Patrick Saunders, Editor of Georgia Voice

Patrick Saunders: Let’s get uncomfortable

Last issue in this space, I discussed the greatest fear about the Burkhart’s racism controversy: that the initial anger about it would dissipate and that Atlanta’s LGBTQ community would eventually go back to the same old behavior. Well now, we have another development.

According to a Feb. 12 Facebook post from Burkhart’s co-owner Mary Marsh, the bar is now closed. People are suspicious, however, and they have a right to be. The hasty announcement that the bar had been sold just a week after the controversy erupted (nothing to see here, folks!) was met with a deserved amount of skepticism from a community with a strong feeling they were being hoodwinked. The deal fell through, and the owners now claim to be fielding other offers.

Is it sad that this city and this community loses another LGBTQ space, especially so soon after the closing of Jungle and Cowtippers and amid anxiety about the longevity of other establishments? Sure, if you were an employee or one of the groups that felt welcomed there. But if you’re more upset about Burkhart’s closing than the reason it closed, that’s a problem.

There’s been a big spotlight on us since all of this broke out, with the story rapidly spreading to various forms of media in the city and across the country. And while the perpetrator in this case was straight, it still cast a light on our issues with race. As a community that speaks out so often about freedom and equality, the controversy might have been surprising to people outside the community. Shouldn’t we know better? Yes, we’re held to a higher standard on issues like this and we should be — especially in a city with a civil rights history as rich as Atlanta’s.

In that spirit, let’s keep talking about this. Check out our cover story on racism in the community. We catch you up on the latest news, yes, but it’s also a deeper look at the issue overall, and what the community can do about it as far as next steps.

“No one wants to be uncomfortable. I’m really uncomfortable right now. That’s why we’re talking about it: We’re sick of being the only ones who are uncomfortable,” said comedian Kia Barnes, better known as Kia Comedy, in the article. “We need to be more open to having these conversations and extending the olive branch across the aisle. It’s OK to feel guilty. It’s OK to feel angry. But we have to be able to have these conversations. It’s the only way we’re ever going to make any progress.”

Amen. Let’s get uncomfortable.

We’ve also got an exclusive story on Trystlynn Barber, who is now the first openly transgender employee of the Georgia Department of Corrections. Meet Trystlynn and hear about how the department has been handling her coming out.

In the latest installment of “Catching Up,” we check in with longtime progressive activist Larry Pellegrini, who’s going on 30 years fighting for equality at the State Capitol.

It’s our annual Pink Dollar issue, so we’ve got some tips from the experts on navigating the upcoming tax overhaul.

And in A&E, we chat with non-binary spoken word artist Andrea Gibson about their upcoming show at Terminal West, take a look at the Oscar-nominated “A Fantastic Woman,” revisit two LGBTQ favorite establishments and run down your Best Bets for the next two weeks.

Enjoy, and let’s keep talking.