It’s a rite of passage for progressive politicians: Gather your supporters, dress in your Pride best and march in the annual Atlanta Pride Parade. From Mayor Kasim Reed to a handful of hopefuls, there they were on Sunday.
The highest-profile addition to the parade had to be Reed (top photo), who marched last year as a candidate and on Sunday for the first time as the city’s mayor. He worked the crowd, shook hands and posed for photos at the parade’s staging area before walking the route along Peachtree and 10th streets.
Reed taking part in the parade was one of several appearances he made at Pride events as he continues his outreach to the city’s LGBT residents. The mayor hosted a rooftop Pride reception at City Hall on Oct. 4 and helped kicked off the weekend festival Oct. 8 during the VIP Party at the Georgia Aquarium. After the parade, he walked through the festivities inside Piedmont Park.
Reed walked the parade route alongside police Chief George Turner, whose department has endured criticism from LGBT activists since the raid of the Eagle in September 2009. It’s the first time an Atlanta police chief has marched in the Pride parade in several years. They were joined by two top—and openly gay—staffers for Reed: Deputy Chief Operating Officer Luz Borrero and Deputy Communications Director Reese McCranie.
Turner has worked to improve the department’s relationship with LGBT residents since taking the job earlier this year. He’s clarified the role of the agency’s two LGBT liaisons, created an LGBT advisory panel and attended a town hall to address safety concerns from gay and lesbian residents.
Reed’s challenger in the mayoral runoff last year, Mary Norwood, also took part in the parade. She marched as a candidate in 2009, but this year was on hand to promote the Southeastern Flower Show.
The parade also included U.S. Rep John Lewis (second photo), a staunch supporter of LGBT issues. Lewis also appeared at the VIP Party two days earlier, continuing his long tradition of appearing at Pride events.
Atlanta’s only openly gay City Council member Alex Wan (second photo) was joined at the parade by Council colleagues Carla Smith and Michael Julian Bond. Wan and Council member Lamar Willis hosted a Pride reception on Oct. 6. Also in the parade was longtime lesbian activist and former City Council President Cathy Woolard, who was one of 40 Legislative Grand Marshals.
John Monds (fourth photo), the Libertarian candidate for Georgia governor, also rode in the parade. Competitors Roy Barnes and Nathan Deal were nowhere near the festivities on Sunday or throughout the weekend.
State Rep. Simone Bell, the first openly lesbian African American elected to a state legislature, marched in the parade, and State Rep. Karla Drenner (top photo), the General Assembly’s first openly gay member, was also on hand. Longtime LGBT supporters state Sen. Nan Orrock and Reps. Kathy Ashe and Rashad Taylor were also there. Wan, Drenner, Orrock and Ashe were among this year’s 120 Grand Marshals.
Fulton County Commissioner-elect Joan Garner (third photo), the first out candidate elected to that panel, also joined in the procession, as did Chair John Eaves (bottom photo).
Several candidates for Superior Court judicial posts also marched: Denise Warner (DeKalb), Shelitha Robertson (Fulton), Karlise Yvette Grier (Fulton) and Kelly Lee (Fulton).
Follow our coverage of Atlanta Pride.