For the first time in two years, Atlanta Pride is back in person from October 7 through 9. This means the return of the festival, vendor market, live music and entertainment, and of course, the Atlanta Pride Parade.
As in years past, Grand Marshals nominated by Atlanta’s LGBTQ community and chosen by Atlanta Pride Committee (APC) members will be honored during the parade, which steps off on Sunday, October 9 at noon. Seven Grand Marshals were announced last year, but because there was no in-person celebration, they will march in the parade this year. This year, a surprise Honorary Grand Marshal was also added to the line-up.
So, if you need a refresher on who this year’s (and also last’s) Grand Marshals are, look no further. Meet the eight people and organizations that are making a difference in Atlanta’s LGBTQ community.
Bostock is a name easily recognized not only in Georgia, but across the country. That’s because he garnered national attention when he sued Clayton County for discrimination — and won, changing the course of LGBTQ U.S. history.
In 2013, Bostock was fired from his job overseeing the Court Appointed Special Advocates Program in Clayton County after his supervisor learned he had joined the Hotlanta Softball League, a gay recreational softball organization. The stated reason for termination: conduct unbecoming a Clayton County Employee. As he has stated from the beginning, “no one should go to work fearful of losing their job because of who they are, who they love, or how they identify.”
The lawsuit was filed in 2016, and two years later Bostock petitioned the Supreme Court to hear his case after lower courts ruled against him.
In a 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court decided that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bans employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, thus setting the precedent for LGBTQ discrimination protections in federal law.
“When somebody was finally able to put up the first page and only part of that, and I saw the very first few words, I pretty much went into shock,” Bostock told the Washington Blade during a telephone interview after the decision, referring to the part of the ruling he read on SCOTUSblog shortly after its release. “I was like, ‘Oh my Gosh, we did it.”
Valeria Cantos Lucio
Cantos is an Assistant Professor at the Division of Infectious Diseases at Emory University and an attending physician at Grady Memorial Hospital, Emory University Hospital, and the Grady Infectious Disease Clinic.
Originally from Ecuador, where she completed medical school, Cantos moved to Atlanta for her Internal Medicine residency and Infectious Diseases Fellowship at Emory. Now, her research focuses on HIV prevention in ethnic minorities, with a special focus on the Latino community. She is interested in developing and implementing innovative and culturally responsive strategies to deliver HIV prevention services and overcome systemic barriers to health care access.
She also prioritizes optimizing representation of the Latino population in medical research. This year, she was one of the authors of a study exploring a framework for inspiring confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine among African American and Latino communities.
Claiborne is bringing transgender inclusion to the workplace as the co-founder of Transformation Journeys Worldwide, an inclusion training and consulting firm with a trans focus. She helps organizations transform their environments into fully trans-, gender nonconforming-, and nonbinary-inclusive cultures. The firm was recognized as the Out Georgia Business Alliance’s (OGBA) 2018 Small Business of the Year.
Claiborne is a multihyphenate business leader and LGBTQ activist. She serves as Co-Chair of the National LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce’s Transgender and Gender Expansive Initiative, Co-Chair of the Trans Affairs Committee on the City of Atlanta’s LGBTQ Mayoral Advisory Council, Inclusion chair and Board Secretary of the OGBA, Chair of the OGBA’s TGNC360 Workplace Initiative, and Advisory Board Member of Out Front Theatre Group. She is also a TEDx speaker and published author.
Paul Conroy and Out Front Theatre Company
Everyone familiar with Atlanta’s LGBTQ arts scene knows Out Front Theatre. Since its inception in 2016, the theater has existed to tell LGBTQ stories and serve artistic excellence to the LGBTQ communities of Atlanta and beyond. They produce outstanding theatrical experiences focusing on LGBTQ voices.
Conroy is the founder and producing artistic director of Out Front Theatre. He is also a member of the Mayor’s LGBTQ Advisory Board.
Policing Alternatives and Diversion Initiative
PAD was created from the work and vision of Atlantans who were directly impacted by policing and incarceration in order to take a new approach to community safety and wellness. PAD employs a twofold strategy to divert individuals away from the criminal justice system: diversion for individuals who have been detained by law enforcement and are otherwise subject to arrest; and ATL311 Community Referrals for individuals who have been referred by community members through the City of Atlanta 311 nonemergency services line.
On September 20, 2022, a surprise addition was made to this year’s Grand Marshals: Elaine Hendrix. You may recognize Hendrix from her many iconic roles, including Meredith Blake in “The Parent Trap” and Alexis Carrington in the current reboot of “Dynasty.” She is a longtime ally and advocate for the LGBTQ community and was honored by the Human Rights Campaign with their 2022 Ally for Equality Award for her work with PFLAG, the National Center for Human and Civil Rights, ACLU, Gay Straight Alliance, OutFest, the Trevor Project, and Northwest Arkansas’ Equality Crew.
Montgomery is an icon on and off the court. She graduated from UConn as a two-time All-American in 2009 and played on the undefeated team that went on to win a national championship that year. She was drafted fourth in the WNBA and won two WNBA championships while also being named an All-Star and sixth Woman of the Year in her 11-year professional career.
She retired in 2021 and is now part owner and vice president of the WNBA Atlanta Dream, making it both the only WNBA team with a former player co-owner and majority LGBTQ-owned (Suzanne Abair, one of the other two owners, is also LGBTQ). The team was owned by the anti-LGBTQ former U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler before the WNBA and the NBA board of governors unanimously approved the sale last year.
Montgomery also serves as a sports analyst for NBA/ESPN and hosts her own weekly podcast, “Montgomery & Co.”
Wunsch is a 20-year-old student at Georgia State University studying public policy with a concentration in public management and governance, a minor in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and a certificate in social action. She was named as a Grand Marshal for her activism and community organizing. She organized for Stacey Abrams’ gubernatorial campaign and works with organizations such as March for Our Lives.
Earlier this year, Wunsch traveled to D.C. to lobby with March for Our Lives for universal background checks and the Protecting Our Kids Act, which made changes to federal firearms laws to establish new criminal offenses and expand the types of weapons and devices that are subject to regulation.