A man has died after attending an unofficial party on Atlanta Pride weekend.
Emergency workers had attempted to resuscitate the man, who was found unconscious at the club BJ Roosters; he had passed out in the venue's basement space, called Xion, earlier in the morning after consuming the drug ecstasy, said his partner. Atlanta police found no signs of foul play, but an investigation is ongoing.
The event held early Sunday morning at Xion, from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m., was a gay circuit party thrown by Ga Boy Events. The group had organized several unofficial events during Atlanta Pride weekend, including a Saturday night party at the Underground Atlanta mall with Danny Verde and an event at District Atlanta with Nina Flowers.
One of the attendees at Xion, who asked to remain anonymous, forwarded a statement to The Advocate claiming that pandemic guidelines were not being enforced at the event, which was "packed" with hundreds of guests to "overcapacity at times."
The witness saw the victim, who he described as a healthy-looking Black man in his mid to late 30s, having a medical emergency at around 6:30 a.m. There were no EMTs at the event, he claimed, and it took more than a half-hour for paramedics to arrive. An onlooker performed CPR in the interim, but staff "seemed unprepared to handle anything of the sort," the witness said. It took some time for the music to even be turned off.
"It was a minimum of 30 minutes before an ambulance arrived, and I'm being generous. It was tragic," he said. "I’ve been to parties all over the world, I have never been to one without EMTs. In my opinion, this could have been avoided."
The Advocate reached out to Ga Boy Events for comment but had not yet heard back as of the time of this article's publishing. There are at least two more events planned for Sunday and early Monday morning, and the organizer has not canceled them.
Even before news broke of the man's death, clips of circuit parties occurring during Atlanta Pride weekend sparked a backlash on social media due to health concerns related to the pandemic.
Andy Herren, the gay winner of Big Brother season 15, reposted video footage on Twitter Saturday from an Instagram Story of a dance floor packed with shirtless, maskless men.
"Taken last night at Atlanta Pride. And publicly posted to Instagram. In the middle of a pandemic," Herron wrote. "People can be so shitty and selfish. Please don’t be like these people. This is appallingly gross."
Influencer Tyler Oakley also shared this video Saturday with his own remarks of alarm. "atlanta pride last night... what are y’all UP TO," Oakley wrote in a tweet. "i get that people miss how carefree we used to be able to be... i do too!! but the pandemic isn’t over just because you’re over it."
The official Atlanta Pride group organized virtual events this weekend, but no circuit parties. It distanced itself from the unofficial parties being thrown.
"We just want to make clear that ALL our events during Atlanta Pride are virtual," it replied to the video. "There are videos circulating the internet and make note that those are not affiliated with our brand."
RuPaul's Drag Race star Kameron Michaels also shared a video of a packed Atlanta party in which she called for accountability from promoters.
"So we gonna name names or what?" Michaels wrote in the now-deleted tweet. "The fact that the rest of us gave up our normal pride festivities, our birthdays, etc. because we’re not selfish and stupid; yet here ya’ll are acting like it’s over. Do you know how bad I want to go to a club and go dancing? All of us do. Fuck you."
In June, an Atlanta gay club, Heretic, made headlines after several patrons tested positive for COVID-19. It suspended its events "out of an abundance of caution."
While bars are permitted to be open in Georgia, the state has released guidelines that require safety measures like reduced capacity and seated patrons when possible. Organizers of temporary events that have over 50 people "must ensure that Social Distancing is maintained between groups of non-cohabitating persons."
This story is developing...