New gay in town: Welcome to Atlanta

He moved to Atlanta hearing that interracial dating is taboo and that HIV rates are astronomical. Here’s what he found.

By Branden Lee

I’M A SCREENWRITER, BLOGGER, filmmaker, and actor who recently relocated to Atlanta from the Philadelphia area. I chose Atlanta for my fresh start since it has become the “New Hollywood” as locals like to say. There are tons of TV and film opportunities here, and I want to get in on the action. Also Philadelphia had nothing for me, career wise, socially, or romantically.

I visited Atlanta last summer, and immediately loved it. I’d visited the south previously for family reunions and college internships. My trip last summer was the first time I really got to explore Atlanta as an adult, and finally experience the gay nightlife. I heard Midtown was the gay epicenter of Atlanta, so I made sure to check out Blake’s, Ten, and Bulldogs during my trip.

Before I got to see Atlanta for myself, I’d heard many negative things. These negative things mainly came from guys I went on dates with or chatted with online that were from Atlanta. They’d tell me things like interracial dating is still taboo down south, or warn me away from Atlanta due to the astronomical HIV/STI infection rates.

I’ve mainly only dated interracially so moving somewhere where interracial dating was allegedly rare was definitely going to be an issue. Also I’ve always been terrified of HIV/STIs, which is a huge reason why I usually stick to oral sex…most of the time.

When I finally got to see Atlanta for myself, I realized these negative things guys told me were absolute bullshit. Well the HIV/STI rates thing is true. The one guy I hooked up with on my trip last summer had a bump on his dick, which did result in me avoiding touching his penis during that encounter.

I SAW INTERRACIAL COUPLES everywhere. I saw mixed-race friend groups everywhere. I really liked Blake and Ten, because they did reminded me most of my favorite gay clubs in Philadelphia. Clubs with diverse, young crowds, playing pop and Top 40 music.

I did enjoy Bulldogs too, because it was like nowhere I’d been before. Despite having a huge black gay population, Philadelphia doesn’t have any clubs that cater specifically to a black gay crowd. It felt enthralling to experience a black gay club, since I’d never been around so many black gay people before.

I also saw so many sexy, muscular, bearded, men at these Atlanta gay clubs. My type has always been big, beefy, brawny, butch, and bearded guys. So seeing so many in Atlanta absolutely sold me as to why Atlanta should be the place where I move to, and now I’m here.

I moved to Atlanta not really knowing anyone. It’s definitely always been an issue for me connecting with other gays and finding gay friends. When I first moved to Boston for college, it was my first time living in a city, and I thought I’d instantly find a clique of gay friends, finally have a boyfriend, and live my gayest most fulfilling life. I did have a lot of fun dating and hooking up with guys. Though I’m 3 years out of college, and a few months away from turning 27, and still never had a gaggle of gay friends or a boyfriend.

MAYBE ATLANTA WILL FINALLY be the exception. Maybe Atlanta will be where I finally find a group of gay friends, and perhaps my first boyfriend. Atlanta is the land of opportunity and endless possibilities.

My first week in Atlanta, I realized that being new to the city didn’t make me special. Seemed like a third of the guys online were also recent transplants to Atlanta.

Also I know bottoms love to complain that their city is all bottoms, but that definitely seems to be true in Atlanta. Most of the guys I found myself attracted to were also bottoms. I was barely getting any messages on Grindr, except from faceless guys wanting to fuck me raw, or guys expecting me to pay them for sex so they could pay their back child support.

Despite this rough start, I’m optimistic that Atlanta will be a very fruitful place for me.

Brandon Lee is a screenwriter, blogger, filmmaker, and actor now living in Atlanta. 

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