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Starlight Cabaret ends Pride on ‘uplifting’ note

Atlanta Pride's Starlight Cabaret

As a semi-retired member of the drag troupe the Armorettes, Tony Kearney doesn’t don his heels and wigs as frequently as he used to. However, there’s a magic to the Starlight Cabaret that closes Atlanta Pride that makes him rush to his closet to unleash his drag alter ego, Wild Cherry Sucret.

“It’s just, when you look out and there’s a sea of people, and they’re every race, and color, and age,” Kearney said of the Starlight Cabaret, which takes place at 7:05 p.m. on the Coca-Cola stage Oct. 9. “There’s a lot of different kids that come to it who never get to see Atlanta’s drag shows.

“Atlanta used to be like the hub of drag in the country, and it’s kind of different now without the big bars and the big stages,” Kearney added. “It’s an opportunity for a lot of people to shine, and a lot of people come out who normally wouldn’t see them perform.”

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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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Backpack in the Park benefit stirs nostalgia, helps needy kids

Backpack in the Park

It would be tragic if a future brilliant writer failed to find her voice because she didn’t have a pencil in her first grade language arts class, or if a gifted artist abandoned drawing because he was too embarrassed to borrow crayons from his classmates.

“When you’re sitting in the classroom and you notice that the person next to you has the big three-ring binder with everything they need, and you’re using a binder that’s about to fall apart and you’re using a pencil that’s down to the nub, I think it has a big impact on a student’s self esteem and self confidence,” says Chris Bess, president of For the Kid in All of Us.

For the sixth summer, For the Kid is helping underprivileged children throughout metro Atlanta start the school year with the confidence that comes from, say, a Lady GaGa Trapper Keeper. On July 30, the non-profit hosts “Backpack in the Park,” which last year collected almost 1,500 backpacks filled with school supplies.

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Best of Atlanta: Places

The Georgia Aquarium won two awards in the annual Best of Atlanta survey

After two months of online balloting and thousands of votes cast, we present the best of the best — our second annual GA Voice Best of Atlanta winners.

The selection process began in May, when we asked you, our readers, to nominate your favorites for dozens of awards in the categories of Community, People, Places, Eats, Shopping, Arts & Entertainment and Nightlife.

The top three finalists in each category made it through to the next round of voting. For the month of June, a multiple-choice ballot asked you to pick among the finalists for who really represents the finest in LGBT Georgia.

Thanks to everyone who voted, and congratulations to all of the worthy winners and runners up.

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Joining Hearts, Atlanta’s largest summer party, helps provide homes for people with HIV

Joining Hearts pool party fundraiser

Gay Atlanta’s biggest party of the summer looked very different during its early years.

When a group of friends gathered at the Golden Key Club in 1987 for a fundraiser for people living with AIDS, it was a black-tie affair that collected almost $10,000. The event known as Joining Hearts has become less formal over the years, with hundreds frolicking in the Piedmont Park swimming pool each July while setting fundraising records.

In 2010, Joining Hearts raised $125,000 for AID Atlanta and Jerusalem House — the largest total the event has collected in its more than two-decade history, bringing the cumulative donation total to $1,154,500. Organizers have even higher hopes for Joining Hearts 24, which takes place July 23.

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Three teens shot in apparent fight after Screen on the Green at Piedmont Park

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed

Three teen males were treated for gunshot wounds last night after an apparent fight broke out after the showing of “16 Candles” at Piedmont Park as part of the summer’s Screen on the Green.

A press release today from the Atlanta Police Department says Zone 5 officers responded to a call right before 11 p.m. of a person shot at the corner of 10th Street and Crescent Avenue. The victim, 18, had a gunshot wound to his lower left leg and was transported to Atlanta Medical Center.

A second victim, 17, showed up after 11 p.m. at Southern Regional Hospital, with a gunshot wound to his upper right leg, states the press release. Then, later, a 16-year-old male with a gunshot wound to his right leg below the knee was reported at Grady Medical Hospital.

The three victims are in stable condition and their injuries are not life threatening, according to the APD.

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Why June means Stonewall Week, not Pride, for Atlanta

June is national LGBT Pride Month — President Obama even issued a proclamation for it on June 1. So why does Atlanta celebrate Stonewall Week this month instead?
Pride festivals are traditionally held the last weekend in June to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Riots, when patrons of the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City, fought back against police harassment in what is widely seen as a turning point for gay rights.

But after being celebrated the last weekend in June in Piedmont Park for most of its history, Atlanta Pride was forced to move in 2008 when city officials booted large festivals from the parched park due to a record drought.

Held over July Fourth weekend at the Civic Center the next year, Pride attendance and finances suffered. The festival moved back to Piedmont Park for 2009, but over Halloween, to get around city policies that limited festivals in the summer season due to drought concerns.