Yes, the date and venue have changed again for the Atlanta Pride Festival; however, I assure you there is more than enough reason. Every year I hear so many gay peeps complain about different aspects of Pride, whenever I hear it directly, I challenge those people to become part of the organize. Being part of something is the best way to start change. However, the complainers never seem to volunteer– at the least ones I encounter.
Hopefully, I’ll have an Atlanta Pride interview in the blog within the near future.
Below is the press release addressing the date/venue change:
Reinvigorated Atlanta Pride ’09 in Piedmont Park for Halloween Weekend
City officials help Pride Committee embrace change as part of new attitude
ATLANTA, JAN. 27, 2009 — 2008 brought many challenges to finding a suitable venue for the Atlanta Pride 2009. There has been uncooperative weather, unforeseen hurdles and unprecedented community feedback. But finally, in cooperation with the Atlanta City Council, the Atlanta Pride Committee is thrilled to announce that the Annual Pride Atlanta Pride festival will return Piedmont Park for 2009 — with a an exciting twist: the event kicks off on October31, alongside Halloween’s spirit of revelry and celebration that gay Atlanta already embraces as its own.
Atlanta City Council President Lisa Borders and Parks Commissioner Diane Harnell-Cohen understood that moving Atlanta Pride back to Piedmont Park was important to pleasing the festival’s patrons and crucial to keeping the organization solvent. Both worked hard with Atlanta Pride to find a solution to permit the festival back into Piedmont while also respecting the City’s parameters of limiting Class-A events in the park to one per Festival Season (April-October). By starting Pride on October 31, the City of Atlanta will be able to again grant the festival access to its traditional home – Piedmont Park.
“The number one thing we heard from the community in 2008 was a desire to move back to Piedmont Park.” Heffernan says.
Harnell-Cohen says she understands that drought-induced limitations on park usage put an unfortunate burden on festivals, but also acknowledges the importance of festivals to the City. “We value the festivals as a rich part of Atlanta’s culture and are pleased to work with Pride to get them back in a venue that will allow them to produce a sustainable event,” she says.
Borders agrees that supporting Atlanta Pride was a duty the City could not ignore. “When I was approached by the Pride committee, it was clear there was more we could do to help,” Borders says. “It was with great pleasure that we found a creative solution to support this festival for the LGBT members of the Atlanta community.”
Heffernan is happy with the city’s response, and she acknowledges the rough road that led to a renewed vigor among committee members. “At first, the date-change felt controversial. We have always held Pride during the summer months. But we quickly realized that an October Pride will dovetail with other community milestones.”
The Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 2009 Atlanta Pride festival leads directly into Atlanta City elections and wraps up National LGBT History Month. Holding Pride in October, which also includes National Coming Out Day, the anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s death, as well as the Atlanta AIDS Walk, allows the committee to realize another of its rediscovered goals: to energize its relationships with even more individuals and organizations in the community. “We hope that everyone will be able to claim a part of Pride 2009 and our theme reflects this goal: PRIDE BEGINS WITH YOU”
“Pride belongs to everyone, and the Pride Committee can’t possibly produce an event of this magnitude by ourselves. So as the country talks about inclusion, we ask each and every lesbian, gay man, bisexual and transgendered person to claim a piece of your festival.”
Heffernan assures all that June will still be a time to celebrate. “We will be acknowledging the 40th anniversary of Stonewall in June,” Heffernan says. “We have several surprises in June that will provide exciting opportunities to come together and celebrate while also including more partners than ever to build up the excitement and momentum to October event.”