The 2023 Grand Marshals for Atlanta Pride / Photo by Russell Bowen-Youngblood

Atlanta Pride 2023’s Grand Marshals

With Atlanta Pride comes a new batch of Grand Marshals, nominated by Atlanta’s LGBTQ community as notable advocates and chosen by the Atlanta Pride Committee members.

“This year’s Grand Marshals are a diverse and powerful representation of metro Atlanta’s LGBTQ community,” said APC Executive Director Chris McCain. “From politics to media, community services and entertainment, our Grand Marshals are well-deserving, and we can’t wait to watch them Show Out in this year’s parade.”

As in years past, this year’s Grand Marshals will be honored by marching during the Atlanta Pride parade, which steps off on Sunday, October 15 at noon. In preparation for the parade, meet this year’s diverse and impressive lineup of Grand Marshals making a difference in Atlanta’s LGBTQ community.

 

Danielle Bonanno

Danielle Bonanno is the founder and Co-Executive Director of Inclusive Recovery Athens, a recovery community organization based in Athens. Inclusive Recovery Athens provides the queer community with a safe and stigma-free place to recover from substance misuse and other mental health challenges. Danielle has dedicated her life to bridging the gap between the queer community and the recovery community, educating addiction professionals on how to serve LGBTQ populations in a trauma-informed and culturally affirming way.

Beyond her role at Inclusive Recovery Athens, Bonanno is also the President of Athens Pride and Queer Collective, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing equity, affirmation, diversity, and wellness for queer people through outreach, social connection, and education. Bonanno was part of a collaborative group — the likes of which included Cameron Harrelson, President Emeritus of Athens Pride; Athens Mayor Kelly Girtz; and Commissioner Mariah Parker — that advocated for the official recognition of Trans Day of Remembrance as a local holiday.

Along with now being named an Atlanta Pride 2023 Grand Marshal, Danielle has also been honored as one of the top 10 leaders under 40 in Athens-Clarke County by the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce, as well as being named one of the six LGBTQ leaders in the world to know by Georgia Voice earlier this year.

 

Aubri Escalera

Aubri Escalera is a Legislative Aide and LGBTQ Liaison for the office of out State Rep. Park Cannon. As a Mexican trans Latina, she is also the co-founder and volunteer member of Trans Power in Diversity, an emerging grassroots organization with a mission of creating an environment of healing, leadership, empowerment, and development where the trans community can learn crucial skills for their own sustainability to combat employment and financial discrimination.

She is also a member of the TGX360 Advisory Committee for OUT Georgia. TGX360, founded in 2021, is an employment and entrepreneurship initiative created by and for Georgia’s transgender and gender nonconforming communities. TGX360 advances economic equity for trans and gender nonconforming Georgians by providing full-service support, programming, and solutions to individuals on their employment and entrepreneurship journeys.

Escalera is also an advocate for asylum seekers, with a focus on improving the living conditions of transgender and gender nonconforming communities by advocating for the implementation of laws that ensure equity and fair opportunities regardless of gender identity or citizenship status. She also works extensively to protect voting rights, especially in our most marginalized communities, and promotes the importance of voting and protecting our democracy.

 

All-1-Family

All-1-Family was born from the vision of director Abeke Baker, LMFT, and other mental health professionals. While working in various inpatient and community-based settings providing comprehensive mental health services (crisis intervention, assessments and psychotherapy), Baker realized that although LGBTQ people sought mental health services, many fell short of finding a provider who was affirming of, empathetic to, and nonjudgmental of their experiences.

All-1-Family provides mental and behavioral health services to LGBTQ people — services that include coordinating mental health and community support services, couples’ counseling, group therapy, individual counseling, life skills, and family counseling, in the hopes of providing a sense of family, home, and belonging.

All-1-Family believes in providing holistic care, treating both minds and bodies, individuals and family units. They work from multiple perspectives or lenses to provide individualized and person-centered treatment. The most prominent therapeutic approaches are a trauma-informed CBT, CBT, DBT, narrative, strategic family therapy and structural family therapy. They also provide educational services, including ADHD/social skills training, school visits, safe zone training, employee sensitivity training, and more.

