Ashleigh Atwell

Ashleigh Atwell: Atlanta’s LGBT community is a farce

I’m not a bandwagon writer, so before I sat down to type, I scrolled through a couple of months’ worth of Georgia Voice columnist archives to make sure I wasn’t beating a dead horse. I didn’t find anything. I was relieved but I was also disappointed because it proves my point: Atlanta only has an LGBT community by name and it has been that way for a long time.

This article was supposed to be about how LGB people are leaving transgender people behind and it still is but the divide is so much deeper than that. The Georgia state Senate recently passed HB 757, a so-called “religious freedom bill,” and LGBT Georgians are rightfully livid. Religious freedom bills have become the newest bigot trend after the opposition realized they were losing the fight against marriage equality.

I’m pissed about it but I’m also mad that the mainstream (white) LGBT community doesn’t give a shit about the rest of the acronym until the first two letters are affected. As long as the white gay status quo isn’t disturbed, it doesn’t matter. Everyone is pissed about HB 757 but doesn’t bat an eyelash at the “trans panic” defense that is legal in every state except California. But that doesn’t matter because no one cares when trans people, especially women, are murdered anyway, right?

In 28 states, including Georgia, a person can be fired for being gay but the number rises to 32 if a person is transgender. In late February, a Richmond, Virginia transgender woman went to the media after she was fired for being trans mere hours after being hired by KFC. Caitlyn Jenner has people thinking trans issues are in the forefront but nah—not close. A trans space at Pride might pop up every now and again but GayTL, like the rest of the supposed LGBT hubs, doesn’t really care about trans people.

As I scrolled through the archives and perused a couple of articles, one statement by one columnist caught my eye and subsequently made it twitch. He bragged about the “gays” turning “undesirable areas” into “vibrant, thriving areas.” No shade to my fellow writer, but I was disturbed. People like me—colored and poor—are usually the ones that are pushed out by “revitalization” efforts. Midtown is definitely a gay hotspot but only if you’re a certain type of gay.

It’s easy to wax poetic about how great Atlanta is when you aren’t living pillow to post as my elders would say. GayTL can’t afford to be that obtuse when there are people at the Capitol trying to screw all of us over. We cannot just call ourselves a community; we should be living it as well. I should be able to walk my black behind into any establishment that claims to be queer friendly and feel comfortable. I shouldn’t have to feel left out because of some twink’s disdain for my skin color. I shouldn’t have to worry about my friends and I being kicked out of an establishment because our attire is too ethnic for the owner’s (who can’t spell du-rag properly) taste a la Blake’s.

As Assata Shakur once said, we must love each other and support each other. Until we can do that, there is no such thing as an LGBT community in Atlanta.