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Midtown Patch asks if neighborhood is losing its gayness

Activists gather at Atlanta's Outwrite Bookstore and Coffeehouse

Midtown Patch, a hyper-local news outlet funded by AOL, asked an interesting question this morning on its website: Is Midtown losing its gayness?

Amy Wenk, editor of the site, highlights the impending relocation of Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse, as well as the most recent list of the country's “gayest” cities compiled by Advocate.

Atlanta finished this year's list ninth overall, but it's tough to take any list too seriously that doesn't include San Francisco, New York City or Miami. The Advocate makes no claims to any kind of scientific method being applied to the now-annual list. Still, a compliment is a compliment.

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Outwrite announces $1,000 donation to save the LGBT bookstore

Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse announced Friday on its Facebook page that it received a $1,000 donation from the Lloyd E. Russell Foundation to start a "Save Outwrite Books" campaign.

We are thrilled to announce that we we received a donation from the Lloyd E. Russell Foundation to kick off the "Save Outwrite Books" campaign and have set up a fund to do it. Stay tuned to hear how you can get involved!

"Pamm [Burdett] came in about a week ago with a $1,000 check for a donation and said she wanted to get [your] campaign started," said Outwrite owner Philip Rafshoon. Burdett is the director of the Lloyd E. Russell Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides grants and contributions to various LGBT and leather community individuals, agencies and organizations.

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Outwrite Bookstore plans move from landmark location

Outwrite Bookstore and Coffeehouse

A sluggish economy, a rapidly changing book industry and high rent in the heart of Midtown are key factors forcing Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse to move from its home at the corner of 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue.

When the move will take place is not yet known, said owner Philip Rafshoon. The store’s lease expires in a couple of months, he said, and a “For Lease” sign now hangs from the side of the store’s exterior along 10th Street.

But Rafshoon believes there is still a need for LGBT bookstores in Atlanta — although his store also sells many mainstream books as well as novelty gifts, food and coffee.

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Lesbian bar Bellissima for sale

Lesbian bar Bellissima is up for sale, says owner Anna Ragghianti.

Located in Amsterdam Walk in Midtown, Bellissima opened in 2008.

The website listing for the bar states it is for sale at "at $79,000 which is a fraction of start-up costs."

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Outwrite owner: ‘Look forward to getting to a new location’

It was business as usual at Outwrite Bookstore & Coffehouse this morning as employees hung flyers indicating sales on merchandise and Dolly Parton's new CD played in the background.

The news that the store would be closing in the next few months at its iconic location at 10th and Piedmont, however, was on the mind of the store's owner Philip Rafshoon, wearing a red Outwrite t-shirt that stated on the back "Your community landmark since 1993."

"I'm ready to find a new space," Rafshoon said, while seated in his office at the back of the store, framed by a wall with the signatures of hundreds of authors who have read and signed books at Outwrite that serves as not only a book store but a major gathering space for LGBT people.

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Outwrite retrospective: A look back at some of the biggest authors, events to grace Atlanta LGBT bookstore

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Since the GA Voice began covering LGBT news in Atlanta in March 2010, we've spent hours at Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse reporting on author signings, community forums and politically-themed rallies that have taken place at gay Atlanta landmark corner of 10th and Piedmont.

But after 18 years, Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse owner Philip Rafshoon says the financially strapped store will be closing soon at its current Midtown location because the rent has become too high. He also says he hopes to move the store to a new location.

Take a look back at our author interviews, photo galleries and videos from our coverage in and around Outwrite over the last 20 months.

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Meredith Baxter on coming out

Actress and author Meredith Baxter

Even though actress Meredith Baxter has spent much of her professional career in the spotlight, she has never been one to want to share her entire life in public. After coming out as a lesbian, however, she realized it was time to open up and tell her story. She reads from her new memoir, “Untied,” Oct. 28 at Outwrite.

For much of the ’70s and ‘80s, Baxter was known as a TV mom in popular television series such as “Family” and “Family Ties.” What viewers didn’t realize was that behind the sunny façade she was dealing with secrets – an abusive relationship with husband David Birney, alcoholism, breast cancer, and the realization late in life that she was attracted to women.

Although Baxter had gone to the Dinah, the lesbian event in California, she was barely recognized there. Yet when she boarded the Sweet Caribbean Cruise – a lesbian cruise – with her partner a few years ago to film a series, it was a different situation. Baxter got recognized, a lot. She had the feeling her appearance on the cruise would make news and knew she had to do something proactive, although it was not something she was planning on doing.

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Atlanta police LGBT Advisory Board accused of being ‘puppets’ of mayor in heated meeting

Atlanta Police Department LGBT Advisory Board

A heated meeting of the Atlanta Police LGBT Advisory Board on Monday night included shouting, accusations of the board being “puppets” of the mayor and palpable anger with the board and city administration for not doing more to heal the pain in the community after the unconstitutional raid on the Atlanta Eagle nearly two years ago.

Geoff Calhoun (pictured, inset), was in the gay Midtown bar the night it was raided on Sept. 10, 2009, and was a plaintiff in the successful federal civil lawsuit against the city. Calhoun got into a shouting match with board member Ebonee Bradford-Barnes at the two-hour meeting held at Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse after he accused the board of becoming “puppets” of the mayor. Calhoun's statements came after much discussion about why the media was not allowed into the meetings the board had with Mayor Kasim Reed and Police Chief George Turner last month.

“I wonder if you could explain the rationale of the majority of the board denying the media into the meeting with the mayor. I'm trying to understand … is it because you thought you wouldn't be honest, the mayor wouldn't be honest?” Calhoun said.