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by Mikey Rox


I’ll say it: The past few years have been a f***ing nightmare. The climate in this country – and, arguably, the world – is so volatile that it’s a wonder any of us get a good night’s sleep. I find myself angry, negative and depressed for no good reason, but at the end of the day how much does any of the shit we put ourselves through really matter? After a lot of reflection, I’ve come to realize that it doesn’t. None of it. Not a single thing impeding your or my happiness is worth what we’re feeding it. So why not stop? I am – starting now. Here’s how I’m snatching back my happiness in 2019.


  1. Allowing myself to be proud of me

My grandmother – the one who disowned me for being gay – used to talk a lot about the importance of humility. In fact, she prosthelytized the importance of many “Christian” ideals, but rarely exercised them herself, especially where love and acceptance is concerned. And that’s the primary problem with people trying to teach you to be you: They have no goddamn idea what they’re talking about. As a result, I grew up being ashamed of who I was while not allowing myself to celebrate the growth and progress I make as a human being every day. But that stops here. I have so much to be proud of as not only a man but a gay man. I’m young(ish), successful, blessed in so many ways, and I’ve done all my adulting on my own. That deserves a big pat of the back – and I’m giving it to myself this year.


  1. Not giving into short-term gratification

I love shopping. If we’re hunting for clothing and home-good bargains, I’m there in a jif. But it’s an expensive habit to maintain. I update my wardrobe and add décor to my homes more often than I’d like to admit (even though my bank account serves as a constant reminder), but I’ve recently made a resolution that nothing new comes through these doors for the entire year. How will I do that? I’ve started by cutting up credit cards and unsubscribing from every marketing email that has landed in my inbox since January 1. It’s a virtual ghost town in there these days. The next phase is to start editing my closets and my homes for items I can sell to help reach my New Year’s saving resolution, which this year is in the double-digit thousands – all cash in hand. It’s lofty, but I’m determined – and that’s all the motivation I need.

  1. Downsizing my entire life

I’ll start selling my material possessions this year because I don’t need them where I’m going. My long-term goal for 2019 is to unload all my real estate, purchase a van that’s suitable for daily life, and hit the road. As I’ve sat in my properties – alone – for the past few years, I’ve had plenty of time to think, and the question I keep coming back to is, what the hell are you doing here? The answer is nothing. I’m doing nothing where I am but wasting the time I could be spending out there in the world experiencing life instead of literally watching it pass me by. It’s a major change that’ll signify the start of the second half of my life story, but I eat challenges like this for breakfast.

  1. Cutting out alcohol so I can remember what I’m really like

Many people have a difficult relationship with alcohol, myself included. And as I reflect on the over 20 years that I’ve allowed alcohol to ruin relationships, squander opportunities and otherwise fuck me up physically, mentally and emotionally, I have to consider the alternative. So beginning at the top of the year, I decided to live alcohol free until April 1. That’s not the date when I’ll start drinking again, but rather a date that gives me enough time to clear my head, concentrate on my fitness goals and then weigh my options. Will I be the better person I want to be, or am I a dick sober too? Time will tell.

  1. Finding more people who raise my spirits

I don’t like to put down our own LGBTQ community, but we can be real cunts to one another. It’s not just us, though. There are so many people out there who are committed to infecting everyone around them with their negativity that I sometimes dread leaving the house. Everybody has an attitude these days, and for what? Who knows, but I’m canceling all my dates with those downers and only giving time to people who make me feel good about myself. Thank you, next.

  1. Avoiding as much political media as I can

I’m turning off the TV, changing the settings on the news I receive, and avoiding all political debates on social media. It’ll drive you fucking nuts if you give into it, and we can’t let the trolls control us. Look the other way and have nothing to say is my new motto. It’s everybody for themselves out there.

  1. Practicing more self-care

More hot baths, facials, massages, meditation, gym classes, yoga, (safe) SEX, and whatever else makes my mind and body feel like I deserve this. Because I do.

  1. Refusing to do anything I don’t want to do

I’m already very good at saying no, but I have a conscience and I sometimes feel bad when I’m direct to someone who’s kind. I don’t want to hurt their feelings, but I’m also not willing to engage in situations that bore me or make me uncomfortable or that cost me money I don’t want to spend. Thank you for asking, but I’m politely declining, perhaps for eternity. I don’t owe you an answer why either.

Get out there and snatch back your happiness this year too, friends. Clock’s ticking.


Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and LGBT lifestyle expert whose work has been published in more than 100 outlets across the world. He spends his time writing from the beach with his dog Jaxon. Connect with Mikey on Instagram @mikeyrox






By Mikkel Hyldebrandt

Photographer: Ken Weingart

Groomer: Paige Davenport for Exclusive Artists using Laura Mercier and R+Co

Stills Courtesy of Heart, Baby


For the role as the trans woman Crystal, actor Shawn-Caulin Young, a cisgendered, gay man, immersed himself in the trans experience by representing as a trans woman for six months. Goliath’s Mikkel Hyldebrandt spoke to the actor about the world of make-believe, the power of a love story, unlikely bonds, the trans experience, and the imminent need to support the trans community.

Growing up as the youngest of four in a double-wide trailer in the desert outskirt of Farmington, New Mexico with hard-working, middle-class parents, Shawn-Caulin Young always knew he was different. With that knowledge he turned to the land of make-believe instead and spent most of his childhood daydreaming he was someone else.

Surrounded by toxic masculinity, he was relentlessly bullied for what was considered feminine traits, like his sensibility and hyper-awareness of his surroundings, and because he wasn’t into sports like the other boys, he was teased and labeled f****t because he would hang out with girls without dating them. So, Shawn would erase his true self and depended on his talent for pretending to be like the other guys in order to survive.

It wasn’t until high school that Shawn learned that he could embrace his survival trait as a gift and a talent, and he used it to feel significant in the world. In a way, his pretending switched to being acting, and that’s when he knew what career path he wanted to pursue – making a living as a storyteller.

After graduating with a BFA in acting from The Hartt School at the University of Hartford, he moved to New York City and quickly landed his first film, and his career as an actor took off.

Now, he plays Crystal in the film “Heart, Baby” about the unlikely prison romance between a trans woman and a boxing champ. To fully immerse himself into the role, Shawn lived as a trans woman for six months, and once again turned to the world of make-believe to experience how living and presenting as your true self can be a matter of survival.