The organization’s mission is twofold: to provide affordable, low-cost counseling services for all LGBTQ people and their allies and to function as a bridge to connect the gap between LGBTQ folks who are interested in counseling with a professional who will affirm them.

 

Jim Farmer

Jim Farmer has served as the director of Out On Film, Atlanta’s LGBTQ film festival, for the last 15 years. He has helped lead the organization to become one of the major LGBTQ film festivals in the country, even earning the festival Oscar qualifications. Earlier this year, Out On Film was named as the top film festival in the nation by the readers of USA Today/10Best.

Farmer is also an arts journalist who has covered queer arts for Georgia Voice and its predecessor Southern Voice for the last 25 years. Last year, he won writing awards from the Association of LGBTQ Journalists and the National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards, and he was also nominated for the Online Journalist of the Year Award by the latter.

Named as the 2019 Businessman of the Year by the Out Georgia Business Alliance, Farmer has also been named to Atlanta Magazine’s Atlanta 500 Most Powerful City Leaders list in 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023. He is also an ambassador for the Out Georgia Business Alliance and was on the Atlanta Hawks LGBTQ Pride Council.

 

Sergio Mendez

Sergio Mendez is the community investment manager and member of the advocacy team for the Latino Community Fund Georgia, a nonprofit membership organization supporting Latinx/Hispanic communities in Georgia. All members are Latinx-led, Latinx-governed, and Latinx-serving community organizations that are focused on growing the community’s rights, awareness, education, and access to opportunities. LCF is dedicated to advancing people’s democracy, protecting and building community, and facilitating economic opportunity.

A first-generation college graduate of immigrant parents, Mendez is also a member of the U.S. Army, in which he works as an intelligence analyst and linguist, and he previously worked with organizations dedicated to helping fellow students and service members.

 

Voices of Note

Voices of Note, which includes the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus and Atlanta Women’s Chorus, passionately advocates for diversity, acceptance, and positive change through music.

A commitment to embracing diversity serves as the cornerstone of its mission. Voices of Note creates a safe and inclusive haven where LGBTQ individuals and allies can unite in their shared love for music. The two choruses magnificently showcase the broad spectrum of LGBTQ identities, fostering a vibrant tapestry that reflects the community’s richness and diversity.

Their choral performances wield profound symbolism, standing as powerful tributes to identity, unity, and resilience. Through their performances, they inspire audiences to embrace their uniqueness and celebrate differences, instilling a sense of pride and self-acceptance.

Voices of Note has several upcoming performances this year, including a Halloween show on October 27 and 28, the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus 43rd Annual Holiday Show on December 1 and 2, and Holiday Memories, a show featuring favorites from previous holiday shows, on December 16. Next year, you can expect Sugar and Spice, a show embracing everything from fairy-tale princesses to Broadway villains, on March 23; and Phoenix Rising, a show exploring what it means to call Atlanta home, on June 1.

In the future, Voices of Note plans to continue sharing diverse perspectives, inspiring audiences, and using its platform to champion acceptance and equality.

 

Jon Santos

Jon Santos is part native Hawaiian, born and raised on Oahu, Hawaii, and has been in HIV/AIDS fundraising and events in Atlanta for 26 years, 17 of which have been spent at AID Atlanta, the Southeast’s oldest and one of the largest and most comprehensive AIDS service organizations.

While with the organization, Santos has produced seven AIDS Walk Atlanta campaigns and successfully transitioned from producer to beneficiary. He currently serves as Director of Fundraising and Events.

In addition to AID Atlanta, Santos worked at The NAMES Project Foundation AIDS Memorial Quilt, Atlanta Interfaith AIDS Network, and Jerusalem House. He has been active with Joining Hearts for more than 20 years, starting as a volunteer in the bag check room and rising to board president, and patron and advisory counsel. Santos has also volunteered with AV200, the Toy Party, Front Runners, Atlanta Pride Run, among others by providing fundraising and development advice, training, and special event counsel.

