A group of activists, politicians, faith leaders, artists and organizations have the honor of leading this year’s Atlanta Pride parade as grand marshals.
The Atlanta Pride Committee made the announcement on Monday as a slew of Stonewall Month events were set to happen.
“Our organization is proud of our effort and commitment to select grand marshals from the wide range of diverse activists and community members among us,” said Jamie Fergerson, executive director of the Atlanta Pride Committee. “It is important to us that our slate of grand marshals represent all the varied and beautiful segments of our queer community and our allies.”
“If you know any of this year’s grand marshals, please take a moment to congratulate them on their much-deserved recognition. And if you don’t know them, I encourage everyone to take a little time to get to know these honorees and their work. The APC is so proud to be able to bring a small amount of attention to their accomplishments by giving them a place of honor in leading our 2019 parade,” she added.
This continues a trend of Pride picking multiple grand marshals, including eight in 2018, eight in 2017, 12 in 2016, 12 in 2015 and three couples, nine individuals and two groups in 2014. Or seven in 2013. Or eight in 2012. Or six nods in 2011. Of course, it's still nowhere near the 120 grand marshals in 2010.
The Atlanta Pride parade is set for Oct. 13. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.
More about each grand marshal, via Atlanta Pride:
Dr. Annise Mabry
Dr. Annise Mabry is a retired Dean of Graduate Studies, a GA Certified Peace Officer; and, a best-selling author of the home school memoir titled Educational Disobedience. She is an experienced homeschool mom who desires to bring hope to the academically invisible and educationally excluded. She is also the founder of the Dr. Mabry Foundation, Inc. a nonprofit organization explicitly founded for community growth and development as well as the executive director of Tiers Free Academy. Tiers Free Academy is Georgia’s only nonprofit alternative diploma program designed to help sex trafficking survivors, homeless LGBTQ youth, and high school dropouts to obtain a high school diploma. As a woman with love for community growth, she is a community activist with a passion for helping rural police departments to implement community oriented policing programs. Her foundation sponsors Christmas with a Cop and the Macon County National Night Out.
Rev. Dr. Beth LaRocca-Pitts
Beth LaRocca-Pitts is the senior pastor of Saint Mark United Methodist Church in Midtown Atlanta. She has served here for nine years. Saint Mark is unique in the fact that close to 90% of the worshipping congregation is LGBTQI and 100% is LGBTQIA. Saint Mark was one of the first Midtown churches to open its doors to the gay community in 1991 when many churches were not open due to fear of the spreading AIDS epidemic. Since that time, Saint Mark has been active in Georgia Equality, the Human Rights Campaign, Pride, the AIDS Walk and many other social movements seeking to promote full equality for LGBTQI persons. Within her first year at Saint Mark, Rev. LaRocca-Pitts led the congregation in a vote to join the Reconciling Ministries Network—the organization within the United Methodist Church that promotes full inclusion for LGBTQI persons. She currently serves on their national board of directors and has been working within the church on the denominational level for changes that will grant LGBTQI persons full inclusion and affirmation.
As the Gender Inclusion Organizer for Equality Foundation of Georgia, Chanel leads efforts that ensure nondiscrimination legislation and policies in the broad areas of employment, housing, public accommodations, law enforcement, safe schools, access to health care, education and voter registration access is inclusive of transgender and gender variant individuals and communities. She helps to build relationships with businesses and corporate environments that may have little to no LGBT background and experiences throughout the entire state of Georgia. Chanel also works with Elected Official’s and policy makers locally and statewide. At request, Chanel Haley does speaking engagements all over the state and nation. As well as facilitates “Trans* 101“Humility” Training by request for any type of organization. In 2018, Chanel designed a 1-year Leadership Academy cohort of Transmen and Transwomen where they learned: to effectively communicate about the transgender community, acquire confidence in public speaking, coalition building, civic engagement, policy fundamentals, gain a proficient understanding of government and how to communicate with elected officials. At the end of the 1-year class, the14 participants are now able to apply their newly acquired skills to any career field. A new cohort started in 2019.
