• Tyson Evans

THRIVE SS's ATL Pride Grand Marshall Debut Was Black, Queer, & Powerful AF | A Rising Phoenix

Updated: Oct 14, 2019

THRIVE Ambassadors championing their banner with the founders proudly waving to the Atlanta Pride Parade crowd.

"Bitch, I Fight Back"

The skies may have been gloomy and everyone may have gotten a little wet, but the debuting Pride Grand Marshall, THRIVE SS, came through shining to ensure that not even rain could ruin this parade. Adorned in attire and carrying signs that unapolegitically touted the legacy of advocacy and activism of the Stonewall Riots led by the likes of Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, on the 50th anniversary of their acts of courage, the beautiful entourage of Black LGBGTQ was the life of the festivities. On the eve before the parade, THRIVE Executive Director, Larry Scott-Walker electrified the Atlanta Chalk Festival MainStage leading the crowd in a rousing chant "Bitch, I fight back", reminding all attendees that while the rainbow banners are beautiful, at the true essence of Pride is a rebellion against systems of oppression that still are present today.

The organization fights back in their work every day. THRIVE SS's mission is to offer support, through lessening gaps of disparities, and advocacy through mobilizing and improving health equity for Black gay men living with HIV. Motivated by the mounting despair they saw

many of their friends enduring, the founders of THRIVE set out to “do things differently” from the agencies that they worked with for decades. Dwain Bridges, Daniel Driffin and Larry Scott-Walker innovated a peer-support model that has linked over 2,000 Black gay men living with HIV to support, medical care and other essential resources. THRIVE has hosted over 400 in-person support groups, community meetings, educational events, health forums, trainings, workshops, artistic and cultural engagements and fundraisers towards their mission of using social support to lessen the chasm of health care inequality.

It is no secret that historically there has been a divide between the Black LGBTQ community and mainstream Atlanta Pride activities, and to see the loud and proud representation embodied by THRIVE and it's ambassadors leading out the parade is not only inspiring but a true moment in history to be celebrated.

BOOMER WOODS | THRIVE SS's Pride Phoenix Rising

Boomer Woods, community advocate and leader twirling for the gods

While THRIVE's whole display was full of Black excellence, there is no doubt that their leading pheonix, Boomer Woods, stole the whole show. Pumping through the miles of the parade in thigh high heels, and in the midst of rain, Woods dazzled and mesmerized the crowd.

Woods putting Black Queer Power on full display in front of angry protestors!

Boomer is featured in Project Griot's, a THRIVE initiative, "Outrun the Sky"

From dancing to disclosure, resilience to religion, addiction to appointments, ​Outrun the Sky​ touches on social and cultural factors that are often overlooked in conversations about HIV.

Woods is reflective of the type of leaders that exist within the network built by the organization. His valiant voguing and powerful posing during the parade served as beautiful symbolism for the celebration of a rising tide of activism and freedom that is spreading across the nation through people like him and organizations like THRIVE SS. We as Black Queer folk, are the rising pheonix.

All photos taken by David L. Folkes-Evans

To Learn more about THRIVE SS visit

Visit to learn more about the movement.

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