Politicians come out in force for Atlanta Pride parade

Stacey Abrams, U.S. Rep. John Lewis and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms topped a lineup of about 35 elected officials and candidates who marched in the Atlanta Pride parade on Sunday.

Participation in the event has turned into a necessity for progressive politicians in Georgia, especially as elections near in 2020 for two U.S. Senate seats, the state's U.S. House seats, the entire Georgia legislature and a slew of municipal races.

Abrams (top photo), the former Georgia House minority leader who ran for governor in 2018, was among 12 grand marshals for this year’s parade. She noted the large political lineup in a speech to the crowd before the event, which included more than 300 entries and lasted for hours.

“I’m proud of the fact that this year we’ve got a lot of politicians who realize that they need to show up and show out and show their support,” she said. “Because in 2018, you voted for change. We didn’t quite make it across the finish line, but that just means we’ve got a little more work to do. We can do it.”

LGBTQ Georgia’s political clout is being noticed and it’s keeping anti-LGBTQ legislation from passing, according to Abrams.

“I don’t remember seeing any religious liberty legislation passed this year, do you?” she said. “They know that you’re a force and they know that you’ve got allies that will stand with you and march with you and be with you.”

Abrams decried the state’s high HIV rates and the refusal by state lawmakers to expand Medicaid.

“We’re a state that has refused to take responsibility and provide protections to communities,” she said. “And unfortunately, we live in a nation where transgender men and women face assault every day.”

Abrams has ruled out running for either of the state's U.S. Senate seats. She founded the voting rights group Fair Fight and the group Fair Count to ensure that hard-to-count populations are included in the 2020 U.S. Census.

“In 2020, we not only have elections to win, we have to make sure that the LGBTQ community is counted in the 2020 census,” she said. “We will lose access to resources, but if we show up, if we do our jobs, no one will ever be able to deny the powerful force that is … the LGBTQ community in Georgia.”

Lewis, a perennial parade favorite, called on LGBTQ Georgians to vote in upcoming elections during a pre-parade speech.

“We’ve got to go out and vote like we’ve never voted before,” he said.” We’ve got to do it for our brothers and our sisters and our mothers and our fathers — for everybody. We all live in the same house — not just the American house but the world house.”

“And it doesn’t matter whether you’re gay or your straight. We are one people, one family. And never ever forget it. We’ve got to save our country, save the Constitution, save democracy and create an America at peace with itself. The world is watching us,” Lewis added.

Other candidates and elected officials who participated in the parade:

  • U.S. House Reps. Hank Johnson and Lucy McBath
  • U.S. Senate candidates Jon Ossoff, Ted Terry, Sarah Riggs Amico, Teresa Tomlinson and Matt Lieberman
  • State Sen. (and Georgia Democratic Party Chair) Nikema Williams
  • LGBTQ state Reps. Park Cannon, Sam Park, Renitta Shannon and Matthew Wilson
  • State Rep. Bee Nguyen
  • Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore
  • Atlanta City Councilmembers Amir Farokhi and Carla Smith
  • John Barrow, candidate for Georgia Supreme Court judge
  • DeKalb County State Court Judge Mike Jacobs, who is bisexual
  • Antonio Hicks, candidate for Georgia’s 4th Congressional District
  • Nabilah Islam, candidate for Georgia’s 7th Congressional District
  • Former Fulton Commission Chair John Eaves, who is running for Georgia's 7th Congressional District
  • LGBTQ Gwinnett County School Board Member Everton Blair
  • Atlanta School Board Member Leslie Grant
  • Julie Jordan, LGBTQ candidate for House District 179
  • Emily Leslie, candidate for House District 106
  • Rev. Kim Jackson, LGBTQ candidate for state Senate District 41 (and a grand marshal)
  • Nikki Merritt, candidate for state Senate District 9
  • Doraville City Councilmember Stephe Koontz, former City Councilmember Joseph Geierman, who is running for mayor, and City Council candidate Andy Yeoman. All are LGBTQ.
  • Chamblee City Councilmembers Brian Mock, who is gay, Josh Mesa, Leslie Robson, Thomas Hogan and Darron Kusman. 

View more photos from the parade.

Photos by Matt Hennie