unmonumentATL: Joey Orr

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For our unmonumentATL series, we asked 13 artists to share their personal un-monuments with our readers. From January 13 to 29, we will present one artist’s submission per day. And don’t miss Nick Kahler‘s incisive two-part essay on the subject. UnmonumentATL was conceived by former BURNAWAY editor Rachel Reese. 

The F Word at Hunter Museum

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West Peachtree and Peachtree Place
Atlanta, Georgia
In the mid-1980s, two friends and I were walking to the Midtown MARTA station when we stopped to read some propaganda wheat-pasted to an abandoned building at the corner of West Peachtree and Peachtree Place. One of my friends got spooked by something and walked away. By the time my other friend and I looked up, a stranger was upon us. He was gaunt and missing a front tooth. He asked us for a light, and we explained we didn’t smoke. He asked us where we lived, and we explained we weren’t from Midtown. Then he told us we were pretty boys.
As my friend and I turned and walked away we heard a man yell, from across the street, “Faggot! You leave those boys alone!” I remember looking back and seeing an African American man, semiconscious and slumped against a street sign, finish the booze or beer in his bottle and fling it across the street at our interloper. But, of course, we were the interlopers. That building is gone now, but the street corner continues to remind me of how micro-histories like these can get erased in the rebuilding of a city.