‘Heart, Baby!’ is about the unlikely prison romance between a transwoman and a boxing champ. How did you come across this story?

A few years back, writer and director Angela Shelton spoke at the 140 Conference in New York where she met Andy “Doc” Dixon. They quickly bonded and became fast friends. Doc was in prison with George, and the two had been best friends since childhood. A few months later, over some wine, Doc told Angela the story of George and his transgender cellmate Crystal. By the time he was finished, he and Angela were crying, his wife crying, even the dogs were crying! Angela told Doc this needs to be a movie. He agreed, saying only she could do it. Angela began to research and craft the remarkable love story of George and Crystal, and in the summer of 2015, she sent me the script for Heart, Baby!


What drew you to this story?

Crystal. She was a remarkable human being. I was fascinated by her innate ability to love beyond her given circumstance. Crystal was an Evangelical transgender woman who found the freedom to be herself inside the confines of a men’s prison! She was a devout believer in Christ who could quote the Bible three ways from Sunday while turning the fiercest look. She was beautiful and complex. Unfortunately, she was literally erased by her family. They concocted false drug charges and locked her away under a fake name to protect the family’s reputation. Despite this, Crystal was filled with love and loyalty to those around her. Crystal’s story is the heart and soul of the film. That being said, there are so many elements of Heart, Baby! that apply to today’s world. It’s not very often that you come across a story that is filled with such heart. When I read the script for the first time, I couldn’t believe it was true. How could an epic love story like this not be known? I couldn’t put it down. I read it three times in a row because I was so moved by their love. I knew I had to do whatever I could to help bring their love to the big screen.


What is it about the unlikely bond between a trans woman and boxing champ that is so powerful?

I’ll be the first to admit that their bond makes no sense, on paper. They were polar opposites. I think what makes this story so powerful is that these two human beings were able to find love in such a hopeless place. It shows the depths of the power of love. It was the 80s. This was a time where people could barely understand the concept of transgender, let alone accept it. Throw in the fact they were of different races and religious beliefs and their story becomes even more compelling. The idea that a straight, African-American man fell in love with a white, Evangelical, transgender woman and gave up his chance at freedom to protect her blows my mind. It’s one of the greatest examples of love of which I’ve ever heard. You can’t make love like this up! It transcends time and space. For me, it’s biblical.


In preparation for the role as Crystal, you decided to live as a trans woman. Why did you think that was necessary for the part?

When I came onto the project, I was solely a producer. I had no intention of playing the role of Crystal. Our casting director (John Jackson) combed the country for weeks looking for a trans actress. After a month, only ten were submitted. Of those ten, eight were African-American and obviously not a match – Crystal’s was a blonde, white woman. Unfortunately, the two actresses who remained were unable to portray her essence. We were backed into a corner. That’s when Angela suggested I do a makeup test to see if I could pass as a woman. When she sent the photos to Doc, he burst into tears. Angela was adamant that I was the best human to play the role. After much debate, I agreed with the condition that I live as a trans woman for the entire experience. I’m a cisgender, gay man who knew nothing of the trans experience. I had an obligation to Crystal, and to the entire trans community, to do everything I could to respect and honor them. The only way I knew I could do this was to live their life and see the world through their eyes.

As a cisgender, gay man, have you received any backlash for portraying a trans woman?

Surprisingly, most of the backlash I’ve received has come from media outlets that are LGBTQ focused. Several prominent magazines and organizations won’t speak to me or review the film because I’m not trans. Ironically, I have several trans friends who have seen the film and said that only I could have played this part. Many have gone on record saying they approve of and fully support my portrayal of Crystal. The fact I’m experiencing discrimination from my own community shocks and disappoints me. My job as an actor is to find empathy and understanding of the human experience. Most of the time, the characters I play have lived a drastically different life than mine. I lived as a trans woman so that I could be an advocate, knowing for myself what it’s like to live in their world. It’s interesting to me that within the LGBTQ community and media there is discrimination and hate, especially toward other LGBTQ individuals. We need to be celebrating anyone who is willing to tell out stories. I understand that it may look like I’m just another cisgender man taking a role away from a trans person, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.


What was your experience of living trans? Did you experience harassment?

I had no idea how difficult it was for a trans woman to live her life, just as herself. Words cannot truly express the hell I experienced. Our government marginalizes trans individuals more than any other demographic within the LGBTQ community. There are no laws to protect against the discrimination of trans people in housing, healthcare, education, and many other basic civil rights. I naïvely stepped into the trans experience thinking it couldn’t be that bad, quickly realizing society is severely tilted against trans people, not to mention women in general. I faced oppression, degradation, objectification, mental and physical harassment. Many people are quick to jump to hatred when they encounter someone they can’t place into a category with which they are comfortable.

For six months, I committed myself to the trans experience, and I’m forever changed because of it. I was in constant fear for my survival, and I believe this is how I trapped into Crystal’s truth. Sometimes it was “We don’t serve your kind here.” Other times it was much more dangerous. One time I was followed down the street by two men who demanded I give them the attention they felt they deserved. If they had found out, I was trans, who knows what they would have done. I also had a stalker who waited for me outside my apartment in New Orleans. The experience was so terrifying; I dealt with depression and anxiety daily. It got so bad that I couldn’t even deal with my own genitalia. It began to represent all of the danger that I was experiencing from the outside world. If everyone were to experience the struggle trans people live every day, the world would be much more loving and accepting.


What was the eye-opening experience from having a trans experience?

In a patriarchal, heteronormative society like the United States, life is built on the foundation of suppressing anything feminine. We’ve been living in a “man’s world,” and it’s bullshit. It wasn’t until I lived my life as a trans woman that I came to truly understand this. It’s an oppressive and violent uphill climb for a transgender person to have an equal playing field. It’s important for all human beings of this world, no matter how they identify or express themselves, to have the inalienable and legal right to be who they are without jurisdiction or ramifications. With federal and state laws currently designed the way they are, not much is going to change any time soon without loud vocal action. That’s why now, more than ever, we as a community and a nation must stand up against the oppression of our trans brother and sisters. We must unite and protect them. It’s the only way we are going to survive as a global community.


