Today, GLAAD launched #MyMississippi, a new campaign to amplify the voices of anyone who has ever called the Magnolia State home, to make clear the importance of, and need for, full equality and acceptance in Mississippi. The campaign is part of a larger, multi-faceted effort that will include the release of a new song, "My My Mississippi," written by DMI Music & Media Solutions' Tena Clark and performed by renowned R&B, pop, and jazz singer Patti Austin, as well as a march and rally in Jackson, MS, in December to call attention to the state's treatment of its LGBTQ citizens. Follow GLAAD for updates on how to take part in #MyMississippi online and in person.
Despite Mississippi having always been home to LGBTQ people, many of whom live at the intersection with additional marginalized identities, local legislation does not always protect all of its residents. In spring 2016, Governor Phil Bryant signed HB 1523 into law, a harmful "license to discriminate" bill. Many have criticized HB 1523, including celebrities, advocates and politicians, and the bill was challenged in court over the summer. Participating in #MyMississippi is one way people can speak out about the lived impact of discriminatory bills like HB 1523 that pop up across the country.
A state with a landscape as full as its history, Mississippi has always been home to many members of marginalized communities, though their existance and experiences are not always recognized by others, be they neighbors in the state or others across the nation. By sharing their stories on social media with #MyMississippi, past and present Mississippi residents are making their voices heard on their complicated relationships with the place they've called home.
While people often dismiss LGBTQ Mississippians by urging them to cut ties with the state, many in the LGBTQ community know Mississippi as home to their families and friends and religious communities, and as the place they learned their values, even if their home hasn't always welcomed them fully. In fact, across the United States, Mississippi has the highest proportion of same-sex parents raising biological, adopted, or step-children, according to a 2013 Williams Institute study. Some stay on the ground working to change their neighbors hearts and minds to foster acceptance, while others have found it best to build new communities elsewhere. #MyMississippi provides space for these many diverse voices and complicated experiences.
Here are just some of the ways you can get involved, take action, and answer the question, "What is #MyMississippi?":
- Post pictures, videos, and messages across social media using #MyMississippi
- Create original artwork for #MyMississippi and share it far and wide
- Write open letters to local politicians explaining why all Mississippians need full equality and acceptance
- Share your story online using #MyMississipi and with the local media
Learn more at glaad.org/mymississippi, where you can check out posts from Missippians and submit your participation for a chance to have it appear on GLAAD's #MyMississippi Tumlbr site.
One of first participants was Reverend Brandiilyn Dear, founder of the radically welcoming Joshua Generation Metropolitan Community Church and a leading on-the-ground advocate in Mississippi. She also appeared in the documentary L Word Mississippi: Hate the Sin:
Others from around the state have already taken to social media to participate, as well:
#MyMississippi was first introduced at the GLAAD Atlanta gala on Wednesday, October 26, as part of GLAAD's Southern Stories initiative.
This is not the first time that GLAAD has worked to amplify Mississippians' voices. For the past two summers, the Magnolia State has been a vital stop on GLAAD's Southern Stories Tour, during which GLAAD's team speaks with and hear from LGBTQ and ally locals about their Mississippi. In the past on tour stops in Mississippi, GLAAD was able to meet with Mitchell Moore of Campbell’s Bakery, the creator of the "If You’re Buying, We’re Selling" campaign; GLAAD co-hosted with the Gulfport Rainbow Center a fellowship dinner and community discussion on the coast; attending a riverside baptism and Sunday church service with Joshua Generation Metropolitan Community Church; met with local advocates in Hattiesburg at the Spectrum Center; held a screening and panel event with cast and crew members of the GLAAD Media Award-winning documentary, L Word Mississippi: Hate the Sin; and more.
Additionally, for media outlets and experts in Mississippi who are looking for ways to accurately and effectively report on the local LGBTQ community, GLAAD released a guidebook resource specifically about Mississippi.
In late 2014, GLAAD commissioned Harris Poll to measure attitudes towards LGBTQ Americans. The research found that beneath legal and policy progress lies a layer of uneasiness and discomfort. While the public is increasingly embracing LGBTQ civil rights and equal protection under the law, many are still uncomfortable with having LGBTQ people in their families and the communities where they live. The numbers found that Southerners feel significantly more discomfort about their LGBT family, friends, and neighbors than is found in other regions of the country. To learn more about GLAAD's year-round work to close this gap, check out glaad.org/southernstories.