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

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that
something else is more important than fear.”
― 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.

Food: Basic Necessity and Political Dilemma

When I first moved to Alabama from North Carolina, I was surprised when I bought my first set of groceries at the local grocery store. I bought the same items I would usually buy, but something was different. These same items, it seemed, cost much more here, no matter what store I went to. When I travel to North Carolina, I stock up on pantry goods at the discount food stores to bring back with me. As my students in my class and I have been researching local circumstances of poverty, we have been delving into the politics behind such. Two states apply their full sales taxes to home food consumption, with no additional rebates to offset any costs: Alabama and Mississippi. These Deep South states are also ones that hold some of the most regionally-vulnerable populations in regard to poverty.  Grassroots organizing has a place in this issue that affects people on the local level of their homes.

Crowding The Space: What is my role as a self-identified male feminist?

If y’all have not heard, Beyoncé came out with a new song called Bow Down/I Been On (if you want to listen to it, Google it). The chorus of the song consists of her constantly repeating the line, “bow down (derogatory term for a woman that will not be used here)”. Well, as you can imagine, this has raised quite a stir. Some people are surprised by the tone of the song. Others actually liked and enjoyed the song. But then there are others (like me) who believe that the song flies in the face of her past statements on female empowerment and being a feminist.

But then I started thinking: what is my role in questioning Beyoncé’s feminism? Is that even something I can do? As a man who self-identifies as an ally of feminism, what is my space to comment on matters regarding a movement that I can only be attached to from the outside?

“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.

Self Care: Privilege and necessity.

self-care n. 
The care of oneself without medical, professional, or other assistance or oversight.

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” -Audre Lorde

Self-care is something that I have had strong feelings about for a good while now. Being involved in progressive politics, it has been a topic that has come up around me from time to time. Every time it has come up, I have discussed my thoughts on the concept with the same general feeling:

I hate it.