GA Voice - - Cel­e­brat­ing Stonewall -

South­ern Fried Queer Pride—the name alone is the first in­di­ca­tion that this isn’t your or­di­nary Pride cel­e­bra­tion. You won’t find a con­tin­gent of buff bod­ies on dis­play atop of floats strut­ting down Peachtree Street or cor­po­rate spon­sors sta­tioned at booths in Pied­mont Park—nope, it’s sim­ply not that kind of party. And while the for­mer cer­tainly has its place in our move­ment’s his­tory, South­ern Fried Queer Pride (SFQP) draws on the rad­i­cal and lib­er­at­ing his­tory of the be­gin­nings of Pride, the Stonewall Re­bel­lion and the work of im­por­tant his­tor­i­cal fig­ures such as Mar­sha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.

Now in its third year, it wouldn’t be far­fetched to say the four-day queer fes­ti­val is the an­tithe­sis of what many have come to ex­pect from mod­ern day Pride cel­e­bra­tions. At SFQP, queer, trans and peo­ple of color iden­ti­ties are stirred into a glo­ri­ous stew of un­apolo­getic af­fir­ma­tion, resistance and lib­er­a­tion.

It’s what SFQP or­ga­nizer TAY­LOR ALXNDR, 23, says is at the core of the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s mis­sion.

“Over­all, SFQP re­ally car­ries on that spirit of rad­i­cal queer lib­er­a­tion. A lot of times when you go to any Pride, not just here in Ge­or­gia, there’s def­i­nitely a rep­re­sen­ta­tion for cer­tain pock­ets of the com­mu­nity,” said ALXNDR, who uses they, them, their or she pro­nouns.

“A lot of us come to the city and re­ally want to find spa­ces where we’re sur­rounded by peo­ple who have com­mon thoughts like us, look like us, think like us and some­times that isn’t fully man­i­fested in the com­mu­nity-at-large,” they said.

ALXNDR tells Ge­or­gia Voice that SFQP was “born out of a lack of space, com­mu­ni­ca­tion and rep­re­sen­ta­tion,” which fur­ther high­lights the dis­con­nect be­tween a com­mu­nity that touts di­ver­sity and in­clu­sive­ness and the real lived ex­pe­ri­ences of peo­ple who find them­selves a mi­nor­ity within a mi­nor­ity.

“To be quite hon­est, I don’t feel safe, ac­knowl­edged or ap­pre­ci­ated or even un­der­stood in most spa­ces,” they said. “Queer spa­ces specif­i­cally have done much more work in be­ing in­clu­sive of peo­ple of color. I think more main­stream ‘HRC’ gay spa­ces still have a lot of work to do.“

Queer: an all-en­com­pass­ing term

Be­ing in­clu­sive while rec­og­niz­ing and cel­e­brat­ing the unique­ness of ev­ery in­di­vid­ual is one of SFQP’s goals, even with the word “queer” in its name —a term that is both em­braced and loathed by many within the com­mu­nity. ALXNDR ac­knowl­edges the mixed feel­ings brought on by the term even within SFQP.

“We as a group use queer be­cause we feel it en­com­passes more gen­der iden­ti­ties and sex­u­al­i­ties than just us­ing gay or us­ing LGBTQIQA,” they said. “Some­times when we try to cre­ate acronyms or gen­er­al­ize words like gay or LGBT a lot of peo­ple get lost. We to­tally re­spect peo­ple who are not com­fort­able with that word. There’s even peo­ple who or­ga­nize with us who don’t per­son­ally iden­tify as queer.”

Nikki Jackson, 22, is one such SFQP or­ga­nizer. Jackson, a vis­ual artist and Ge­or­gia Tech stu­dent iden­ti­fies as trans mas­cu­line and also prefers they or she pro­nouns.

“I am trans mas­cu­line and I’m also white,” she says. Jackson tells Ge­or­gia Voice that she wanted to get in­volved with SFQP be­cause she views it as a “queer cen­tered, trans cen­tered take on Pride.”

“I feel like it re­ally tries to take back the Stonewall def­i­ni­tion of Pride,” she said. Jackson also noted that she uses “SFQP to nav­i­gate ar­eas where I can sup­port and where I need to back down,” ac­knowl­edg­ing a long his­tory of the sup­pres­sion of voices, re­sources and vis­i­bil­ity of queer sub-groups, specif­i­cally of color, by more dom­i­nant voices within the com­mu­nity.

“There’s usu­ally a cer­tain set of pol­i­tics that comes with us­ing [the term] ‘gay’ or an acro­nym, and that’s also some­thing that’s re­ally im­por­tant to us as an or­ga­ni­za­tion,” added ALXNDR. “It’s so hard to find a space

South­ern Fried Queer Pride

that doesn’t alien­ate or fetishize you as a per­son of color.”


Art as ac­tivism

The arts is a ma­jor fo­cus of this year’s SFQP fes­ti­val and of events held through­out the year; from a spe­cial per­for­mance by Bal­ti­more queer rap artist Abdu Ali to Sweet Tea: A Queer Va­ri­ety Show.

“For many peo­ple the arts are their main source of in­come. A lot of peo­ple don’t re­al­ize that we’re still dis­crim­i­nated against in jobs,” said ALXNDR. “If you look his­tor­i­cally, peo­ple who were ac­tivists like Sylvia Rivera and Mar­sha P. Johnson didn’t have day-to-day jobs, they had to per­form to pro­vide for them­selves.”

Queer Threads is an­other ex­am­ple of how SFQP re­mains true to the spirit of Stonewall and the ac­tivists that in­spire these queer or­ga­niz­ers. The pop-up thrift shop is an on­go­ing event that pro­vides cloth­ing at cheap prices and gives back to the com­mu­nity that funds SFQP pro­gram­ming, which re­lies on do­na­tions in­stead of cor­po­rate spon­sor­ship.

Ac­cord­ing to ALXNDR, SFQP re­mains open to “any­one who wants to have a hand in the process,” but not at the ex­pense of a “wa­ter­ing down” of a sense of com­mu­nity.

June 10, 2016

Or­ga­niz­ers for South­ern Fried Queer Pride are gear­ing up for the an­nual fes­ti­val June 23-26. (Cour­tesy pho­tos)

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