Where can we enjoy your talents – either as producer, director or actor – next?

My writing and directorial debut, Stand/Still, is currently making the rounds on the film festival circuit. It’s a psychological thriller about a middle-aged couple who turn to human trafficking in order to have a child of their own. It’s a terrifying look inside the minds of human traffickers. The short is a proof of concept for a feature of the same name which will hopefully be in production by next summer. We have been fortunate enough to have already won several awards including Best Direction as well as Audience Choice. As an actor, you can catch me on HBO in January 2019. I have an awesome role on True Detective opposite Academy Award-winner Mahershala Ali. This season is going to be amazing. It’s a definite must-see!


Anything you’d like to add?

I am grateful for Goliath for giving me this chance to share my story. I wish more LGBTQ organizations and media outlets were like you!

Heart, Baby! Premiered on the festival rounds in 2018 with a wider release in May. Go to see where it is screening now.


By Deven Green

Well Hello, Bill Greening is a dear friend of mine who happens to design Barbie. I thought you may enjoy his story. 

Bill, tell us what you do with Barbie?
I’m a Principal Designer on Barbie Signature as well as the Barbie Brand Historian. I started at Mattel in 1999. I started working on play dolls for kids until 2006 when I started working on collectable Barbie dolls the Barbie Signature team.

2019 is a special anniversary year, isn’t it?
March 9, 2019 will be the 60th anniversary of her first debut at New York Toy March in 1959! We consider that her birthday here at Mattel. She is the #1 fashion doll in the world. It’s truly awesome the long-standing power of the Barbie doll and how many generations have enjoyed playing and collecting her. Today 58 million dolls are sold worldwide per year!

Which Barbie’s are you most proud of creating?
With the kid’s dolls, it’s very rewarding to see a child get a Barbie doll, that creates a fun happy memory. That this may be the doll they remember playing with for a life time. It’s funny because a lot of those kids what were five and six in the early 2000’s when I first started designing are now in their twenties. if I post one of my first designs on social media, I like to read the reactions and comments. Like ‘OMG I had that doll!’ Some of those Barbie dolls most remembered I designed are Cool Clips, Dream Glow, Picture Pockets, and Jam N/ Glam. In fact, the famous Saturday Night Live Barbie and Skipper spoof with Amy Poehler and Britney Spears, Jam N/ Glam Teresa is mentioned, I’m so honored!

Photographer: Dennis
Stylist: Sheryl

In the collector line, I really love working on fantasy type dolls because you can really take the design into that over the top glamour that you might only see in movies, stage production, or some eccentric pop stars wardrobe. Barbie is a blank slate and she can be anything. Sone of my favorites are Unicorn Goddess Barbie, Goddess of the Galaxy Barbie, the Haunted Beauty Barbie line because I love Halloween!

There are some dolls, that I worked on, that seem to be favorites in the gay community as well like Wonder Woman, Henry Cavill Superman, Cher, Ladies of the 80’s Joan Jett, Cyndi Lauper, and Debbie Harry, Dynasty’s Krystle and Alexis, Farrah Fawcett, Tippy Hedren in The Birds, The Blonds Blond Diamond Barbie doll. It’s funny because the Blonds Barbie often turns up in many funny glamour diva type memes. I know the real-life Blonds, David And Phillipe, think this is funny too.

Why do you think Barbie is so popular with the Gay community?  
I think many gay men have some sort of experience with Barbie. If they wanted a doll for themselves as a child, played with their sisters, or the best case had parents who just saw the doll as a toy not just a toy for girls and gave it to them. There is an allure with Barbie, the glamour, the larger than life persona. She’s an icon like Cher, Madonna, et cetera. She keeps serving your looks for the last 60 years. She evolves her look each decade, capturing cultural trends, fashion, and fads. She’s a little time capsule of pop culture. I always think drag queens emulate the top icons of pop culture Icons like Cher or Madonna, and I think it’s awesome when I see drag queens pay homage to Barbie. My friend Trinna Modele does Barbie in her show and the crowd goes wild. I’ve seen Violet Chachki do the 1959 Barbie look on social media.  I have a picture of Lady Bunny standing next to Karl Lagerfeld at a Barbie event dressed up like my Pop Life Barbie design, and Trixie Mattel re-created a look from one of the dolls I worked on called Golden Dream Barbie from the Superstar Forever Series. That was a big honor to see people making the comparison of social media and tagging me.

Did Barbie help you come out?
Yes, I feel like Barbie has been my friend my whole life. She’s been my side for a long time. When I was very young like around four or five, I had my own Malibu Barbie dolls. It was ok to have them as a young boy, then suddenly it wasn’t. I think my mom was afraid what the neighbors would say when I got a little too old in her opinion. Funny though my dad never had an issue with me playing dolls and often bought me them when I got him to take me to the toy store! I always still found a way to play Barbie with girlfriends and my cousin.  Around 17 years old, in 1988, I decided to start collecting Barbie. There was some resistance at first, but my Mom gave in and eventually joined me in the hobby. We went to doll shows and antique shops together and it became our time to hang out.

In 1990, I came out, I was 19. My mom really had a hard time with it. I think she always knew I was gay, but in that time period, the media was talking about the AIDS crisis, and I think my Mother’s reaction came out of a place of fear not hate. Thankfully, we had a neutral ground of Barbie collecting to keep us talking. It was a way for us to connect in a light-hearted way. The hobby gave us a neutral place to be together. My dad, in contrast, was always very cool. He believed we all walk our own path in life. My path was a gay man who collected and would eventually design for Barbie. It’s all I ever wanted to do since childhood. After design school, I landed my job at Mattel. My parents could not have been prouder. They even had a large Barbie display in their house of my work. They would show off to kids and the neighbors when they came over. Both my parents have passed away now. I’m very thankful they were on this journey with me, coming out, discovering my passion for doll design, and sharing the joy of Barbie. 2019 really gives me pause. A chance to think back, look forward and to celebrate along with Barbie.

