LOCAL PROFILE: The LGBT Community in Atlanta | Arts & Culture
ATLANTA -- According to The Advocate, the U.S. based national gay and lesbian newsmagazine, Atlanta holds the title of “America’s gayest city” and Gay Atlanta, a subsidiary of the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau says that Atlanta is the “epicenter of the LGBT South” but according to Phillip Rafshoon of Outwrite Bookstore, Atlanta is just a “progressive city in a conservative state, that’s in a conservative region of the United States. The city serves as a place where people from small, southern towns can come to be who they want to be” which is why the LGBT community loves to call this city, home.
In the nook that is Tenth Street and Piedmont Road, Outwrite Bookstore has been a staple in the Atlanta LGBT community for about 18 years. According to Rafshoon, the bookstore was the catalyst that revitalized the Midtown neighborhood and brought a different aspect of life to the city.
Atlanta has been widely revered as a “gay friendly” city since the first Gay Pride Parade in 1971. It later became the first city in Georgia to approve domestic partner benefits for city employees and the first city to elect an openly gay city council official.
The “Empire City of the South” is home to a number of gay communities; among the most popular are the Ansley Mall/Cheshire Bridge neighborhood, Buckhead/West Midtown, Downtown Decatur, Downtown, East Atlanta and the popular, Midtown community. Midtown serves as a hub for the LGBT community in Atlanta because of the abundance of gay and lesbian owned businesses in the area.
Although there are a concentration of gay businesses in the Midtown area, there are ,also, a number of notable gay and lesbian owned businesses around the city. Members of the LGBT community are loyal patrons to many of those establishments around town. However, according to Rafshoon, “the LGBT community has be experiencing a hard time, recently” with the downturn of the economy.
Rafshoon explains plans to roll out a newly formed alliance of LGBT business owners around the city called The GREAT Association. The GREAT (Gay Retail Entertainment and Tourism) Association will be similar to a convention and visitors bureau, however, it will cater to the LGBT community and LGBT owned and operated businesses in Altnata.
Even though the community is cohesive they still actually see a number of injustices. Rafshoon thinks the city needs to support the different LGBT communities by extending bar hours and expanding parking availability in neighborhoods.
Check out Atlanta’s Annual LGBT Celebrations:
Mondo Home, a festival committed to promoting indie energy among Atlanta’s LGBT residents and this year it’ll be held from May 25-30. For more information, visit them online.
Joining Hearts is an annual pool party that raises money for HIV/AIDS services. All proceeds from the Joining Hearts party are donated to this cause. To learn more about the event, visit them online.
Black Gay Pride is one of the largest events in Atlanta. Black members of the LGBT community gather in Atlanta for Labor Day weekend for a weekend for a parties and events. For more information visit their website.
The Southern Comfort Conference was founded in 1991 and is one of the most diverse transgender gatherings in the country. Learn more about it online.
The Atlanta Pride festival is one of the largest LGBT gatherings in the United States. Atlanta Pride draws thousands to Piedmont Park marketplace and parade down Peachtree Street. This year, the festival will be held from October 8-9. Visit the festival on their website online.
Atlanta AIDS Walk is held annually during the month of October. The AIDS Walk Atlanta is a gathering place for thousands of LGBT community members to remember people who have died of the epidemic and to denounce it. For more information visit them online.