Atlanta Stonewall Week wrapped up this weekend with numerous events to bring the community together to celebrate the anniversary of the 1969 uprising at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City, that is credited as the start of the modern day lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights movement.
On Friday, June 24, Congregation Bet Haverim and the Atlanta Pride Committee hosted the Pride Seder, similar to the Jewish traditional Seder meals held during Passover but with an obviously LGBT twist. The event included readings of key moments in Atlanta’s LGBT history as well as a commemoration of the 30th anniversary of AIDS. Congregation Bet Haverim’s chorus also entertained the crowd of more than 100 people with traditional Jewish hymns as well as a fun medley of gay favorites such as “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.”
Gay elected officials not required to seek gay groups’ support
Re: “How do we define ‘openly gay elected official’?” (editorial about Milton City Councilman Alan Tart by Laura Douglas-Brown, June 10)
"I think if somebody is led to seek office, s/he should do it regardless of orientation. If you don’t want to, then don’t. I want people in office who are led to public service. And I don’t care who they sleep with."
Just as Atlanta Pride’s Stonewall Week is set to begin this weekend, the Pride Committee announces that the official kick off party for Atlanta Pride in October will once again be held at the Georgia Aquarium.
The party is set for Friday, Oct. 7, and includes entertainment from renowned DJ Corey Craig and Jujubee, who came to fame as the quirky and fierce finalist of Season 2 of Rupaul’s Drag Race as well as a professor on Rupaul’s Drag U. Also spinning at the party will be local favorite DJay McCracken.
The party kicks off the largest Pride fest in the Southeast held Oct. 8-9 in Piedmont Park to coincide with National Coming Out Day.
“Georgia Aquarium is thrilled to host the annual Official Kickoff Party for Atlanta Pride again in 2011,” said Will Ramsey, vice president of Group Sales, in a statement.
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.
Atlanta’s LGBT Jewish community will celebrate a Pride Seder as part of Stonewall Week. The seder, set for Friday, June 24, is hosted by Congregation Bet Haverim and also sponsored by the Atlanta Pride Committee.
According to Rabbi Joshua Lesser of Congregation Bet Haverim, the Pride Seder will celebrate LGBT liberation in the same way that the Jewish faith celebrates Passover. Being Jewish, however, is not a requirement to attend the Pride Seder, Lesser said.
“We want to incorporate a Jewish community service where our allies are invited to attend. We try each year to build a bridge to the larger community,” he said.
Georgia Equality hopes that this year’s Evening for Equality will surpass all its previous efforts as the state’s largest gay advocacy organization transforms its signature fundraiser from cocktail hour to seated dinner.
Long the largest fundraiser for Georgia Equality, the event has grown in size and scope for 2011 by offering dinner and honoring a diverse group of activists from across the state, said Jeff Graham, the group’s executive director.
“It was definitely intentional to broaden the scope of the Evening for Equality so that it encompassed people not just in Atlanta, but around the state,” Graham said. “We wanted to start off by making it more regional and next year we’re going to try and make it more of a state-wide organization.”
The 21st edition of the Atlanta Pride Run is set to step off June 25 in Piedmont Park to raise money for an organization that improves the lives of HIV-positive children.
T. Jackson Keenan of Front Runners said the organization looks forward to its signature run turning 21.
“I think it’s very impressive that any event can make it so many years,” he said.
The run started as part of the Atlanta Pride celebration and even though Pride has moved to the fall, the race has remained on its traditional weekend. Oorganizers now expect up to 600 runners.
For the second annual Sylvia Rivera Stonewall Community Event, transgender organizers will hold a mini-summit on the issues that face the “T” in the “LGBT” community — issues that often get overlooked, according to James Sheffield, executive director of Atlanta Pride and a trans man.
“I still get emails and calls asking why T is part of LGB. We can’t really create a scenario at the festival in October to really dig into that. What we do in June [with Stonewall Week] lets us dig into that,” he said.
Sylvia Rivera was a transgender woman and a veteran of the Stonewall uprising in 1969.
The event is being held June 25 at 11 a.m. in the Phillip Rush Center. Specifics are still being hammered out, but plans are to create a “mini summit” of panel discussions and workshops. Presented by Juxtaposed Center for Transformation, TILTT and the Atlanta Pride Committee, it will be free, with a $5 suggested donation.
Bubba D. Licious and the girls will put on a Stonewall-themed show June 25 to raise funds for the Atlanta Pride Committee. The event is the Official Stonewall Celebration Party.
Jungle Club owner Brad Williams said the show will be, “a little campy, just cutting,” as a fun way to remember the 1969 riots around the Stonewall Inn in New York that are largely seen as the start of the modern gay rights movement.
“We really want to remember what it really is,” Williams said. “Stonewall started in June, it started in a bar… a lot of people don’t know the history and so that’s kind of the point of Bubba’s show is let people know what happened.”