By JUSTIN ADAMS
ATLANTA – Each year, in October, Atlanta sponsors help celebrate Atlanta Pride by putting aside business needs to celebrate the LGBT community and a vision of equality as over 200,000 gathered at Piedmont Park. This year will be the 45th celebration.
The sponsors of this festival make hefty donations, work pro-bono and spend tremendous amounts of time coordinating with event planners. However, these contributors’ passion for LGBT issues is apparent also.
“I understand our job is to gain listeners, which in turn increases ratings, but when it comes to this particular event, it’s not about that,” said Kristin Klingshirn, co-host of Atlanta’s The Bert Show on media partner Q100. “It’s about doing what’s right and using your voice for good.”
Klingshirn has participated in the Atlanta Pride parade every year since 2011 with Q100 having a themed “Orange Is the New Black” float last year. She prides herself on her consistency to being a straight ally to the community, and loves knowing that she works for a company that shares this same thought.
“I have goosebumps throughout the entire parade route. The showcase of love and acceptance is truly a sight to behold,” said Klingshirn. “It really is beautiful to witness in person.”
The Coca-Cola Company is undoubtedly one of the largest corporate sponsors of Pride Atlanta with their participating in last year’s parade reaching over 100 volunteers. The locally based corporation takes part in most events in Atlanta, but the company also partakes in Pride events nationwide, including New York, Charlotte, Miami and Los Angeles. John Lewis, the global chief diversity officer at Coca-Cola, stated in a press release last year that he is proud that the company shows support to his lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender colleagues.
“My favorite part of Pride is seeing all the business, small and large, participating,” said Danielle Copelan, a community member that is celebrating her girlfriend’s first Atlanta Pride this year. “You can tell that they want to be a part of this, especially since they are sending their employees to participate in the madness.”
Jeff Cleghorn, a Georgia native and partner at Kitchens New Cleghorn law firm, has been working pro-bono with the festival since he moved back to Atlanta several years ago. He is primarily a divorce lawyer with a focus on lesbian and gay couples.
His relationship with Pride Atlanta has allowed his firm to be considered a small business sponsor although he would be offering legal counsel either way. Cleghorn, like Klingshirn, does not believe that it matters if gay pride gives his firm negative or positive feedback. He simply enjoys giving back to the community, especially being a gay man who has seen pride festivals in several states manifest through the years.
“We do these things because they mean so much to us personally and our clients appreciate it,” said Cleghorn.
Other sponsors for Atlanta Pride 2015 include are Delta, T-Mobile, Cox Enterprises, Grady Hospital, Georgia Aquarium, 11Alive, Hyatt Regency Atlanta and many more.
Events for Atlanta Pride officially start October 9 at the Georgia Aquarium. For official events, visit prideatlanta.org.