By Anne Graham
Did you know that Atlanta has a long history of LGBTQ activism? The first unofficial Gay Pride March was held in 1971, two years after Stonewall, by the Georgia Gay Liberation Front. Maynard Jackson, Mayor of Atlanta, proclaimed June 26th, 1976, Gay Pride Day in the city. Today, Pride is celebrated in October due to the city’s sweltering summer temperatures and humidity. The parade ends in Piedmont Park, a large green space in the midst of Midtown, an area that loosely extends from Downtown to Buckhead. Check out these gay and gay-friendly areas and locations and welcome to Atlanta!
Piedmont Park/10th Street
Piedmont Park can be reached after a short walk from the Midtown station on the MARTA North-South line. It’s open daily from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm and features trails and a farmer’s market every Saturday. Go for a run or walk or just relax and have a picnic. The park is adjacent to the Atlanta Botanical Garden, which is a great place to spend an afternoon. There are several restaurants and bars in this area, including Blake’s on the Park, a neighborhood straight-friendly gay bar, with live karaoke, DJs, and drag shows. A few blocks off 10th Street on Peachtree Street, you’ll find Bulldogs (no website), a local gay bar with DJs and a dance floor.
If you cross 10th Street when emerging from the Midtown MARTA train station on the North-South line and head down Peachtree Street for a couple of blocks, turning left on 12th Street, you’ll find My Sister’s Room, a local lesbian bar with dancing and shows.
Ansley Mall/Monroe Drive
A short drive down Piedmont Avenue – not an advisable walk, as it’s long with lots of traffic – is Ansley Mall, a shopping mall that opened in 1964. It hosts gay and gay-friendly shops, restaurants, and bars, including Burkhart’s, Hideaway Atlanta, Oscar’s Bar, and Mixx Atlanta. Across Monroe Drive, you’ll find more restaurants and Smith’s Olde Bar, a great venue for live music. Across Piedmont Avenue there’s another cluster of restaurants and bars. If you’re looking for fashionable clothing, take a short walk to the Boy Next Door on Piedmont.
Ponce de Leon Avenue (pronounced ponts de LEE-on by locals) from Spring Street to Moreland Avenue has a number of bars, restaurants, and shops of various levels of gentrification. For the adventurous, there are numerous second-hand clothing shops and local bars and restaurants. Check out the Atlanta Eagle or The Model T for a drink, music, and themed nights. Mary Mac’s Tea Room features Southern comfort food. So, visit if you need a banana pudding or sweet tea fix. Further down Ponce, in the former Sears/City Hall East is the Ponce City Market, which features a central food hall, a foodie’s dream. Continuing on Ponce across Moreland Avenue will eventually take you to downtown Decatur. It’s recommended that you arrange transportation to visit Ponce, as the closest MARTA station, North Avenue on the North-South line, is a long walk.
Not really a walking location, Cheshire Bridge Road and the nearby Lindbergh Drive are commercial areas with shops, restaurants, and bars. Cheshire Bridge Road has antique shops and Jungle Atlanta and The Heretic, nightclubs with DJs and dance floors. A short drive away, you can visit Woof’s on Piedmont, Atlanta’s only gay sports bar. You’ll need to arrange transportation to these areas, as there are no MARTA trains stations nearby.
If you’re visiting the city’s historic African American neighborhood, Sweet Auburn, check out the Sweet Auburn Curb Market, The King Center, and the Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site, stop for a drink at Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room & Ping Pong Emporium. It’s a small local gay-friendly hangout and a must-see if you like paintings on velvet. Wednesday evenings feature church organ karaoke.
While it’s not located in the Sweet Auburn area, you can find out more about Atlanta’s civil rights history at the Center for Civil and Human Rights, which is within walking distance of the Peachtree Center MARTA train station North-South line.
Still haven’t found what you’re looking for? Check out these online publications to find the latest hotspots in the Atlanta LGBT community.