How one march for gay rights launched nearly 50 years of Atlanta Pride

Roughly 100 Atlantans started one of the largest pride festivals in the Southeast

Protesters march in downtown Atlanta holding a

Photograph by Jerome McClendon/Atlanta Journal-Constitution

On the first anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots, roughly 100 Atlantans, frustrated by discriminatory treatment against LGBTQ people on local and national levels, began marching on Peachtree Street. The inspiration wasn’t just the raid by police on the New York City gay bar; one month after that, a similar raid had been carried out by Atlanta police looking to find “known homosexuals” at an Ansley Mall movie theater showing Lonesome Cowboys, an Andy Warhol film that featured a relationship between two men. Galvanized by the raids, the Atlanta LGBTQ community organized, creating the Georgia Gay Liberation Front. And a tradition began. Part of that tradition was celebrating their lives, friends, loves, and the businesses—the community—they had built. Now held in October to coincide with National Coming Out Day, the parade kicking off Pride Weekend, a multihour affair filled with bare-chested men, sign-holding activists, and hand-waving politicians, is arguably Atlanta’s largest, with tens of thousands of people lining downtown and Midtown streets to celebrate love, freedom, and equality.

This article appears in our October 2019 issue.