Photo by / Dilok Klaisataporn

Looking Back, Moving Forward

In my mind, 2021 has existed in a liminal space. The shadow that 2020’s chaos and tragedy cast is so dark that it’s easy to see 2021 as a necessary improvement — after all, we ushered in new federal and local leadership and rolled out the much-anticipated vaccine. However, the dark shadow of 2020 didn’t dissipate into bright light once January 1 came around. In fact, we’re still enduring the ramifications of 2020. Whereas in 2020 — pre-vaccine — the moral obligations that came with the title of “pandemic” were clear-cut (stay home, wear a mask, isolate), those obligations are now much fuzzier. It has become less taboo for people to just pretend the pandemic is over, despite more people dying of COVID-19 this year than last.


In truth, 2021 was a hard year. It was the deadliest year on record for transgender people, and transgender rights were relentlessly attacked by state governments. Georgia made national waves for its new voter suppression law. An anti-vax movement tore through the country, greatly diminishing the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine. Abortion rights were (and continue to be) attacked nationwide. Black Lives Matter protests, which still rage on, were left more or less unanswered.


Even though this year ushered in a new, non-Trump administration, and LGBTQ people made history locally and nationwide, it’s hard to see the bright side of this year when so much tragedy abounded. The only thing we can do is look forward, allow the past to stay in the past, and learn from this year so as to avoid having history repeat itself.


Luckily, there is hope that 2022 could be a better year, one that rectifies the wrongs of the past two years. Georgia will have the chance to elect a new governor, and Stacey Abrams recently announced she’ll be throwing her hat back in the ring. Booster shots, recommended by the CDC to all U.S. adults, offer some hope and potential safety in the face of the new variants. Atlanta Pride will hopefully make its return after two years.


None of these things are inevitable; it will require work and care to push ourselves forward in a positive direction. In the meantime, it’s important to look back at 2021 so that we can let it go and move forward. In this issue, we’ll take a walk down memory lane with the biggest stories of the year (pages 8–9)remember those we lost in Atlanta and beyond (page 11–13), and look forward to the new year with history maker Liliana Bakhtiari (page 10) and our friends at The Gayly Dose (page 13).


As for Georgia Voice, we look forward to providing the same coverage of Atlanta’s LGBTQ community, and we’ve got a great year planned. Readers can expect some of their favorite themed issues, like our Sex and Love issue, our seasonal Arts and Travel issues, and our Drag issue. But we’ve also got some brand-new themes that we’re excited to roll out, like a Women’s issue in March, a Hobbies issue in February, and an Activist issue in November.


As always, you can expect two issues a month along with consistent online coverage that covers the stories and concerns impacting LGBTQ Atlantans and Southerners, highlights influential and important members of the community, and overall fosters a spirit of communion, connection, and support.


Regardless of what happened in 2021, 2022 offers us the opportunity for growth, change, and progress. In the face of the tragedy of this year, we have to fight against the urge to become apathetic. Continue to advocate for what you believe in, support those who need it, foster your connections with those you love, and, above all else, stay hopeful. Without the belief that things can get better, they never will.


We at the Georgia Voice believe in you, love you, and thank you for reading our paper another year. Happy New Year!