Atlanta consistently ranks among one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly cities in America, thanks to an abundance of resources like HIV/STI testing and nightlife geared toward queer individuals. Unfortunately for LGBTQ+ youth, a perception of queerness as a perverted choice leaves many of these resources unavailable, as they are relegated to the 18+ age range. This can compound the feeling of loneliness that many queer teens know all too well.
Nevertheless, Atlanta — being the ethereal and contrarian city that it is — has numerous opportunities for queer teens to feel engaged and valued, whether that means hanging out and meeting new friends, getting accessible health care, finding housing or testing, or finding an after-school activity or outlet. VOX has you covered!
Many of these locations are accessible by MARTA rail. This resource list consists of places I personally have been to and ones I have found through research and collaboration with the Atlanta Coalition for LGBTQ Youth (ACFLY). VOX does not endorse the following organizations.
Places to Hang Out
Real Youth Atlanta (realyouthatl.org)
According to their website, “Real Youth exists to enhance and sustain the health and well-being of young people ages 13 to 25 of all sexual orientations and gender identities by providing safe and affirming activities, programs, and services that foster genuine community; empower community members; and embrace, promote, and support our cultural diversity.”
The space facilitates monthly drop-in sessions every first Friday of the month for queer teens and young people to discuss topics of their choosing. It’s a great space to initiate conversations you may not necessarily have at school. They also have monthly service learning projects.
Location: New Covenant Church of Atlanta – 2091 Faulkner Rd., Atlanta GA 30324
Charis Books and More & Charis Circle (chariscircle.org)
Charis Books and More is the oldest independent feminist bookstore in the country. They host all-inclusive events all year long. Specifically, Trans and Friends which is a youth-focused group for trans people, people questioning their own gender, and aspiring allies. Charis also hosts open mic nights and poetry readings open to queer teens and young LGBTQ+ artists.
Location (until early 2018): Little 5 Points – 1189 Euclid Ave., NE, Atlanta, GA 30307
As a coffee shop, Java Monkey is a nice place to sit and read a book, but it’s also a haven for slam poetry lovers as there are poetry and music open mic nights throughout the year. Follow them on Facebook for a schedule.
Location: Downtown Decatur – 425 Church St., Decatur, GA 30030
Murmur Gallery (murmurmedia.org)
According to their website, “Murmur is a unique space for DIY and ephemeral media in Atlanta.” The organization provides space, tools and resources for artists to get involved in the DIY art scene. Past events include “anti-homophobic events, workshops with topics ranging from cyber-security to eco-sustainability, joining a homeless youth organization’s efforts, screenings supporting experimental independent film, and the annual Atlanta Zine Fest.”
Location: Downtown Atlanta – 100 Broad St., SW, Atlanta, GA 30303
From their website: “WonderRoot partners with civic organizations and individuals to respond to the community’s needs and offers programs relevant to the whole of Atlanta. Whether it is to celebrate or challenge contemporary life, Art and Activism Programs explore social dynamics in an inclusive, responsible process through community outreach and engagement, education and coalition-building. We believe when art comes from a community context, the content ultimately seeks to affect social change.”
Location: 982 Memorial Dr. SE, Atlanta, GA 30316
Lost-n-Found Youth (lnfy.org/)
Lost-n-Found Youth is a nonprofit organization that supports homeless queer teens and youth up to age 25. The organization provides services such as emergency and transitional housing, emergency clothing and food for youth on the street, mental health evaluations and counseling, referrals to HIV/STD testing, health and dental services, assistance for lost or stolen birth certificates, driver’s licenses or state ID cards referrals to GED training/testing and other education resources. Lost-n-Found Youth also has a thrift store where you can donate clothes and other goods which then helps young people in need. (And/or you pick up some threads for yourself.) The shop is open seven days per week.
Location: Atlanta / I-85/Lenox/N. Druid Hills Rd. area
2585 Chantilly Drive Atlanta, GA 30324
Hours: Mon.-Sat. 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday: 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
AID Atlanta provides services to people affected by HIV and AIDS, including: primary care, HIV/STD screening, PrEP, HIV prevention programs, linkage services and case management. The mission stated on website reads: “the mission of AID Atlanta is to reduce new HIV infections and improve the quality of life of its members and the community by breaking barriers and building community.” The organization also provides temporary housing.
Location: Midtown Atlanta, 1605 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta, GA 30309
Center for Pan-Asian Community Services, Inc. (cpacs.org/youth/)
CPACS provides free HIV testing and links to a low-cost health center, along with mental health and other social services. The organization also hosts after-school activities in DeKalb, Fulton, and Gwinnett counties.
Location: Doraville — 3510 Shallowford Rd. NE., Atlanta, GA 30341
Grady Teen Clinic
The Grady Teen Clinic provides full STD/HIV screenings, contraceptive methods, and health education to teens aged 13-19. Their team of reproductive health specialists includes physicians, nurses, social workers, and adolescent health educators who collaborate to provide teen-centered healthcare.
Location: Downtown Atlanta – 80 Jesse Hill Jr Dr., SE, Atlanta, GA 30303
After-School Outlets/Community Organizers
Phillip Rush Center (rushcenteratl.org/) “houses office space, meeting and training rooms to be used by organizations whose mission or activities advance LGBT rights and understanding,” according to the website. Several LGBTQ-focused organizations are housed here, including: Georgia Equality, The Health Initiative, Atlanta Pride, Pro Georgia and SOJOURN.
And, of course, VOX: VOX Teen Communications is a nonprofit that provides a safe space and outlet for queer teens and all teens across the Atlanta area to publish in an uncensored, teen-led and professionally guided environment. VOX can help track community service hours for contributing writers and facilitators. We also offer poetry workshops and slams, and affirming community dialogues. Upcoming: Dec. 9 – Community Dialogue; April 28 – VOX-a-palooza.
Location: Downtown Atlanta. Check out voxatl.org/join-the-fun
Events to Look Out For
Atlanta Pride Festival – Oct. 13-15 (atlantapride.org/)
The weekend-long festival kicks off Friday at the Georgia Aquarium ($30 General Admission) and includes several marches on Saturday and The Pride Parade on Sunday, Oct. 15, 12 p.m. (VOX is honored to be among the parade grand marshals this year, showing our support for inclusive, safe spaces for all teens and young adults.)
Queer Youth Fest – Oct. 21, 2-10 p.m. – Free
Located at the HealiUm Center, 344 Candler Park Dr., Atlanta, 30307
All-ages event includes music, art (gallery/showing and making), and resources for LGBTQ+ individuals. For details visit facebook.com/events/439226426445090/.
Southern Fried Queer Pride (facebook.com/sfqpride/)
Southern Fried Queer Pride is an “arts and advocacy organization and festival” that hosts queer centered events throughout the year, such as dance parties and drag shows.
Alimah is a sophomore at Sarah Lawrence College, The Princeton Review’s most LGBTQ+ friendly school, who believes all queer people should have the same opportunities to be fully loved and accepted.