The night air was muggy and thick, as we set up our tents and staked our torches in hopes that the mosquitoes would be warded off. Our rally was coming together, and our community was determined to be heard. Despite the ants assailing our ankles and feet we would prevail. We would be itching for days, but none of that mattered. Neither did the threat of rain, nor the perilously dark bridge in the distance. We weren't even overly concerned about the very real possibility of danger, despite the fact that a community of people (not even a mile away from where we were assembled) had be called to battle against us.
We were undeterred by the history of hatred that the LGBTQ community had become accustomed to from some of the religious communities here in the Deep South. We, a group of people from various backgrounds, sexual preferences, races, and religious beliefs, came together as Mississippians to say NO to the latest affront to our existance. Enveloped by the deep woods of Paul B. Johnson State Park, we would make our stand, in peace, against the dangers of reparative/conversion therapy. Against the idea that as though we were broken, we could be fixed.
Some of us were born and raised in the South. We grew up sipping our cool sweet tea, and picking elderberries in the woods for grandma's pie. Southern Hospitality dictates that we bless the hearts of those who are less fortunate than us, and in this instance, I feel extremely fortunate to be a member of such a cordial, and supportive community. We would like for people to recognize that just as the silhouette of the longleaf pines in the night sky we, in spite of our sexuality, were at home in Mississippi. Others of us came here for school, or moved here from California -- whatever our geographical backgrounds, we all call Mississippi our home. We are a community that continues to be unfailingly positive and vibrant, mistreatment and discrimination notwithstanding. In the comfort of our homes, we crafted the signs that would be used in our rally with a jovial camaraderie and they stood as bastions of joy between us and the oncoming traffic. We believed that the flames from the candles in our hands would inspire a sense of hope within those who were made to go to this conference by family members. Family members who are unwilling to accept their loved ones.
We shared stories, and learned more about each other from the inspiring, moving and even horrific details of what it was like to “come out” in the South. Each of these stories added fuel to our smoldering flames of righteousness. We are determined to foster a community, within Mississippi, wherein those who are lacking can find an abundance of love and acceptance. Those who drove by, with hateful and rude commentary were met with a gracious, “Thank you” or told to, “Have a nice night.” We refuse to be pulled into the hatred because we have learned the hard way that the only way through which we can overcome our adversity is love. It's simple, Love Wins. The prisms within our hearts will continue to shine a kaleidoscopic vibrancy over this wonderful state of Mississippi because we are unyielding in the belief that our sexuality is merely one dimension of our multifaceted existence.
We are equal, tax-paying, law-abiding citizens of this great nation and we deserve the right to be happy, to live without fear, and to love who we please. All of that being said, we would like to say thank you and wish a nice day to those who have hurt, discriminated against, and belittled us. Thank you, sincerely, for your part in creating this community of genuinely kind and helpful people. We say thank you because it is better than responding in kind, and because despite the hatred we receive daily, we understand that some of the people who were taught to hate us don't know any other way (nonetheless, this doesn't excuse the rude behavior). We wish you a nice day, a nice life, really, with peace and happiness because we know their true value and we encourage you, in kindness, to honestly --and critically-- consider the actions and words that you send our way. Come and discover for yourself the people, to whom you send your hatred.