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DJs Vicki Powell, Chris Griswold to spin Atlanta Pride Kickoff Party

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The Atlanta Pride Committee today announced details for its upcoming Official Kickoff Party to be held at the Georgia Aquarium. The event, now in its 5th year, will be held Friday, Oct. 11, from 7-11:30 p.m. It will feature headliner DJ Vicki Powell spinning in the Atrium and DJ Chris Griswold in the Oceans Ballroom.

“Atlanta Pride is delighted to return to Georgia Aquarium for our fifth annual Official Kick-off Party,” APC Executive Director Buck Cooke said in a prepared statement. “As always, we are excited to see what our partners at Georgia Aquarium come up with in terms of ambiance and decoration for one of the most marvelous cocktail parties in Atlanta.”

Tickets for the event are $25 for general admission, $30 at the door and $80 for lounge tickets. Last year’s event sold out. Tickets are available here.

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Fashionista Tim Gunn calls out Atlanta Pride over aquarium party

Tim Gunn

The Atlanta Pride Committee is again under fire for its Georgia Aquarium official kick-off event over concerns for the health of the marine animals there.

Tim Gunn, known for his role on TV's “Project Runway,” has written a letter to Atlanta Pride Committee Executive Director Buck Cooke, urging Cooke and the Atlanta Pride Committee to change venues for the Oct. 11 Atlanta Pride Kick-off Party.

Gunn, writing on behalf of animal rights organization PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), called the event “disturbing” for the animals housed at the aquarium and called on the APC to find another venue. (See a full copy of the letter below.)

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[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.

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PETA announces full protest of upcoming Atlanta Pride kickoff party

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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.

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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.

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‘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.

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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.

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PETA: Atlanta Pride kickoff party ‘torture’ to aquarium animals

Atlanta Pride kickoff party

Not everyone who attended the Atlanta Pride kickoff party at the Georgia Aquarium came away with rave reviews. Dan Matthews, a senior vice president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, published an opinion piece on Huffington Post Tuesday calling the event “a celebration of freedom in a building that celebrates captivity.”

Matthews, who was in town to work at the organization's booth during the two-day festival, attended the event and is urging Atlanta Pride organizers to hold the party elsewhere in the future. At issue for Matthews and PETA, aside from the animals being held in captivity, was the music playing during the event which Matthews says “has further devastated the lives and psyches of these uniquely gifted animals.”

Matthews writes of a conversation he had with an aquarium volunteer in which the volunteer allegedly remarks that the animals in the tanks were irritated by the dance music, so much so in fact, that the beluga whales began to attack the seals kept inside the same tank.