article placeholder

Atlanta Pride sticks to October in Piedmont Park

Georgia Aquarium during Atlanta Pride Kickoff Party

For the fourth consecutive year, Atlanta Pride will be held in Piedmont Park in October to coincide with National Coming Out Day.

This year’s festival will be held Oct. 12-13. National Coming Out Day is Friday, Oct. 11, the night of the Pride kick-off party at the Georgia Aquarium, which also returns for 2013 despite criticism from some animal activists last year.

"Atlanta Pride is excited to announce our dates for the 43rd Annual Atlanta Pride Festival. Planning for the 2013 festival began six months ago and we are, of course, always thrilled to return to Piedmont Park,” said Buck Cooke, Atlanta Pride executive director, in a press release today.

"National Coming Out Day continues to be a great fit for our festival and we are excited to have the Official Kick-off Party at the Georgia Aquarium occur on this very important date,” Cooke said.

article placeholder

[Photos] Georgia Aquarium party kicks off Atlanta Pride

Atlanta Pride aquarium party

The Atlanta Pride Committee held a VIP party at the Georgia Aquarium on Friday, Oct. 12, to honor and recognize sponsors and supporters of the annual festival. Grand marshals of the Atlanta Pride parade were honored and honorary grand marshals Stuart Milk, the gay nephew of the gay icon Harvey Milk, and Ben Cohen, founder of the anti-bullying StandUp Foundation, thanked everyone for their support. U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights icon who has been a stalwart supporter of LGBT equality, also gave a rousing speech. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed was also on hand to welcome people to Atlanta.

To view more photos from the Pride VIP party, click here.

article placeholder

PETA announces full protest of upcoming Atlanta Pride kickoff party

https://cdn.thegavoice.com/images/stories/10-14-11/gaaquarium-body-10-14-11.jpg

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals today announced plans to protest Friday's Atlanta Pride Kickoff Party at the Georgia Aquarium over concerns the event is harmful to the animals inside the aquarium.

Dan Matthews, a PETA senior vice president, sent a letter to acting Atlanta Pride Executive Director Buck Cooke, again urging Cooke and the Atlanta Pride Committee to move the annual event to a venue that does not hold animals captive.

Matthews, who is gay, holds no punches in the latest letter to the APC, including accusing Atlanta Pride of misogyny, after Cooke and members of the APC have failed to directly respond to PETA's communications written by women.

article placeholder

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.”

article placeholder

Georgia Aquarium: Actress Jane Lynch given ‘inaccurate and distorted information’

Jane Lynch at the Georgia Aquarium

Officials from the Georgia Aquarium today disputed “Glee” actress Jane Lynch's claim that the annual Atlanta Pride Kickoff party held at the aquarium is harmful to animals, noting that the lesbian actress had praised the facility in the past.

“I must say that we were quite surprised, as we think of Ms. Lynch as a friend of Georgia Aquarium,” Scott Higley, vice president of marketing and communications of the Georgia Aquarium, told GA Voice.

“She visited our facility with her family in the summer of 2011 [pictured above] and subsequently gave us glowing comments about her visit, after she was able to witness first-hand the quality of care we dedicate to the animals here at Georgia Aquarium each and every day,” Higley said.

article placeholder

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?"

article placeholder

‘Party Out of Bounds’ way out of bounds of reality

Party at Georgia Aquarium

An opinion piece by Dan Mathews, published this week in the Huffington Post, gave a distorted and inaccurate portrayal of a recent event at Georgia Aquarium and made inappropriate accusations based more on his detractor opinion than fact.

In the article, “Party Out of Bounds,” Mr. Mathews, a staffer for animal rights extremist organization PETA, accused Georgia Aquarium of subjecting the animals in our care to the “torture” of “earsplitting” and “pounding” music at the kickoff party for Atlanta’s Gay Pride weekend. He also mischaracterized the event itself, insulting our courteous and thoughtful guests by referring to them as “sweaty” revelers and implying that it was nearly impossible to talk with others due to the volume of the music. The underlying accusation is that Georgia Aquarium – one of the world’s leading aquariums, boasting a staff of dedicated and accomplished marine biologists, scientists and experts in the care of animals – regularly subjects its residents to intolerable noise levels in the name of profit.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

article placeholder

Party out of bounds

Pride kickoff party at the Georgia Aquarium

"I've never seen so many excited gays before," observed a sweaty reveler on the pulsing dance floor at the Atlanta Pride party at the Georgia Aquarium. His tattooed friend looked around and deadpanned, "Or so many terrified fish."

I had never been inside an aquarium before--just outside as a demonstrator. I only learned of this gala when I arrived from Virginia to work PETA's booth at the gay pride festival in Piedmont Park. I found it ironic that my seemingly sophisticated subculture would celebrate freedom in a building that celebrates captivity. My first thought was to stand at the entrance with a protest sign, but a friend on the guest list suggested that I accompany him and have a civil word with the organizers in hopes of opening their hearts and minds to choosing a less oppressive venue next year.