Thank you so much Bill and congratulations.
Follow Bill on FB / IG @BillGreening



Bespoke Never Looked Better

By Mikkel Hyldebrandt

The art of bespoke tailoring isn’t lost on Atlanta. Neil Balani, the owner and chief tailor of HKT Custom Clothiers, has created highly customized suiting for Atlantans since 2005, and the family-run business has offered bespoke tailoring since 1970. In fact, if you’re looking for a Savile Row-style tailoring establishment, you will feel very comfortable in the capable hands of Neil, who both understands the logistics of running a bespoke clothing brand, as well as the intricacies of how to tailor. 

Neil, How did you get into tailoring?

Back home in Malta, my dad was in the men’s clothing and tailoring business, so I saw it on the daily when I was visiting him at the shop. HKT is a bit different because we’re into making custom suits, versus just alterations. But, tailoring has always been in my life. 

Explain the process of creating a bespoke suit for a client.

First is understanding the client’s needs to get an idea of what fabric is needed and their lifestyle. We help them choose fabrics; we carry over 3,000 different types, which are all different depending on the use such as work travel or a wedding. 

We then go through the details of the garment, including the styling of the suit – so one or two button, pleats or no pleats, double-breasted or not.  Then we take body measurements to create a pattern, which we keep on file. In four to six weeks the garment will be complete for him to try where we will do a couple of light fittings to make additional adjustments.  Then it will be completed in a week.

What elements are crucial to creating the perfectly tailored suit?

The key is to understand what a client wants, but at the same time give them the advice on how a suit should fit. It’s not as easy as just taking body measurements, but consulting them on how we can design the suit to fit for their body.

Beyond suits, HKT Custom Clothiers offer custom shirts, belts, jeans, sports jackets, trousers, tuxedos, sweaters, polos, as well as a whole line of luxury men’s accessories like ties pocket, squares, cufflinks, and sunglasses.

What’s your favorite item of clothing – and why?

I love my bold sports jackets and a nice pocket square to give it that finesse. I like to make a statement, but at the same time I tone it down with nice jeans or dark colored pants to keep it in balance.

How do you keep up with trends and get inspiration for your work?

I go through our archives and take inspiration from what we created over the years. Since we’ve been in business so long, we can look back and see what we were creating in the 70s and 80s to take inspiration.  I also watch what’s happening with British and Italian fashion trends, pulling from the best trends to create our own here in Atlanta.

As a bit of Savile Row flair in Atlanta – how do you view the style of Atlanta’s men?

Style in Atlanta has really improved from even five years ago. I’m now seeing that even the youngest generation is dressing up much more instead of wearing shorts and tees to the office.  The music and film industry has also had an influence in making people dress up more. The younger man wants to stand out as a person, and from a style and business perspective, it’s upped the game. Atlanta has its own look that’s in the middle of LA and NYC, so a mix of casual street style with curated dressed up and well-designed pieces. 

What is it about bespoke suiting that makes it so unique?

Bespoke suiting is an art and a craft that is very unique in itself. It’s all about perfection and making something that is precisely for the individual, not an off the peg suit that has to be altered to try and fit them. At HKT it is a personal service as well; we get to build a relationship with our clients, and that helps us set a different standard. You really have to get to understand someone as a person to craft something so personal for them. 

Bespoke suits are also something you’ll wear for a lifetime.  We’ve had clients come to us with suits from 1986 that we made. They still fit and look great, but we’re able to update them, so they reflect today’s styles. Your return on investment with a custom suit is actually better than an off the peg suit since it will last you longer and you’ll get more wears. 

Why should every man experience having a custom clothing item made?

Everyone should experience knowing that a clothing item is made just for them, solidly for their body. It’s not going to fit anyone else. I think the custom clothing experience is extraordinary and amazing from start to finish. There is nothing better than having something that fits for your confidence. That is where guys have trouble buying off the rack clothing because the items don’t fit great and they are uncomfortable. With alterations, you can only do so much. 

What do you think is the biggest misconception about bespoke clothing?

People tend to think bespoke clothing is just way too expensive, but realistically it’s not. They think it’s something beyond their conception or are even unaware of it. But it’s really something to try in life. Once you enjoy the process, you’ll find it amazing. 

Your Own Style Consultation

Arrange for a personal style consultation with Neil. Call the store to arrange an appointment at 770-458-8662 or go online at You can also learn more about HKT Custom Clothiers and get the latest styles by following their Instagram at @hktclothiers.

By Jeff Fuller


“Burst down those closet doors once and for all and stand up and start to fight.”

–  Harvey Milk


Pride Is Protest

Pride has its origins in protest, the Stonewall Riots of 1969, a time when gay sex was a criminal act in much of the country and the “out and proud” were few and far between. These brave souls were able to find supportive and accepting communities of kindred spirits in major cities such as New York or San Francisco. Being “out” came with great risk and potential consequences – ridicule, job loss, police harassment, assault, or worse. Raids on gay bars were frequent; however, in June of 1969, the queers of New York’s Stonewall Inn fought back against a police raid. News of the Stonewall Riots galvanized gays across the country and eventually the world, resulting in annual Pride parades in major cities like Atlanta to demand LGBT rights. These protest parades have evolved into the Pride celebrations we know today.


Over the years, Pride has been used to protest Anita Bryant’s anti-gay crusade, the inadequate government response to the HIV/AIDS crisis, marriage amendments, anti-transgender bathroom bills, and horrific acts of violence against our community.  Pride has also been a celebration of our political and legal victories: greater visibility and acceptance of the LGBTQ community in the workplace, the elimination of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and the landmark Supreme Court decisions of Lawrence v. Texas (decriminalizing gay sex); Windsor v. United States (mandating federal recognition of gay marriage); and Obergefell v. Hodges, (providing for marriage equality nationwide).


Pride Is Personal

While Atlanta Pride no longer coincides with the Stonewall anniversary, it falls on or about National Coming Out Day. Coming out remains an important ritual in our community and Pride often plays a major role in this process by offering a safe and accepting environment. For me personally, Atlanta’s Pride Festival was the first time and place in my adult life that I held someone’s hand of the same gender in broad daylight. I remember how powerful it was to observe hundreds of people who were queer like me and queer in other ways, out having fun in the bright sunshine. My coming out process was slow, but events like Pride gave me the courage to accept myself and eventually be open about who I am.


To those who live in parts of the country where there is no gay community to speak of, Pride is often one of the few chances they have to truly be themselves and connect with others. Pride is especially powerful to youth who may be outcasts in their hometowns but can feel like they belong somewhere when they visit Atlanta for a fun-filled weekend in October.



