Ashleigh Atwell

Ashleigh Atwell: Burkhart’s drama was inevitable

Atlanta’s LGBTQ community is currently in shambles thanks to the hoopla surrounding Burkhart’s, one of the few bars left in GayTL.

For those that may not know, the owners, or former owners depending on who you’re talking to, are racist. Their racism isn’t polite either.

They’re Confederate flag waving and n-word with a hard -er racist. For some reason, they thought it’d be a splendid idea to broadcast said racism on social media, and all hell broke loose.

Hell is still breaking loose. After days of drama and a drag queen mutiny, the bar’s manager announced that Burkhart’s was under new ownership.

Debates about the validity of the deal ensued and suddenly, the deal was gone. According the a report by WSB-TV, Mary Walsh, one of the racist owners, said the transaction fell through. By the way, Walsh also told WSB that she and her husband, Palmer, aren’t racist.

People are shocked and aghast at the idea of two conservative racist hetero people owning one of Atlanta’s beloved institutions. It felt like yet another blow to Atlanta’s LGBTQ scene. Well, it did to some people.

Like many, I’ve never felt comfortable going to Burkhart’s, Blake’s or almost any other “gay” space in Midtown. If it has a dress code against “urban wear,” I probably won’t go. I stayed in the city during Pride and could walk to those places and still didn’t go.

So, when I see people lament about where LGBTQ people will go if Burkhart’s is closed, it makes me laugh. For once, it seems like the gatekeepers are getting the gates shut in their faces. The people who wanted to kick trans sex workers off of Midtown’s streets are sweating bullets. The same type of folks who swear up and down that the LGBTQ community doesn’t have a race issue have been yelling at each other over Facebook over racism. Sure, the Marshes can sell Burkhart’s and the drag queens may come back, but will they be able to do songs using “urban” music?

There was even a community forum that Southern Fried Queer Pride or some other Black or POC-led organization didn’t have to plan.

GayTL is finally acknowledging its race issue and all it took was a couple of old white heteros to piss everyone off. Hopefully, some action will come from this anger, but I’m not holding my breath. This happens all the time. Someone screws up, everyone is mad for 30 seconds and then we’re back to the usual shenanigans. I’ll believe in this change when I actually see it.

Until then, I’ll sit back, eat snacks and revel in the irony of it all.