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Bernice King’s gay-inclusive speech at MLK rally surprises LGBT participants

Bernice King took the stage today at Atlanta’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. rally and included gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people among the various groups she said need to come together to fulfill her father's legacy.

In a passionate, sermon-like speech about building unity, King said she didn't care if people were Hindu, Buddhist, Islamist, were from the North side or the South side, were black or white, were “heterosexual or homosexual, or gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender” — that all people were needed to create unity.

LGBT people who attended the rally said they were shocked that King – who has a long anti-gay past — actually acknowledged the community in a public speech, but said they were also glad because it shows people can evolve.

Rev. Maressa Pendermon, a minister with LGBT-inclusive Unity Fellowship Church, said she at first intended to tune out King because of her anti-gay past, but decided to pay attention one more time.

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Immigration activist named LGBT honorary grand marshal, speaker at Atlanta MLK March

Paulina Hernandez, Atlanta Pride grand marshalPaulina Helm-Hernandez, co-director of Southerners on New Ground (SONG), is the 2012 honorary grand marshal and speaker for the Martin Luther King rally following the annual MLK March on Monday, Jan. 16.

The selection of Helm-Hernandez was announced by the Bayard Rustin/Audre Lorde Breakfast planning group. The breakfast, founded in 2002 by LGBT activists Craig Washington and Darlene Hudson, takes place this year at St. Mark United Methodist Church at 10 a.m.; the march begins at 1:30 p.m. with the rally following the march.

Helm-Hernandez was chosen because of her "commitment to community building with marginalized populations. She has a background in farm worker and immigrant/refugee rights organizing, cultural work, youth organizing, anti-violence work and liberation work that centers people most affected by violence, poverty, war and racism," the planning committee said in a statement.

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Annual Rustin/Lorde breakfast spotlights city’s LGBT diversity

MLK weekend events in Atlanta

Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend in gay Atlanta means parties, parties, parties. Gay promoters know thousands of people are visiting the birthplace of the civil rights icon not only to commemorate but to celebrate.

“People come to Atlanta because of the festivities we all have to offer. But by Atlanta being the home of the civil rights leader, it adds history to the weekend,” says Phillip Boone, owner of Traxx Atlanta, one of the largest black gay promoters in the country. Traxx celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

The tough economy impacts party promoters. Boone says Traxx Atlanta knows the pockets of partiers are not as deep as in the past and is striving to bring affordable entertainment in a city that’s famous for its black gay events.

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Atlanta gay leaders speak at citywide MLK march

Anneliese Singh, co-founder of the Georgia Safe Schools Coalition, addresses the crowd at the MLK March

Rain could not diminish the words of gay leaders who took to the stage at the end of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations in Atlanta.

A variety of speakers addressed the crowd Jan. 17 at the conclusion of the city’s annual MLK March & Rally. The march, which took place on Auburn Avenue from Peachtree Street to Jackson Street, finished at the King national historic site.

Two openly gay leaders were invited to participate as speakers. Tracy Elliott, the executive director of AID Atlanta, and Anneliese Singh, co-founder of the Georgia Safe Schools Coalition, spoke of the need for gays to be included in the fight for civil rights and for gays to participate in the fight for others.

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MLK weekend kick-off

Party organizers provide variety of events to residents and visitors hoping to honor Dr. King

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Gay speakers planned for MLK march, rally on Jan. 17

Each year at the Martin Luther King Jr. March and Rally, LGBT representatives are asked to speak.

This year, Tracy Elliott, executive director of AID Atlanta; and Anneliese Singh, founder of the Georgia Safe Schools Coalition and assistant professor at UGA, will address the crowd at the rally.

The march and rally will be on Jan. 17, MLK's birthday and takes place after the annual Bayard Rustin/Audre Lorde breakfast at Saint Mark United Methodist Church.

Created by Atlanta activists Darlene Hudson and Craig Washington, the breakfast honors Rustin, an influential gay adviser to King, and Lorde, the celebrated lesbian and feminist poet.

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NOH8 photo campaign visits Atlanta

The popular NOH8 Campaign comes to Atlanta on MLK Day 2011

The photography campaign that has spawned nearly 6,000 photos of celebrities and every day people with duct tape across their mouths and “NOH8” painted on their faces began two years ago in an L.A. apartment at about 3 a.m.

Photographer Adam Bouska and his partner, Jeff Parshley, were devastated when California voters approved Prop 8, a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, in the November 2008 election. The two men felt silenced in their home state and wanted to do something to protest Prop 8.

“It was natural we come up with a plan to use photographs … this was on everyone’s mind and we were looking for ways to get involved,” Bouska said in an interview from his L.A. home as he prepares for a Jan. 16 NOH8 photo shoot in Atlanta.