Emily Halden Brown
Emily Halden Brown is director of community engagement initiatives at Absolute CARE Medical Center in Atlanta. She serves on Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ LGBTQ Advisory Board as co-chair of the health committee and is a member of the board of directors of THRIVE Support Services and interim board member of the Phillip Rush Center. In her previous role as director of HIV programs at Georgia Equality, Emily created the Youth HIV Policy Advisors’ Program, and she established the Atlanta Coalition for LGBTQ Youth (ACFLY)while working at Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health. Before relocating to Atlanta, she coordinated community research studies exploring structural determinants of HIV risk among youth at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit. Emily holds a master’s degree in public policy and a bachelor’s in political science from the University of Michigan-Dearborn. She is mom to Arla and Jessica, and partner to Ben.
Feroza is a trans activist and advocate. She’s a facilitator for PFLAG John’s Creek and works with organizations like GSSC (Georgia Safe Schools Coalition). She works with a group called Asian Q & A (Queer and Adolescent) to create a safe space for API youth. She was recently appointed to Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms historic first LGBTQ Advisory Board for the City of Atlanta. After coming out to a viral Facebook post as a trans woman living in anonymity, Feroza has quickly jumped into activism head on. She’s working with groups locally to help with intersectionality, specifically cultural and religious background issues targeting the Asian LGBTQ community and working towards building a safe space for that community. She is speaking at multiple schools and colleges, has been featured in magazines and articles, and recently hosted the Stonewall Pride celebrations in Atlanta in June. She was appointed AID Atlanta Ambassador for 2018. She is spending her time to bring light to the struggles of the trans and LGBTQ community, specifically POC of and of LGBTQ youth. Personally, Feroza is an Associate Broker for Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty. She is a Top Producer for them selling millions in real estate annually. She has two lovely fur babies, Bella and Teddy. Currently she resides in NE Atlanta and has been in the Atlanta area for close to 30 years.
Rev. Kimberly Jackson
The Reverend Kimberly S. Jackson, a native of Spartanburg, SC, is an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church. Kim made history as the first ever out Queer Person of Color ordained in the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. She is a public theologian who is known nationally for her commitment to working at the intersections of religion, politics, and social justice. Kim works closely with legislators at the Georgia State Capitol to advocate for just laws, on every side of the aisle. She teaches justice-seeking religious communities how to engage in the political arena effectively and she encourages legislators to maintain integrity in their leadership. She targets her service across sectors to uphold the basic human dignity of every person. As a clergy person, she officiates weddings, funerals and other services for LGBTQIAA communities regardless of religious or non-religious affiliation. Kim has served as an unapologetically Black and Queer EMT, university chaplain, Freedom School director, and pastor. Kim resides in Stone Mountain with her spouse La Trina on an urban homestead, where their spirituality is rooted in the intersections of environmental sustainability and social justice. Together they raise a variety of fruits and vegetables, with chickens, ducks, goats, and bees.
Since its founding in 2015, Latino LinQ volunteers have been serving the Latinx community in Georgia, after its founders decided to do something about the ever-widening equity gap that exists when accessing health and legal service practitioners. Latino LinQ’s founders were aware of the diversity, including gender identity, represented across the Latinx community and, for that reason, were intentional about creating awareness within the Latinx community about the most critical disparities that our LGBTQ brothers and sisters experience today. Over time, we have embraced change not only to better meet the needs of our community but also because, as is true for most grass roots organizations, change is essential in order to grow. Therefore, our mission statement has been updated to reflect the scope of our work. However, our original mission seeking to address the needs of an often-overlooked minority within the Latinx community–LGBTQ people–has remained true. Latino LinQ aims to advance LGBTQ equity by facilitating support services to Latinx LGBTQ people, and their families, in the areas of health care and legal assistance. We carry out our mission by providing direct services and by facilitating information, education, and training sessions for individuals and groups interested in expanding our mission.
Founded in 1995, Raksha, meaning protection in several South Asian languages, is a Georgia-based nonprofit organization for the South Asian Community. Raksha works toward healing, empowerment, and justice for South Asian survivors of violence. Though we primarily serve the South Asian community, we provide services to all those who face similar barriers to justice, regardless of ability, country of origin, race, religion, caste, socioeconomic status, gender identity, age, immigration status, or sexual orientation. The community includes people from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Raksha’s mission is to promote a stronger and healthier community through free and confidential support services, education, and advocacy. Raksha strives to be a source of support for all South Asians who may need support.
