Preserving History: Photo Exhibit To Display Early 2000s Atlanta Black LGBTQ Activism
“Being queer is a significant historical fact and it must be preserved.” — Rev. Duncan E. Teague
Tucked away in several boxes inside a Midtown Atlanta condo are photographs filled with stories of Black queer Atlanta in the early 2000s. It’s a makeshift time capsule of a vibrant, organized, and politically engaged community from an era that continues to hold significance for those who experienced it, but runs the risk of being forgotten by future generations. Long time Atlanta LGBTQ+ activist and recording artist Anthony Antoine is partnering with CNP to ensure the events and images that helped shape the Black LGBTQ+ equality movement in Atlanta are never erased—specifically, Antoine’s 2001 inaugural Stand Up & Represent March, which saw hundreds of Black LGBTQ+ people and their allies march through historically Black neighborhoods in Southwest Atlanta for three years consecutively.
The March, which initially began at the State Capitol and ended at The King Center—and eventually transitioned to Atlanta’s West End—is a move that Antoine says was intentional. “We wanted to walk through Black neighborhoods and represent so that we could be seen by our community,” Antoine says.
In what Antoine says started as a dream, the Stand Up and Represent March eventually morphed into an event attracting over 400 participants.
“The dream was just us marching down the street—out, proud, we're here, we’re queer, get used to it, motivational kind of thing. But more Black and more about us, and we made it happen,” he says.
Antoine tells The Reckoning that he shared his dream with fellow Atlanta activists Malik M.L. Williams and the late Jimmie Scott, who would become co-organizers and an integral piece to bringing his dream into fruition.
“In between the three of us, they were saying, ‘Well, it doesn't have to be a dream. We could make it happen,” he recalls.
“Between Jimmie Scott, Malik Williams, Nikki Young, Shane Johnson, and Darlene Hudson, they would always ensure so many of the details of our march,” Antoine says. “You want to do a march, you have a dream... but let’s dream with intention and let’s ensure that it's also attached to the politics of the community at the time,” he recalls of the advice he received from co-organizers.
It was an ambitious undertaking that Antoine and fellow activists felt compelled to execute. But would openly LGBTQ+ marchers be welcomed by residents of the historically Black West End neighborhood?
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