This year’s Pride festival theme is “United With Pride" / File photo

Atlanta Pride Fosters Unity with Pride Across the Peach State

On June 6, Atlanta Pride announced that this year’s festival theme will be “United With Pride,” a sentiment reflected in its newest endeavor, the Pride Across the Peach State initiative.
Last month, Atlanta Pride announced the recipients of Pride Across the Peach State, a grant initiative supporting LGBTQ organizations and events throughout Georgia. This year’s recipients include Atlanta Black Pride, Carrollton Rainbow, Compassionate Atlanta, Cultivate Savannah, Debra Smith Wellness Center and Colgay Pride, First City Pride Center, Macon Pride, Out On Film, Rome Georgia Pride, Smyrna is Fabulous, South Georgia Pride, Southern Fried Queer Pride, and Statesboro Pride.
Atlanta Pride’s support extends beyond the $50,000 shared among these organizations; according to Executive Director Chris McCain, there are plans to have representatives of the grant recipients meet to create a Pride network across Georgia in which organizers can share best practices and foster unity with one another.
“This year, we were reflecting on where our community has significant needs and where Atlanta Pride has an opportunity to really make an impact across the state of Georgia,” McCain told Georgia Voice. “We recognize the increasing hostility that our community has experienced and is continuing to experience, especially outside of the city of Atlanta, so we wanted to do something to support Pride partner organizations across the state to make sure they have the resources they need to host and sustain their events and to be able to do so in really visible ways this year.”
On May 10, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security released a public service announcement warning about Pride month events being targeted by foreign terrorist organizations, emboldened by domestic far-right antagonists like Chaya Raichik, the Libs of TikTok creator who has sparked campaigns against Planet Fitness for its trans-inclusive locker room policy — leading to bomb threats made against the chain. With this heightened risk of violence, safety concerns are even more on the forefront of Pride organizers’ minds — but with the funds and increased connectivity between Pride organizations that come with the Pride Across the Peach State initiative, smaller and more vulnerable Pride organizations are better equipped to handle safety concerns.
“I know many of our Pride partners across the state have concerns — and have for years had concerns — about safety,” McCain said. “This year, I think we all feel that those are somewhat heightened, especially with the alert that the FBI and Homeland Security issued a couple of weeks ago. We know that our Pride partners across the state are monitoring that and also have relationships with their public safety partners. We’ll be working as best they can to ensure the safety of their events.”
In the face of increased risk and rising anti-LGBTQ sentiment and legislation across the country, Pride month and safe Pride celebrations are more important than ever — especially ahead of the Presidential election in November.
“I think it’s no secret to anyone that Atlanta influences everything, and our festival is one of the largest free Pride events in the country and the largest LGBTQ gathering in the Southeast,” Steven Igarashi-Ball, the Director of Communications and Community Engagement at Atlanta Pride, told Georgia Voice. “We always talk about the fact that visibility and representation matter, but we know that that matters even more now in this election year. We know that Georgia is going to play a pivotal role in determining the future of our country.”
With less than half a year until our own Pride festival on October 12 and 13, McCain and Igarashi-Ball say that Atlantans can expect an expansion of the Family Fun Zone; a continued increased attendance of the Trans, Dyke, and Bi/Pan Pride Marches; the addition of new elements around history and legacy ahead of Atlanta Pride’s 55th anniversary; and the announcement of the entertainment lineup coming soon.
“Our community has made significant progress over the decades in securing our rights and being able to live our lives more visibly and openly, but we do see a lot of pushback against our community and attempted rollbacks of our rights,” McCain said. “We know that in order for us to stand up against attacks against our community and work towards greater progress, we need to come together in unity and promote our visibility, to make sure that people know that we matter, our lives matter, and that we won’t tolerate the intolerance that we’re seeing.”
To keep up with Atlanta Pride, visit atlantapride.org.