For Many Black Gay Men, The Freeway To Freedom and Liberation Runs Through Atlanta
Rev. Duncan Teague’s visit to Atlanta in 1984 was supposed to be a short-lived two-week vacation to celebrate his college graduation. Now nearly 40 years later, Teague is among thousands, if not millions of Black gay men who have migrated to Atlanta in search of liberation, freedom, community, and themselves. It’s a common thread that connects those who have taken the bus ride of faith from their relatively small southern or midwestern towns, often with no concrete plan and very little money, but with an overwhelming desire to become fully realized human beings in a city that is often both romanticized and demonized, yet affords Black gay men space to simply be.
For Teague, who had never set foot inside the city before making his initial trip, the move to Atlanta would prove to be a defining moment on his journey into adulthood.
“The richness of who I am and who I became happened after I took that two-week vacation,” said Teague.
“My cousin sent for me. He tricked me. It was a two-week free vacation. I bought two weeks worth of clothes and I haven’t gone back to live at home since,” he said.
Born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, Teague’s arrival in Atlanta during Labor Day Weekend begins like so many Black gay men who have made the journey before, during, and after him.
“I’m one of those kids who showed up for Labor Day Weekend, it was before it was Black Gay Pride. I didn’t know I was coming to Labor Day Weekend, I was just coming for a two-week vacation to celebrate my college graduation,” said Teague.
And what Teague says he saw during an outing to a gay bar with his cousin during that weekend in 1984, made it clear that Atlanta was on it’s way to becoming what the city is now commonly referred to as the Black Gay Mecca.
“I turned to my cousin and I said, ‘Is every Black gay person in Atlanta here?”
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Note: This article is presented in partnership with CNP in my new role as Editor-At-Large of The Reckoning.