LGBTQ organizers recreate MLK celebration for corona reality

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What started as a simple phone call for Kyle Lamont and Hillary Williams Thomas culminates on Monday as the new co-chairs of the Bayard Rustin-Audre Lorde Breakfast celebrate the 20th anniversary of the event.

But for the first time in the two-decade history of the signature LGBTQ event on MLK Day, hundreds of people won’t meet in person for breakfast, fellowship and the celebration of queer voices in the larger social justice movement before taking part in the city’s MLK parade. Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, the event goes virtual for 2021.

“We both probably got the same call from one of founders asking were we willing to step up to the plate and help make sure that this really important event for the community was still able to go on, especially when you’re looking at a pandemic,” Thomas said in a new episode of Podcast Q.

“It took a lot to think about how we recreate this in the virtual world,” she added.

But the event – which draws a diverse crowd not often seen at other LGBTQ Atlanta events – also offers a respite from the challenges of the pandemic and a moment to celebrate the historic wins of U.S. Sens.-elect Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, whose campaigns were staffed with LGBTQ people and whose wins were fueled by Black voters across the state.

“This is a celebratory tone as well for many of us that live on the margins of the community and margins of society,” Lamont said. “And to know that it was people of color that put a black man into the Senate in Georgia in 2021 is quite an amazing feat. And we will certainly make sure that we honor that history and this legacy-making moment.”

Longtime LGBTQ activists Darlene Hudson and Craig Washington launched the annual breakfast in 2002 as a way to remember the legacies of Civil Rights activists Bayard Rustin and Audre Lorde and feed LGBTQ people before they march in the city’s MLK parade.

It was a call from Hudson that convinced Lamont and Thomas to take over as co-chairs and lead organizing efforts for the 2021 breakfast.

“This is the only event that I have found in the Atlanta area that actually reaches all different aspects of the LGBT community,” Thomas said. “It’s the business community. It really is not around one specific racial group. There are non-profits. You see a great outpouring from the transgender community. It is all facets of the community coming together for this one event to really celebrate.”

“It really is a good kickoff to the year of what can we do as a community to improve ourselves and improve the rest of the community,” she added.

During the Podcast Q interview, Lamont and Thomas also discussed the challenges of the pandemic and honoring those who are struggling, special guests at the event, feeding the homeless, taking the children’s event virtual and cooking breakfast virtually with a chef.

“We are looking forward to having as many people as possible join us virtually this year,” Lamont said.

The 20th Annual Bayard Rustin-Audre Lorde Breakfast is Jan. 18. Registration for the virtual event is free.

Listen to the podcast above, subscribe to Podcast Q with your favorite podcast app and catch up on past episodes.


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