Jim­mie Scott Robin­son

GA Voice - - Front Page -

Newly ar­rived in At­lanta in 1996, Jim­mie Scott Robin­son had a sim­ple goal: He wanted to date openly, party thor­oughly and ba­si­cally have the type of care­free, rol­lick­ing life a man could only find in the LGBT mecca of the South.

Lit­tle did he know he would do that and then some, earn­ing the ti­tle of LGBT ac­tivist, com­mu­nity leader and even un­of­fi­cial “Mayor of East At­lanta” be­fore un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously pass­ing the torch and dis­ap­pear­ing from the scene in 2005.

Over a decade later, his life looks very dif­fer­ent. For one, he lives back in his home­town of Detroit and rarely gets back to his old Ge­or­gia stomp­ing grounds. The ac­tivist life is largely in his rearview mir­ror, traded in for sim­ple joys like a gospel ra­dio pro­gram, his grad­u­ally im­prov­ing phys­i­cal and men­tal health and his lov­ing wife.

Years later, Robin­son’s name still sparks recog­ni­tion in the city. And de­spite lots of curve­balls in the in­ter­ven­ing years, Robin­son, who is bi­sex­ual, said he wouldn’t change a thing.

“I’m grate­ful for the les­sons I learned,” he re­cently told Ge­or­gia Voice.

Robin­son was no ac­tivist when he came to At­lanta.

In­deed, the 28-year-old for­mer Marine just wanted a place where he could be him­self.

The city was ev­ery­thing he had hoped for. Then, af­ter a chance en­counter at a press con­fer­ence, he found him­self be­ing in­vited to work with some of the city’s top names in LGBT ac­tivism.

He would soon lead the East At­lanta Com­mu­nity As­so­ci­a­tion, grow­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion and smooth­ing neigh­bor­hood ten­sions. He sat on the board of Ge­or­gia Equal­ity and was piv­otal in es­tab­lish­ing the Black Gay Pride march, a pre­cur­sor to to­day’s ex­pan­sive black Pride cel­e­bra­tions.

When he wasn’t on the front­lines, Robin­son was busy hon­ing his TV pro­duc­tion

De­cem­ber 22, 2017

skills on a se­ries of lo­cal shows.

Yet in 2005, at the top of his game, the out­spo­ken ad­vo­cate packed up and left for his home­town of Detroit.

We caught up with Robin­son re­cently to get the back­s­tory and learn what keeps him busy these days.

How did you end up on the front­lines of LGBT hap­pen­ings in At­lanta?

My lover and I had bought a house over in East At­lanta. The neigh­bor­hood nearby had a con­flict with a min­is­ter, who planned a press con­fer­ence to stop the so-called white gay and les­bian takeover. I went and for some rea­son, some­thing just came out of the in­side of me — I shouted out and I called him a hyp­ocrite. I said, “That’s not right, God’s love is un­con­di­tional.” Be­fore I knew it, cam­eras were in my face. I was tall and sexy then! Peo­ple started calling me up and ask­ing me to help them. It caught me com­pletely off guard.

For years you were ev­ery­where in At­lanta — then you weren’t. What hap­pened?

In 2003, I started fo­cus­ing on TV pro­duc­tion. I worked on the Tay­lor Life­style Re­port, On the Road To Suc­cess and Black Pride TV. Then I was di­ag­nosed with HIV. I went through a lot of de­pres­sion at that time. I kept work­ing but my en­ergy dropped. By late 2004, God told me it was time to come on home.

So what have you been do­ing in the Mo­tor City?

When I got here I planned to live with my fam­ily, but that didn’t work out. I found my­self in a veteran’s home­less shel­ter, which was a very hum­bling ex­pe­ri­ence. Even­tu­ally, I got into a po­si­tion with Good­will In­dus­tries. They pro­moted me sev­eral times and I went on to a few po­si­tions work­ing with kids, train­ing them and get­ting them ready for the work­place. I also li­aised with the busi­ness com­mu­nity. That went on for a Jim­mie Scott Robin­son said an im­promptu con­flict with an anti-gay min­is­ter in the late 1990s led to him be­com­ing an ac­tivist. (Photo cour­tesy Jim­mie Scott Robin­son) while — and that’s where I met my wife. She was a sub­con­trac­tor.

As for­mer de facto “Mayor of East At­lanta,” what do you think of the swirl sur­round­ing a new mayor for At­lanta?

When I saw that Shirley Franklin en­dorsed Mary Nor­wood, I didn’t know what was go­ing on! At­lanta al­ways has a black mayor. But I do think vot­ers have to choose the best per­son for the job. Vot­ers just need to fol­low their heart.

You were in­volved in so many dif­fer­ent things here in At­lanta — what are some of your proud­est mo­ments?

On the civic side, it was mov­ing the East At­lanta Com­mu­nity As­so­ci­a­tion meet­ings to a lo­cal se­nior cit­i­zens high rise. That re­ally brought the com­mu­nity to­gether. I’m also proud of my work on the Ge­or­gia Equal­ity board. We re­ally got more gay peo­ple po­lit­i­cally in­volved and did a lot of outreach to peo­ple of color.

What are you pas­sion­ate about now?

I’m work­ing on re­learn­ing how to walk prop­erly! In 2012, HIV started at­tack­ing my nerves and I was also di­ag­nosed with lym­phoma, so I went through can­cer and chemo­ther­apy. This past year I had two hip surg­eries. I’ve gone through a cane, a walker, a scooter. But God has got­ten me through. A few years back, I went back to school and took some broad­cast classes, and even­tu­ally started pro­duc­ing a gospel ra­dio show. I had to take a break, but I pro­duced a few years of solid ra­dio through­out all of this.

You’ve been through a lot of ups and downs. Is there any­thing you would have done dif­fer­ently?

I’d like it just the way it was. There’s no way I could have pre­dicted hav­ing a civic ca­reer. But I ended up in the room with so many pow­er­ful peo­ple, at a time when black peo­ple weren’t re­ally present. So I wouldn’t change any­thing — I had fun!


Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.