By Mikkel Hyldebrandt

 

The Atlanta Pride lineup of parties and events is quite impressive this year. Peach asked some of our community pioneers and influencers about their pride picks, plans, and parties.

 

John Walker – creator of the Official Atlanta Pride Kickoff at the Georgia Aquarium

With 25 years as an event planner for hotels and event venues, John has only made the Aquarium party bigger, bolder, and better since he created it in 2009.

 

What does PRIDE mean to you?

Pride is very important to me. Once you come to terms to accept and celebrate yourself is the true meaning of Pride. Hold your head up high and be comfortable with who you are. Come out of the shadows and support others that might need a little guidance.

 

How will you celebrate PRIDE?

Naturally, I will start the weekend at the Official Atlanta Pride Kickoff. I plan this event from beginning to end, and it brings me such joy bringing all of the LGBTQ community together. I usually have a full house of visitors for the weekend, so once I am finished with the Kickoff, we will be out and about to support all the official Atlanta Pride fundraising events at Heretic, Tabernacle and Opera. I will close out the weekend walking in Parade to showcase the Georgia Aquarium who is a huge supporter of the LGBTQ community.

 

What is your advice for the best possible PRIDE?

Get out and support the Official Atlanta Pride Events. Pride is an important and costly event, and the official events help support the festival financially. Pace yourself; you can’t do and be everywhere, look at the schedule and offerings and plan out the weekend. This is PRIDE so be PROUD of yourself and let your freak flag fly high.

 

 

Vicki Powell and Brian Rojas – Deep South

The two resident DJs of the queer DJ collective host a plethora of events throughout pride weekend, and they have a new monthly residency at MidCity Café.

 

What does PRIDE mean to you?

Brian: Accepting your identity and allowing yourself to express it fully. Live proudly every day.

Vicki: For me, Pride is about remembering those who fought for my rights to live as freely as I do today. It’s about remembering those that have gone before me. Those we have lost. The work that still needs to be done.

 

How will you celebrate PRIDE?

Deep South has an exciting queer lineup for Atlanta Pride (plus a few must-attends):

 

October 12:     Official Atlanta Pride Kick off party at The Georgia Aquarium

Mariconera @ Mary’s (EAV) with Brian Rojas and ESMÉ

October 13:     Queen Butch @ Midtown Tavern w/ William Francis & Cuntrera

Deep South PRIDE with Octo Octa, Vicki Powell, JSPORT, Scooter McCreight, NSA

October 14:     Pride patio party @ Henry’s (midtown)

Sunday Service w/ Chaka Khan Hacienda at Sister Louisa’s Church

 

What is your advice for the best possible PRIDE?

Brian: Be yourself, be kind, be generous, be a friend.

Vicki: I’d say, try and step out of your comfort zone. Listen to a new style of music, wear something you might not normally wear, chat with people, explore without judgment. Pride is a wonderful time to see the wildly diverse rainbow of community we are a part of. Fly your freak flag and dance!

 

 

Jami Maguire – Owner of My Sister’s Room

For the past eight years, Jami has owned My Sister’s Room along with her partner, Jen-Chase Daniels.

 

What does PRIDE mean to you?

The definition of the word “Pride” means “a feeling of being good and worthy.” Which is the perfect example of what I feel during Pride. It is such a strong sense of acceptance and family. My chosen family. To feel a sense of acceptance and understanding with so many – it’s a beautiful thing.

 

How will you celebrate PRIDE?

In addition to a killer party at MSR, we secured two beautiful locations a few blocks from MSR. On Friday night of Pride, we hold our “BLITZ,” on Saturday of Pride we have the Crush Party at MSR then a few blocks away we have our “Official Women’s Event of Atlanta Pride Electric Circus” at Opera Nightclub.  It is the largest event of the weekend outside of the Park. And it is only a few blocks from MSR!

 

What is your advice for the best possible PRIDE? 

During the day at the park is a must! But don’t overdo the drinking and miss out on the nightly events! I promise you will regret it. Meet people! Don’t just hang with your tight group. Hydrate and eat. Take time to go back to get dressed up cute for the night parties – you never know who you might meet!

 

Rob Jameson – partner in Midnight Train Productions ATL

Rob is a native Atlantan, who works with video production and real estate. He just started the events company partnership that brings the internationally known Papa party to Atlanta.

 

 

What does PRIDE mean to you?

Pride gives us the opportunity to show our city that we are strong, active, youthful and all in – but we are diverse as the colors of the rainbow.

 

How will you celebrate PRIDE?

I will celebrate pride by hosting the PAPA Party with my two business partners while raising money for the LGBTQ institute.

 

What is your advice for the best possible PRIDE? 

I see ATLANTA pride as an opportunity to welcome all to our city and introduce them to our wonderful community.

