Theater and Embodying Queerness on Stage
A major turning point in Georgia's battle for LGBTQ+ rights coalesced around a performance. In 1969 a screening of Andy Warhol’s Lonesome Cowboys during a film forum at the Ansley Mall Mini Cinema in Atlanta was raided by police. They confiscated the film, photographed audience members, and arrested the theater owner and projectionist. The event brought increased attention both to the targeting of queer people by law enforcement and to the power (and perceived threat) of performance media focused on LGBTQ+ stories. In response, the 1970s saw the growth of activist initiatives like the Georgia Gay Liberation Front alongside new efforts in theater to support queer playwrights, actors, and productions. In 1971 the feminist performance troupe WomanSong Theatre provided a creative messaging space for members of the Atlanta Lesbian Feminist Alliance, and they performed at the University of Georgia’s student union. Other LGBTQ+ troupes and production companies would follow in Atlanta, among them Red Dyke Theatre, the Southeastern Arts, Media & Education Project’s OutProud Theatre, EstroFest Productions, the LGBT Theatre Project / Theatre OUTlanta, and, most recently, Out Front Theatre Company, established in 2016. For the past fifty years, productions created by such artists and groups have challenged gender expectations, staged vibrant queer love stories, and confronted homophobia and transphobia within the theater and outside of it.