The 49th annual Atlanta Pride Festival & Parade, honoring the LGBTQ community and allies, begins on National Coming Out Day, Friday, Oct. 11, and lasts until Sunday, Oct. 13.
National Coming Out Day celebrates the power of living openly as LGBTQ and was created to commemorate the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, which happened 40 years ago on Oct. 14, 1979.
“A few years ago, we were not allowed to get married. … I’ve heard stories where you couldn’t walk around holding hands without getting attacked,” said Brian “Phoenix” Trapp, an Atlanta-based drag performer and former “RuPaul Drag Race” contestant. “I don’t want people to forget the reason why we have Pride and why we fight that.”
On Saturday, Oct. 12, processions of attendees will walk through Midtown Atlanta for the annual Trans and Dyke marches, stepping off at 1:45 and 5 p.m. respectively, along with the first Bi & Pan March at 3:30 p.m.
“Civil and human rights for the LGBTQ community are incredibly important, and I think our event helps push that to the forefront,” the Atlanta Pride Committee’s executive director, Jamie Fergerson, said.
This year’s Atlanta Pride is expected to be one of the biggest ever with performances by chart-toppers, such as Kesha, and a wide range of events created for the community, including the yearly drag queen and king show featured by the Starlight Cabaret.
“We are a diverse city, and we’re not afraid of it. We’re not afraid to say who we are and to show who we are. And I think in the same way that we changed the world with the civil rights movement, I believe that we can do the same thing as it relates to LGBTQ affairs throughout the city, in the world,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said.
Festivalgoers From Around The Globe
Atlanta Pride is projected to attract about 350,000 attendees to downtown and Midtown Atlanta, according to Fergerson. She said last year the Atlanta Police Department estimated that 320,000 attended.”
“We are the capital city of this state. And when you see that we have a celebration in the heart of our city, then I think it is a signal to other cities, no matter their size, that they can embrace everyone in their city, and we can come together, and we can celebrate together …” said Bottoms, who created the city’s first LGBTQ Advisory Board.
An Atlanta Pride Committee survey found that last year visitors came in from all states and more than a dozen countries, Fergerson said. Among those, 10% are allies or people who support the community and don’t identify as LGBTQ.
“Our event is incredibly diverse from [a] racial perspective, gender perspective [and] age perspective. We have a little bit of everyone there,” Fergerson said.
Events For Days
It’s going to be a star-studded weekend with “RuPaul Drag Race” contestants Shangela and Phoenix meet-and-greets during the kickoff party at the Georgia Aquarium at 7 p.m. Friday.
Saturday will be jam-packed with festivities including a concert with pop stars — such as Kesha, Daya, Max and Ally Brooke — at Power Pride at 2 p.m. in Piedmont Park.
On Sunday, the parade will step off at the Civic Center MARTA Station at noon and travel north up Peachtree Street. Parade grand marshals include politician Stacey Abrams, trans activist Feroza Syed and 17-year-old poet Royce Mann.
“One of the reasons we choose grand marshals is because we are actually shining a light on what issues and work we as an organization believe to be important,” Fergerson said.
Here’s our map of the 2019 Atlanta Pride Parade happening from noon to 1 p.m. Assembly begins at 9:30 a.m. near the Civic Center MARTA Station.
Later on Sunday, the free Starlight Cabaret Show will take to the Coca-Cola Stage at 7 p.m. in Piedmont Park.
Starlight Cabaret Show director Shawn “Genre Monster” Hickam describes the yearly Atlanta Pride performance as one of the largest drag shows in the Southeast with about 50 to 60 performers.
He said the energy around the show exudes love.
“I like to start the show off with making everyone give their neighbor a hug and screaming the word ‘love,’ just to kind of kick that off,” Hickam said. “Thousands and thousands of people [are] in the field there to love and support the local drag entertainers.”
The weekend will close out with a party hosted at Havana Club at 10 p.m. Sunday for those who want to dance the night away.
Bottoms said she hopes this year’s Pride is a safe event — and that it continues to grow.
“The great thing about Pride in Atlanta [is] it really is a reflection of the diversity of the city. And it is really a celebration of who we all are,” Bottoms said.