Creative Loafing loves its LGBT inclusion. Per usual, the paper’s annual romp through reader and critic picks for all that’s hot and cool in Atlanta left no gay unturned in arts, culture, nightlife and headline news.
Maybe it’s just us, but this year felt extra gay. From a new website and two from its catalogue of queens (photo), to best fests to hardscrabble activists, the LGBT-ATL represents. It’s a veritable voyage through our own coverage to find these worthy honorees, starting with beloved startup Wussy mag and its coiffed and curated content.
BEST NEW ARTS AND CULTURE WEBSITE
Pretty in pink and styled like a DIY invite to a party you don’t wanna miss, WUSSY Mag is a brand-spanking-new online publication focused on alternative queer culture in Atlanta and the South. WUSSY offers fiction, poetry, event previews, recaps of local art shows, party pics, and thoughtful reads on topics as wide-ranging as radical feminism to the lack of lesbian nightlife in ATL. Part lit journal, part arts blog, part mixtape, WUSSY began publishing in April and has already amassed quite the archive: a Q&A with collage artist and graphic designer Walter S. Heape offers insight into Atlanta’s club scene of the late ’80s and early ’90s; a feature digs into the in-progress documentary Queer Moxie, which looks at the variety of queer performance in Atlanta; animated pony Sparkle Hooves delivers life advice in a regular column. WUSSY’s opening all the doors and windows to showcase Atlanta’s unbounded diversity.
BEST FEST FOR UNDER-THE-RADAR STORYTELLING
Out On Film
Approaching 30, Out on Film is one of the oldest and largest LGBT film festivals in the U.S. In a country where same-sex marriage has finally been legalized, the fall fest functions as an eight-day education that includes screenings, panels, workshops, and parties centered on bringing often-untold stories to the forefront.
Over in the news department, staffers at the paper couldn’t ignore the gay elephant in the room this year. As the nation rides high on marriage equality, so too does Atlanta, thanks in no small part to those rallying, candidate backing, never-say-die, we’re-not- done-yet advocates at Georgia Equality. And that’s just this summer alone.
BEST FREEDOM FIGHTERS
The push for gay rights has frequently been called the 21st century’s Civil Rights Movement. LGBT advocacy group Georgia Equality has been on the front lines of that battle across the state. During early 2015, the group staved off a second attempt to pass a “religious freedom” bill that opponents said would have allowed business owners to discriminate against gay people. Before the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling to overturn the state’s same-sex marriage ban, the group helped lay the groundwork for a smooth transition by working with probate judges and providing real-time info to residents about marriage resources. As national LGBT advocates focus on gaining civil rights protections against discrimination, including yet another attempt to pass a “religious freedom” bill next year, Georgia Equality has already pledged to be a key player in the local fight.
And you pretty much knew she’d be in the “Best Of” mix somewhere. The local gurrl who is also the reigning “RuPaul’s Drag Race” winner makes an appearance both as readers’ selection for Best Drag Queen, and in a harder-to-win critics’ choice.
BEST REALITY TV REPRESENTATION OF ATL
This season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” may have been lacking in the drama department, but Violet Chachki (aka Jason Dardo) sashayed to the end and brought home the crown to Atlanta. In the face of one of the more intense reality competitions on television, Violet demonstrated the fighting spirit of the South. She originally tried out for a previous season of the show and was rejected, only to return and win. Battling through the various challenges presented on the show, both mini (being photographed while jumping on a trampoline) and major (constructing a performance outfit), Chachki’s comeback story came with all of the entertainment and flare we’ve come to expect from one of the city’s most recognizable queens. The former SCAD student and current “America’s Next Drag Superstar” has expressed interest in pursuing fashion in the future, and it will be fun to watch the next steps in this 23-year-old’s career.
But Violet is not alone as queen among queens. Relative newcomer Brigitte Bidet made the cut as well.
BEST HOSTESS WITH THE MOSTESS
Atlanta’s drag scene has experienced a renaissance, no doubt reflected in local gal Violet Chachki’s big win on season 7 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Brigitte Bidet has risen like a phoenix as both a performer and as a rallying agent. She’s taken charge of Tossed Salad Sunday nights at Burkhart’s Pub and the monthly Glitz and Gurlfraendz nights at Mary’s in East Atlanta. Working in conjunction with local queer arts collective Legendary Children, this blonde bombshell’s man-eater strut sets the night aflame with sass, danger, and a shocking flare that lights the way for baby queens to watch and learn how a professional works.
Readers voted in a slew of categories to round out this year’s “Best.” Mentions went out to perennial favorite gays like filmmaker and Sparkle Hooves creator Eddie Ray, playwright Topher Payne, spoken word artist and poet Theresa Davis, theater director Freddie Ashley, street performer Baton Bob – three times as Best Bizarro News, Local Celebrity and Street Character – as well as to My Sister’s Room and Blake’s as best lesbian and gay bar, respectively.