ATLANTA — One of the biggest pride events will take place on Labor Day weekend and there will be a new focus on health and equity as Georgia deals with a monkeypox outbreak.
Atlanta Black Pride will begin on Thursday, Sept. 1.
"We do have about 25 events planned over the course of the five days, " Melissa Scott said.
Scott explained part of the weeklong series of events includes the Pure Community Festival adding there are plans to recognize Real Housewives of Atlanta star Kandi Burrus and have appearances by rapper Latto.
The week of events isn't just a celebration. Scott explained the event is an opportunity to provide resources to members of the LGBTQUIA+ community, particularly health resources.
"We're going to be doing some monkeypox testing and vaccines as well as COVID-19 tests and vaccines," Scott said.
In addition to being an organizer for Atlanta Black Pride and the Piedmont Pure Community Festival, Scott sits on the Mayor's Pride Board. She said she's been working closely with the mayor and the Fulton County Board of Health to make sure Black and Brown communities have access to the monkeypox vaccine.
"The Black gay community and especially the HIV-positive Black community, you know, they're heavily affected right now," Scott said. "We're being proactive with regard to getting as many people vaccinated as possible to minimize the spread."
Scott said monkeypox testing and vaccination will be available at some Atlanta Black Pride events, but organizers are working on making sure people are vaccinated before Labor Day weekend.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Georgia is fifth overall for monkeypox cases. The condition is mostly spread through consistent, close physical contact.
The Georgia Department of Public Health recently published data showing the rate of spread among different racial and ethnic groups in the state. The highest percentage was shown to be among Black men.
Joshua O'Neal the Sexual Health Program Director for the Fulton County Board of Health says those numbers are why Atlanta Black Pride and the days leading up to it present the perfect opportunity to make sure people are vaccinated.
O'Neal and other health workers have helped facilitate monkeypox vaccine clinics over the last few days and he said he's gotten creative in his approach to making sure people are able to sign up for appointments.
"This week, the other thing that we did is we created a QR code specifically for the slots that are available today, and we posted that QR code in several different bars, shopping centers, and coffee shops that are frequently in or owned by Black and brown folks so that when they're out in the community and they see these signs, they see these QR codes, they can scan it and sign up for a link and get right to the slot that's available for them today," O'Neal said.
He added for Atlanta Black Pride, he's working with event organizers to make sure people they send his way are able to get vaccinated.
"We are using state resources currently in order to ensure that we can get folks vaccinated with this idea that very soon we're also going to get additional resources," O'Neal said.
Those resources include vaccines that have been allocated by the federal government for states that are holding large pride events in the coming weeks. Georgia has Atlanta Black Pride coming next weekend and Atlanta Pride is scheduled to take place in October.
Until those doses come, Scott and O'Neal said they will continue to plan.