For years, Georgia has been near the top of states with the highest rates of HIV/AIDS cases. In parts of Atlanta and the metro region, rates are as much as eight times the national average, and researchers say they rival levels found in some developing countries.
Atlanta has reigned supreme on the national Black LGBTQ+ Pride circuit by attracting stars like Nicki Minaj and Brandy and by evolving into a bona-fide summer festival with food and retail vendors in Piedmont Park—as LGBTQ+ families sprawl across picnic blankets like they once did in Henri McTerry’s backyard.
I was told by many friends not to get involved in this because there was no way we could possibly win. This was a global entity. It would be like kicking a giant in the toe. That response mystified me. I said, "I didn’t know we chose our battles according to the ones we knew we could win."
“I have always been very clear on this. I do not believe being gay is a sin. This is the way people are born. God doesn’t mess up. We are all a part of God’s creation and need to be celebrated as such.”
Friends, family, lovers, and strangers stitched colorful, personal, and heartfelt tribute panels measuring three feet by six feet—the approximate measurements of a grave, Jones says—that when stitched together create a 1.3 million square foot symbol as iconic as the red ribbon worn to raise awareness about the disease.
Today, in addition to covering local and national queer art and culture, Wussy hosts events across the city, like drag shows, dance parties, and movie screenings—and founder Jon Dean doesn’t plan to stop there.
"In about 2004, my wife and I were about to graduate college. We were eating ramen noodles and thinking about how we didn’t have enough gas in the car to go drive somewhere we wanted to. Then, we asked ourselves, who are we to start complaining?"