I’m starting this post before we actually have the ruling on Prop 8, but in our household we know how this will go. Extension of protections for same sex couples in California and beyond that […]
The Cartoon Parade Comes To Town
I’ve been living and organizing in the South (mostly around LGBTQ issues) since 2008. My friends and family from various parts of the country don’t visit much. It’s difficult to entice folks to come to Mississippi or Alabama. It’s not really on the way to a major destination, so folks don’t just pop by. Interest from family and friends in my work has waxed and waned over the years. When the work was highly visible (say, a major legal case that made national news) or easy to understand (such as organizing something concrete like a conference or an event) there was interest. More long-term and difficult to describe work, like youth development and community-building that’s less concrete, doesn’t seem to garner much interest from my loved ones. That’s perfectly fine with me. I love my work, and if communities rally around and behind it down here that’s all that matters.
The Westboro Baptist Church and their circus of hate came to town on May 18. All of a sudden, folks I don’t hear from much were flooding my inbox. Did I know the group was coming? What was I planning to do about it? Did I know of a protest that would be organized? Was there a place to send money to fund the protest? Judging from the swell of interest, you’d think that something important was about to happen in my community.
South Carolina: Stronghold of (HIV) Segregation
South Carolina is the last state in the country to still segregate HIV+ inmates into separate areas, away from HIV- inmates. The last three states in the nation to continue with this policy were South Carolina, Alabama, and Mississippi. Alabama’s policy was deemed unconstitutional just last year, after a court battle. Mississippi changed its policy in 2010 after activists and attorneys pressured the Department of Corrections commissioner Christopher Epps to rescind the policy (which he did, very much to his credit).
Segregating HIV+ inmates is bad policy for some pretty obvious reasons.
A Call For Courage
Meagan M. O’Nan is a guest blogger for The South Lawn. She is a spiritual leader, life coach, and Mississippi native (among many other amazing things). The original blog piece, a personal narrative that wrestles with coming out in various ways in Mississippi, can be found on Meagan’s blog.
― Ambrose Redmoon
I have a lot of emotions about today and tomorrow’s Supreme Court hearings getting started. The majority of what I am feeling is anxiety. Anxiety is the combination of fear and excitement wrapped together. I really am hopeful that the fear will subside, so that anticipation and hope can step forward. But that means I have to be willing to see the best in all people: myself, my parents, my family, my friends, the State of Mississippi, and beyond – gay and straight alike. That’s a risk for me, but I am willing to put aside my fears so that the truth of who we really are can seep in.
“You can’t get to courage without walking through vulnerability.”
Meagan M. O’Nan is a guest blogger for The South Lawn. She is a spiritual leader, life coach, and Mississippi native (among many other amazing things). The original blog piece can be found on Meagan’s blog.
For video of the interview that Meagan describes, see the original blog post.
Almost two years after moving back to Mississippi, I got a call one morning from our local television station (this interview was a good 8 months ago, now). The producers asked me if I would be willing to come in and talk about my perspective on same-sex commitment ceremonies being allowed in state buildings. The reason this conversation was a hot topic was because a same-sex couple applied to have a commitment ceremony in a state building in Jackson, Mississippi. This didn’t go over well with most people, but there was no law in place to keep the couple’s application from being dismissed. Ultimately, they were given permission to have their ceremony, but most of the state was in an uproar. The television station wanted me to come on and talk about how this made me feel as an openly gay woman. They mentioned that they would be having someone else come on and talk with me, but they didn’t tell me who.
Courts and communities: Tools for long-term change?
I was listening to a few friends discuss their adjustment to living in Boston. One friend is from the West Coast originally, and was remarking that although where he’s from is legally somewhat centrist, socially it’s a very progressive environment (ripe for activism). He was remarking that Boston is the exact opposite. Rife with legal protections, he says (including marriage equality and one of the most forward-thinking state-level LGBTQ youth commissions in the country), it’s been difficult for him to agitate and organize for social change. He says the vibe is different.
He should come and visit me in Alabama.
Invisibility in a Public Death
I’m mourning the loss of Clarksdale mayoral candidate Marco McMillian, who at 34 was murdered, his body beaten, dragged, set on fire and left in a levee in Northeast Mississippi. From most reports McMillian seemed to be an amazing man, dedicated to his community and well decorated for his contributions. McMillian was openly gay and his candidacy was supported by the Victory Fund, an organization that provides political support and fundraising capacity to out lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) candidates. Having organized LGBTQ youth in Mississippi since 2008, I’m more used to closeted politicians that the LGBTQ community knows about but the public doesn’t, or those who are outed in less-than-desirable ways.