Atlanta has a running history of making queer radicals that keep the fervor, energy, and tenacity of the city boiling even in the sweltering Georgia summer heat. We here at Southern Fried Queer Pride compiled a list of six folx and groups that keep the fire lit in Atlanta queer culture, art, politics, and more!
Koochie Koochie Ku
What doesn’t Koochie do? Koochie is a riveting drag queen performance artist. They’re also a painter and artist who you can catch in the act occasionally at Friends on Ponce. They’re a cast member of T Time TV—one of the best RuPaul’s Drag Race review shows on YouTube. But to me, Koochie is a voice. What I love about Koochie is their ability to be heard and seen in situations or places where powers-that-be try their hardest to muffle them. From educating the children on Facebook and sometimes getting put in Facebook jail, to being present at #BlackLivesMatter rallies, to being the most enthusiastic “YAAAAAASSSSSSSS!” in the bar giving you that extra umph to get through your number—Koochie is a force and queer Atlanta should treasure that.
Ms. Cheryl Courtney-Evans
Cheryl Courtney-Evans is one of the founding mothers of trans activism in Atlanta. She has heavily involved herself in creating change and providing resources for trans women, gender non-conforming folx, trans folx, homeless trans youth, and HIV positive folx. She has worked in multiple organizations in the southeast and started her own organization, Trans Individuals Living Their Truth (TILTT). She refers to herself as the “poster child for trans interaction with the APD” and has used those experiences in her efforts to change policy, and work with community councilmembers and the APD to make for an all-around safer city for trans and GNC people. She was also a part of the board responsible for creating the current Atlanta Police Department Stand Operating Procedures for interactions with trans and GNC folx to allow a safer and respectful interaction between officers and the public. Ms. Cheryl is also known for her online work in her blog called “A Bitch for Justice,” where she unapologetically speaks her truth on community, national, and global issues. Ms. Cheryl is truly a treasure to the community and a key activist dismantling racism, transphobia, sexism, the prison industrial complex, and many other forces that limit people from living their truths. You can visit her website here: http://www.tiltt.org/ and her blog here:
SNaPCo: Solutions Not Punishment Coalition
SNaPCo is an organization that's part of the racial justice action center, along with LaGender, Trans(forming), and Women on the Rise. SNaPCo came about in January 2013 to protect the rights of trans and gender nonconforming sex workers, specifically in response to a city ordinance proposed to banish sex workers from the city of Atlanta. Their mission is ultimately to dismantle the prison industrial complex by rehumanizing incarcerated people, creating sustainable alternatives to jails, and providing programs to rehabilitate people who have been traumatized by the prison system. This means no more jails, no more cages; this means solutions to bring justice and healing to all parties. By recognizing and working towards destroying racism, transphobia, sexism, ableism, homophobia, capitalism, militarization of the police, and other systemic oppressive systems that are to blame for the outrageously high number of incarcerated people, SNaPCos goals are becoming a reality.
The community that is SNaPCo is working day in and down out to revise and create police policy on trans and gender nonconforming individuals, listening to trans and gender nonconforming experience with APD, and gathering data on the exploitation of trans and gender nonconforming people by the prison industrial complex. One of their most recent successes was showcased at trans day of visibility, where they presented their detailed research and street outreach to trans and gender nonconforming people and their interactions and treatment from APD. This research shows the strongly disproportionate violent treatment and over criminalization of trans and GNC people, particularly transwomen of color. For more information, visit their website here to see the outcomes of the research and the current state of ADP as it pertains to trans and GNC folx. Please follow the link here for the full report.
Regina Boom Boom Simms
Boom Boom, as she is affectionately called, is a lady in the fullest form of the word. Always painted to a T—even when she’s calling you a whore on the mic—she works at long-time Atlanta bar Friends on Ponce. What Boom Boom brings to every interaction you have with her is a motherly wisdom and air. She hosts most of Friends’ event—including their New Faces amateur competition that happens every second Sunday of the month. She has seen many queens from Atlanta launch their careers coupled with her advice—from RuPaul in her younger days to Violet Chachki. Boom Boom truly embodies what an Atlanta icon is meant to be. From the 1990s during the Backstreet and Armory days to now, Boom Boom has touched many hearts, whether in a floor length gown or on a bar stool with mic in hand.
Ms. Dee Dee Chamblee
Dee Dee Chamblee, founder of LaGender and co-director of SNaPCo, has been yet another key woman in the fight for trans and gender nonconforming rights, rights for incarcerated people, and HIV/AIDS advocacy. She has worked on multiple activist platforms from healthcare to the prison industrial complex and is always standing on the front lines of the action. Her efforts to protect the rights of and re-humanize incarcerated peoples, particularly trans women of color and sex workers, have led to many policy changes in Atlanta and East Point. She has been on the board to create the Atlanta Standard Operating Procedure for trans and GNC folx in Atlanta and East Point to create a safer interaction between officers and the public, where all peoples are treated with respect. Her efforts in HIV/AIDS advocacy have also been recognized by the Obama Administration as a Champion of Courage for pushing the need to address the thirtieth year since the initial outbreak of HIV. Ms. Dee Dee has played and continues to play such a huge role in trans and GNC activism not only in Atlanta, but across the nation. Check out her recognition as a Champion of Change here.
Baton Bob, the Ambassador of Mirth
When you hear the name Baton Bob, you think of the whistle, the tutu, the altercations, and so much more. Bob is as controversial as he is theatrical and fierce. You can see him tooting his whistle on street corners and bars throughout the year. What Bob does for Atlanta is keep that genuine queer spirit that’s not afraid to disrupt and be seen. Baton Bob’s performance and entity recalls the icons of queer past—from Marsha P Johnson to Hottie the Tottie and more. You can’t separate Baton Bob from the Atlanta scene—even if you arrest him. Bob also goes by the Ambassador of Mirth (amusement, joy) and that’s exactly what he exudes.
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More to come!