imageThe May 17 International Day Against Homophobia hits Atlanta full force this year with three related gatherings. The Global Kiss-in on Saturday is just a warm-up for a Monday march leading up to the big event.

On Saturday, May 15, a group is kicking things off with plans to tell homophobes to kiss it. Couples will gather in Piedmont Park for the Great Global Kiss In, which will take place in 40 places across the world and in 30 cities in the U.S.

But that’s just for starters. Monday is the official International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO), and citizen provocateur and straight ally Laura Gentle (top photo) made the national Shirt Off My Back Campaign local by planning a rally at 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue on Monday. Shirt Off My Back was founded to donate clothing to people in need.

“Atlanta’s Shirt Off My Back Campaign came into existence because of the immense support of Atlanta’s LGBT community in starting this new organization,” Gentle says in a written statement. “We are proud to join ATL IDAHO this year in calling for an end to homophobia and transphobia in Atlanta and beyond.”

“Some marchers will go shirtless, while others will hold signs relating how dangerous homophobia is and statistics tied to LGBTQ persons experiencing extraordinary rates of discrimination, poverty, and homelessness as a result of hate and intolerance,” she adds.

See the Shirt Off My Back Facebook invitation for the rally and march for more information on taking off your shirt and making yourself known.

The march heads through the streets of Midtown to Atlanta’s main event at Virginia Highland Church, where speakers and supporters will gather to commemorate the day.

imageBetty Couvertier (second photo), host of Atlanta’s weekly LGBT talk radio show “Alternative Perspectives,” and her crew thought it was about time Atlanta participated in the commemoration in a very real way.

“Equality Across America was asking cities to participate and to send a description of the action to them for listing,” Couvertier says. “I did, and Atlanta IDAHO was born.”

Virginia-Highland Church was the perfect location, she says.

“We want folks to know they are entering a welcoming and friendly environment for Atlanta IDAHO,” Couvertier continues, “and we got that with this church.”

The speakers and hosts at the church read like a Who’s Who of LGBT Georgia. Pastors Chris Glaser, Sonya E. Williams and Paul Turner, Women Healing Women’s Imani Evans, Fulton County candidate Joan Garner, trans advocate Tracee McDaniel, social justice activist Abby Drue, Georgia Safe Schools’ Maru Gonzales and Anneliese Singh are all on the list of some two-dozen special guests.

State Rep. Karla Drenner will present an official proclamation recognizing the day.

For more information and a complete list of speakers, see the Facebook invitation for the event, or visit ATL IDAHO’s web page.