Nearly 300 people joined the Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce on Friday to celebrate the gay business group’s annual Community Awards Dinner.

imageThe event unfolded in a ballroom of the Georgia Aquarium that was flanked by two floor-to-ceiling exhibits as the chamber honored several people for their contributions to LGBT organizations. The evening kept going with an After Party at the recently refashioned Artmore Hotel in Midtown.

The event honored Jesse Peel (photo right), who received the chamber’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in establishing several HIV agencies in the early days of the epidemic. Peel, a psychiatrist, helped start Positive Impact, was instrumental in the creation of the Atlanta Interfaith AIDS Network and served on the board of several other LGBT groups.

imageThe group also named Cleo Meyer, a State Farm agent, Business Woman of the Year; JR St. Jean, owner of Atlanta Trolley Tour Line, as Business Man of the Year; Linda Ellis, executive director of Atlanta Lesbian Health Initiative, as Guardian Angel; and Louis Gary of Ameriprise Financial, as Member of the Year. Deloitte was named Corporate Ally.

Several political candidates attended the event, including Atlanta City Council President Lisa Borders, who is running for mayor; City Council Post 2 At-Large candidate Amir Farokhi, state Senate candidate Graham Balch and former U.S. Senate candidate Jim Martin.

imageSeveral gay political hopefuls were also in the crowd, including Kyle Williams (Decatur City Commission), Charlie Stadtlander (Atlanta Board of Education), Miguel Gallegos (Atlanta City Council) and Adam Brackman (Atlanta City Council).

Next up for the chamber is its WOW Wednesday on Sept. 9. The session will explore legal issues facing LGBT people. The chamber also hosts six Business Builder Luncheons each month.

View the Project Q Atlanta photo album from the event.