Pride Is a Party

Pride is also a season of rainbow flags, rainbow socks, rainbow cakes, and rainbow jello shots.  Glamorous drag queens present dazzling performances. Half-naked men gyrate on parade floats.  Pride parties can mean gathering in people’s houses for brunch, dancing to the wee hours of the morning to electronic music, congregating on the lawn by the Piedmont Park stage, connecting with old friends and making new ones, or witnessing the beautiful parade put on by our queer community. Pride provides enough events and excitement to keep one entertained all weekend long.


Some have argued that the meaning of Pride as protest has been lost in its party atmosphere, that it is just another excuse for excessive drink and debauchery. Some decry the commercialism resulting from sponsorship from major companies that once wanted absolutely nothing to do with anything gay but now promote a sanitized and de-radicalized event. Others feel left out, that their voices are not being heard and that Pride has more work to do to be more inclusive.


Amid all the sweat and glitter, it can be easy to lose sight of the political and personal functions of Pride that help build us up as a community.


Pride Is a Protest Again

While LGBT rights have advanced considerably since 1969, these times call for continued vigilance against forces that seek to hinder or reverse these gains. The Supreme Court justice who was the deciding vote and the author of the Lawrence, Windsor and Obergefell opinions has retired and may be replaced by an extremely partisan conservative, credibly accused of sexual assault. In Georgia, the outcome of the governor’s race will decide whether the state may once again attempt to enact a religious freedom bill that legalizes discrimination. Even in 2018, you can still be fired from your job here in Georgia for being gay. The current administration seeks to ban transgender people from serving in the military, demonstrates indifference to the continuing threat of HIV/AIDS, and fosters an environment hostile to LGBTQ rights. Pride is also an opportunity to keep these issues in focus as well as other causes that our community cares about: police brutality, racial justice, climate change, sexual violence, and international human rights. Celebrate this fabulous weekend, but also allow Pride to energize you to take action, whether that means voting, writing an article, organizing, serving the community, or raising your voice in protest.


By all means, enjoy the plethora of Pride parties, but also take time to reflect on how far we have come as a community in this half century since Stonewall as well as the formidable challenges affecting us today. Share your own coming out story and listen to others tell theirs. Make people feel included and encourage them to be who they are. Hold hands. Atlanta Pride grows more and more each year because it showcases the creativity, diversity, kindness, and love of the LGBTQ community here.


By Joe Gauthreaux


To say I love Atlanta Gay Pride would be an understatement. Atlanta is one of those cities where you fall in love with it the first time you visit, no matter the weekend. But the energy and excitement of Gay Pride is very unique compared to others, with southern hospitality and a welcoming atmosphere abounding at every turn.


I’ve DJed many parties and events for Atlanta Gay Pride, each one always better than the last. I have so many memories with so many people I call not only friends but family. Memories that will last a lifetime. I’m incredibly honored to be DJing again this year, at Opera Nightclub on Sunday night. But my event is just one of many happening throughout the weekend.  I spoke to a few of my DJ friends who will also be performing throughout the weekend – three veterans to the occasion, and one first-timer – about Atlanta Gay Pride, and what they have planned for us. Here’s what they had to say.



For the full line-up on the DJs I interviewed, it’s at




What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think “Atlanta Gay Pride?” 

My first time, for Hotlanta, was in the late 1990’s.  Atlanta was the first city that I went to enjoy, fully accepting that I was meant to be in this community.


What is the song or track you always have to play at Gay Pride?

“Easy As Life” by Deborah Cox. I’ve remixed my remix hundreds of times.


Nothing is ever easy, Tony, including getting at #1 record. But you & Jason Walker, who is performing with you at Heretic on Friday night of Gay Pride, did hit #1 with a beautiful song called “So Happy.” So, what makes you so happy?

I do my best to tune in to feelings that I can express through songs. Some may be about sadness or about energy such as “Heartbeat” with Deborah Cooper. As I was writing “So Happy” for Jason at the artist and songwriter’s home in Atlanta, we started writing about things that we were grateful for, and that evolved into “So Happy.”


You know, one of my favorite remixes of yours is “Together Again,” by Janet Jackson. If you could be together again with any one person, living or dead, who would it be?

That would be a special friend that was not a lover. I was at a funeral the same week I was remixing this song, and my feelings were all over the place as I was working on this song. Listening to it and fine-tuning after listening to it over and over. I believe there no coincidences and that I was meant to learn more about myself via that experience.


Finally, give me three words that perfectly describe Tony Moran.

Grateful. Optimistic. Relentless.





What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think “Atlanta Gay Pride?” 

Unity, Friendships, Love, chosen family, and a Celebration of who we are proud to be.


It definitely is a celebration of who we are. What is the song or track you always have to play at Gay Pride, to bring out the celebratory side of Abel?

Heather Small, “Proud”


You & Ralphi have made some of the most memorable club hits of the last two decades. My personal favorite is “Cha Cha Heels.” So, what is your favorite heel? Pumps? Stilettos?

I got a bad back, no more stilettos, or pumps, now it’s memory foam!


Memory Foam for the win, for sure! One of the best pieces of advice you ever gave me, about ten years ago, was to make my own music and not focus only on remixing, as people would remember me more for what came from inside. I took that to heart, and it gave me the confidence to start writing my own music. So, thank you for that. What advice would you give to new DJs or producers out there?

Stop trying to make it overnight and make it for the long run. Stop the copy and paste. Be original, and stop worrying about what others do.


So true. Originality always wins out in the end – I do wish more would remember that.  So finally, give me three words that perfectly describe ABEL.

Real. Honest. Original.




What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think “Atlanta Gay Pride?” 

Good friends, community, and unforgettable times.


Speaking of unforgettable times, what is the song or track you always have to play at Gay Pride?

Some version of “Born This Way,” or an empowering song that reminds us of what we’re celebrating.


You have a new track out called “MEAT” with Alan T. So, I’m dying to know, how do you like your meat?

The irony is that I don’t even eat meat – at least not anything on four legs (seriously). I do treat myself a couple of times a year, like when I go to a Brazilian churrascaria.


