Hotlanta River Expo

Southern Voice magazine cover Hotlanta Riverexpo’89

The Hotlanta River Expo started in the Summer of 1978. Often described as the “first” or the “grandfather” of circuit parties, one of the highlights of the Expo was a raft race down the Chattahoochee River.  

First Hotlanta Raft Race, 1978
Newspaper clipping — “Thousands of Gay Men Drift on Chattahoochee In River Expo Festival”
Pulse Vol. No. 7 covers — Hotlanta Raft Race Souvenir Issue 1984 
Photograph — Hotlanta River Expo Atlanta Contestants for Cruise magazine
Photograph — Participants at Hotlanta River Expo Raft Race
Newspaper clipping — “16th Hotlanta festival is ready to get floating”
Photograph — Participants at Hotlanta River Expo Raft Race, 1978
Photograph — participants competing in the raft race at the the Hotlanta River Expo

Controversies

Gays Against Gays?

Controversy arose when members of ACT UP Atlanta attended River Expo events to hand out condoms and AIDS prevention pamphlets, only to be turned away.

Letter to Walter Greer from James Allen
Article from Southern Voice — “An Open Letter to the River Expo committee from Act Up/ Atlanta”, August 31, 1989
Letter to editor from Act Up
Letter to the Editor, Richard Swanson from Chip Stewart

Racial Insensitivity

Further controversy arose in 2000, when organizers decided that the theme of the event would be “The Year of the Dragon.” The Ad Hoc Committee for Racial Justice was formed in response. Members of the committee protested in writing and in person.  

Flyer — advertisement for Hotlanta River Expo Miss Hotlanta Pageant 
Flyer — “Watch What You Eat…It Could Be Racism”
Letter to Hotlanta River Expo from Asian Pacific Islander Lesbian, Bisexual, Trans-gendered Network of Atlanta 
Flyer — “I Am More Than…Chinese Food”
Flyer — advertisement for Hotlanta River Expo closing party 
Newspaper clipping — “Hotlanta Brouhaha is latest Manufactured Controversy”
Online news article — “Asian Americans Force Changes in Gay Men’s Festival”
Advertisement — David magazine: Hotlanta River Expo party at Ground Zero
Newspaper clipping — “Finding Their Voice”

Hotlanta Bids Farewell

The final Expo took place in 2003. Its demise was the result of years of financial mismanagement and waning attendance. 

Newspaper clipping — “Hotlanta River Expo bids farewell” 
Newspaper clipping — “Hotlanta River Expo bids farewell”