Greetings from Southern Comfort in Atlanta

Greetings blenders from balmy Atlanta, where the 20th annual Southern Comfort Conference is about to get underway.

There is something for everyone on the SCC. Whatever your connection to the transgender community – whether you are transsexual, a cross dresser or in between; a spouse, a partner or a family member; straight, gay, bi or omni-sexual; post-op, pre-op or non-op; young or old; married or single; FtM or MtF – if transgender is an issue in your life, you are welcome!

Autumn and I arrived on the scene today, and Pam will join us tomorrow.  Posting will be a bit light until Thursday evening due to the untimely spillage of coffee on Autumn’s laptop, which happened after Amtrak lost her luggage and before she learned that our hotel reservation was MIA.  After hearing Autumn’s tale of travelers woe cheerfully retold, the hotel graciously upgraded us to a suite.

In the mean time, here’s a little teaser photo posted to the Blend from one of the Crown Plaza’s much appreciated lobby computers.  Monica Helms and Autumn Sandeen are modeling the temporary interview studio now set up in the Pam’s House Blend suite.  Monica was our first interview guest.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

HRC Governor Chosen as Member of Atlanta Police LGBT Advisory Board

Last week, the Atlanta Police Department moved another step toward strengthening its relationship with the LGBT community in the city. The department recently named the nine members of the local LGBT community to sit on a new advisory board for the department’s recently assigned LGBT liaison. The intent of the board is to team with the police to identify and resolve issues between the department and the community.

HRC was excited to learn that Molly Simmons, an outstanding volunteer that sits on our Board of Governors, was among those chosen to sit on the 9-member board. Molly’s experience as a former police officer and as an established leader in our community will be a great asset to the board and we know that she will continue to be a positive force for the LGBT community in Atlanta.

You can read more about the LGBT liaison or the advisory board here and here.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright

The Stupid Rap Feud Between Lil’ Kim and Nicki Minaj Didn’t Ruin Atlanta Black Gay Pride

Lil' Kim insists her camp never authorized a performance at this year's Atlanta Black Gay Pride, where she appeared last year, but that a random fellow pretending to be her rep agreed to a ,000 fee to get her to perform. But is it all just a scheme by the pint-sized rapper to get out of an event that Nicki Minaj, the sometimes bisexual incoming queen b, would be headlining.

CONTINUED »


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Queerty

—  John Wright

Atlanta Police Create LGBT Advisory Board

In a clear response to the rift between the Atlanta police and the LGBT community, the city's police department has created a nine-person advisory board. The diversely selected committee, which consists partly of a business owner, a transgender activist, and a minister, is intended to open a dialogue between the two groups.

WABE in Atlanta reports on the committee: Gay

No matter how strong the nine members may be, the new LGBT advisory board is just that advisory. It has no policy-making or fiduciary power. And even before the board's first meeting, at least one person is questioning the transparency of the selection process.

"I simply just want to know, as do a lot of people within the LGBT community, how was the selection process conducted?" asked Charlie Stadtlander, a high school teacher and who unsuccessfully ran for the school board. He says several people nominated him for the LGBT advisory panel. He wasn't selected. And while he agrees the nine appointees are well-qualified, he says he never got the sense APD had formal standards for choosing the board.

"We all are questioning what the interview process was, how was the selection process conducted, and what criteria was actually used to select the panel?"

LGBT liaison Powell admits the selection process was informal, but stands behind her decisions. She says the nine members will allow APD to reach communities that, in the past, may not have had a line of communication with the department. And while it will take time, dialogue, and some say an apology from APD for past wrongs, most agree the board has the potential to begin rebuilding those burnt bridges.

You may recall that hundreds of people protested a police raid at the Atlanta Eagle in 2009. Charges against those bar employees arrested that night were later dropped.


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright

Watch: Alveda King Speaks At NOM Event In Atlanta

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s niece, Dr. Alveda King, spoke in front of another lowly attended NOM event during the Atlanta stop of their Hate-a-Palooza "Summer for Marriage Tour."

