After a 20-year hiatus, Macon’s pride celebration came back June 22.
Iconic Macon drag performer Tangerine Summers entertained around 400 people in a downtown park despite the pouring rain. The city officially declared the day Gay Pride Day. Summers says that’s a far cry from the Macon of the 1970s.
“When they’d lock us up, they’d call all the police officers where they make you change your clothes, have us strip, you know, it was like humiliation, but… things changed a lot. It’s more accepted now,” Summers said.
Summers has been performing in Macon since the age of 17, and is still going strong at 60.
Arthur Villarreal attended Macon’s Pride event. As a North Georgia college student in the 1980’s, Villarreal had to drive to Atlanta to see a drag show. Now, it’s only a couple blocks away.
“They think just because you’re gay, you’ve done drag, I’ve never done drag. I know it’s an art form! It’s something I cannot do, but the ones that can, they are fabulous,” Villarreal said.
Villarreal is the Chaplain for Mercer University’s LGBT advocacy group, Common Ground. He attended the county commission meeting in 2017 when Macon-Bibb voted to extend employment protection to LGBT employees.
“I was with the students at the council meetings,” Villarreal said. “It was hilarious, to me it was hilarious. It wasn’t hilarious in a funny sense, it was like, I can’t believe I’m sitting here.”
Anna Lange is a deputy with the Houston County Sheriff’s office. She’s also a transgender woman. It’s her first time at a Pride event like this.
“It’s much needed still to have a celebration until, you know, equal rights,” Lange said. “Then you can’t erase what people before me had to endure.”
Organizers are currently planning for Pride 2020. Next year’s celebration will be a weeklong event, leading up to Saturday June 6.