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social sciences

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Preserving History

While constantly growing and changing, Atlanta's queer community also places a high value on its history. When the Atlanta Lesbian Feminist Alliance disbanded in 1994, the group carefully preserved its archives so that future queer activists could learn about the growth of lesbian organizing in their city.

The Atlanta Lesbian and Gay History Thing was founded in 1991 by a group of activists including lesbian historian Maria Helena Dolan. Until its demise in the late 1990s, the History Thing worked closely with the Atlanta History Center to collect and preserve documents and memorabilia from the early days of queer activism in Atlanta, Georgia, and the Southeast.

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Contemporary Atlanta

Although something of an island in an intolerant state, Atlanta enjoys a reputation as a notably gay-friendly city, with a diverse glbtq population and a plethora of businesses and services that target glbtq residents and visitors.

The city has adopted non-discrimination laws and domestic partner benefits. However, there is some question as to whether some of these laws can withstand constitutional challenge, especially if attacked by an anti-gay state legislature and state voters who overwhelmingly adopted a constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage (recently affirmed by the state supreme court). For example, in 2005 the city abandoned its attempt to enforce its non-discrimination statute against the Druid Hills Golf Club when the state legislature passed a bill prohibiting local governments from fining private organizations for not offering marital benefits to same-sex couples.

Mayor Shirley Franklin, Atlanta's first African-American female mayor, has been a vocal supporter of the glbtq community. The Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau has implemented a gay tourism campaign as both a statement of the city's support of the gay and lesbian community and an attempt to attract gay and lesbian visitors.

The glbtq community played a significant role in the gentrification of the Midtown area of Atlanta in the 1990s; this area is now the center of the visible gay community, an oasis of gay bars, restaurants, and coffehouses, a part of town where gay couples can freely hold hands without fear of harassment.

While many gay men live in the Midtown area of the city, a neighboring town, Decatur, has attracted many lesbian residents.

Tina Gianoulis

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social sciences >> Overview:  Boycotts

Boycotts, the refusal to patronize companies or institutions, have in recent decades been organized by glbtq rights advocates to protest discriminatory practices and policies.

social sciences >> Overview:  Gentrification

Glbtq people have been in the vanguard of gentrification, a process of renewing neighborhoods that has both positive and negative effects.

social sciences >> Overview:  Oral History

Oral history has been an especially effective tool for lifting the curtain of invisibility from glbtq history.

social sciences >> Overview:  Parades and Marches

Both parades and marches have served to render the glbtq community visible; whereas marches typically attempt to effect political change, parades and pride events affirm identity and community.

social sciences >> Overview:  Sodomy Laws and Sodomy Law Reform

Sodomy laws, which provided the legal basis for police harassment of sexual minorities, were conclusively overturned by the United States Supreme Court in 2003, after more than half a century of efforts at reform.

social sciences >> Overview:  Southern Baptists

The Southern Baptists have become the most intolerant of the major American religious denominations, especially (but not exclusively) for their opposition to equal rights for gay men and lesbians.

social sciences >> Bowers v. Hardwick / Lawrence v. Texas

Two of the most significant Supreme Court decisions regarding constitutional liberty for glbtq people are Bowers v. Hardwick (1986) and Lawrence v. Texas (2003).

social sciences >> Boykin, Keith

Activist and author Keith Boykin has committed his life to advancing the rights of the African-American and glbtq communities and to enhancing communication between them.

social sciences >> Bryant, Anita

Former beauty queen, popular singer, and orange juice pitchwoman, Anita Bryant became the poster-girl for homophobia in the late 1970s; her name continues to be a byword for bigotry.


Atlanta Lesbian Feminist Alliance Archives. Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Duke University.

Atlanta Pride Committee, Inc. "A Brief History of Pride in Atlanta and The Atlanta Pride Committee, Inc."

Barbarow, Jaclyn. "An 'Unspoken' Generation." Southern Voice (July 16, 2004):

Dolan, Maria Helena. "You Can't be a People Unless You Have a History." The Body: The Complete AIDS/HIV Resource (September/October 2004):

Feaster, Felicia. "A Gay Old Time." Creative Loafing Atlanta (June 8, 2005):

Fullbright, Leslie. " Meeting of Minds in Atlanta." San Francisco Chronicle (January 19, 2006):

Lee, Ryan, and Dyana Bagby. "Gay Atlanta in Black and White." Southern Voice (March 24, 2006):

McAuley, Jordan, and Matt Burhalter. AtlantaBoy: An Insiders Guide to Gay Atlanta. Atlanta: Mega Niche Media, 2005.


    Citation Information
    Author: Gianoulis, Tina  
    Entry Title: Atlanta  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2006  
    Date Last Updated November 8, 2006  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2006 glbtq, Inc.  


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