Martin Padgett writes about LGBTQ stories from the South. His book A Night at The Sweet Gum Head: Drag, Drugs, Disco, and Atlanta’s Gay Revolution will be published in May 2021.
An essay from the Place Issue
Today, I venture proudly and safely into the straight world outside the confines of bars and clubs once designated specifically as “gay” spaces. I can be free. This wouldn’t have been the case a generation ago. Within my lifetime, queer behavior has put people in jail, in exile, and in danger. For many who faced their truth in the decade before Stonewall, often the only safe choice was to leave the small towns where they were shamed and muted and to run away to cities—though even in Atlanta, a town with well over a half million people in 1960, the year Frank arrived, gay bars were dangerous and illicit places.