Yeah, I love those Brazilian meat places. One of my favorite remixes of yours that you co-produced with Alain Jackinsky is Madonna’s “Living For Love.”  Besides love, what is something you can’t live without? 

That’s easy: music and dogs.


Speaking of dogs, I think Lucy (Paulo’s dog) needs her own Intsta! So finally, give me three words that perfectly describe PAULO.

Straightforward, honest, unique.





What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think “Atlanta Gay Pride?” 

Believe it or not, it’s my first Atlanta pride. I’m sure it will be lots of fun.


You will love Atlanta Pride – it is absolutely one of my favorites. What is the song or track you always have to play at Gay Pride?

I don’t have any specific track.


I like that – keep us guessing! You have a new track out that I’m obsessed with called “Run,” with Erick Ibiza. What is one thing that comes to mind when you think “Run?”

Running out of time! I need more time in my life.


Don’t we all!  What do you run away from?



Finally, give me three words that perfectly describe Isaac Escalante.

Man, music, and fun.


DRENCH Pool Party

GAGA and #IAmMidtown present Drench (rescheduled from May 20th) – the W Downtown pool party with a purpose on June 24, 1-6 pm. Drinks specials and DJ sets by Neon the GlowGoBear and Ron Pullman – become a GAGA member and get free access at







Shine: Joining Hearts 31

The main event of the summer returns on July 21 to the Aquatic Center in the middle of Piedmont Park. Three levels of partying, and DJ sets by Mike Pope and GSP. Tickets and info at



Drag Queen Story Time

Join HRC Atlanta, For the Kid in All of Us, PFLAG Atlanta, and Edie Cheezburger at the Out Front Theatre Company on June 23 at 10 am for a delightful and fun reading of “A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo.” Tickets at






America’s premier acapella group will be performing at the beautiful Chastain Park Amphitheatre on July 31.





Once Upon A Drag – Drag Queen Bingo

The next PALS Atlanta Drag Queen Bingo at LIPS Atlanta has gone DISNEY! Our favorite Fairy Godmother, Bubba D. Licious, hosts a fun and supercalifragilisticexpialidocious night on June 12. Tickets a





Peach Party Atlanta

Three days on June 15-17 with parties all over Atlanta including the Heretic, Midtown Tavern, XION, and the new District. Tickets at




11th Annual Wacky Hat Party

For the Kid In All Of Us asks you to don your craziest hat and finest outfit for a night of fun and fundraising on June 16. Party and give back in style at the Piedmont Park Aquatic Center! More info at



Atlanta Pride Presents Wanda Sykes and Tig Notaro

As part of the Atlanta Pride’s annual Stonewall Celebrations, Wanda Sykes and Tig Notaro perform at the Fox on June 20 with their stand-up shows. Tickets at


The White Party Benefiting CHRIS 180

Wear your whitest whites on June 9 for the annual White Party benefiting CHRIS 180’s LGBTQ+ Youth programs. The cocktail party takes place at the gorgeous Mason Fine Art – more info at

31st Annual HRC Atlanta Gala Dinner & Auction

The HRC Atlanta’s Gala Dinner & Auction is one of the largest fundraisers in the country for the Human Rights Campaign. The black-tie event on Saturday, May 5 at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta includes a live and silent auction and dinner. It is a celebration of excellence in the LGBTQ movement and of the successes in the pursuit of equality while putting a focus on the fight ahead. More info and tickets on


Shaky Knees & Shaky Beats Festival 2018

Get ready for two consecutive weekends of bigger and better music lineups at the new Central Park location. Shaky Knees on May 4-6 will feature a 50+ band lineup including Jack White, Queens of the Stone Age, and The National, and Shaky Beats on May 11-23 highlights some the best EDM acts out there like Kygo, Zedd, and Marshmello. Check out the extensive schedule, and get your passes at and






Todrick Hall American: The Forbidden Tour

The singer, songwriter, dancer, Broadway actor, and multi-talent, Todrick Hall, is visiting Atlanta’s Fox Theatre on May 6 with his Forbidden Tour. The show will feature a brand new storyline with all-new songs, extravagant costumes, and over the top production and choreography. Tickets at






Sunday Service with Vicki Powell, Brian Rojas & Chelsea Starr

The second installment of the popular Sunday Service on Sunday May 13 will feature DJs Vicki Powell, Brian Rojas, and Chelsea Starr that will spin a beat to make your mama proud and dance the night away on the eve of Mother’s Day.


Deep South presents Jasmine Infiniti

DJ Jasmine Infiniti – also known as The Queen of Hell – will play at the Music Room on May 19 for another edition of Deep South. The New York Native blends dark and industrial sounds with break beats to create a unique and highly danceable soundscape. Opening sets by Robert Ansley (Deep South/Cardio) and Beyun (Afro Acid).



The Championship Tour with Kendrick Lamar

The first rap artist to ever win a Pulitzer, Kendrick Lamar, is coming to the Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood on May 25 with his Championship Tour along with the whole TDE crew including SZA, Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, Lance Skiiiwalker, Sir, and Jay Rock.





Hamilton at the Fox

The Broadway mega sensation is coming to the Fox Theatre on May 22-June 10. The story of America’s Founding Father, Alexander Hamilton, features an award-winning score that blends hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B, and Broadway. More info and tickets (if they’re not sold out!) at

By Mik Hyldebrandt


Photo: Tyler Ogden


It wasn’t just the stress of being deployed in Afghanistan and the constant threat of attack that threw Mark David Gibson into the throes of PTSD. The fact that he served under the military’s discriminatory Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy forced him to remain a closeted, gay man unable to live his authentic life. His memoir, Served in Silence: The Struggle to Live Authentically, recounts his personal struggle and powerful journey to live a true life beyond discrimination and filled with authenticity and love.


It was during his second deployment to Afghanistan that the basis of Mark David Gibson’s memoir started. Mark found that writing his thoughts and his stories down gave him a much-needed release from the emotional trauma he was experiencing being in a high-risk war zone with a constant threat of being attacked. The act of writing struck a chord with the captain who worked as a communications officer for the U.S. Air Force and helped him deal with the challenging conditions of his deployment to a war zone.


