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few years later. About half­way through the pa­rade, I got bored and went to check out the ven­dors. I bought my first Pride sou­venirs: a key­chain and an em­broi­dered T-shirt. I still have them, faded and ripped as they are.”

-Dale Jack­son

“My friend Todd Green. He had VIP in­vi­ta­tions to all the clubs and par­ties in 1990 and we went to them all.” -Dixon R Smith “Be­ing in the PFLAG group in the pa­rade … a long time ago!” -Mary Kol­cum War­wick

“1987. Not my first Pride pa­rade but it was the first for my part­ner, now wife. Su­san worked for DeKalb County Schools so she marched wear­ing a huge sun hat and large dark sun­glasses, so afraid that a par­ent or teacher would rec­og­nize her from the news cov­er­age and end her ca­reer. But she marched and I was so proud of her. Still am.”

-Nancy Wilkinson “I was 16 and it was 1986. My grand­mother saw me march­ing with the Ar­morettes in a bright yel­low sun hat and march­ing dress.” -Kelly Mathi­son-Voltz

“My girl­friend and I went to Pride and set up our tent in the lawn. We left our tent and went and walked the mar­ket. When we re­turned, I could tell our tent had been moved. As any­one that has been to Pride knows, you can’t stake your tents and wind is a prob­lem. Two guys came run­ning up to us to tell us that there was a gust of wind that blew our tent down the lawn and they chased af­ter it, drug it back and tied it to our cooler for us. This is my go-to story when I ex­plain to peo­ple why Pride is im­por­tant to me. There is just such com­mu­nity and love. It is the one week­end a year I can just go and be with my peo­ple and be sur­rounded by love and happiness. You need a pa­per towel? Here I’ve got plenty. Need help putting up your tent? I’ve got arms to help. One time a stroller started rolling down the hill with kids on board and some­one re­acted quickly and grabbed it. I have ex­pe­ri­enced count­less in­ci­dents like th­ese at Pride and it’s why I go.”

-Dal­las Colla

Oc­to­ber 13, 2017

“Mine was 1978. I was 7-years-old march­ing with my un­cles, cousins and aunts. It was a great time had by all. I have been march­ing and sup­port­ing since that time. We used to gather at For­rest Av­enue and Peachtree Street. Fam­ily fun.” -Charlton Sin­gle­ton

“The first that I re­mem­ber was in 1981. Ev­ery­one gath­ered in the park at 10th and Charles Allen. Ron Bea­z­ley had just opened The At­lanta Bal­loon­ery (at 14th and West Peachtree) and so he brought a tank of he­lium and 1,000 laven­der bal­loons, which we pro­ceeded to in­flate and give out. Then we marched down 10th to Peachtree and con­tin­ued south on Peachtree with 1,000 laven­der bal­loons waving in the air to the Ge­or­gia State Cap­i­tal where sev­eral gay lead­ers made short speeches, af­ter which we all re­leased our bal­loons into the air. Lit­tle did we know what mad­ness was in store for us all and how many would be gone far too soon from the plague.”

-Gary Dixon

“2008. Just came out and my mom stopped talk­ing to me. PFLAG had a booth where you could get a hug from a mom or dad. There was a line for peo­ple wait­ing to be held by an ac­cept­ing par­ent. I got choked up won­der­ing if that would be me one day.”

-Shan­non Hames “My first Pride, 2013, made tears well up in my eyes. I didn’t see a com­mu­nity, I saw a huge gath­er­ing of fam­ily that sup­ports each other. I felt proud to be part of this fam­ily.” -Robert E. Dukes “This will be my first At­lanta pride.” -Tia Bur­ton

“I am a school coun­selor. I am 40 years old. My train­ing was and is al­ways about be­ing an ad­vo­cate, an up­stander and an ally. Those terms weren’t used when I was in grad school, but the mes­sage cer­tainly was there and it has al­ways stuck with me. A few short years ago, my co-coun­selor and I were ap­proached by a mid­dle school stu­dent to see if it was “OK” to start a GSA in our mid­dle school. This grade seven kiddo also told us “GSA” was out­dated in name and would like it to be pro­moted as the “Rain­bow Club” for LGBTQ+ and al­lies. We re­ceived im­me­di­ate sup­port from ad­min. The Rain­bow Club, now known of­fi­cially as LGBTQ+, is thriv­ing. Last year, our mid­dle school kid­dos asked if we could be of­fi­cially rep­re­sented as a school at Pride in At­lanta. As a school, we em­braced this. Last year was our first year at Pride. We did our best. We cre­ated T-shirts, bought ev­ery flag we could when we ar­rived. We even had a ban­ner. We marched at Pride along­side An­gel Ac­tion with our kid­dos, par­ents, staff and fac­ulty. I wor­ried about the ‘free­dom of speech’ cor­ner and my mid­dle and high school kid­dos. How would the hate speech im­pact them? I could not have been more happy for the com­mu­nity of An­gel Ac­tion At­lanta and the crowd that em­braced us. They rec­og­nized im­me­di­ately a young crowd march­ing and cheered us on, pro­tected us and loved us. I am proud to say we are march­ing again this year, larger and louder. “

-Lanie Cox

-Rob Boeger

“I went to my first At­lanta Pride three years ago with friends from work and it felt amaz­ing. I had al­ways felt kinda out of place in the gay com­mu­nity, but at Pride I felt ac­cepted with open arms. I have been ev­ery year since and will con­tinue to go ev­ery year.”

-Christo­pher Lee Lovett “Find­ing and hug­ging a good friend from church sum­mer camp! Frank Col­la­day.” -Hi­ram A. Pérez-Cordero

“It was a typ­i­cal hot Oc­to­ber day, I signed up to vol­un­teer with HRC’s booth and gath­ered friends and fam­ily to come out, not know­ing what to ex­pect for my first Pride. Ev­ery­one was so wel­com­ing. It was one of the great­est days I’ve ex­pe­ri­enced in my life­time. The park was full of laugh­ter, and love, and Pride. It’s be­come one of my fa­vorite mem­o­ries and I look for­ward to it ev­ery year now.”

-Joey Layne An­drews

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