 

Jennifer Slipakoff

Jen Slipakoff came into her advocacy work when her daughter transitioned at the age of four.

“I would do anything to protect [my daughter Allie] and give her the brightest future possible,” Slipakoff said in a blog post for Georgia Unites Against Discrimination. “I also know she’ll face many challenges in the years ahead, and I worry about how the heated rhetoric in this ongoing debate over transgender equality will impact her.”

In her quest to advocate for Allie and others like her, Slipakoff is a member of the Human Rights Campaign National Board of Governors and recently served as co-chair for HRC’s Atlanta Steering committee. She currently leads HRC’s volunteers in political action work in Georgia.

In addition to her involvement with HRC, Slipakoff served as the co-president for the PFLAG metro Atlanta chapter and has been recognized by several advocacy organizations for her work creating positive change in Georgia. In 2018, Jen was the Democratic nominee in the race for state representative for Georgia’s 36th House District and was the only Democrat to run in that district for more than 30 years.

When not working as a political consultant, Slipakoff spends her time speaking both locally and around the country about the importance and value of the LGBTQ community.

 

Georgia Voice

We at the Georgia Voice are honored to be a 2023 Atlanta Pride Grand Marshal.

We are the premier media outlet for the LGBTQ community in Atlanta and the Southeast. Georgia Voice has proven to be indispensable to our readers since our launch in March 2010, following our predecessor Southern Voice. In addition to two print issues a month that span a myriad of themes like travel, arts, mental health, sports, politics, and more, we also produce “Destination: Gay Atlanta,” the city’s official LGBTQ travel guide, in partnership with the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau. Georgia Voice is a sponsor of many LGBTQ events in the city, including Atlanta Pride and Out On Film. In our 13-year history, we have produced 300 issues and over three million pages.

Georgia Voice currently consists of Tim Boyd as principal/publisher, Rob Boeger as art director, Katie Burkholder as editor, Dixon Taylor, Jim Brams, and Russell Bowen Youngblood in sales, and a talented team of regular contributors: Cliff Bostock, Jim Farmer, Melissa Carter, Ryan Lee, Maria Helena Dolan, Divine Ikpe, Sukainah Abid-Kons, Luke Gardner, Adalei Stevens, Mars Stone, and Hunter Buchheit.

We are passionate about serving the LGBTQ community and celebrating the diversity of our many stories, and we are grateful to the community for its unwavering support.

 

Toni-Michelle Williams

Toni-Michelle Williams is an auto-theorist, performance artist, embodied leadership/somatics coach, and executive director of Solutions Not Punishment Collaborative, which was named Georgia Voice’s 2022 Organization of the Year.

With a mission statement of “fighting for everybody in Atlanta — even when they don’t fight for us,” SnapCo. is a Black trans-led organization building safety within Black queer communities. The organization was founded in 2013 in response to an ordinance that the City of Atlanta was considering that would ban sex work in the city. Recognizing that this ordinance would disproportionately impact Black trans Atlantans, Williams and other founding members decided to create a community initiative to help support and protect that community.

Grounded in humor and joy, Williams is a celebrated community organizer in prison abolition/ criminal justice reform issues and leadership development for Black transgender, LGBTQ people, sex workers, people living with HIV, and Black youth.

“My offering has truly been around developing leaders in Atlanta,” she told Georgia Voice in 2020. “Black, trans, queer folk, young folk, sex workers — really creating opportunities for them to practice being in their bodies, being ‘leaderful,’ and offering opportunities for them to do that.”

Williams has co-led citywide campaigns that have incubated the Atlanta Pre-Arrest Diversion Initiative, cannabis reform, sex worker protections, closing down the Atlanta City Detention Center, and police accountability for the families of Alexia Christian, DeAundre Phillips, TeeTee Dangerfield, and Rayshard Brooks.

“For me, being chosen as a Grand Marshal is more than an honor; it’s a reminder of the power of resilience and unity,” Williams said of the honor. “Atlanta Pride represents our unwavering commitment to creating a safer, more inclusive Atlanta. Together, we’re turning dreams into realities, showing up and showing out one fabulous step at a time.”