Read about some of this year's marshals as well as interviews with honorary grand marshals Daniel Hernandez and Sheriff Lupe Valdez
Ben Cohen’s rugged good looks, gregarious personality and prowess on the pitch easily won him gay fans, but it is his community activism that earned him a spot as one of two honorary grand marshals of the 2012 Atlanta Pride parade.
The former rugby star from England has made Atlanta almost a second home since deciding to base his StandUp Foundation here. He is considered the first straight athlete to dedicate his philanthropic efforts to combat LGBT bullying and eliminate homophobia in sports.
Founded in 2011, the StandUp Foundation has raised some $500,000 to donate to such organizations as Atlanta Field Day, the national Campus Pride, Bully Free Zone UK, Safety Center UK, Belong to Youth Services Ireland and a number of local schools and safety programs, according to Atlanta resident Patrick Davis, foundation president.
As a field general during the earliest battles of the modern LGBT rights movement, Harvey Milk’s primary weapon was a red and white bullhorn. The Fanon Transistorized Megaphone became a part of Milk’s political combat uniform, used to rally an army of San Francisco queers, street kids and liberals against centuries-old oppression of homosexuals.
The iconic megaphone amplified Milk’s words so loudly that they still echo today, almost 35 years after Milk was killed for fighting on behalf of gay liberation.
Milk’s election to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors made him one of the first openly gay elected officials in America, but a conservative fellow lawmaker assassinated him in 1978. Now Milk has a new type of megaphone to make sure his message and spirit remain as boisterous as they were when he was riling up a rebellion in the streets of San Francisco during the 1970s.
The Atlanta Pride Committee will have a diverse group of grand marshals leading this year’s Pride parade. From a trans woman who won a groundbreaking legal battle to a camp-drag fundraising troupe that’s raised $2 million for HIV/AIDS causes in Atlanta, this year’s group of honorees has contributed to the LGBT rights movement in countless ways.
“We are so proud of our 2012 grand marshals. It is going to be really exciting having such a diverse group of individuals representing the LGBT community at the Atlanta Pride Festival this year,” said Atlanta Pride Board Chair Glen Paul Freedman when the grand marshals were named.
“If you know any of these individuals or members of one of the groups, please congratulate them on this honor... and if you don’t know them, we hope you will show your appreciation of their support for the LGBT community by giving them a wave as they are on the parade route,” he said. “It is really going to be great day for everyone.”
Atlanta’s Pride festival wouldn’t be complete without the annual parade, which kicks off at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 14. Each year, the parade draws tens of thousands along the traditional route down Peachtree Street to 10th Street and Piedmont Park.
Organizers say more than 200 entrants have signed on this year, ranging from local nonprofit organizations to politicians, gay-friendly businesses and multi-national corporations.
The grand marshals for the 2012 parade are trans activist Vandy Beth Glenn; Rev. Joshua Noblitt, minister of social justice at Saint Mark United Methodist Church; Jeff Graham, Georgia Equality executive director; Danny Ingram, American Veterans for Equal Rights executive director; Dr. Julie Kubala, senior lecturer and director of undergraduate studies for the Women’s Studies Institute at Georgia State University; Anita Rae Strange, “AKA Clermont Blondie”; the Alpha Chapter of Sigma Omega Phi Fraternity, Inc. and drag fundraising troupe The Armorettes.
It's that time of year when people from Atlanta's diverse LGBT communities nominate one or more grand marshals to lead Atlanta Pride's annual parade. Nominations are being accepted now until May 28.
Atlanta Pride is scheduled for Oct. 13-14 at Piedmont Park to coincide with National Coming Out Day. The parade, the highlight of the fest, takes place on Sunday, Oct. 14.
“Being asked to serve as a grand marshal is the highest honor that Atlanta Pride can bestow upon someone in recognition for their support of the LGBT community," said Glen Paul Freedman, board chair of the Atlanta Pride Committee, in a prepared statement.
I was a prissy little fat kid in a small Mississippi town, whose only defense against the hostility of my peers was a premature flair with cutting remarks. Consequently, I spent a good portion of my childhood learning to embrace the pleasure of my own company.
This is how I ended up spending entire summers at the county library, curled up in the stacks, reading books not intended for children. The children’s section was of no interest to me. Even at age nine, the precocious adventures of Ramona Quimby felt cloying and contrived, and the Narnia series seemed ripped off from stories I’d already heard in Sunday School.
When I wasn’t clear on what exactly was happening in a book, I would cross-reference in the World Book Encyclopedia, which led to an inconsistent but shockingly detailed knowledge base on subjects like menstruation, spousal abuse, and thanks to “Flowers in the Attic,” arsenic and incest.