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Activists: Ga. HIV criminalization law promotes stigma

HIV criminalization meeting

Georgia's HIV criminalization laws are heavy-handed and unnecessary, according to activists who addressed a crowd of about 100 at the Phillip Rush Center on Tuesday evening.

Many states, including Georgia, have made it a felony for HIV-positive people to have sex with someone who is HIV-negative without disclosing their status, even if protection, like condoms, is used and even if the disease is not transmitted.

"My Fabulous Disease" blogger Mark King organized the event, which included Georgia Equality Executive Director Jeff Graham, AID Atlanta's Craig Washington, Lambda Legal's Greg Nevins, SERO Project Executive Director Sean Strub and Assistant Director Robert Suttle.

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$31,000 raised for Atlanta’s LGBT Rush Center


The Phillip Rush Center begins expansion plans Monday into an approximate 1,700 square foot space in a building located directly behind its current location in Candler Park thanks to more than $31,000 raised at a reception on Saturday.

Linda Ellis, executive director of the Health Initiative, is co-director of the Rush Center with Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality. She explained Saturday that the expansion was needed because the Rush Center has outgrown its space at 1530 DeKalb Ave. as more and more LGBT organizations, such as the Rainbow Center, which serves and advocates for LGBT Jewish people and families, seek permanent office space. The expansion is also to meet the needs of a statewide survey of LGBT residents.

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Phillip Rush Center to unveil expansion plan

Rush Center

Since the Phillip Rush Center’s inception, organizers have shied away from using the term “community center” to describe the Candler Park LGBT facility where dozens of groups meet and numerous town hall forums have been held.

Several attempts at an LGBT community center in Atlanta had failed and Linda Ellis, executive director of the Health Initiative, and Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality, administrators of the Rush Center, wanted to avoid any kind of “curse” the title may have.

But now Ellis and Graham, after conducting a strategic planning process, are embracing the term because, well, that’s what the Rush Center has become.

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LGBT groups plan local election night watch parties

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney

Local gay groups will host election watch parties tomorrow night to watch the returns in what is shaping up to be a dramatic presidential election.

Amsterdam Atlanta will host a watch party kicking off at 6 p.m. with live coverage on the bar's many video screens. Amsterdam Atlanta is located at 502-A Amsterdam Ave., Atlanta, Georgia 30306.

Georgia Equality, the state's largest LGBT advocacy organization, will host a party at the Phillip Rush Center. Radial Cafe, located next to the Rush Center, will donate a portion of every ticket to Georgia Equality tomorrow night. The party kicks off at 5:30 p.m. and is scheduled until midnight. The Rush Center is located at 1530 DeKalb Ave., Suite A, Atlanta, GA 30307.

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LGBT political group fights GOP majority in Georgia legislature

Georgia Equality's Jeff Graham

With just weeks until the Nov. 6 election, Georgia Equality has set its sights on one state Senate race and four House races as it works with other organizations to block Republicans from winning a constitutional majority — meaning the party will be able to pass whatever laws it wants under the Gold Dome.

LGBT Georgians will suffer if the GOP solidifies total control of the state legislature, Cathy Woolard, lobbyist for Georgia Equality, explained at a Sept. 24 briefing at the Phillip Rush Center.

“I can’t overstate how important it is that this [constitutional majority] not happen this time around, or the next time around. We need to not be moving toward this, we need to be moving away from this. This is too close to the edge,” Woolard said.

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Stonewall: Sylvia Rivera event focuses on transgender issues

Named after a Stonewall activist who fought for equality, the third annual Sylvia Rivera community event takes place June 30.

Details were still being finalized at press time, but the event will feature a panel discussion with local members of the transgender community, as well as socializing and food. 

Sylvia Rivera was a transgender woman and a veteran of the Stonewall uprising in 1969. “I’m not missing a minute of this, it’s the revolution,” Rivera is credited of saying about the riots, which followed police harassment at the Stonewall Inn, an New York City gay bar.

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AID Atlanta launches new website, video series aimed at gay men

AID Atlanta's Gay Men's Outreach program will unveil a new HIV/AIDS-awareness initiative called Go Atlanta tomorrow night at the Phillip Rush Center. The initiative, run by AID Atlanta's Gay Men's Outreach Coordinator Steven Igarashi, will centralize the Gay Men's Outreach program's events and offer new tools to raise awareness of the continued fight against HIV/AIDS.

“There are new initiatives,” Igarashi said today by phone. “We didn't have any kind of central website for our program.”

One of the new initiatives will be a regularly updated video section featuring local men and familiar Atlanta destinations.

“We're looking at the videos as a gay 'Sex in the City,'” Igarashi said. “We hope that men watch them and find them relate-able. Everyone in the videos are local people who donated their time to us. They're shot in locations that we think gay men will recognize like Ansley Mall and Piedmont Park.”

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MEGA Family Project faces dire financial straits

MEGA Family Project Executive Director Kathy KellyMEGA Family Project, the seven-year old nonprofit organization that caters to LGBT families and prospective parents, is in financial trouble. Kathy Kelly, the organization’s executive director, sent an email to supporters July 29 announcing the need to scale back services and work toward creating a leaner and more sustainable organization.

“We’re very low on funds and our expenses exceed what we’re bringing in,” Kelly said in an interview Aug. 2. “We’re struggling but at the same time we’ve been trying to regroup to make the organization smaller and leaner. We’re basically starting over. ”

The message emailed to MEGA supporters said the group “does not have enough money to meet its expenses.”