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Our top 25 photos of the year

In 2011, we uploaded more than 5,500 photos from dozens of parades, festivals, protests, press conferences and nightlife events. Here's our picks for the best photos of the year.

Players of the Knoxville Woodpeckers softball team put their cleats in with an empty cleat to honor a deceased teammate at the Big Peach Softball tournament hosted by the Hotlanta Softball League. (Photo by Dyana Bagby)

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2011 Atlanta Pride may be largest ever

2011 Atlanta Pride festival

As thousands packed Piedmont Park Oct. 9 for the second day of the Atlanta Pride Festival, Ashley Phillips and her partner, Lauren Phillips, relaxed with their two young daughters at a table in the “food court” section of the park.

The women, both age 28 and together for 10 years, have traveled from Hapeville, Ga., to the fest for the past six years.

“We enjoy being among others who accept how our family is,” said Ashley Phillips.

For their daughters, Zaria, 11, and Kieia, 6, Sunday’s parade was incredible fun. Asked a series of questions about what they liked about the parade — the floats, the flags, the people — the girls answered with a shy “yes” to each. Zaria, however, knew there was definitely one thing that stood out over everything else.

“All the candy,” she said, smiling and biting down on a red, chewy piece of her bounty.

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Atlanta Pride in photos

The 2011 Atlanta Pride festival drew thousands to Atlanta's Piedmont Oct. 8 - 9 celebrating Pride and GA Voice photographers were on the scene. Community, nightlife, and entertainment events provided highlights for the three-day Pride festival.

Editor's note: Additional galleries are forthcoming. Check back to see photos from the Starlight Cabaret, the Atlanta Pride parade and more.

Heaven Pride Party with DJ Vicki Powell

Heaven Party with DJ Vicki Powell

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First fall Athens Pride deemed ‘incredible’

2011 Athens Pride festival in downtown Athens

Over the course of several days last week, hundreds of Athens, Ga., residents turned out for the first Athens Pride to take place in the fall.

“It was always just the picnic before, and I always felt — even though they were nice and you got to mingle — we were still hidden,” said Mike Chadwick, chair of Athens Pride this year. “By doing the events downtown I think we got a lot more participation. I was thrilled at the group there on Friday night at Dragaoke.”

The first annual Athens Pride Weekend spanned Sept. 22-25. In addition to the annual picnic, this year the Pride celebration also included a silent auction to benefit the Georgia Safe Schools Coalition, Dragaoke, a dance, a “Celebration of Commitment” ceremony and other activities.

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Black Gay Pride attracts tens of thousands to Atlanta

Black Gay Pride in Atlanta

Tens of thousands of people thronged Atlanta to celebrate Black Gay Pride, considered the largest event of its kind in the U.S. From educational seminars to free HIV testing to massive parties, the Labor Day weekend event continues to offer something for everyone.

This year also marked the 15th anniversary of In the Life Atlanta, a non-profit organization that was founded to organize educational and cultural Black Gay Pride events to complement the many nightlife and social offerings.

Club promoters and ITLA now work together to put on many events, including the State of Black Gay America Summit begun five years ago by community advocate Darlene Hudson and Gregory Allen, president and CEO of Xtreme Entertainment Inc.

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Savannah Pride nears record attendance

Attendees at this year's Savannah Pride festival

Organizers estimate more than 4,000 revelers turned out for the 12th annual Savannah Pride festival on Saturday, even though this year marked the first time the festival charged attendees a $5 admission fee for those 16 and older.

Though the numbers are not yet finalized, Savannah Pride Executive Director Heather Byars said that this year is competing for record attendance with 2006 – the year that drew thousands to see performer Kimberly Locke.

“Pride has financially struggled over the past couple of years with the impact of the economy affecting many of our corporate sponsorship opportunities and community support at large,” Byars said. “To see the number of people inside the park, and the line wrapped around the park sidewalk of those paying their way in … I knew we were going to pull off this year in a positive way.”

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‘Best year yet’ for Backpack in the Park; donations up 28 percent

2011 Backpack in the Park

This year's Backpack in the Park fundraiser was the “best year yet” and collected 1,826 backpacks for underprivileged school children, organizers announced today. Backpack in the Park was held on July 30 in Piedmont Park.

“This was by far our best year yet for Backpack in the Park,” said Chris Bess, president of For the Kid in All of Us, in a media release.

Donated backpacks increased 28 percent over 2010, the group noted.

“In addition to the backpacks — some 400 more than were donated last year! - we also collected $1,200 in gift cards,” Bess said. “It is so wonderful to see the smile on the kids’ faces when you hand them one of the backpacks. Now they are ready for their first day of school with all the tools they need to be successful! That’s what Backpack in the Park is all about.”

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Sapphire and ‘The Kid’ visit Atlanta

Sapphire reads from

Sapphire, author of "Push," read from her new novel, "The Kid," at St. Mark United Methodist Church on July 26, 2011. The novel, written 15 years after "Push," which was made into the Academy-award winning film "Precious," picks up on the day of Precious Jones' funeral.

Sapphire explained that "The Kid" is not a sequel to "Precious" in the traditional sense by continuing to follow the life of Precious Jones, but it is a sequel in that it continues to explore the "socioeconomic and cultural addictions that created the life and of, course the death, of Precious Jones."

This journey is told through the eyes of Precious Jones' son, Abdul, and "The Kid" opens on the day of his mother's funeral.

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[Photos] Mondo Homo highlights

Mondo Homo

Sissy Bounce queen Katey Red knocks Friday's Mondo Musico out of the park

It was Mondo Musico Friday night as part of Mondo Homo's great music lineup over the weekend for its 5th annual alternative queer arts fest held in East Atlanta.

The Friday night action began with punk-rock group 8 Inch Betsy getting the crowd warmed up with their grrrrl rock sound, followed by hip hop music MC UNECC, and then Skate Night.