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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 hktclothiers.com/appointments. 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 www.Future-Atlanta.com

 

TONY MORAN

 

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.

 

 

ABEL

 

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.

 

PAULO

 

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.

 

 

ISAAC ESCALANTE

 

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?

Corruption.

 

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 gagapac.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 joininghearts.org.

 

 

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 hrcatlanta.com.

 

 

 

 

Pentatonix

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 palsatlanta.org.

 

 

 

 

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 universe.com.

 

 

 

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 forthekid.org.

 

 

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 foxtheatre.org.

 

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 whitepartyatlanta.org.

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 hrcatlanta.com.

 

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 shakykneesfestival.com and shakybeatsfestival.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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 foxtheatre.org.

 

 

 

 

 

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 foxtheatre.org.

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 markdavidgibson.com

 

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

 

 

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 donate.av200.org/fieldday.

*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 aidatlanta.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

ON THE ATL AGENDA

 

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.

joininghearts.org

 

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.”

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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: atlantagaychamber.org

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