Gay former Sal­va­tion Army exec brings ‘whole self’ to AID At­lanta.

GA Voice - - News - By Dyana Bagby dbagby@the­gavoice.com

Joey Helton un­der­stands why peo­ple would ques­tion how he, as a gay man with a boyfriend, worked for seven years for the Sal­va­tion Army, rais­ing more than $10 mil­lion for the re­li­gious non­profit ac­cused of dis­crim­i­nat­ing against gay peo­ple.

Helton joined AID At­lanta, the South­east’s largest HIV agency, as devel­op­ment di­rec­tor last month. In an in­ter­view with GA Voice, Helton said he is ready to bring his “whole self” to an or­ga­ni­za­tion he be­lieves in and he hopes oth­ers will not fo­cus on his last job with the Sal­va­tion Army.

“I can bring my part­ner with me to events. I never dis­cussed my per­sonal life and es­pe­cially be­ing in a gay re­la­tion­ship with a man while at the Sal­va­tion Army,” he told the GA Voice. “And I knew it was time to make a change.”

While work­ing at the Sal­va­tion Army in Ge­or­gia, Helton said he par­tic­i­pated in sev­eral AIDS Walk At­lanta events and also made do­na­tions to AID At­lanta.

But Helton said he never talked about his per­sonal life while he worked with the Sal­va­tion Army. He said it was like liv­ing in two sep­a­rate worlds ― the pro­fes­sional and then the pri­vate. Now, at AID At­lanta, he said he can com­bine both.

“Now I can think of those in need while

U.S. Sen. Saxby Cham­b­liss (R-Ga.) an­nounced his in­ten­tion to re­tire at the end of his cur­rent term in 2014.

Cham­b­liss has not been a friend to the LGBT com­mu­nity dur­ing his time in Washington. He voted against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” re­peal, the Matthew Shep­ard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Preven­tion Act and is a sup­porter of the De­fense of Mar­riage Act.

GAPun­dit.com con­ducted a re­cent tele­phone poll of more than 1,000 Ge­or­gia vot­ers to gauge who might have the best chance to re­place Cham­b­liss. The poll found former Ga. Gov. Sonny Per­due lead­ing the pack of po­ten­tial can­di­dates with 22.4 per­cent sup­port among likely vot­ers. Per­due said Jan. 29 he doesn’t plan to run.

Per­due served as gov­er­nor dur­ing the suc­cess­ful 2004 bat­tle to pass a con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment in Ge­or­gia to ban same-sex mar­riage.

Former Sec­re­tary of State and gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­date Karen Han­del, the sec­ond place fin­isher in the sur­vey with 15 per­cent, has been even more out­spo­ken against gay equal­ity, in­clud­ing mar­riage and adop­tion rights.

The rest of the field iden­ti­fied by GAPun­dit. com in­cludes U.S. Reps. Paul Broun (10.3 per­cent), Tom Price (9.7 per­cent), Lynn Westmo- work­ing for AID At­lanta. Those who don’t have ac­cess to health in­surance. I mean, thank good­ness we have AID At­lanta be­cause I be­lieve ev­ery life de­serves hope,” he said. re­land (8.4 per­cent), Tom Graves (R-Ga.) (6.3 per­cent) and Ge­or­gia Sec­re­tary of State Brian Kemp (3.4 per­cent). 24.5 per­cent of those sur­veyed were “un­de­cided.

West­more­land, Price and Graves all re­ceived scores of 0 out of 100 on the most re­cent Con­gres­sional Score­card from the Hu­man Rights Cam­paign, the na­tion’s largest LGBT po­lit­i­cal group. Broun scored 15 out of 100, as did Cham­b­liss.

AID At­lanta’s new devel­op­ment di­rec­tor Joey Helton worked for seven years with the Sal­va­tion Army, which has been ac­cused of dis­crim­i­nat­ing against gay peo­ple. (Cour­testy photo)

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