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AIDS Vigil, Commitment Ceremony highlight week leading into Atlanta Pride

Atlanta Pride Commitment Ceremony

As the Atlanta Pride Committee puts the finishing touches on the main event, set for Oct. 13-14 in Piedmont Park, there are plenty of official opportunities to celebrate in the week leading up to the festival. The annual AIDS Vigil and Commitment Ceremony are two traditions sure to draw throngs, while an expanded schedule of lead-up nightlife events helps raise funds.

“We’re working fast and furiously to make sure all of the logistical elements are in place, from fencing to port-potties, signage to t-shirts. You know, the really sexy part of running a festival!” jokes Buck Cooke, Atlanta Pride’s managing director.

Atlanta Pride, the Southeast’s largest LGBT event, brings entertainers, vendors, nonprofits and thousands of LGBT people and allies to Piedmont Park for two days of entertainment and empowerment.

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Pre-Pride events

AIDS Vigil, Commitment Ceremony highlight week leading into Atlanta Pride

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Does Atlanta Pride party hurt animals at Georgia Aquarium?

Georgia Aquarium during Atlanta Pride Kickoff Party

In an era of growing LGBT acceptance, perhaps the only thing controversial about Atlanta’s upcoming Pride festival is the now-annual Kickoff Bash at the Georgia Aquarium.

Animal rights activists, led by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, are protesting the event and out actress Jane Lynch even weighed in by sending a letter to the Atlanta Pride Committee’s Buck Cooke, urging Cooke to relocate the annual party over concerns for the animals’ well-being.

“Many of the marine mammals at the aquarium are extremely sensitive to sound, and large parties create an even more stressful environment than they already endure in captivity. … Since the kickoff party sets the tone for all of Pride, will you please consider moving it to one of the many alternative venues that Atlanta has to offer?” Lynch wrote.

Lynch’s letter followed a flurry of attention the party received last year over similar concerns over noise and how it affects the animals. PETA, at the time, called the event “a celebration of freedom in a building that celebrates captivity.”

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American Veterans for Equal Rights seeks pride parade volunteers

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Danny Ingram, president of American Veterans for Equal Rights, put out a call today for volunteers to march with the gay military group in the upcoming Atlanta Pride parade.

The group also needs four Jeep Wranglers, with a removable top, to carry special guests. One Jeep will carry veterans from World War II, another will carry veterans from the Vietnam War, which Ingram notes commemorates the 50th anniversary this year. Another Jeep is planned for Colonel Arlene Ackerman, the organization's highest ranking member.

Anyone who can help are encouraged to contact Danny Ingram at president@aver.us.

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Despite mayoral opposition, South Georgia Pride flourishes

South Georgia Pride festival

Even though the mayor of Valdosta refused to sign a proclamation naming Sept. 15 as South Georgia Pride Day, more than 1,000 people celebrated last Saturday in John W. Saunders Park.

“I was disappointed in him, but it gave us some really good press,” said Raynae Williams, assistant executive director of South Georgia Pride. “It lit a fire and brought people out in droves.”

Mayor John Gayle told a local TV station in June that he refused to sign the proclamation because of his religious convictions even though his predecessor signed it last year.

The festival more than doubled the number of attendees from 2011, notably attracting more straight allies this year, said Williams, who added that South Georgia Pride is important for building community in the Valdosta area.

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Fall Preview: Melissa, Madonna, Morrissey and more

Fall music preview

Indigo Girls, Melissa Etheridge, Rufus Wainwright, Morrissey — Atlanta’s fall music line-up features some of the best known openly LGBT musicians, then sets gay fans swooning with a visit from the Material Girl herself, Madonna.

It’s technically the end of the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s summer concert series, but Indigo Girls’ Sept. 14 show could also be considered the start of a banner fall music season. Tickets also go on sale Sept. 21 for the beloved lesbian duo’s Dec. 7 show with the Georgia Symphony at Cobb Energy Centre.

Indigo Girls are just one of the acts to grow out of Atlanta’s famed acoustic music scene, which remains immensely popular with LGBT fans. The scene was rocked earlier this year by the unhappy split between famed Decatur acoustic venue Eddie’s Attic and founder Eddie Owen, but this season’s music line-up shows fans may actually benefit.

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Fall Preview: Make your LGBT reading list for fall

Books fall preview

Whether you prefer fiction, non-fiction, celebrities or even cookbooks, there are plenty of options to fill your fall LGBT reading list. Some are newly out this season, while others debuted earlier this year.

Novel thoughts

• Picking up where “Captain Harding’s Six-Day War” left off, the period gay romance “Captain Harding and His Men” (Lethe Press, 2012) by Atlanta author Elliott Mackle follows more of Harding’s “adventures and misadventures” in a military setting.

• Arriving on bookshelves around the same time that the similarly-themed NBC sitcom “The New Normal” makes its debut, Michael Lowenthal’s “The Paternity  Test” (University of Wisconsin Press, 2012) explores gay fatherhood and  surrogate motherhood.

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Fall Preview: Atlanta Pride, plus much more to fill your community calendar

Atlanta Pride festival

As the temperature falls from the high 90s to the low 80s, Atlanta’s social calendar picks up with some of the biggest LGBT events of the year.

The season offers a bit of everything, from huge outdoor events like Atlanta Pride and AIDS Walk Atlanta, to smaller fundraisers, Halloween galas, and even somber occasions like Transgender Day of Remembrance and World AIDS Day.

Fall is so crowded with LGBT gatherings that two garden party fundraisers will overlap with each other. Both the Health Initiative and Lambda Legal will hold garden parties in Midtown on Sept. 23.

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UPDATED: Jane Lynch calls out Atlanta Pride over annual Aquarium party

Jane Lynch

Actress Jane Lynch this week sent a letter to the Atlanta Pride Committee urging the APC to change the venue of its now-annual Pride Kickoff Party at the Georgia Aquarium over concerns for the animals' well-being.

"These parties are supposed to be loud and boisterous—it's a celebration!" writes Lynch in a letter to APC's acting Executive Director Buck Cooke.

"However, animals shouldn't have to suffer for the sake of a party,” Lynch continued. “Many of the marine mammals at the aquarium are extremely sensitive to sound, and large parties create an even more stressful environment than they already endure in captivity. … Since the kickoff party sets the tone for all of Pride, will you please consider moving it to one of the many alternative venues that Atlanta has to offer?"