At­lanta’s LGBT com­mu­nity de­serves re­spect

GA Voice - - News -

This year marks my 20th an­niver­sary liv­ing in At­lanta. I moved here the sum­mer be­fore the Olympics, and I can still re­mem­ber the un­cer­tainty this Mid­west­ern boy had be­fore mov­ing to the “dirty South.” I was a North­erner with some stereo­typ­i­cal im­ages of the South, and I was newly out of the closet. I had some fears walk­ing into my new ad­ven­ture. I won­dered if I would be wel­comed with open arms or would wake up one morn­ing with burn­ing crosses in my front yard.

Sur­pris­ingly, I walked right into one of the big­gest, most vi­brant, out and open gay com­mu­ni­ties in the coun­try. In 1995, Mid­town was a much dif­fer­ent place from now. Lo­cally owned hot spots like Ur­ban Coffee Bun­ga­low and Outwrite Book­store were my neigh­bors long be­fore all the Star­bucks arose, and it seemed the only peo­ple liv­ing in Mid­town were artists, pro­gres­sives, the home­less and the gays. I can still re­mem­ber the first day I ar­rived in At­lanta and drove down Pied­mont through Cheshire Bridge and saw it lined with rain­bow flags. I im­me­di­ately felt safe, at home and for the first time in my life: em­pow­ered.

Our com­mu­nity’s vi­sion, money and sup­port are what have made Mid­town and At­lanta what they are to­day. I have grown up a lot since those early days and it’s been fun to watch our city ex­pand and evolve along with me, but when our state govern­ment starts propos­ing anti-LGBT leg­is­la­tion, it makes me want to with­draw all my cash and move out for good.

The LGBT com­mu­nity has a long his­tory of turn­ing un­de­sir­able neigh­bor­hoods into vi­brant, thriv­ing ar­eas. Don’t we de­serve some re­spect and thanks for mak­ing At­lanta one of the most de­sir­able places in the coun­try to live?

I of­ten pitch At­lanta to my friends who live in other places. I am proud that we are the home of my idol, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and that we have rolling hills and wind­ing roads that are cov­ered with a natu- “The LGBT com­mu­nity has a long his­tory of turn­ing un­de­sir­able neigh­bor­hoods into vi­brant, thriv­ing ar­eas. Don’t we de­serve some re­spect and thanks for mak­ing At­lanta one of the most de­sir­able places in the coun­try to live?” ral canopy of trees. We have the lux­ury of get­ting to en­joy all four sea­sons, but with the nicest of them last­ing the long­est. We are only an hour away from the Blue Ridge Moun­tains, four hours from the beach, and have the world’s busiest air­port that al­lows us to es­cape to cities all over the world. Our art, en­ter­tain­ment and food scenes ri­val any world-class city and re­vi­tal­iza­tion projects like the At­lanta Belt­line and Ponce City Mar­ket are con­nect­ing dozens of dif­fer­ent neigh­bor­hoods like never be­fore. The LGBT com­mu­nity has helped build all of th­ese things that have made us the un­of­fi­cial Cap­i­tal Of The South, so why are we con­stantly fight­ing to be re­spected?

Didn’t our state govern­ment of­fi­cials learn any­thing from last year’s In­di­ana “Religious Free­dom” de­ba­cle? Maybe they should be re­minded that they should never bite the hands that have been feed­ing our lo­cal econ­omy for years or we might just bite back. I never thought I would have stayed here as long as I have, but At­lanta has be­come home. I know I have been very good to this city and she has been good to me. I just wish our govern­ment lead­ers would re­turn the re­spect, back off, and say thank you to our com­mu­nity for help­ing to make At­lanta what it is to­day.

Bill Kaelin is the owner of Bill Kaelin Mar­ket­ing Events and Con­sult­ing Agency in At­lanta. www.Bil­lKaelin.com

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.