Thousands of people fill the streets of Atlanta on a Sunday in mid-October. Drums are beating, people are singing and rainbows decorate every surface. Hundreds of people cheer on the glitter-filled parade, and many dance joyously through the streets. They are there to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community at the Atlanta Pride Festival.
June is officially recognized as LGBTQ+ Pride Month, in honor of the Stonewall Riots. This event is widely known as the event that sparked the movement of LGBTQ+ political activism, leading to the development of many LGBTQ+ activist organizations. However, the Atlanta Pride Festival is held Oct. 11-Oct. 13, in honor of National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11.
At the festival, three marches will be held on Oct. 12 before the full Atlanta Pride Parade on Oct. 13. There is also an official kickoff party at the Georgia Aquarium from 7 p.m.-11:30 p.m. on Oct. 11. Tickets are $40. The marches are as follows:
1:45 p.m. – The Annual Trans March, which celebrates and promotes visibility of the transgender community. Assembly begins at 1:15 p.m. at the Charles Allen Gate to Piedmont Park.
3:30 p.m. – The Annual Bi and Pan March, celebrating the bisexual and pansexual community of all gender identities and expressions. Assembly begins at 3 p.m. at the 14th Street entrance into Piedmont Park.
5 p.m. – The Annual Dyke March, dedicated to the empowerment of lesbians and to creating an atmosphere of inclusion and community for women. Assembly begins 4:30 p.m. at the Charles Allen Gate to Piedmont Park.
On Sunday, Oct. 13 at Noon, the Atlanta Pride Parade begins, starting off at the Civic Center MARTA station and ending at the Charles Allen Gate entrance to Piedmont Park. Assembly begins at 9:30 a.m.
The parade on Oct. 13 brings together over 60 organizations that are in support of the LGBTQ+ community, or whose members consist of LGBTQ+ people. This includes the Gay-Straight Alliance, or GSA, with whom Pace students will be marching. The Grand Marshals of the parade are influential LGBTQ+ people, allies and activists, such as Stacey Abrams and Royce Mann.
Some members of the Pace GSA have been to the Atlanta Pride Festival in years prior. Senior Ryan Kann went to Pride two years ago, but can still vividly remember the air of acceptance and inclusion that Pride promotes. “You meet a lot of people that are like yourself and when in an environment like Pace, you don’t,” he said. “So it’s somewhere where everybody is like you. I’ve never been out in public and seen someone with the same scars that I have.”
Sophomore Allison Silverboard is one of the leaders of the Pace GSA. “Pride helps people at Pace because if you aren’t out, it’s another affirmation that there’s people at Pace who are there to support you,” she said. “[It helps] remind people that there is a safe space for LGBT people at Pace.”
Junior Jack Brown, a newcomer to the Atlanta Pride Festival, believes that the visibility of Pride is important in and of itself. ”There’s so much media there and so many photos,” he said. “Even if people don’t go, they’ll end up hearing about it one way or another, which brings a lot more awareness to gay issues.”
Pride is a place for LGBTQ+ people to celebrate themselves and others, and allies of the LGBTQ+ community are welcomed with open arms. However, allies must keep in mind that they are supporters. “Straight allies can go,” said Kann. “But you have to acknowledge that you are there to support. You are not actually part of the community. You have to leave space for LGBT people to talk about their struggles and know that you can support them, but you cannot speak over them.”
Although there is plenty of entertainment planned for the Atlanta festival on three different stages in Piedmont Park, people must keep in mind that Pride is not just a music festival. “Pride is not entertainment like Music Midtown, a time to be silly and goofing off,” said Silverboard. “People should have fun but also be respectful. You shouldn’t go if you are going just to have a ‘festival’ experience, because that’s not what it’s about.”
It’s obvious that over the years, society has become more accepting of LGBTQ+ people. To some people, it’s easy to think that due to this acceptance, Pride isn’t necessary anymore. However, this is far from the truth. Almost every person who’ve been to Pride saw protestors of Pride and LGBTQ+ people around the edges.
Freshman Jae Lieberman explains that Pride is still incredibly relevant. “Stonewall was June 28, 1969,” he said. “That’s 50 years ago. There are people alive who were at Stonewall and remember everything. TV shows like The Laramie Project, about people killed for being gay. You have people still being kicked out over coming out or being found out… Having a space to show not only to ourselves but to others that we are a community, that it’s not one person, it’s everyone, is the most important part.”
For more information, go to the Atlanta Pride website: https://www.atlantapride.org/