We visit Atlanta LGBT history exhibit

Dave Hayward, author of Forward Together: A Look at Atlanta’s LGBT History Since Stonewall at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, guided a group of fellow MADSA members and friends through the exhibit on Dec. 6. Member Lorraine Fontana is among the pioneer activists featured. Hayward directs Touching Up Our Roots, an oral history project documenting Atlanta’s LGBT community. Forward Together will be on display on the ground floor of the Center only until the end of 2015.

Forward Together is the most comprehensive presentation ever mounted about the Atlanta and Georgia human and civil rights movement for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. It dates from August 1969, when the police raid of the Ansley Mall Mini Cinema showing of Andy Warhol’s “Lonesome Cowboys” became the catalyst for founding the Georgia Gay Liberation front here. The raid came five weeks after the Stonewall riot that kicked off the mass effort for LGBT rights.

Hayward is the last remaining activist from the core collective that produced the 1972 Atlanta Pride march, the first march for LGBT rights in the streets, as the 1971 march was refused a permit by Atlanta, “the city too busy to hate.” Thus, in 1971 the 125 marchers had to “march” on the sidewalks and stop for every traffic light.

As a result of the success of the 1972 march, Mayor Sam Massell appointed the first openly gay person to office in Atlanta and Georgia: the late Charlie St. John, who was appointed to the Atlanta Community Relations Commission.

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