Mak­ing those un­for­get­table Pride mem­o­ries

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psaun­ders@the­gavoice.com

“I have to be mind­ful of not tak­ing for granted how im­por­tant this is, and I usu­ally snap out of it when I view Pride through the eyes of oth­ers.”

And here we are. Ev­ery­one’s fi­nal­iz­ing plans and figuring out which events they’re go­ing to hit up. The bars are putting up the last of their rain­bow-col­ored dec­o­ra­tions. Fi­nal de­ci­sions are be­ing made on what to wear to the Kick­off Party at the Aquar­ium. Groups of friends are figuring out who’s bring­ing what to the tent in the meadow. Fi­nal touches are be­ing put on the floats for the pa­rade. It’s At­lanta Pride time. I have some­what of a dif­fer­ence ex­pe­ri­ence dur­ing Pride week­end than most as I’ll be work­ing all week­end. I’m not com­plain­ing — it’s one hell of an in­ter­est­ing work en­vi­ron­ment, I’ll tell you that.

But as the event ap­proaches ev­ery year, and the more years that I do it, I some­times find my­self get­ting me­chan­i­cal about it. Set up in the park Fri­day, stuff the bags with the Pride is­sue, cover the party that night, work the booth Satur­day and Sun­day, cover the marches and pa­rade, fin­ish giv­ing out the is­sues, pack ev­ery­thing up and leave at the end of the day Sun­day.

I have to be mind­ful of not tak­ing for granted how im­por­tant this is, and I usu­ally snap out of it when I view Pride through the eyes of oth­ers. There’s the 14-year-old kid who’s not out at school yet, but he’s here and his mind is blown. The par­ent whose daugh­ter just came out to them, and they’re ex­pe­ri­enc­ing this com­mu­nity for the first time in a mas­sive way, and, af­ter see­ing the spec­ta­cle and love shown dur­ing the pa­rade, leaves that day feel­ing less anx­ious about the path their kid is hav­ing to go down.

Th­ese kinds of feel­ings were re­in­forced this year as we pre­pared the Pride is­sue. We asked peo­ple to sub­mit their mem­o­ries of their first At­lanta Pride — and wow did y’all come through.

Re­sponses poured in and they stretched all the way back to the first march in 1971 to as cur­rent as some­one say­ing this year would be their first.

The pas­sion with which peo­ple de­scribed those mem­o­ries was pal­pa­ble. You can tell they can go right back to that place in time with the snap of a fin­ger and re­mem­ber that face, that con­ver­sa­tion, that mo­ment that they’ll never for­get.

That’s why I know there will be noth­ing me­chan­i­cal about what I do at this year’s Pride.

This is a time when we all need each other — as I find my­self say­ing more and more th­ese days — now more than ever.

That be­ing said, I hope you en­joy this is­sue we made for you. We’ve got our hard­hit­ting news as al­ways, but since this is an ex­tra large is­sue — our big­gest ever! — we’ve got a lot more in store for you.

A ton of photo gal­leries from events around town re­cently. All of our usual columnists plus our oc­ca­sional ones and even a new one (it was all hands on deck!). A hand­ful of guest edi­to­ri­als from var­i­ous voices around the com­mu­nity, in­clud­ing our very first Spanish-lan­guage editorial.

And of course our Pride pullout sec­tion, with all the events to check out, in­ter­views with mu­si­cians per­form­ing in the park, maps to the fes­ti­val and marches and pa­rade, the Pride mem­o­ries and more.

Come say hi to us at the booth in the park. Get your pic­ture taken. Tell us your story.

Make this Pride the one that you’ll be telling peo­ple about for years to come.

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