The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta seized the opportunity offered by this year’s resumption of in-person Pride Week to increase its longstanding support with new print ads, videos, and banners.
For decades, the Diocese has been a welcoming community to LGBTQ+ folks regardless of race, age, gender, gender identity/expression, marital status, economic status, or any other factor.
The LGBTQ+ community in Atlanta observes Pride activities each October. Why not June? Because high temperatures range from 85 to 93 during June.
After being canceled for the past two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s October 6-9, 52nd Atlanta Pride Celebration regained its place as the largest gathering of LGBTQ+ people and allies in the Southeast. Atlanta Pride included a two-day festival with music, merchandise, art, and food, along with a parade and a week’s worth of educational and social events.
Episcopalians from throughout the Diocese kicked off Pride 2022 on October 6 at All Saints’ Episcopal. The parish, located adjacent to the world-famous Varsity Drive-In and Restaurant, hosted Integrity Atlanta’s 33rd Annual Pride Eucharist.
Diocesan LGBTQ+ Commission member Jacob Clifton Albritton said the service is, “a representation of what church should be, where people are allowed to worship and be authentically in that type of space.”
“I think that’s always a moving experience for folks in particular, queer people who don’t find a place for themselves at church. Because this is a service for them and led by fellow queer folks,” Albritton said. “And so, I really love the diversity of the people. There were younger folks, there were older folks, a wide variety of ethnicities, as well as people with multiple different identities along the LGBTQ+ spectrum.”
Episcopalians also welcomed Pride goers at the Diocese of Atlanta information booth at the Pride Festival in Piedmont Park on October 8 and 9. This year, an Episcopal Youth Community (EYC) group from Episcopal Church of the Epiphany joined adult parishioners in welcoming Pride participants.
Albritton, who uses they/them pronouns, said he was encouraged by hearing the comments of many people who stopped by the booth.
“I heard there was a flurry of activity, a lot of curiosity, a lot of people saying, ‘Oh my. My grandmother was an Episcopalian!’ That was exciting,” they said. “And I think it was just there to be a presence for people who had questions about, you know, about faith and the Diocese of Atlanta as a sponsor pride every year. And so, you know, our name is in multiple places. I think that people were curious about why it was and our commitment to the LGBTQ+ community.”
Albritton said the LGBTQ+ Commission will be expanding over the next year to include members from all 10 Diocesan Convocations. “We will be taking responsibility for the Diocese’s activities during Pride Week and year-round,” they said. Current members are Meghan Birdseye – Chair, St. Bede’s; Steve Wright – St Margaret’s; Alyssa Sali – St Bede’s; Mother Mimi Guerra – Christ Church Norcross; and Jacob Clifton Albritton and Bruce Gardner – All Saints.
The Diocese amplified its love for and affirmation of LGTBQ+ persons this year with advertisements in the Pride Week edition of The Georgia Voice and in Destination Gay Atlanta, an annual publication distributed by the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau. The Diocese attracted news coverage with a Gay Pride version of our Diocesan Seal and included LGTBQ+ persons in For People with Bishop Rob Wright and in our Beloved video series.
Plans for 2023 Pride include continuing advertising and public relations efforts as well as year-round social media messages, according to Easton Davis, Diocesan Canon for Communications and Digital Evangelism.
The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta Pride parade contingent is one of the most popular in the Pride parade. Participants handed out beads and other souvenirs and carried signs with inspiring slogans and the names of welcoming and affirming parishes in the diocese.
Diocesan Youth Missioner Holle Tubbs said she was struck by the reaction to the Episcopal Diocese parade contingent.
“For me, the biggest takeaway from Atlanta Pride was people’s reactions to seeing the Church represented in the parade. I saw everything from shock and excitement to a kind of fatigued gratitude.
“So many of our queer siblings equate the Church with the protestors who spent the parade screaming from the other side of a police barrier, so the simple act of us showing up in solidarity — of letting the gospel of God’s love drown out shouts of fear and judgment — was powerful,” Stubbs said.
St. Luke’s Episcopal, located on the parade route, resumed its longstanding streetside welcome station in front of the church.
St. Luke’s Associate Rector Horace Griffin said the parade gave people of faith a chance to witness to the need for God’s love of all people.
“With the resurgence of homophobia and attempts by politicians, including our Governor Brian Kemp, to reinstate the anti-gay marriage laws, Sunday’s Pride parade and march was a glorious demonstration that we will not accept injustice from the same people who often tout “freedom.”
Griffin said he enjoyed making a personal statement by wearing a t-shirt given to him by his teenage godson and goddaughter.
“The t-shirt that I wore with the words, this is a Gay that the Lord has made is a nice reminder that we all are wonderfully made by God, a beautiful rainbow of LGBTQ+ and heterosexual people, and that when we accept all people, we honor God’s gift of the human creation.”
In addition to joining the parade All Saints’ Episcopal hosted a Pop-Up Love Shop before the Pride parade where parishioners handed out symbols of love made by parish children.