Pride Parade Grand Marshal Preserves Atlanta’s LGBTQ History

A participant holds a sign during the annual Atlanta Gay Pride parade Sunday, Oct. 11, 2015, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane)

Lisa Marie Pane / Associated Press


At noon this Sunday, Atlanta’s streets will be filled with rainbow-colored celebration. It’s the Atlanta Pride Parade.

Dave Hayward was part of the first permitted Pride Parade in Atlanta in 1972. Young Atlantans had tried to have a parade the year before, but the city of Atlanta refused to grant them permits.

“So back in 1971, 125 people had to march on the sidewalks and stop at every traffic light,” said Hayward. “And now, Pride, it completely blows my mind. Our beginnings couldn’t have possibly been any more humble.”

Along with being one of the 12 Grand Marshals in this year’s Pride Parade, Hayward coordinates Touching Up Our Roots, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving the history of the LGBTQ community in Atlanta.

Instead of being an archive, the organization facilitates among several institutions here in Atlanta. It’s an outreach program, organizing several events through Atlanta Pride. One of its recent endeavors is Our Founding Valentine, an annual celebration of pioneers and trailblazers in Atlanta’s LGBTQ community.

“What we want as a community is for people, particularly people who are active in the community, to have some sort of frame of reference,” said Hayward. “They need to have a sense of the arc of how far we have come and where we’ve come from, and that gives you a more of an appreciation of where we are today.”

The Atlanta Pride Parade kicks off Sunday at noon, starting off at the Civic Center Marta Station, down Peachtree, 10th Street and ending at the entrance of Piedmont Park.

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