Labor Day weekend is one of my favorite weekends to be in Atlanta. There’s this odd mix of major events that take place throughout the Midtown and downtown area, the three biggest of which are a pair of major college football games kicking off the season (we won’t mention the local fast food chicken purveyor that’s sponsoring them), the glorious geekfest that is Dragon Con and, to top it off, the largest black LGBT celebration in the country – Atlanta Black Gay Pride.
It can make for a fascinating mix of folks crossing each other’s paths, as happened when I was at a local coffee shop one morning on Labor Day weekend a couple of years ago. The place was packed, both full of people and quizzical expressions. You’d have a beer-bellied bro in a football jersey next to a J-setter next to a Wookie. It was bizarre. It was Atlanta.
It makes sense that Black Gay Pride is such a major event in this city, seeing as we have the largest black LGBT population in the nation. But it also speaks to the city’s history with social justice and oft-mentioned title of “the cradle of the civil rights movement.”
If you’re a visitor to Atlanta this weekend, know that we haven’t lost a step when it comes to taking to the streets to fight oppression in its many forms. Just a couple of weekends ago, thousands marched through downtown to speak out against white supremacy and the violence that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia, the previous weekend.
I was at that march, covering it for Georgia Voice, and it couldn’t have made me more proud of my city. Before a rally preceding the march at Centennial Olympic Park, little kids of various races ran around and played in the grass with each other, blissfully unaware of either the chaos that enveloped Charlottesville a week prior or any differences between themselves. The march went through different areas of significance to the civil rights movement, with people streaming out of businesses and churches to watch, post about it on social media or join. And an anti-Trump anthem was born – a re-purposed version of native son Ludacris’ “Move,” with thousands of voices echoing off buildings as they shouted “Move, Trump, get out the way, get out the way, Trump, get out the way.”
As happens more and more often these days, LGBT organizations were a welcome part of the event. This hasn’t always been the case in years past, but attitudes continue to change and it’s becoming more and more clear to marginalized groups that we need to support each other in order to get through times like these.
With that said, enjoy yourself this weekend. And take a look inside the issue for a primer on what to do. We’ve got some facts and figures about Black Gay Pride that might surprise you, a full rundown of all the parties, comedy shows, music and spoken word performances, panel discussions and more, a think piece on the “stud for stud” movement among black lesbians and a feature on the inaugural Queer Black Film Festival.
So there’s more than enough to fill up your calendar with an unforgettable weekend. But if you could, do one thing for us and take a moment to remember a woman named Tee Tee Dangerfield. She was a local transgender woman who was murdered recently, making her the 16th trans person killed in the US so far this year, and yet another transwoman of color lost to violence.
She might have been there right alongside you taking a stroll through Piedmont Park on Sunday, checking out a panel discussion or dancing it up at one of the parties. Let’s honor her memory by continuing to live life to the fullest, and fighting oppression and hatred whenever it should appear.