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by Lauren Ramsdelllauren@dekalbchamp.comhe Atlanta area is known nationally or its open and vibrant lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBQ) com-munity. It’s considered the ith gayest city in America, according to
, a national gay and lesbian news magazine.But, according to
, Atlanta’s vibrant scene is missing one thing: a sae space or young adults.“here are some other organizations, like Lost and Found [support or home-less LGB youth], and oth-ers … that cater to subsets o youth, but there is not an Atlanta area organization catering to all youth,” Hag-gray said.In April o this year, Hag-gray and others ounded Real Youth Atlanta, a group ocusing on LGBQ young adults and their allies ages 13-25. he organization hosted around 30 people or their irst event–a picnic–May 31 at Bernard Halpern Park in Doraville. “he picnic is the launch and kick-o experience,” Haggray said. “We will con-tinue throughout the sum-mer and hopeully start ater school programs this com-ing all.”Real Youth is planning at least one more picnic, according to organization leaders.Not every LGBQ child or young adult has a place where they can be sae and be themselves, said Real Youth Vice President
. Some may ace bullying at school, church or even at home. But, Real Youth is or everyone–in-cluding those who might also have a supportive envi-ronment.“Part o that commu-nity is people who are sup-portive and are happy and well-adjusted and at peace with themselves, showing all ranges o acceptance,” DeLong said. “People who are ully out, people who are not out and people who are straight allies.”For now, the organization is looking or a permanent space, preerably near a MARA line. Haggray said they are aware that most o their members may not have access to a car and will need somewhere sae and transit-riendly.“We want to be a space where they can be them-selves,” Haggray said. “Where people who might not be out can come and eel sae, where people who are out and proud can be them-selves.”Haggray said he has been involved with LGBQ issues or a long time, even being a grand marshal or the 2010 Atlanta pride parade. He also ormerly served on the board o directors or Youth-Pride and helped organize JustUs AL, a LGBQ orga-nization led by young adults. DeLong said that Real Youth is going to be dier-ent than those organiza-tions because it is drawing together adult community members rom a variety o organizations to oer pro-gramming and mentoring. Just as Atlanta draws adults rom across the state, it also draws young adults or the same reasons–a big-ger community, perhaps more accepting than their hometowns and, o course, an established LGBQ scene. However, the existing outlets or young gay people may not be the most appro-priate.“he Atlanta LGBQ scene is very vibrant, espe-cially in the Midtown area, but there is not a lot or LGBQ young adults to do,” Haggray said. “We have so many youth that want to be out there, being active in the community. So, this is an alternative to clubs and bars. At that age we don’t want to encourage that.”
From left, Terry Townsend and Mitchell Atwater, both from Parkview High School in Lilburn
attended Real Youth’s inaugural picnic May 29.From left, Real Youth board members include Brian McMahon, Beth Greaves, Mark DeLong, John Beers, Brit Prince, Kelley Napier, Darryl Moores, Gabriel Haggray and Cedrick Hayward.