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‘Not Hidden In The Closet’: Historic Atlanta Moves To Recognize, Preserve Historic LGBTQ Spaces

People cross the permanent rainbow crosswalks at the intersection of 10th and Piedmont in Midtown. The crosswalks were originally painted in rainbow temporarily for Pride in 2015 but were painted permanently in 2017 to commemorate the victims hurt at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando.
People cross the permanent rainbow crosswalks at the intersection of 10th and Piedmont in Midtown. The crosswalks were originally painted in rainbow temporarily for Pride in 2015 but were painted permanently in 2017 to commemorate the victims hurt at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando.
Credit Evey Wilson

In January of 2020, the organization Historic Atlanta started putting together a preservation plan for Atlanta’s LGBTQ history. That plan has, at its center, another document—Atlanta’s LGBTQ “historic context statement.”

Charlie Paine chairs the non-profit’s preservation committee. He says COVID-19 has slowed their momentum, but they’re celebrating a recent partnership with the city to raise nearly $20,000 for the preservation project. That opened up the gates for a larger federal grant.

Paine told WABE’s “All Things Considered” host Jim Burress that typically, buildings and landmarks less than 50 years old aren’t recognized under the National Register of Historic Places.

“A lot of LGBTQ history that we really consider not only memorable but not hidden in the closet, a lot of that is less than 50 years old,” Paine said.

But the historic context statement is a catalyst for identifying and preserving spaces that have significantly shaped Atlanta’s LGBTQ history—places that were hidden because of heightened discrimination.

Lily Oppenheimer contributed to this report.