Chick-fil-a out­rage, changes for At­lanta’s Prides among top sto­ries

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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)

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