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Georgia elected officials come out

Newly out Georgia politicians

Alan Tart came out as gay to his wife in 2000, when his daughter was not yet two years old. The two were promptly divorced. Shortly after Thanksgiving that year, he met David while having a drink at Blake’s in Midtown. The two have been together ever since and are raising Tart’s daughter, now 13.

The couple doesn’t live in Midtown. They live in Milton, the city in northern Fulton County that was incorporated in 2006. Since 2007, Tart has served as a Milton County City Council member. And, he says, he’s never hidden the fact he is gay.

“I have been out. My friends know I’m gay, my work knows I’m gay, my neighborhood knows I’m gay,” Tart said in an interview with the GA Voice.

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How do we define ‘openly gay elected official’?

If a gay politician comes out but many gay leaders never hear about it, is he really out?

In the last two weeks, Georgia’s gay political landscape got its own version of that oft-quoted question: If a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, does it make a sound?

Within days, our state’s short list of known openly gay elected officials jumped by two. Any way you look at it, that’s progress.

But the ensuing reaction raised interesting questions about what it means to be “out,” especially in metro Atlanta in 2011, where gay people are more mainstream than ever, but many still fear discrimination both within their families and the community at large.

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[Updated] Ga. state Rep. Rashad Taylor: ‘I am a gay man’

Georgia State Rep. Rashad Taylor (D-Atlanta) came out today as a gay man at a press conference after the ex-boyfriend of his current partner sent out emails to legislators alleging he is gay and also accusing him of misusing his office.

"I am a gay man," Taylor said at the press conference held today at Georgia Equality's office at the Phillip Rush Center.

Taylor becomes the first openly gay male serving in the Georgia legislature and the third openly gay state lawmaker. State Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates) and State Rep. Simone Bell (D-Atlanta) are also openly gay and ran as openly gay when seeking office.

According to the national Victory Fund which works to elect openly gay officials, Taylor is only the sixth openly black LGBT person to serve in a state legislature. State Rep. Bell was the first black lesbian elected to a state legislature in 2009.