Exhibit honoring the plight of LGBTQ+ liberation comes to Atlanta

Atlanta was the first stop for the exhibit after its debut in New York last year. Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas and Washington D.C. are next on the itinerary.

“If we are not present in the past, young people will not be able to envision a different future, so it is so critical that we learn the full and complete history of this country,” Lambda Legal CEO Kevin Jennings said about preserving LGBTQ+ history during the exhibit’s opening night in Atlanta.

Credit: Courtesy of Lambda Legal

Credit: Courtesy of Lambda Legal

Moderated by Jennings, the exhibit’s opening night panel discussion featured Fulton County State Court Judge Jane Morrison, who became Georgia’s first openly gay judge; Tim’m West, the executive director of the center’s LGBTQ+ Institute; Dani Alexander-Burk, program coordinator for Lambda Legal’s Atlanta office; and Vandy Beth Glenn.

When asked about her landmark 2011 case, Glenn said she was angry, but was energized by the community that supported her. She was determined to live in a better world.

“To be quite frank, more than all that we achieved together, I would’ve preferred to just not have been fired in the first place,” Glenn said.

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Judge Morrison, who was sworn in in 2013, talked about the importance of advocating for the LGBTQ+ community in Georgia and why an exhibit like “Queer Justice” is needed.

She underscored that the fight for civil rights isn’t a feat accomplished alone.

“I came to Georgia because it was the frontlines of gay and lesbian civil rights work,” Morrison said. “It also has a wonderful history of civil rights work, generally, and it was just compelling to be here. … It was about meeting the challenge where the challenge was. It was kind of like signing up to go to war.”

Credit: DeAsia Sutgrey

Credit: DeAsia Sutgrey

For Alexander-Burk, queer justice means “intentional connection and the prioritization of joy.” Amid the rise of anti-trans legislation across the county (at least 510 anti-trans bills were introduced last year, nearly three times the number of those in 2022 ), they said their work at Lambda Legal is about protecting themselves and their community.

“Trans people are not just a battle flag,” Alexander-Burk said. “We’re not just here to be the poster issue at this time. There are businesses, there are people, there are livelihoods that need to be supported.”

Honoring the joyful moments is important, too. “Attending weddings, attending the birth of a child, trans parents have always existed, making sure that we are also celebrating each other,” Alexander-Burk said. “I think tonight is a testament to recognizing that lived reality that we’re in right now, but we can celebrate with one another. That’s not inappropriate. That’s a part of this.”

“Queer Justice: 50 Years of Lambda Legal & LGBTQ+ Rights”

Through Feb. 16. $15.99-$19.99. National Center for Civil and Human Rights, 100 Ivan Allen Jr. Blvd. NW, Atlanta. 678-999-8990, civilandhumanrights.org\.

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