But for Mark, there was an even more profound layer to his writing. A deeper struggle that equaled and even surpassed his most intense battles while being a service member abroad. His realization of being a gay man who served under the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy was taking an emotional toll on him. The internal battle over the fact that he was willing to sacrifice his own life to ensure the liberty and freedoms of others, while he was far from enjoying those same personal freedoms were starting to fester in him and even question his identity. In fact, he called an emergency session with a senior officer to change his will, so that, given the possibility that he would get killed in service, he wouldn’t be buried in American soil, in a country that he felt didn’t accept him as an equal citizen.


His struggle and immense inner debate found at least partial release in writing, which started out as musings about his childhood, daydreaming, and reminiscing about his early years. Writing became a way for Mark to deal with the dehumanizing policy that effectively kept Mark in the closet for the entirety of his 20-year military career and beyond.


When he returned home, he was still profoundly marred by what he refers to as living in the shadows, and he struggled genuinely with the social structures that surrounded the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. His painful reality coupled with the onset of PTSD symptoms had Mark heavily medicated on prescription anti-depressants while his alcohol consumption started to reach dangerous levels despite seeming fully functional and capable to his surroundings.


So, when a doctor told him that he was rapidly killing himself with his alarming alcoholism, Mark realized that something drastic had to be done. And he also realized that writing was one of the vessels with which he could make profound changes in himself and the people around him.



Mark 2.0

After decades of shaming, hating, and loathing himself for what he was, Mark has learned to tell himself three words: I love you. The process of self-love was very much aided by his ability to write and express his feelings through words.


Upon returning from his second deployment as a highly decorated officer, Captain Gibson retired from active duty. Shortly after, Mark moved to Costa Rica where he underwent a dramatic transformation, which is unfolded with brutal honesty in his memoir.


First of all, Mark is five years sober, which has given him renewed focus and a resolve to make a positive difference every day. He has discovered the joy of life, love, and living which translates into him being an accomplished triathlete, working to help small LGBT businesses thrive, and giving motivational speeches across the country. And he has found meaningful love and partnership with his boyfriend, Aaron, whom he lovingly and often refers to as ‘Mr. Wonderful.’


Secondly, his writing has gone from reminiscing about his childhood to being a powerful narrative about his monumental struggle to live his life authentically. The book – Served in Silence: The Struggle to Live Authentically – recounts four phases of Mark David Gibson’s journey that starts in the early years, then moves onto the learning years and wonder years to end up in the living years finally.


And thirdly, as compelling a read this book is about pulling yourself out of the shadows, it brings the message of Served in Silence even further by donating portions of the proceeds to the Atlanta nonprofit Lost-n-Found Youth which is dedicated to ending homelessness for LGBTQ youth in Georgia.


Mark hopes that Served in Silence will not only enlighten and help others in their journey to live their own life more authentically by learning from his experiences, but also that it will help pull others out of the shadows in a much more literal way. Because his journey has shown him, that although there may be struggle, there is also an authentic life waiting for you, no matter who you are.

Learn more at


Served in Silence: The Struggle to Live Authentically is available now on



Field Day hosted by Action Cycling Atlanta*

Join the grown-up version of the most awesome school games from your childhood: 3-legged races, hula-hoops, tug-of-war, dizzy lizzy, and plenty of other fun games on March 31 at the Emory Clairmont Campus. The event benefits Action Cycling Atlanta, an all-volunteer, non-profit, dedicated to ending HIV/AIDS. Create or join a team and register at

*Peach is a sponsor of this event.


When Love Takes Over

#IAmMidtown takes over 5Church on March 10 with an event hosted by Peach Magazine to give you the latest updates. This is not a political rally but a celebration for all of us who make gay Midtown thrive.







Twisted Broadway: A Benefit for AID Atlanta

On March 14, Lips Atlanta will host a special edition of their beloved Twisted Broadway show hosted by Edie Cheezburger that will benefit AID Atlanta. General admission is $45, and VIP is $65 – tickets and info at







Deep South: Honey Dijon

The Atlanta-based DJ collective is changing up the venue and is moving to the Music Room on Edgewood for their next installment of Deep South on March 10 that brings DJ Honey Dijon to the city for the first time.




Miguel: The War & Leisure Tour

The talented singer and songwriter visits Atlanta for one night only on March 27 at the Coca-Cola Roxy.




I Miss The Old Kanye: A DANCE party

Join the tribute on March 17 at the Basement to one of the most polarizing artists of our generation and a night of just good music before people either hated or loved Kanye West.



Party for Princess! A benefit show + dance party

A well-known community character, Princess Charles, is currently battling cancer, so on March 23 at My Sister’s Room, there will be a benefit in his honor to help cover the costs of treatment on the way to full recovery.



More to Love

Leading up to Valentine’s Day, More to Love kicks off the day of hearts with their Dangerous Liaison event on February 9 at Amsterdam Atlanta. The event will celebrate love in all shapes and forms and while raising funds for Lost-n-Found Youth. With a Marie Antoinette theme, the night will bring you a riveting performance by Penni Posterior and beats by DJ Chris Gris.


Love on the Rocks

The Wimbish House on Peachtree will host the annual Love on the Rocks Valentine’s cocktail party on February 18 that raises funds for Joining Hearts. Your $45 admission gets you specialty Tito’s cocktails, delicious bites and dessert by Sun in My Belly, and a special performance by Atlanta’s own Peaches.


Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Share the love and discover how dance reveals our deepest humanity and capacity to endure. The Ailey company returns to the Fox Theatre for one week only February 14-18 with a selection of their most inspiring pieces.





Diana Krall: Turn Up the Quiet

Multiple Grammy Award-winning jazz pianist and world-renowned singer, Diana Krall will return to Atlanta Symphony Hall on Friday, February 9 for her “Turn Up The Quiet World Tour.”




Deep South Presents Horse Meat Disco

For the first time in Atlanta Vicki Powell and Deep South present London-based Horse Meat Disco on February 17 at the Heretic. The popular disco party has revived the carefree music style and brought it back to the dancefloors all over the world.




Steamlounge Oysterfest

The corner of Peachtree and 12th Street is the new venue of this year’s Oysterfest on February 24-25 where you buy buckets of roasted or chargrilled oysters and eat away in a communal style social setting. Great fun and delicious but messy eating.



