ATLANTA — The Labor Day weekend is a busy one in Atlanta with college football kicking off, the Dragon Con convention, and Atlanta Black Pride events.
Thousands of people in the LGBTQ+ community are coming together, looking at inclusion in metro Atlanta and the progress ahead. They said even though the area is very progressive, they still face discrimination in their personal lives and in the workplace, as well as experiencing obstacles in health care.
At 18. That's when Melissa Scott learned to have pride in herself. Now she works to make Atlanta a place where others can be proud of who they are too.
“I was 17 when I realized I like women, but 18 when I was brave enough to like my mom," Melissa said.
Melissa's mom eventually accepted her coming out and she immediately felt comfortable in Atlanta.
“It’s been proven. Atlanta is one of the best places in the world for the LGBTQ community," Melissa said. "We have a support system here with our mayor, we have a support system here with our allies, and Atlanta is just a beautiful place in general.”
Others attending Atlanta Black Pride shared similar sentiments.
“In Atlanta, the support is really good," Judge Scott said.
Judge, who is a gay man, also feels Atlanta is a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community.
“Where I’m from in Savannah, our gay community, our LGBT community, it’s spaced out. They support sometimes - sometimes they don’t," Judge said. "In Atlanta, you can come here, and you’re always going to have a good time.”
In Atlanta, it's not just those who identify with the LGBTQ+ community who show up.
“I’m out here supporting my friend," Takiyah Turner said.
Turner came as an ally to a block party for lesbians at an event tied to this year's Atlanta Black Pride weekend.
“I think everyone needs to be supportive," Turner said. "Whatever people’s choices, as long, as it’s not hurting anyone, and it mutually agreed upon, who’s it bothering?”
Even though many people think Atlanta is a great place for those who identify as LGBTQ+, they realize more work needs to be done after several recent events, including drivers doing donuts at the Rainbow Crosswalks and swastikas spray painted on them this summer.
“If we could get people to accept everything to be normal and everybody to be treated equally, it would be a better place," Judge said. "We need to get out more and advocate more."
Melissa thinks having support from the heterosexual community and political leaders is crucial.
“Mayor Bottoms put in place some same-sex restrooms," Melissa said. "We would like to see that in some more places throughout the city.”
Melissa serves on the mayor's LGBTQ advisory board and helps to bring any issues or discrimination to his attention.