OUR PEOPLE OF THE YEAR
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)