Joris Laarman’s Lab: Design In the Digital Age

On February 18 through May 13 the High Museum will feature the first museum survey for the Dutch designer, Joris Laarman, and his progressive design lab whose work redefines the boundaries between art, science, and technology. The exhibition will comprehensively explore Laarman’s creative prowess, and curiosity through a range of furniture designs applied projects and experiments that blend emerging technologies with skilled craftsmanship.


City Council candidate looks to keep Midtown District 6 seat gay

By Regina Willis

A gay Atlanta real estate agent is campaigning for the Atlanta City Council, hoping to continue a 20-year tradition of an LGBT person filling the District 6 post.

Kirk Rich confirms that he’s a candidate for the seat, which is being vacated by City Council member Alex Wan, the panel’s first-ever openly gay man. The two-term incumbent is instead running for the citywide City Council president seat.

With a background in real estate, and work as a board member of Invest Atlanta, Rich says that his primary focus is smarter development for Atlanta.

“I’ve got the right skillset, and kind of a needed skillset that’s kind of been lacking on the council,” Rich says. “To help, to be a partner, and, again, really understand a lot of the development issues when it comes to real estate.”

District 6 includes portions of Midtown, Ansley Park, Morningside, Virginia-Highland and Cheshire Bridge Road, running north to the city’s borders with Brookhaven and Buckhead. Rich is one of two openly gay candidates running for the seat. Out gay teacher Lock Whiteside is the other gay candidate in the race.

District 2, currently represented by City Council member Kwanza Hall, now covers more of Midtown than District 6, but the latter has long been considered the LGBT seat on council, providing the panel with its only LGBT member for the last 20 years. Cathy Woolard, who is now running for Atlanta Mayor, became the state’s first openly LGBT elected official when she won the District 6 seat in 1997. Anne Fauver, a lesbian, won in 2001 and served two terms. Wan won in 2009 and nabbed a second term in 2013.

Rich operates Rich Real Estate Services in Duluth. He has been involved with Jerusalem House, and he serves on the Invest Atlanta board, which oversees the Beltline and other economic development projects in Atlanta.

“I am an incredibly skilled, strong candidate who happens to be gay, but I am happy to be gay,” Rich says.

A relative newcomer to politics, Rich says that the turnover at City Hall in elections this November – with many candidates leaving their seats to pursue higher office – creates an opportunity for new voices to step forward.

“It’s exciting,” he says. “New mayor, new council president, a lot of new council people. So there’s a lot of opportunity to really have a new imprint.”

In 2013, a plan to push adult businesses, and eventually some bars including gay clubs, pitted Wan against some LGBT people who opposed the effort. Since then, development projects have forced changes along the corridor.

Rich says that he sees the changes as somewhat of a natural evolution.

“There’s a point where you can’t justify a low density club of any kind on dirt that’s super expensive,” he says. “That’s why you’ve seen several [clubs] be shut down. But what they are putting back isn’t another building that’s the same size. It’s a huge, massive, multi-unit residential development or mixed use development.”


Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce local members and larger mission at annual gala

By Matthew Holley

LGBT business owners of Atlanta gather each September for one glamorous night in celebration of their mission and members during the Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Community Awards Dinner.

The September 22 gala, a chance for AGLCC to aid and celebrate its mission to create LGBT economic opportunities and business inroads for LGBT professionals, expands on its year-round roster of events for networking, professional development, educational programming and promotion of member businesses and corporate partners. Opening the way for LGBT businesses and professionals for AGLCC also includes political advocacy that influence individual lives beyond the business sector.

AGLCC President Daniel Dunlop describes this year’s awards as the organizations highest honors for going above and beyond for the mission.

“I think the awards are a recognition of achievement and recognition of contribution of the LGBT and allied community,” Dunlop says. “It is a remarkable achievement among your peers. Being bestowed an award at the banquet shows each individual you are a standout business, ally or partner for us all.”

Selecting each category’s nominees can be a daunting process, but Dunlop says that there is one particular thread that unites all of its nominees, year in and year out.

“The thread that ties all of the nominees together is the success component,” Dunlop explains. “I do not necessarily mean only in economic success, but an undeniable success in embodying the values of AGLCC and its leadership. This kind of success is infallible, and this year’s nominees’ success speaks volumes.”

In addition to the annual general awards two members also receive the evening’s highest awards for outstanding and significant contributions. John Haupert, CEO of Grady Health Systems, receives the Van Guard Award, and Mitchell Gold, the co-CEO of Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams furniture designs, will receive the Rosemary Jones Icon Award.

“Mitchell is doing outstanding things with a group called Faith in America,” Dunlop says. “This courageous group is intervening in religious organizations that are disregarding LGBT youth. He is helping to bridge that gap and stop that from happening.

The other nominees of the night are listed as follows:

Small Business of the Year:
Georgia Voice, DiOGi Pet Services, Transformation Journeys Worldwide, Creative Approach and 18:21 Bitters.

Businessman of the Year:
Carlton Brown of Occasional Occasions by Carlton, Bill Kaelin of Bill Kaelin Marketing, Dillard Jones of The Concierge Guy and William Duffee-Braun of Peach ATL and Goliath Atlanta.

Businesswoman of the Year:
Gabrielle Claiborne of Transformation Journeys Worldwide, Emma Foulkes of Greenwood Wealth Management, Jan Stepp of Pizazzz Promotions, Inc., JoAnn Pfeiffer of Eastern Data Systems and Jan Levie of Handy Entertainment.

The Guardian Angel Award finalists:
Georgia Equality, Pride School Atlanta, AID Atlanta, Living Room and Out Front Theatre Company.

Rising Star Award:
Courtney DeDi of DiOGi Pet Services, Kat Dyer-Wall of Gayborhood, Colton Griffin of WMSight, Richard Pope of Creative Approach and Jamieson Cox of First Data.

Corporate Ally Category:
Cox Enterprises, Georgia Power, Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta, BB&T and Lab Monkey Communications.

Member of the Year:
Anne Clarke of The Clarke Agency, Chip Ivie of Keller Williams Realty, Luis Ruiz of MassMutual Financial Group Perimeter, Bryon Brown of PPi and Luis Quinones of Four Seasons Hotel.

Want to Go?
What: AGLCC Community Awards
When: Friday, September 22
Where: Westin Atlanta Buckhead
3391 Peachtree Road NE
More info and tickets:

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