Chick-fil-a outrage, changes for Atlanta’s Prides among top stories
The two Democratic incumbents faced off in the primary after Republican redistricting drew them into the same district. Bell then beat Republican challenger Earl Cooper in November.
Gay male candidates were less successful. The only openly gay man in the state House, Rep. Rashad Taylor, came out as gay last year while serving in the General Assembly. Taylor lost his reelection bid in House District 57 to Rep. Pat Gardner, a Democratic incumbent with a history of supporting LGBT rights — another victim of GOP redistricting.
Longtime gay political advocate Ken Britt hoped to be the first openly gay man elected to the state House, but fell short in the July primary in his bid to represent Atlanta’s House District 56.
Three other openly gay hopefuls ― state House District 101 candidate Tim Swiney in Gwinnett County, state House District 59 candidate William Phelps and Senate District 47 candidate Tim Riley in Athens ― were also unsuccessful in 2012.
But in another potentially historic race, attorney Jane Morrison proved successful in her bid for a seat on the Fulton County State Court, making her one of the first openly gay judges in Georgia and the Southeast. interview in February 2013.
As YouthPride seemed to be destructing at a rapid pace, several LGBT youth and former members of YouthPride decided it was time to form a youth-led organization as an option and started JustUs ATL. The organization is entirely youth-led and began by holding a town hall meeting on March 31 and shortly afterward became an official nonprofit.
The group holds regular discussion groups at Positive Impact and raised enough funds to have a booth in this year’s Atlanta Pride fest. candidate turned conservative commentator, responded with “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” Aug. 1. LGBT people then held their own national counter-protests, ranging from kiss-ins at Chick-fil-A restaurants (Aug. 3) to a day of support for Starbucks and other gay-friendly corporations (Aug. 7), and even a day dedicating to backing locally owned “gay-loving” businesses instead (Aug. 8).
Students at Atlanta’s Emory University also protested Chick-fil-A’s presence in a campus food court. In late August, members of Emory’s LGBT alumni group GALA sent letters opposing the relationship and students began posting flyers in protest.
In October, leaders from seven student LGBT groups sent a letter to Emory administrators decrying the ongoing presence of Chick-fil-A, and in December, the full Student Government Association voted to denounce the chain as a campus vendor.
University officials, however, have not taken any public steps to end the relationship.
Georgia’s two largest Pride festivals cited big changes in 2012 as each drew tens of thousands of happy (and gay!) revelers.
Atlanta Pride saw a change in leadership as James Sheffield stepped down in February for a new role with the Health Initiative, which works on LGBT wellness issues. The Pride board appointed Buck Cooke, a longtime Pride volunteer and former co-chair of the entertainment committee, as interim executive director.
October’s festival drew rave reviews from the Pride board, which pronounced it one of the largest ever as crowds packed Piedmont Park for headliners including Amy Ray, Andy Bell of Erasure and Rita Ora. In November, the Pride board surprised exactly no one by announcing — after accepting resumes for two weeks — it had hired Cooke as the permanent executive director.
Atlanta’s Black Gay Pride, billed as the largest such celebration in the world, drew its usual throngs over Labor Day Weekend, but with a new event to bring everyone together on Sunday in Piedmont Park.
Sponsored by Traxx Girls and the Vision Community Foundation, the festival drew thousands who enjoyed vendors and free live entertainment, including gospel singing, a hair competition, a J-Sette competition, headliner KeKe Wyatt and more.
AID Atlanta, the Southeast’s oldest and largest HIV organization, turned 30 this year, while also undergoing a shift in top leadership.
Tracy Elliott resigned as executive director of AID Atlanta in June after serving five years at the helm. At the time, the board announced Elliot’s position would be filled by the AID Atlanta leadership team until a new executive director was hired.
Shortly after Elliot’s resignation, however, Jon Santos, the development director and a member of that leadership team, also resigned to take a position with Jerusalem House.
At the end of November, AID Atlanta announced it had hired lesbian politico Cathy Woolard as interim executive director.
Woolard became Georgia’s first openly gay elected official when she won the District 6 seat on the Atlanta City Council in 1997; four years later, she was elected as the first woman and first openly gay person to serve as City Council president. She ran for Congress in 2004, losing to Cynthia McKinney.
Her nonprofit experience includes work with HRC, lobbying for Georgia Equality and serving as Executive Vice President for Global Advocacy and External Relations for CARE.
In one of GA Voice’s photos of the year, two men kiss in front of the Chick-fil-A at Piedmont Road and Sidney Marcus Blvd. at an LGBT-organized kiss-in. See other top photos on Page 15. (Photo by Dyana Bagby)