Nykolas Alford & Stephen Thomas, a gay couple who are engaged and living in Mississippi, are plaintiffs in the ACLU's lawsuit against HB 1523, a "license to discriminate" law signed by Mississippi's Governor Phily Bryant. This is Nykolas' reflection on struggling to thrive in the Magnolia State where he and his fiance were born, raised, and still reside. The post is part of GLAAD's #MyMississippi 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. Learn more about #MyMississippi and submit your own participations here.
When I think about #MyMississippi, I think about how far we've come and how much further we have to go. I want to see Mississippi look at its own personal struggles and acknowledge that they exist. Only then, Mississippi will be able to move forward on the road to progression.
My Mississippi refused to include domestic violence as grounds for divorce. My Mississippi thinks that education is failing in our state because women are working instead of at home. My Mississippi cuts education so bad that when jobs do come to our state, locals won't be hired because they don't have the education to do these jobs. My Mississippi is still wasting tax dollars upholding their idea of religious freedom. My Mississippi would rather teach abstinence instead of safe sex when statistics show that we are one of the leading states with higher rates of teenage pregnancy and HIV/AIDS/STDS. My Mississippi evicted an interracial military family because the landlord's neighbors would have a problem with it. My Mississippi is making national news right now because a black high school student had a noose placed around his neck in 2016!
Mississippi is always last in areas that we should strive to be better in and right at the top in areas we should be embarrassed by and then we wonder why Mississippi is ridiculed by the rest of the country. I am tired of hearing the "If you don't like it, leave" argument. How do we expect to become a better state when we are running everyone off? It is #mymississippi too.
My Mississippi doesn't allow me to feel comfortable with Stephen every moment that we are in public. My Mississippi doesn't give me the luxury of first class citizenship when every year the House and Senate vote and pass laws that discriminates against the LGBT community. My Mississippi is disheartening but My Mississippi is hopeful. We are all Mississippi and together we can be the change that we want to see.
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.