown.

August 29, 1981

Auditions are held to form the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus.


Georgia Dept. of Human Resources begins tracking AIDS cases in the state. Three are reported this year.

August 1982

Michael Hardwick, an Atlanta gay man, is arrested in his bedroom for sodomy; the Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel fires him from his job.


AID Atlanta, a social service agency for people with AIDS, is formed.

June 25, 1983

2,000 march from the Civic Center to Peachtree and 10th Street. For the first time a “Stop AIDS” banner is carried in the march. This is also Atlanta’s first Dyke March.

October 1983

Atlanta’s first candlelight AIDS vigil is held, in Piedmont Park.

January 1985

Atlanta Campaign for Human Rights, a local political action committee, forms.

May 1985

A synagogue for local gays and lesbians, Bet Havarim, forms.

May 21, 1985

U.S. Court of Appeals rules in the Michael Hardwick case that Georgia’s sodomy statute infringes on the privacy rights of U.S. citizens and is therefore unconstitutional. Georgia Attorney General Michael Bowers appeals the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

June 15, 1985

Three gay men, Pat Coleman, Jaye Evans, and Jim Heverly, launch the first issue of Etcetera Magazine. Before its 10th anniversary, it becomes the Southeast’s largest lesbian and gay publication.

June 30, 1986

With a 5-4 vote, U.S. Supreme Court justices announce their decision in Bowers vs. Hardwick that Georgia’s sodomy law, when it is enforced against gay people, is constitutional.


The AIDS Survival Project forms in Atlanta.


Christopher’s Kind bookstore closes its doors.

Spring 1987

Threatened with a gay boycott, Atlanta-based Delta Airlines apologizes for discriminating against people with AIDS.

March 1, 1988

The local gay newspaper Southern Voice, originally a project of Southeast Arts and Media Education (SAME), is launched as a 16-page newspaper published every other week.

July 18-21, 1988

The Democratic Party National Committee holds its presidential convention in Atlanta. An Atlanta chapter of the national Aids Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT/UP) forms during the convention to push for increased attention and funds for AIDS sufferers.

Late 1988

The Atlanta chapter of ACT/UP pickets local Circle K stores to protest discriminatory employment practices, the Governor’s Mansion to object to the unavailability of the AIDS treatment drug AZT, and Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza to protest those shopping centers’ bookstores who censor an issue of SPIN Magazine that includes a free condom.


The AIDS Research Consortium of Atlanta forms.

May 20, 1989

Atlanta’s Virginia-Highland Park is renamed for the late openly gay local citizen and political activist John Howell. This is the first dedication of public property in the city to an openly gay person.


PALS (Pets Are Loving Support) is formed by two Atlanta businesswomen to provide pet care to people living with AIDS.


The first AIDS Walk in Atlanta is held in Piedmont Park.


Queer Nation’s Atlanta chapter organizes a nationwide boycott of the Cracker Barrel restaurant chain after it fires lesbian cook Cheryl Summerville from a suburban Atlanta Cracker Barrel.


Positive Impact, Inc. is formed to provide mental health services for people living with or affected by HIV. It’s later renamed Positive Impact Health Centers.


Olympics Out of Cobb is formed to protest an anti-gay ordinance in Cobb County to make sure that Cobb would not benefit from Olympic activity in Atlanta.


The city establishes its domestic partner registry for city employees after the city council approves workplace benefits for the partners of city employees.


Atlanta’s Outwrite Bookstore opens its doors for business.

June 10-12, 1994

An estimated 150,000 attend the local Pride celebration, making it the fifth largest in the nation.

July 29, 1994

The Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games faxes its decision to move the upcoming Olympic volleyball venue out of Cobb County.


The Georgia Equality Project (later Georgia Equality), the state’s first statewide gay political organization, is organized.

April 1996

The Atlanta Lesbian Cancer Initiative is formed, later called the Atlanta Lesbian Health Initiative, and then The Health Initiative.

February 1997

A bomb explodes at The Otherside Lounge, a local gay and lesbian nightclub, and injures five people. Investigators later charge Eric Rudolph with the bombing, along with others, including one that killed a visitor to the 1996 Olympic Games.

May 30, 1997

A federal appeals court rules 8-4 that Georgia attorney general Mike Bowers did not violate the constitutional rights of staffer Robin Shahar when he withdrew a job offer after learning she and her partner had been married in a religious ceremony. Shahar loses her subsequent appeal to the Supreme Court in 1998.

Labor Day Weekend 1997

Although a gathering of African-American lesbians and gay men in Piedmont Park had been a tradition for many years, 1997 marks the first official Black Gay Pride event.

July 2000

Unopposed by a Republican Party opponent in the primary round of voting, Georgia’s Democratic Party voters select suburban Atlanta Avondale Estates resident Karla Drenner as Georgia’s first openly-gay representative to the State Legislature.

December 2000

Atlanta City Council adopts (and mayor Bill Campbell signs) a non-discrimination ordinance proposed by openly gay councilmember Cathy Woolard.


The AIDS Memorial Quilt moves its headquarters from San Francisco to Atlanta.


Atlanta voters elect Cathy Woolard as City Council president.

October 2002

Sgt. Connie Locke, a 15-year veteran of the Atlanta Police Department, becomes APD’s first liaison to the local gay community.

November 2004

Georgia voters overwhelmingly approve a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

January 2005

Druid Hills Golf Club, cited by the city in 2004 for discriminating against two gay members by not offering spousal-equivalent benefits to their domestic partners, sues the city to avoid paying a $90,000 fine. Georgia legislators introduce legislation that prohibits the city from punishing private groups for discrimination. The law is later passed and approved by the governor.

June 2005

The Indigo Girls perform at the local Pride festival, which draws over its three days an estimated 320,000 participants.

June 2008

Due to a major statewide drought, city officials ban all large festivals from Piedmont Park. Atlanta Pride is forced to move to the Atlanta Civic Center and is held over the Fourth of July weekend.

September 10, 2009

The Atlanta Police Department’s Red Dog Unit raids the Atlanta Eagle, an action later deemed unconstitutional. The city later settled with patrons of the bar for $1 million and promised to change procedures.

October 2009

Atlanta Pride returns to Piedmont Park and is held for the first time in October. The Trans March becomes a part of the fest.

November 16, 2009

Southern Voice shuts down after the collapse of parent company Window Media. The team behind Southern Voice soon formed Georgia Voice in its place.

January 26, 2012

Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse closes down.

April 2014

A pair of anti-LGBT so-called “religious freedom” bills failed to pass in the state legislature.

April 22, 2014

Lambda Legal files a lawsuit on behalf of nine plaintiffs challenging Georgia’s same-sex marriage ban.

January 2015

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed fires Atlanta fire chief Kelvin Cochran after Cochran published an anti-LGBT book. Cochran later filed suit against the city and became the face of so-called “religious freedom” bills.

April 2015

Senate Bill 129, an anti-LGBT so-called “religious freedom” bill authored by state Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus), fails to pass before the end of the legislative session.

June 26, 2015

Georgia celebrates as the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down same-sex marriage bans nationwide. The state of Georgia followed the law and marriages proceeded across the state, and Atlanta’s LGBT community congregated at the corner of 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue to celebrate well into the night.

March 28, 2016

Gov. Nathan Deal vetoes House Bill 757, a controversial anti-LGBT so-called “religious freedom” bill that passed both chambers of the legislature and caused a national backlash.

*Sources: Southern Voice archives, Georgia Voice archives, and “Atlanta Since Stonewall, 1969-2009: A Local History”