 

 

Rick Westbrook – founder of the Rainbow House Coalition

After quite a while in the non-profit sector in Atlanta, Rick has founded a new initiative, Rainbow House Coalition, that supports homeless LGBTQ youth in Atlanta.

 

What does PRIDE mean to you?

PRIDE is the coming together of the community, ALL OF US! A chance to support one another. See old friends and Family as well as make new friends.

 

How will you celebrate PRIDE?

This will be the first year that John Jeffrey, (My Husband), finally after 24 years will get a chance to sit back and enjoy. We have always had shifts to cover or floats to build.

 

What is your advice for the best possible PRIDE? 

Pace yourself! Enjoy yourself responsibly, watch out for your friends and make sure they have your back.

 

Alfons Dovana – Creator of Queen Butch Garden of Eden

Alfons is currently in his senior year at KSU for Apparel and Textile, and for pride, he is throwing a new daytime party.

 

What does PRIDE mean to you?

Pride to me is about celebrating your individuality in a world that forces us to be the same and conforming to its norms. Getting to this stage in life isn’t always easy, so it’s our responsibility as a community to guide those who struggle with accepting themselves.

 

How will you celebrate PRIDE?

This year I’m throwing a daytime event Pride Saturday called Queen Butch Garden of Eden, which is an outdoor queer tea dance on the patio of Midtown Tavern. This party promotes diversity and individuality. DJ Cuntrera (Co-Producer) and William Francis from NYC will be spinning house and disco music alongside with two legendary NYC club kids, CT Hedden, and Early Ross Aviance, who will be setting the mood for Atlanta Pride.

 

What is your advice for the best possible PRIDE?

Surround yourself with the right people, pace yourself and look out for one another. Let your hair all the way down, and remember you only have one life, so come live it at Queen Butch Pride Saturday! You can purchase tickets for Queen Butch at www.QueenButchEvents.com

 

Jamie Williams – Producer and promoter of the Sugar Sunday Tea Dance

Jamie works as a nurse practitioner in cardiac surgery at Grady Hospital and has recently begun promoting and producing parties in the city.

 

What does PRIDE mean to you?

Pride is liberation and freedom to be who you are without guilt or shame or fear of what others think of you. Pride weekend is a celebration of that liberation and all those that came before us and fought to help us get to where we are now.

 

How will you celebrate PRIDE?

All of the parties are incredible, but I love the events where you get to spend quality time catching up with friends, such as the Aquarium party on Friday and Kween on the Green on Saturday. I’ll also be attending Papa Party, Peach Fuzz, the Eagle on Saturday night to hear my INCREDIBLY talented partner, Neon, and the closing party at Opera. I’m also throwing a new Pride Sunday Tea Dance called SUGAR from 3-8pm at Loca Luna that you won’t want to miss!

 

What is your advice for the best possible PRIDE?

I would say live in the moment. Put your phone away and enjoy the people surrounding you. Dance with your friends and tell them you love them. Meet new people. Let go of everything in your life holding you back from being yourself and be 100% proud of you for just one weekend.

Oh, and come to SUGAR!

 

 

Jamie Ferguson – Executive Director of Atlanta Pride

After attending her first pride parade in Atlanta in 2001, Jamie started volunteering already in 2002 and never left. She became Executive Director of the Atlanta Pride Committee in 2015. 

 

What does PRIDE mean to you?

I think that Pride at its best is a time when our diverse community can come together, celebrate our rich history, and recharge for all the hard work left to do.

 

How will you celebrate PRIDE?

I’ll be having a little picnic in the park with 300,000 of my closest friends! In all seriousness, I’ll be working all weekend. I really do mean this when I say this – I love all of the events that ATL Pride offers. BUT I have an especially sentimental spot in my heart for our parades and marches. I participated in my first Dyke March 15 years ago, and I felt like such a badass, in a group of badass women. Also, our Trans March has grown from 50 to over 700 strong.

And of course, there is the parade. The Atlanta Pride Parade is now the largest parade in the city. It is empowering to see our community taking to the streets and being visible in such a huge way. Taking up that space and unapologetically being who we are is life-affirming. For the past six years, I have walked the parade with my child. Last year my parents joined me, so there were three generations of my family leading a Pride parade. As a child growing up in rural Georgia that was beyond imagination.

 

What is your advice for the best possible PRIDE?

I think the key to having the best experience at ATL Pride is to find the balance between having fun and staying safe. Many years ago, our team at the Coca-Cola stage came up with a fun phrase that we now repeat from that stage throughout the weekend every year and it sums it up nicely: Hydrate. Lubricate. Donate. Which means drink your water, wear sunscreen, and support this great event so that we can continue to keep it free for many years to come!