Six weeks after the Stonewall riot in New York City, Atlanta had its own showdown with the police when they raided the Ansley Mall Mini Cinema in early August 1969.  Showing Andy Warhol's "Lonesome Cowboys", the show was stopped, the audience interrogated and photographed, and the theatre owner George Ellis and his projectionist arrested.  All this for a movie that dared to show cowboys in love.

Maria Helena Dolan, pictured with Liz Hill at the 1979 March. Maria placed some of Ray’s ashes at his park.

from left to right:


Ray Kluka, Eva Salzer, Greg James and James Moody.  Atlanta was the Southeast center for the 1979 March, the first national lgbt march, and all four among several others were key organizers of the March.


Soon after, a standing room only protest was held at the New Morning Cafe in Emory Village, and the Georgia Gay Liberation Front was born.  The key founder Bill Smith insisted on calling it the Georgia Gay Liberation Front to encompass the entire state, and took the unusual step - for the time - of legally incorporating the GGLF.

GGLF co-founder Berl Boykin reports that the group staffed a table at the Piedmont Park Arts Festival in 1970, the first anniversary of Stonewall.


In June 1971, the GGLF mounted the first Atlanta Pride march despite the city of Atlanta - "the city too busy to hate" - refusing to grant a permit for the march.  Thus the 125 marchers had to "march" on the sidewalks and stop for every traffic light.  Berl Boykin also reports the Georgia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union refused to help the GGLF obtain a permit, because "you are not a minority."

Then on July 14, 1971, Boykin and Bill Smith and Klaus Smith met with then Governor Jimmy Carter to petition for a series of civil rights advances, including overturning the Georgia sodomy laws.  Carter's response was a series of resounding "Nos!"


Much later Carter partly redeemed himself, coming out to support same sex civil unions in December 2004.

Finally in 1972, Atlanta gave in and Pride was able to march in the streets, several hundred strong, and lead by Bill Smith and Judy Lambert as co-chairs of Atlanta Pride.  Proudly bisexual Judy Lambert marched alongside her bisexual husband Phil, so bi folks were out in front from the very beginning.


Whew!  We've come a long way, baby.

John Howell

John Howell is shown hoisting a sign in French in support of LGBT rights at the October 1979 National March on Washington for LGBT Rights


Ray Kluka was an Atlanta lgbt activist and neighborhood leader who has a park named in his honor in Midtown.