Ch­eryl Courtney-Evans, 64

GA Voice - - Newsbriefs -

Less than two weeks into 2016, At­lanta awoke to the hor­ri­fy­ing news that three friends who were vi­brant and en­dear­ing fixtures in the gay At­lanta nightlife scene – Adam Bai­ley, Cordel Fowler and Esu Man­zano – died af­ter the car they were rid­ing in veered off an In­ter­state 75 ramp and crashed onto the pave­ment 50 feet be­low. Their un­timely deaths in the early hours of Jan­uary 9 sent grief through­out so­cial me­dia, and the trio was hon­ored by openly gay CNN An­chor Don Le­mon at the close of his Jan­uary 11 show.

“Gen­tle­men, there are a lot of peo­ple griev­ing your loss, from Los An­ge­les to At­lanta to New York,” Le­mon said. “They love you guys very dearly, and our hearts go out tonight to you, to your fam­i­lies and your friends. Corky, Esu and Adam – gone too soon.”

Nick Wilt­gen, 39

Nick Wilt­gen had a love for weather that made him stand out as a me­te­o­rol­o­gist, but per­sonal storms be­came too much for the gay Mid­town res­i­dent to han­dle on the evening of Jan. 24. The car that Wilt­gen was driv­ing crashed into a park­ing garage at Colony Square; in­ves­ti­ga­tors ini­tially sus­pected that Wilt­gen had suf­fered a heart at­tack, but later con­cluded that the in­ci­dent was likely a sui­cide.

Although Wilt­gen worked mainly as a be­hind-the-scenes me­te­o­rol­o­gist at The Weather Chan­nel, he was renowned in the

Just be­fore the break of dawn on July 7, se­cu­rity guards found a young black man hang­ing from a tree near in Pied­mont Park. The grisly dis­cov­ery, which oc­curred amid a string of po­lice killings of black men and en­su­ing protests, re­sulted in a vi­ral ru­mor that the death was racially mo­ti­vated. At­lanta Mayor Kasim Reed force­fully at­tempted to quash that sus­pi­cion, as At­lanta po­lice ruled the hang­ing a sui­cide.

Michael Smith, who also went by the name Lon­don Jer­maine, used so­cial me­dia to chron­i­cle his ad­ven­tures as a young gay trans­plant from New Jer­sey, as well as his con­flicts with his fam­ily about his sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion.

“I see y’all in the next life,” Smith wrote in his fi­nal Face­book post, about an hour be­fore se­cu­rity guards found his body. “Fa­ther for­give me.”

The god­mother of Ge­or­gia drag took her fi­nal bow Septem­ber 8. Brenda Dale Knox, ap­pear­ing as her drag per­sona The Lady Ch­ablis, be­came an in­ter­na­tional su­per­star af­ter ap­pear­ing in the based-on-real-life fran­chise “Mid­night in the Gar­den of Good & Evil.” As the book of that name was be­ing turned into a movie, Ch­ablis re­port­edly quipped, “If I’m not cast as my­self in the movie, there won’t be a movie.”

Pi­o­neer­ing At­lanta trans­gen­der ac­tivist Ch­eryl Courtney-Evans, who co-founded and led Trans­gen­der In­di­vid­u­als Liv­ing In Their Truth (T.I.L.T.T.) and was a pas­sion­ate voice for so­cial jus­tice is­sues, died Oc­to­ber 2 af­ter a coura­geous bat­tle with can­cer.

If there was a trans is­sue in At­lanta, Courtney-Evans was usu­ally at the cen­ter of it, whether it be a now for­mer Ge­or­gia ACLU leader’s stance on bath­rooms and gen­der iden­tity, trans voter dis­en­fran­chise­ment, trans in­clu­sion at At­lanta Pride and At­lanta Black Gay Pride, at­tacks on trans and gen­der non­con­form­ing peo­ple on MARTA and in Lit­tle Five Points, vi­o­lence against trans women of color, pas­sage of the fed­eral Em­ploy­ment Non-Dis­crim­i­na­tion Act, and the CDC’s han­dling of ris­ing HIV rates among gay men and trans women. Her death came just days be­fore she was to be hon­ored as a grand mar­shal of the At­lanta Pride Pa­rade.

“Ch­eryl was a gi­ant in the trans­gen­der com­mu­nity,” the Rev. Paul Turner of Gen­tle Spirit Com­mu­nity Church told Project Q. “She was di­rect, with­out fil­ter and a fighter when it came to stand­ing up and pro­tect­ing her peo­ple. She was coura­geous be­yond all mea­sure and her love for our com­mu­nity knew no bounds. It was an honor to have worked with her and hum­bling to call her a friend. We have lost a

De­cem­ber 23, 2016

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.