We’ve heard it said that these awards are “a popularity contest.” That is most definitely and intentionally true. There is one criteria — and only one criteria — for our Best of Atlanta awards: your votes.

In May, during our first round of voting, you told us on a “fill in the blank” ballot your favorites for awards in categories of Community, People, Places, Pets, Eats, Arts & Entertainment, Shopping & Services, and Nightlife. The top-three vote-getters were named finalists and moved on to the second stage of multiple-choice voting, which lasted through June 25.

Some individuals, organizations and companies let readers decide their fate unprompted, while others mounted organized campaigns — especially through Facebook — to garner votes. We think both approaches are valid, and the fact that a business or group has fans who are devoted enough to vote every day is a great reason to check them out.

If you’re thrilled to see a place or person you love among the winners, be sure to congratulate them. And if you’re sad your favorite choice didn’t make the top three, plan to vote early and often, as they say, next year.

Either way, plan to join us from 6:30-10 p.m. on Friday, July 6, for our annual Best of Atlanta party — a free gathering at Altitude at the W Midtown featuring DJs Vicki Powell and Mike Pope, food and cocktails, and Emcee Melissa Carter presenting our awards at 9 p.m.

Congratulations to all of our winners, and thank you to our entire community for making LGBT Atlanta such a great place to live, work, party and play.

Click the icons below to view this year’s winners:

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