Royce Mann is a 17-year-old poet, activist, and rising Senior at Grady High School. In 2016, his spoken-word poem “White Boy Privilege” went viral, receiving over 20 million views on social media. Since then, Royce has had the opportunity to speak around the country, including at the inaugural Obama Foundation Summit and the MLK Day Commemorative Service at Ebenezer Baptist Church. He has performed at annual GLAAD events in New York, San Francisco, and Atlanta and was a keynote speaker and workshop facilitator at the 2017 True Colors Conference, a national gathering of LGBTQIA youth and allies. In 2018, after the shooting in Parkland, Florida that took 17 lives, Royce helped lead the effort to organize the Atlanta March for Our Lives, and he now serves as Legislative Director for MFOL Georgia. Royce has worked on campaigns for progressive candidates, including Stacey Abrams and Jon Ossoff, and is a Student Activist Coordinator for Amnesty International in Georgia. He has volunteered with multiple local LGBTQIA organizations, leading a youth writing workshop with SOJOURN and interning for Lost & Found Youth. Royce hopes to continue his work through college and beyond with the goal of empowering other young people to take a stand.
Stacey Abrams is a New York Times best-selling author, serial entrepreneur, nonprofit CEO and political leader. After serving for eleven years in the Georgia House of Representatives, seven as Minority Leader, in 2018, Abrams became the Democratic nominee for Governor of Georgia, when she won more votes than any other Democrat in the state’s history. Abrams was the first black woman to become the gubernatorial nominee for a major party in the United States. After witnessing the gross mismanagement of the 2018 election by the Secretary of State’s office, Abrams launched Fair Fight to ensure every Georgian has a voice in our election system. Over the course of her career, Abrams has founded multiple organizations devoted to voting rights, training and hiring young people of color, and tackling social issues at both the state and national levels. She is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the2012 recipient of the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award, and a current member of the Board of Directors for the Center for American Progress. Abrams has also written eight romantic suspense novels under the pen name Salena Montgomery, in addition to Lead from the Outside, formerly Minority Leader, a guidebook on making real change. Abrams received degrees from Spelman College, the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, and Yale Law School. She and her five siblings grew up in Gulfport, Mississippi and were raised in Georgia.
Stephanie Cho is the Executive Director for Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta. She brings 20 years of experience in labor and community organizing, strategy planning, and fundraising at the local and national level. Originally born in South Korea, Stephanie grew up in Oregon. After University, she started her career in organizing and movement work. She has been a community organizer, program director for LGBTQ youth programming, director of training for a national fellowship program, a labor organizer, and organizational consultant. Stephanie believes in creating more space for new leadership, building coalitions, and developing healthy and sustainable ways of working towards justice for all. In 2015, Stephanie became the Executive Director of Advancing Justice-Atlanta and has taken the organization from 5 staff to 19 staff and expanding programs to include a robust litigation and immigration legal services departments, to build a powerful advocacy for AAPIs and AMEMSA communities, all building and creating a base of active new immigrant leaders in Georgia. Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta was founded in 2010 as the first nonprofit legal advocacy organization dedicated to advancing, protecting, defending the AAPI (Asian American & Pacific Islander) and AMEMSA (Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, South Asian) communities in the Southeast.
In 2015, THRIVE SS was founded by 3 Black SGL men, living with HIV to create a sense of belonging and community for other positive Black SGL men in the Southern United States. We do this work by implementing innovative solutions to improve support and linkage to HIV care. The model was designed by the founders based on their own lived experiences with input from others in the community. The model is a 3-tiered support approach coupling 24 hour online support with 4 in-person support meetings allowing continued assessments and opportunities to link to needed services. The final tier of our approach is the creation and maintenance of the support network of Black SGL men sharing knowledge and experiences to help those facing anxiety, despair and isolation due to stigma, discrimination homophobia and racism (Judy Support). In 4 years, THRIVE has recruited over 3,300 Black SGL men living with HIV into their various networks. The Atlanta network has 900 SGL men living with HIV and men across TN., NC & SC, CA and DC.
The 49th Annual Atlanta Pride Festival is set for Oct. 11-13.