For the past 20 years, Atlanta has always been my great escape. I grew up outside the city in a neighboring suburb (Cobb County, home of Newt Gingrich, musician Larry Tee, and The Black Crowes) and being possessed with the spirit of Peter Pan, hooked on adventure, frequently headed for the city during my high school years. My friends and I spent hours in the then-grungy neighborhood of Little Five Points, chock-full of hackey-sackers, dreadlocks, tattoos, and “alternative” freaks, where I thought I belonged. We often ended the night with an all-ages show at the Variety Playhouse, an Atlanta theatre institution. I also attended the weekly meeting of YouthPride, which catered to LGBT high school students in Midtown, one of the few youth centers that existed around that time in North America. Of course, I still remember thrilling nights spent at the now-closed Backstreet, Atlanta’s legendary, 24-hour gay club that had more foot traffic than all the gay bars combined. Backstreet was such a hotspot, it was a favorite for the “straight” community, who regularly frequented it due to a reputation for good music, fun times, and all–night partying (in fact, I ran into my brother and his gaggle of straight friends there when I was 21). Needless to say, Atlanta was always a multicultural haven, which I completely appreciated.
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