One of the biggest dates in the Atlanta LGBTQ calendar has confirmed that it will return this July.
The Joining Hearts Pool Party fundraiser raises money for a number of local HIV organizations. Unsurprisingly, it had to miss 2020 because of the pandemic.
Fans of the event will be pleased to know that it will return for summer 2021 to Piedmont Park, following Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms lifting the ban on large-scale events last month.
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The theme for the 2021 event will be ‘Together ATLast”. It will take place July 17, and will have to adhere to the city’s Covid restrictions. This currently means face masks and social distancing, which means numbers will be significantly restricted. All those hoping to attend will also have to show that they’ve been vaccinated against Covid.
The team usually have months to organize the event, but as they didn’t know whether this year’s event could go ahead, are now working overtime to get things arranged before July.
“You’ll see some changes. We are trying to determine what will be feasible given the timing,” Jerry Henderson, President of Joining Hearts, told Project Q.
Henderson told Gay Cities why it was important to bring the event back.
“I feel having the event return this year is needed to bring communities together, flourishing with smiles and laughter and being together again. With the pandemic, there has been a dark cloud over the world with deaths, sickness, and sadness. Even though it will be a limited capacity, the sense of togetherness with your friends, as we once were and in our current new normal, will lift spirits that will be good for the soul and the community.”
Joining Hearts normally runs 4-5 big fundraising events each year. In 2019, it raised $136,100 for five local HIV organizations.
The organization was founded in 1987 by a group of friends who wanted to do more for those impacted by HIV. It began life as a more formal cocktail party and the pool party idea evolved a few years later.
Across its history, Joining Hearts has donated over $2.5million. Last year, in lieu of attending events, and to mark its 33rd anniversary, it asked people to consider donating $33 instead. It noted that whereas other parts of the US are beginning to successfully tackle HIV, Georgia lags behind.
“The metro Atlanta community is once again in an HIV/AIDS crisis,” it says in a statement on its website. “While other cities in the country are seeing virtually no new HIV infections, Atlanta is seeing new infections at numbers we haven’t seen since the 1980’s.
“Every day there are a wide range of organizations working to stop the spread of HIV throughout Atlanta. We can’t support them without your continued support.”
Check out some photos here from the 2019 event. Even though this year’s event will look quite different, it’s definitely a worthwhile event to try and attend if you’re in the Atlanta area (and yet another good reason to get yourself vaccinated!). Tickets go on sale at 2pm tomorrow (May 1) at joininghearts.org.