Cover Story - The State of Queer Atlanta

Change is occurring under the heat of strobe lights and in the fog of cheap stage effects

Atlanta is changing. Intown neighborhoods are receiving jolts from adventurous millennials trying to stay within the Perimeter. The Beltline has become a beacon of progress for some and a symbol of gentrification and poverty-blind policy for others. While these occurrences shake and rattle the Piedmont plateau beneath our city's feet, another shift of the queer kind is happening. LGBT nightlife has always been a living, breathing force in Atlanta. But today's queer youth are taking initiative to ensure this legacy doesn't fade into the drab doldrums of life in the mainstream.

Atlanta will always hold the distinction of an LGBT mecca. Recent years have seen that distinction gain a few letters. The changing social climate has been both calm and turbulent at times. The markers of lesbian, gay, bi, straight are becoming less attractive for Atlantans in favor of a new identity: QUEER. This shift is visible in the growing art and active nightlife scenes full of people who want a safe time and place to be anything but one of those first three letters.

With the legalization of same-sex marriage and the growing acceptance of LGBT individuals in the mainstream media, young queers are refusing to rest. Atlanta's queer scene has transformed into a gigantic project to turn a concrete landscape into an inclusive space. Queer kids and the pioneers who join them on the dance floor are eschewing the trappings of binaries related to gender, sexuality, and the expectations of their socioeconomic roots. Change is occurring under the heat of strobe lights and in the fog of cheap stage effects. Atlanta's nighttime haunts are incubators in which a new generation is finding solidarity over well shots. Queer Atlanta congregates in these modern salons as well as in its rising virtual communities.

As Atlanta enters into its 45th Pride celebration this weekend, we at Wussy, a new online magazine celebrating queer culture and nightlife in the South, partnered with Creative Loafing on a series of stories. Features include an interview with Pride's new executive director, local artists discussing identity, a look at the Center for Civil and Human Rights' new LGBT institute, and a roundup of official and unofficial Pride weekend events.

Queer Atlanta's future looks bright. Drag bar mainstays like Burkharts and Jungle are opening their doors to a new batch of entertainers, realizing that intergenerational connections are more important than ever. Bright young talents like Taylor Alxndr and Micky Bee are creating community festivals such as Southern Fried, Queer Pride, ensuring that no young queer is left behind. The city's Trans community is finding a voice that can be heard outside the Perimeter and beyond. These minority LGBTQIA groups are using this moment in Atlanta's — hell, the country's — history to make a move toward a more compassionate world. Werk.

Jon Dean is Wussy's Editor-in-Chief; Zaida J., aka Cayenne Rouge, is a Wussy Staff Writer.

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