For­mer YouthPride di­rec­tor Ter­ence McPhaul dies

GA Voice - - YEAR IN REVIEW -

For­mer At­lanta Fire Chief and con­ser­va­tive mar­tyr Kelvin Cochran filed an Equal Em­ploy­ment Op­por­tu­nity Com­mis­sion (EEOC) com­plaint against the city of At­lanta, the first step in fil­ing a fed­eral law­suit, af­ter his job was ter­mi­nated by Mayor Kasim Reed upon dis­cov­er­ing that Cochran self-pub­lished a book ti­tled “Who Told You That You Were Naked?” in which he com­pared ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity to pe­dophilia and bes­tial­ity, as well as making anti-Semitic and misog­y­nis­tic re­marks.

At­tor­neys from faith-based or­ga­ni­za­tion Al­liance De­fend­ing Free­dom filed a fed­eral law­suit against Reed and the city in Fe­bru­ary on Cochran’s be­half, say­ing Cochran was ter­mi­nated due to his re­li­gious be­liefs. A fed­eral judge has de­cided that the case will pro­ceed to trial.

‘Re­li­gious free­dom’ bill in­tro­duced, dies in House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee

It was the most con­tentious piece of leg­is­la­tion af­fect­ing the LGBT com­mu­nity to be ad­dressed by Ge­or­gia law­mak­ers in 2015. SB 129, the so-called “re­li­gious free­dom bill,” in­tro­duced in Fe­bru­ary by Sen. Josh McKoon (R- Colum­bus), made na­tional head­lines and spurred re­ac­tion from con­ser­va­tive supporters, un­likely al­lies, and the lo­cal busi­ness com­mu­nity and pro­gres­sive city of­fi­cials.

Dur­ing the four-month po­lit­i­cal dis­course sur­round­ing SB 129, pro­gres­sive and LGBT

De­cem­ber 25, 2015

rights groups ral­lied in strong op­po­si­tion and pres­sured ma­jor cor­po­ra­tions to speak out pub­licly against the bill. Ge­or­gia Voice also broke a story re­veal­ing McKoon’s ties to a Colum­bus-based anti-LGBT min­istry.

Repub­li­can Mike Ja­cobs of Brookhaven added anti-dis­crim­i­na­tion lan­guage to SB 129 on March 26 and rather than vot­ing, supporters of the bill tabled it, ef­fec­tively killing the bill un­til the start of the 2016 leg­isla­tive ses­sion, when it is ex­pected to be rein­tro­duced.

Trans­gen­der in­mate Ash­ley Di­a­mond

The year for Ash­ley Di­a­mond started out as a se­ries of de­hu­man­iz­ing events as an in­mate in the Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tions sys­tem. Af­ter be­ing de­nied hor­mone ther­apy and sub­jected to ver­bal and sex­ual as­saults as a trans­gen­der woman housed in an all-male prison, she filed a fed­eral law­suit with the help of the Mont­gomery, Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Cen­ter.

Af­ter three years of in­car­cer­a­tion, Di­a­mond was granted early release in Au­gust.

Blake’s on the Park dress code con­tro­versy

A dress code posted in the front win­dow of pop­u­lar At­lanta gay bar, Blake’s on the Park be­came a light­ning rod of con­tro­versy and racial di­vi­sion af­ter it was shared nu­mer­ous times on so­cial me­dia. Crit­ics voiced their dis­ap­proval of the sign, which they be­lieved tar­geted African-Amer­i­can gay men in an at­tempt to dis­suade peo­ple of color from en­ter­ing.

Blake’s man­age­ment in­sisted the dress code was en­acted to en­sure the safety of all pa­trons and to curb a pat­tern of violence and theft then hap­pen­ing in Mid­town. The sign was re­moved shortly af­ter the on­line back­lash be­gan.

At­lanta’s Rain­bow Cross­walks

The in­ter­sec­tion of 10th Street and Pied­mont Av­enue be­came even gayer than be­fore with the in­stal­la­tion of rain­bow cross­walks in time for At­lanta Pride in Oc­to­ber. City of­fi­cials ap­proved the $40,000 pub­lic art project of Robert Sepul­veda Jr., which in­cluded do­na­tions from the com­mu­nity to raise the nec­es­sary funds to bring the project to fruition.

It was no sur­prise that anger erupted af­ter it was an­nounced that the cross­walks would be tem­po­rary in­stead of a per­ma­nent fix­ture as orig­i­nally promised. Cit­ing “safety con­cerns,” the cross­walks were granted a tem­po­rary per­mit from Oct. 3–16 and were re­moved shortly there­after.

Chris Brown bails on At­lanta Black Gay Pride per­for­mance

R&B singer Chris Brown con­tin­ued to live down to his rep­u­ta­tion as an ir­re­spon­si­ble and ho­mo­pho­bic en­ter­tainer when he bailed on a sched­uled per­for­mance for the women of Traxx Girls dur­ing At­lanta Black Gay Pride. Ge­or­gia Voice broke the vi­ral story that was picked up by dozens of ma­jor me­dia out­lets af­ter Brown failed

The sud­den pass­ing of pop­u­lar drag per­former Lateasha Shuntel stunned mem­bers of the At­lanta LGBT and drag com­mu­nity. Shuntel was main­stay at Blake’s on The Park and a dis­trib­u­tor for David At­lanta. Shuntel’s col­league, Shavonna Brooks, broke the news of her pass­ing on Face­book.

Shuntel’s David At­lanta col­leagues cre­ated a GoFundMe ac­count to cover fu­neral ex­penses. It quickly ex­ceeded the ini­tial goal. A mov­ing trib­ute was also held in Shuntel’s mem­ory at Blake’s on the Park.

Al­most a month passed be­fore word of Ter­ence McPhaul’s death at 52 made its way back to At­lanta. The con­tro­ver­sial for­mer ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of YouthPride passed away on Nov. 16 in In­di­anapo­lis, In­di­ana and was laid to rest on Nov. 25.

McPhaul joined YouthPride as co-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor in 2009 be­fore be­com­ing the sole ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor in Jan­uary 2010. A se­ries of con­tro­ver­sial episodes fol­lowed and were doc­u­mented in Ge­or­gia Voice and other lo­cal gay me­dia out­lets.

At­lanta at cen­ter of HIV/AIDS news

From the un­veil­ing of the Ful­ton County Task Force strat­egy to end AIDS to sev­eral ma­jor con­fer­ences ad­dress­ing the in­crease of new HIV in­fec­tions in gay and bi­sex­ual men of color, At­lanta was at the cen­ter of a flurry of HIV/AIDS news, ini­tia­tives and events at the close of the year.

More than 3,000 HIV ex­perts de­scended on At­lanta in early De­cem­ber for the 2015 Na­tional HIV Preven­tion Con­fer­ence (NHPC). A counter-con­fer­ence of HIV/AIDS groups and activists was also held to de­mand at­ten­tion to HIV crim­i­nal­iza­tion and the ex­pan­sion of Med­i­caid, among other ini­tia­tives.

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