By Mik Hyldebrandt
Photo: Nalegé Diaz, PR
Ryan Roemerman – Executive Director, LGBT Institute
As an essential civil rights landmark in Atlanta, The National Center for Civil and Human Rights, opened its very own LGBT Institute in the summer of 2015. Ryan Roemerman has led the institute since its inauguration, and he has effectively made LGBT rights part of the center’s educational programming. Other vital initiatives launched under his leadership are the first Southern Survey of LGBT people and annual symposiums and forums dedicated to exploring LGBTQ issues.
Mary Edith Pitts – Drag and Makeup Artist Extraordinaire
With over 25 years in drag, she is known as Atlanta’s camp queen of comedy. If you’ve been fortunate to see her perform at one of Atlanta’s many drag queen venues, including the Starlight Cabaret, East Point Possums, and the Armorettes, you know her performances have bite, raunch, and a lot of humor. Mary Edith Pitts is also known for raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for worthy, local nonprofits by merely donating her tips. When she doesn’t perform as MEP, her alter ego, Richard works as a makeup artist for the booming film industry in the city.
Rick Westbrook – Executive Director, Lost-n-Found Youth
Since Lost-n-Found Youth was born in 2011, Rick Westbrook has been involved with the nonprofit that provides crisis support and transitional housing for LGBTQ youth between the ages 13 to 25. Notable accomplishments under Westbrook’s leadership include the renovation of a Juniper Street house to be used as transitional housing for LGBTQ youth facing adversity, an expanded street outreach program, and a thriving thrift store on Chantilly Drive.
Nicole Roebuck – Executive Director, AID Atlanta
As the Executive Director, Nicole Roebuck heads the largest HIV/AIDS service organization in Georgia. Under her leadership, AID Atlanta has expanded its services to include not only individual case management but also mental health, housing and clinical care services for over 3,200 members annually. She also leads numerous initiatives that deal with breaking stigmas and provide training and education for people affected by HIV or AIDS. The AIDS Walk & 5K Run in October is the primary fundraiser for the organization.
Tyler – Rapper
In a genre that is rarely associated with gay, J. Tyler is making his mark as an out and gay rapper. His style is fast-paced, witty, and edgy, and you should definitely check out his YouTube where he shows off his incredible talent with his takes on hip-hop and rap tunes. And more importantly, you can download his excellent EP “Prelude” on iTunes and Spotify!
Jim Farmer – Atlanta’s Out on Film, Festival Director
The ever-expanding film festival chronicles our history, our struggles, and how we still fight in the present for our rights, our freedom, and our lives. As the leader of Out On Film, Jim Farmer has effectively helped to put Atlanta on the queer map of America and continues to bring an even broader and more prominent range of LGBTQ-themed movies to the city.