At­lanta’s LGBTQ cul­ture full of unique­ness

GA Voice - - Front Page -

The day be­fore Irma hit, I sat in yet an­other plan­ning meet­ing. It was just my­self and five other peo­ple, but the dis­cus­sion was lively.

As we talked about the mun­dane de­tails of the event, one per­son re­marked that At­lanta doesn’t have a cul­ture like other LGBTQ hubs such as New York or San Fran­cisco. I was of­fended. I’m of­fended ev­ery time some­one makes that state­ment. As a na­tive, this city has changed be­fore my eyes. The metro At­lanta I grew up in doesn’t ex­ist any­more thanks to gen­tri­fi­ca­tion and pop­u­la­tion growth. Peo­ple look at me in awe when I tell them I was born here.

I of­ten strug­gle with how quickly At­lanta is changing and have told many that this city is los­ing its soul. I con­stantly think about re­lo­cat­ing. Nonethe­less, talk­ing about At­lanta is like talk­ing about a mem­ber of my fam­ily. I can talk shit about my fam­ily mem­bers and how much they get on my damn nerves. An out­sider might get punched in the face if they at­tempt to do the same.

I can com­plain about how cliquey LGBTQ can be and how Mid­town only caters to cer­tain de­mo­graph­ics. I’ve earned my right to com­plain about the cul­ture. But, when an out-of-towner does it, es­pe­cially a fresh one, it stings. It stings even more when they are egre­giously mis­in­formed.

At­lanta does a lot of things wrong, but our LGBTQ cul­ture is unique. LGBTQ At­lanta doesn’t stop at Mid­town. You can find LGBTQ cul­ture in the bars of East At­lanta with the quirky Vil­lage Queens. The cul­ture is in the close-knit black les­bian com­mu­nity in south Dekalb that came to­gether in the wake of Lucy McCurty’s death in 2015. It’s in the artsy crowd you’d find at a South­ern Fried Queer Pride event. At­lanta Pride is ar­guably our most main­stream event and there’s even di­ver­sity in who walks our pa­rades. Last year, we had a va­ri­ety of par­tic­i­pants in­clud­ing Brazil­ian car­ni­val dancers, ac­tivists, fur­ries and high school stu­dents.

Over La­bor Day week­end, At­lanta Black Pride Week­end and Dragon Con, along with var­i­ous sport­ing events, made the city even more in­ter­est­ing. My straight mid­dle-aged white co­worker shared a story of how she was ran­domly in­vited out to a bar by ABPW at­ten­dees be­cause they liked her cos­play.

That type of ex­change il­lus­trates how spe­cial At­lanta can be.

At­lanta’s LGBTQ cul­ture can­not and should not be rel­e­gated to one sec­tion of the city. As I told the per­son at the meet­ing, At­lanta isn’t just one cul­ture. It’s a col­lec­tion of many. That is some­thing that should be cel­e­brated.

At­lanta isn’t San Fran­cisco or New York and thank Bey­oncé it isn’t.

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