Jesse Peel is next guest in Atlanta Intersections conversation series at Emory University

Published 03-18-2014

Photo credit: Bryan Meltz, Emory Photo/Video

Jesse Peel

Longtime Atlanta LGBT community activist Jesse Peel will be the next guest in the Atlanta Intersections series at Emory University’s Robert W. Woodruff Library on Tuesday, April 8 at 6:30 p.m. in the Jones Room.

Peel will be in conversation with Randy Gue, curator of modern political and historical collections at Emory’s Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (MARBL), who is directing the series. The conversation is free and open to the public.

Peel, who was instrumental in building local organizations to support people with HIV/AIDS and their families as the epidemic gained momentum in the early 1980s, donated his papers to MARBL in August 2012 as the library began assembling a dedicated LGBT collection.

“Jesse Peel had a front-row seat when the AIDS crisis arrived in Atlanta, and he has inspiring stories to share,” Gue says. “He will talk about how the LGBT community had to develop its own support, invent its own organizations, and provide its own services because there were no services available to respond to the epidemic.”

Peel served on the board of directors and raised money for almost every AIDS service organizations in Atlanta, and he co-founded an organization to provide mental health programs for people with HIV/AIDS, their friends, family, and caregivers.

Atlanta Intersections features conversations with creative and dynamic Atlantans about the city’s past, present and future. The interdisciplinary series will draw on a wide variety of participants – activists, artists, authors, foodies, historians, musicians, scholars, preservationists and urbanists – to talk about their work, their experiences of the city, and the influence of Atlanta on their work.

About Jesse Peel

Originally from Everetts, North Carolina, Peel graduated from medical school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and completed a psychiatry residency at the University of Pennsylvania. After two years in the Navy with tours in Vietnam and Okinawa, Peel lived in San Francisco and Nashville, and then moved to Atlanta in 1976 and started a psychiatric practice for gay clients.

Peel experienced the deaths of many friends and clients during the AIDS epidemic. His response was to host fundraising parties for LGBT organizations and to support AIDS services however he could. He continued to serve the community through his psychiatric practice, and he kept numerous appointment books and journals that detailed his life during the AIDS epidemic. These materials are included in the Jesse R. Peel papers in MARBL.

Peel has remained active in the LGBT community. In 2003, he received the HRC Atlanta’s Community Leadership Award, followed by the Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009. He is currently a board member emeritus of the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus, from whom he received an AGMC honor in 2010. The documentary “In the Eye of the AIDS Storm” featured Peel’s experiences during the AIDS outbreak.

The Robert W. Woodruff Library is located at 540 Asbury Circle in Atlanta, 30322. Parking is available in the Fishburne deck.

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