King

Even with an ever-growing population in the US and all over the world, King told the small crowd that humans could face extinction if gays and lesbians were allowed to marry.

Said King:

"I come from a long line of Christian soldiers…we know that people of virtually every faith and culture agree that marriage is a union between a man and woman…marriage of a man and a woman remains the guard against human extinction."

Marriage equality supporters once again greatly outnumbered those of NOM's attendees – only 30 bigots showed up this time. By contrast, about 300 people supporting marriage equality counter-protested the event. One local NOM supporter said he was "so disappointed more people didn’t show up.”

NOM has faced low attendance at their rallies since the start of their tour, but, according to the GA Voice, Brian Brown is now saying that bigots are staying away because they feel intimated by the harassment they've faced from marriage equality supporters. As we've seen before, apparently blocking someone's view is what they consider harassment. Guess they're still painting themselves as victims.

Watch King's speech as well as a follow-up interview, AFTER THE JUMP.


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright

ATLANTA: MLK’s Niece Betrays Heritage And Speaks At NOM’s Hate Tour

And she did it today before an all-time low Hate Tour crowd of FIFTEEN, versus over 250 of the good guys. The Courage Campaign quotes Alveda King: “I don’t know about you but I’m not ready to be extinct,” King said to the crowd after pointing out that “it is statistically proven” that marriage between one man and one woman is the foundation of society.
RELATED: Many more photos can be found at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Joe. My. God.

—  John Wright

Gay Getaway: Atlanta

atlanta_by_night
The Atlanta skyline.

You can get a cheap deal on CheapTickets.com if you wanna visit the ATL … and you even have your choice of airlines.

Delta and American are matching each other and AirTran isn’t far behind with fares under $200 round trip for three-day weekends booked with 10-day advance.

And for fans of the city, there’s plenty to do when you get there. Like Dallas, Atlanta has its Pride in the fall (this year, Oct. 9 and 10), but there’s still June fun. HotLanta has plenty of gay bars and clubs, including the Eagle (like Dallas’, a popular Levi’s and leather club), Woofs (a sports bar) and my favorite — for obvious reasons — Swinging Richards, an all-male strip club. For accommodations, the Grand Hyatt offers mainstream, gay-friendly appeal, while the Chershire Motor Inn is a cruisy gay place to stay.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Atlanta's new LGBT newspaper disappears

The Atlanta Free Press replaced the defunct Southern Voice on Dec. 10. Issue No. 6 was available online, but the print edition was never issued and the newspaper hasn’t been seen online or off for the past few weeks, according to Atlanta Progressive News. Bad news for Atlanta’s LGBT community and further proof that the Advocate’s list of top 15 gay cities, which listed Atlanta as No. 1, was a ridiculous list.

—  David Taffet

Lady Gaga in Atlanta last night (but caught on vid by one of our own)

We’re none too happy Lady Gaga opted to leave Dallas off her North American tour. What did we do to deserve that? But her lacking itinerary wasn’t going to stop one person. Office mate Chance wasn’t going to let a bit of distance come between him and his Fame Monster. He flew out to Atlanta and got his Gaga fill last night. He and bud Carly sent me these images to get a feel for the show. His video lacks some major zoom but this should give you an idea of what Lady Gaga might have been like had she made it to these parts.

Plus, Chance gives his take on the show after the jump.

—  Rich Lopez

Atlanta police sued over bar raid

Eagle

Lambda Legal has filed a lawsuit against the city of Atlanta and the Atlanta police department over a bar raid that happened after the Rainbow Lounge raid in Fort Worth.

The raid happened at the Atlanta Eagle in September. None of the patrons was arrested, but eight employees were charged with code violations.

Lambda Legal charges that patrons were illegally searched and made to lay on the beer soaked floor while the police did background checks and hurled anti-gay epithets at them.

“If it is APD procedure for elderly men and wounded veterans to be thrown to the floor and harassed simply for being in a bar having a drink after work, then the APD should change its procedures,” said Greg Nevins, a Lambda Legal attorney in Atlanta.

—  David Taffet