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‘A Night At The Sweet Gum Head’ Shows Intimate Side Of Atlanta’s Queer, Disco Heyday

Depending on whom you ask, the '70s represented the city's gay heyday, albeit one full of struggle for visibility and political agency.
Depending on whom you ask, the '70s represented the city's gay heyday, albeit one full of struggle for visibility and political agency.
Credit Andres Kudacki / Associated Press file

If you were around in ’70s Gay Atlanta, you’d likely know all about Diamond Lil.

The famed drag queen moved to Atlanta in the ’60s and found a living performing at Mrs. P’s on Ponce de Leon. Known as “Queen of the Jukeboxes,” her iconic performances were legend.

It was a different time for Atlanta’s LGBT population, says Atlanta journalist and author Martin Padgett. Depending on whom you ask, the period represented the city’s gay heyday, albeit one full of struggle for visibility and political agency.

In his new book, “A Night At The Sweet Gum Head,” Padgett details the struggle and celebrates the victories. The backdrop? One of the region’s first gay drag bars, The Sweet Gum Head on Cheshire Bridge Road.

“It developed very quickly into a hub of gay nightlife, and then later on, it developed another identity as a center of gay political awareness,” Padgett told WABE’s “All Things Considered” host Jim Burress.

Padgett started by talking about why he chose that Atlanta nightclub venue as the backdrop.