Gwinnett County is getting its own LGBTQ Pride celebration.
The Norcross Gay Club, a social group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Norcross residents, is organizing the city’s first Norcross Pride. The event is planned for the afternoon of Saturday, June 29.
Pride is a celebration of the LGBTQ experience and community, and June is Pride Month.
Rolando Guzman, an organizer for the event, felt it was important to have a Pride event in Norcross to show that the metro area’s LGBTQ community is not limited to the city of Atlanta. Atlanta Pride is held annually in October, typically coinciding with National Coming Out Day, and leaving an opening for other local pride events in June, Guzman said.
“We felt like we had the opportunity to start a new tradition while also pointing out that not everyone in the LGBTQ community lives in Midtown,” Guzman said. “We want everybody to know we are everywhere. We’re their neighbors. We’re their friends.”
Guzman hopes the visibility that a local Pride event may bring could also encourage people to advocate for LGBTQ non-descrimination laws in Georgia and nationally. There are no laws barring someone from being fired or denied housing for their sexual orientation in Georgia or federally. Federal hate crime laws include LGBTQ people, but Georgia does not have a hate crime law.
“That’s our goal, to show that we’re everywhere and the laws have to protect us everywhere,” Guzman said.
The group was also inspired by the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, Guzman said. In June 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a New York City gay bar, spurring protests and riots by the bar’s patrons. The riots are considered one of the most significant events to begin the LGBTQ rights movement, and the Stonewall Inn is now a U.S. National Monument and National Historic Landmark.
The inaugural Norcross Pride event will include a picnic and live music. Local musicians Leah Maloof, Debra Lynn Rodiguez, Jeremy Keen and Ashton May will perform, Guzman said.
Norcross Pride is the first celebration of its kind in Gwinnett County, but it’s not alone in metro Atlanta. There are Pride celebrations and groups in Doraville, Brookhaven and south Atlanta, said Jamie Fergerson, executive director of Atlanta Pride. Marietta had Pride celebrations as recently as 2014, and other events are held across the state.
“Athens, Augusta, Columbus, Valdosta all have really vibrant Pride celebrations that have been established,” Fergerson said.
Norcross Pride begins at 4 p.m. on June 29 in Thrasher Park. The event is free and open to the public.