SOUL SIS­TERS

OUR PEO­PLE OF THE YEAR

GA Voice - - Front Page - By Dyana Bagby • dbagby@the­gavoice.com

ga­ni­za­tion and put a lot of en­ergy into that. I like be­ing part of an or­ga­ni­za­tion that helps our com­mu­nity,” he said. While be­ing named Peo­ple of the Year is a tremen­dous honor, Rap­ture, aka West­brook, said the Sis­ters do not do what they do for the pub­lic­ity.

“We don’t do this for recog­ni­tion,” he said. “We do it to try to make a dif­fer­ence in the com­mu­nity. I’ve al­ways been proud of my sis­ters be­cause they stepped up with Lost-N-Found. The Sis­ters will con­tinue to sup­port like they al­ways do but the com­mu­nity has knocked it out of the park in help­ing us.”

Rap­ture wishes all of At­lanta would re­al­ize the im­por­tance of help­ing LGBT youth.

“I’m an old queen,” he said. “Things have changed. I would never have thought of coming out when I was 13 or 14 but kids to­day are.

“Things are chang­ing. The [At­lanta City] Coun­cil passed a res­o­lu­tion in sup­port of gay mar­riage and the mayor signed it. Ev­ery time we move for­ward, it af­fects our youth. One in four youth be­come home­less the moment they tell their par­ents they are gay. We as a com­mu­nity have to re­al­ize as a whole they are our fu­ture,” he added.

‘They made me feel like fam­ily’

The Sis­ters say they do what they do for peo­ple like An­thony Chan­dler, who un­til about two weeks ago was sleep­ing in city parks. Chan­dler got Lost-N-Found’s num­ber from some­one else liv­ing on the streets and called it late one night.

West­brook an­swered and went to meet Chan­dler im­me­di­ately, brought him to the home where he was pro­cessed by an on­site so­cial worker who also lives in the home.

Chan­dler said he has been liv­ing on his own since he was 17 and moved to At­lanta ear­lier this year from Arkansas seek­ing a bet­ter life.

“I was liv­ing with my grand­fa­ther who was a preacher af­ter my mother lost cus­tody of me and my brother be­cause of drug ad­dic­tion. I con­fided in my aunt [that he was gay] and she told my grand­fa­ther, who is very re­li­gious, Pen­te­costal, and he gave me an ul­ti­ma­tum — he said he didn’t want that un­der his roof,” he said.

Chan­dler has spent most of the past eight

In our last is­sue of 2012, GA Voice names our third an­nual Per­son (or Per­sons) of the Year — an honor that goes to the LGBT per­son, group or ally we think has had the most sig­nif­i­cant ef­fect on LGBT peo­ple in Ge­or­gia over the last 12 months.

This year, we honor the At­lanta Sis­ters of Per­pet­ual In­dul­gence. The group ex­ploded into the city’s LGBT com­mu­nity only three years ago and is now a ubiq­ui­tous pres­ence both at their own and many other LGBT events, rais­ing funds and aware­ness at the same time.

We specif­i­cally chose the Sis­ters for their quick growth and success, high vis­i­bil­ity and im­por­tant work in found­ing Lost-N-Found Youth, which helps home­less LGBT youth who are not served as di­rectly by any other agency.

As im­por­tantly, we honor the grass­roots spirit of the Sis­ters, which we hope will in­spire more of us. It is easy to sit back and cri­tique the work of oth­ers, to be­moan what At­lanta doesn’t have or what other ac­tivists should do.

While there is a role for con­struc­tive crit­i­cism, it is far more im­por­tant to do as the Sis­ters: to step up to the plate your­self, even in a habit and heels, to help make our com­mu­nity stronger.

2011: Vandy Beth Glenn, who won a land­mark court rul­ing af­ter she was fired for be­ing trans­gen­der

2010: At­lanta Ea­gle At­tor­ney Dan Gross­man, who rep­re­sented plain­tiffs su­ing over the un­con­sti­tu­tional 2009 po­lice raid

— Laura Dou­glas-Brown years on the streets and ad­mit­ted drug ad­dic­tion and pros­ti­tu­tion be­came a way of life and sur­vival.

“It’s just been dif­fi­cult coming out of that place,” he said.

In 2010 he tested pos­i­tive for HIV when he ran­domly went in for a test with a friend. Through Lost-N-Found, he is now a client of Pos­i­tive Im­pact’s MIS­TER project and re­ceiv­ing treat­ment af­ter hav­ing been off his med­i­ca­tions for some time, he said.

“For the first time in sev­eral years, they made me feel like I de­serve a bet­ter life,” Chan­dler said. “In just a short amount of time so many doors and op­por­tu­ni­ties have opened up for me. They have made me feel like fam­ily. They really an­swered my cry for help.”

At­lanta’s Sis­ters of Per­pet­ual In­dul­gence have raised $50,000 for lo­cal char­i­ties and founded Lost-N-Found Youth to help home­less LGBT young peo­ple. (Photo by Bo Shell)

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