Patrick Saunders, Editor of Georgia Voice

Patrick Saunders: A break and a night to honor each other

I remember my first Best of Atlanta party a few years ago. Looking around, I was struck most by the hodgepodge of people in the room. You would have a bar owner next to an accountant next to a drag queen next to a city councilwoman next to a chef next to a congressman and so on and so forth.

As I write this, it’s just days before this year’s Best of Atlanta party, and for the first time, I’ll attend it as editor of the paper. While it’s been crazy for the staff and me getting ready for this the last few months, I have had time to reflect on the event and what it means to me, if not the community at large.

The bottom line is, we as a nation are in the thick of insane levels of stress, frustration and dysfunction right now. And that starts at the top, with the president. Zeroing in closer on us as a community, there are viciously anti-LGBT bills floating around throughout the country, most notably in Texas. Still closer in we have anti-LGBT bigots raining hatred down upon us in the name of God because of alterations to a crosswalk that they live hundreds of miles away from.

I’m looking forward to, even for just a few hours, having a break from all of that nonsense. For one night, we will come together as a community, as people from many different backgrounds and different fields and specialties to celebrate and honor each other and our accomplishments.

And it’s still a special evening for those not nominated, because while the headline that people take away from the event is finding out who won, there’s more to it than that. As I look back at past years’ Best of Atlanta parties, I remember meeting people who weren’t nominated and never had been, but they showed up to check it out because, hey, free food and an open bar. Within the next year or two, a lot of those same people ended up getting nominated in one of the many categories, and often winning.

The night is also Georgia Voice’s opportunity to say thank you to all of our readers for your support by throwing a big party for you. It must be noted though that the party wouldn’t be possible without the support of our sponsors, including the Georgian Terrace Hotel, Henry’s Midtown Tavern, Campagnolo Restaurant + Bar, Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours, Rize Artisan Pizza, Green’s Beverages, Jackson Family Wines and Metrotainment.

Yes, there are a lot of awards to give out – 74 in total this year. But the funny thing is, it’s never enough. We always have suggestions from readers for new categories and we as a staff reevaluate it every year to both make sure we’re honoring a group of people that needs to be honored, but not sliding into overkill.

It’s a good problem to have. It just shows how amazing, talented and diverse this community is.