Georgia Cities Gear Up for Gay Pride Celebrations
Georgia LGBTs have a lot to look forward to this month as five cities prepare to celebrate LGBT Pride with events from small picnics to huge festivals.
On Oct. 12-13, Piedmont Park is the spot for Atlanta Pride, which features a parade, marketplace and two stages chock full of entertainment.
"I am excited for the variety these artists will bring to our festival. We have acts ranging from country to dance, hip-hop to rock, and everything in between," said Atlanta Pride Committee Executive Director Buck Cooke. "In addition to the different types of music, I am thrilled about the artists themselves. We have some old favorites, some up-and-coming talent, and some Atlanta natives to shine onstage."
Among Saturday's performers are Brian Sharp, Ricky Simone, Kick the Robot, Monica Mason, and SJ Ree de la Vega. Taylor Dayne is the featured performer on Saturday's Coca-Cola Stage. Sunday sizzles with Unbreakable Bloodline and Neil Cribbs, Aiden, Sonia Leigh and Starlight Cabaret.
For information about Atlanta Pride, please visit: www.atlantapride.org.
In addition to Atlanta, four smaller cities in Georgia will bring their communities together with local LGBT Pride celebrations.
"It gets everybody involved in their local community," Raynae Jones, executive director of South Georgia Pride, told the Georgia Voice. The event, which will be held on Sept. 21 in Valdosta, "lets families see other families like them. It's good for those kids to see other families like their own. People might not think we're here, but we are. It's great to have that one day of visibility."
Local LGBT organizations agree, feeling that smaller Pride events throughout the state help bolster the visibility of the LGBT community.
"Being present in these celebrations is not only helpful to our mission as a statewide organization, it also keeps us connected with the LGBT community in Georgia at large," Elliot told the Georgia Voice. "You get a different, more realistic perspective of the movement by going outside of Atlanta and working with people and advocates where they are in their communities."
The third annual Athens Pride Weekend runs through Sept. 15, and includes a Friday Happy Hour at World Famous, and Dragaoke at Max. On Saturday, LGBT youth will gather for an event and lesbian and bisexual women will hold a meet-and-greet and artist showcase.
On Sunday, LGBTs should head to Lay Park for an afternoon community fair, commitment ceremony and cookout. The weekend ends with the annual tradition, the Athens Showgirl Cabaret Closing Drag Show.
Also held this weekend are Savannah Pride events, held at the historic Forsyth Park. LGBT-supportive Mayor Edna Jackson kicks off the afternoon with a welcome speech and entertainers include Atlanta musician Dylan Michael, the Dale Worley Band, Kristina Foxx and the Club One Cabaret.
"With over 10 years of celebration, awareness, and unity, Savannah Pride’s mission of unity through diversity, and social awareness has helped promote the well-being of the LGBT community in the South," leaders stated on the festival website.
The official after party will be at Club One Saturday evening while the weekend wraps up Sunday with an afternoon Tea Dance at Marlin Monroe’s.
South Georgia Pride
On the weekend of Sept. 21, Valdosta will host their fourth annual South Georgia Pride. Attendance has doubled each year since the event’s inception. This year, organizers are hoping for more than 2,000 attendees.
"We have a billboard and we’re running advertisements," Jones said. "Hopefully word gets out."
Last year’s festival drew an estimated 1,200 attendees, but the event contained some controversy when Mayor John Gayle refused to sign a proclamation recognizing the day, citing religious convictions. The festival went on as planned in the city’s John W. Saunders Park.
This year’s entertainers include Drag King Spikey Van Dykey, "RuPaul’s Drag Race" contestant Stacy Layne Matthews, all-girl band She-N-She, singer-songwriter Kym Berry, The Ladies of Glo, The Sudden Impact Cloggers and others.
The festival theme is "Pride Without Limits" and is meant to celebrate recent progress made in the LGBT rights struggle. In addition to an expanded children’s area, the afternoon will also feature a bevy of guest speakers.
Chattahoochee Valley Pride
Georgia’s string of September Pride festivities wraps up on Sept. 28, when Chattahoochee Valley Pride returns to Columbus. Formerly known as Columbus Pride, the annual Chattahoochee Valley Pride festival underwent a name change in 2006 to better reflect the local LGBT community, according to event organizers.
This year’s festival again takes place Sept. 28 at Columbus’ Flat Rock Park, with the goal of empowering the LGBT community as a whole. A schedule of events has not yet been released.
"To look beyond race or culture and provide the tools needed to elevate the ’LBGT’ community to a ’socially’ accepted status, a status that will encourage ’society’ as a whole to look beyond our ’sexual orientation’ and view us as we should be as ’human beings’ first and foremost," reads their website.