In The Life Atlanta, the official organizer of Atlanta Black Gay Pride, is turning 20 this year and organizers have changes in store to shake things up for the over 85,000 people expected to attend this Labor Day Weekend. Those changes include dropping host hotel the Georgian Terrace Hotel, spreading the events out around the city and adding more educational components.
This year’s theme is “20 Years Strong,” and locals and visitors alike can expect a robust lineup of activities, symposiums, seminars, social events, entertainment, and ITLA’s signature events.
“We wanted to kind of move in a different direction because there’s been a lot of changes in the world with the Pulse nightclub tragedy, marriage equality is the law of the land, and the ‘religious freedom’ act I have a feeling is on its way back,” In The Life Atlanta president Rickie Smith tells Georgia Voice. “So the political climate in Georgia is really changing and we in the LGBTQIA community need to be aware of these changes and how it’s going to affect us down the line.”
One of the biggest changes was moving away from having a host hotel, which is a role the Georgian Terrace has played for years. Smith says there’s a stigma attached to having a host hotel.
“People come to town but don’t want to go to the hotel. All of a sudden it feels like that’s where all the gay folks are and ‘I don’t want to be seen coming out of there,’” he explains. “We’ve got a big city which people need to be able to explore and know that there’s a lot of stuff going on in our city and we’re just not crammed up in the hotel so let’s get out and enjoy some of the beauty of our city. Let’s go into our neighborhood a little bit and support some of our businesses in our neighborhood.”
All of the workshops, which were previously held at the hotel, will now be held “It’s about educating our people, getting our people registered to vote and remembering the community where you live. Once the music stops in the club, we’ve still gotta live in this community. This is not so much about the nightlife, it’s about our life in general. Somebody needs to stop and take a look at what’s going on around us and how we can shape the landscape of what’s going on around us.”
Atlanta Black Gay Pride
downtown at the Center for Civil and Human Rights. Smith says the workshops will have a political tone, an advocacy tone and an empowerment tone.
“Being in a historical place like that one for our twentieth year speaks volumes about understanding where we came from and where we’re going,” he says.
There are several signature events planned as well including:
By PATRICK SAUNDERS
VIP Reception and Silent Auction Charity Fundraisers including a Purple Tie Awards Ceremony and Rustin/Lorde Scholarship presentation
Town Hall called “A More Perfect Union: The Need for Comprehensive Civil Rights,” which will examine ways in which recent events have altered the narrative of the LGBT community
Coffee and Chat Breakfast with city officials including Mayor Kasim Reed
Women’s Empowerment Symposium Luncheon where community leaders will be recognized for their work, and guests will hear from local and national speakers on issues affecting black women in the LGBT community
Faith & Equality Luncheon to discuss the necessity for LGBT-affirming faith communities in a changing social-political landscape Smith says it’s a concerted effort by ITLA to make Atlanta Black Gay Pride weekend about more than just the parties.
“It’s about educating our people, getting our people registered to vote and remembering the community where you live,” he says. “Once the music stops in the club, we’ve still gotta live in this community. This is not so much about the nightlife, it’s about our life in general. Somebody needs to stop and take a look at what’s going on around us and how we can shape the landscape of what’s going on around us.”
He mentions the ongoing gentrification of the Midtown area as an example, saying, “The cultural pieces are slowly disappearing and if we’re not careful the whole landscape will change and we’ll be standing there going ‘Well, where are we supposed to go?’”
“It’s important to realize you need a reason to celebrate Pride. Find out what you need to be proud about instead of just dancing in the street,” Smith says laughing.
August 19, 2016