GLAAD summer tour continues at change-making bakery, events with local advocates

GLAAD's Southern Stories Summer Tour continued this week with stops in Alabama and Mississippi to meet with local LGBT leaders and accelerate acceptance in the US South. The tour through Mississippi began in Jackson where GLAAD's Director of Programs – U.S. South & Global, Ross Murray and Senior Strategist – U.S. South & Global, Alexandra Bolles stopped at Campbell's Bakery to meet with the shop's owner, Mitchell Moore. 

Moore is the founder of the "If you're buying, we're selling" campaign – a movement dedicated to fighting against so-called religious freedom laws that allow business owners to refuse service to LGBT people in Mississippi. Supporters of the movement show that their businesses do not discriminate by displaying non-discrimination stickers in their store fronts which read "We don't discriminate. If you're buying, we're selling," pictured above. 

Later that night, GLAAD partnered with the Mississippi Gulf Coast Rainbow Center at the West Harrison Civic Center in Long Beach for a community dinner and panel.

Around 50 people attended the event where local leaders led discussions on the local, state and national debates surrounding the prevalence of anti-LGBT legislation and the LGBT community's diverse and pressing needs.

The panel was made up of local LGBT allies and advocates, all dedicated to improving quality of life for LGBT people in Mississippi, each of whom represented different perspectives on a broad range of community issues. What started as a facilitated panel conversation evolved into a community discussion on the state of LGBT rights and acceptance in Mississippi. 

Panelists such as Timothy Brownlee of the Alliance for Equality, Douglas Chambers of The Spectrum Center; and Melinda Medina of Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance discussed the importance of recognizing intersectionality in the LGBT community and how that affects quality of life. 

The discussion also focused heavily on legislation and non-discrimination ordinances. Lea Campbell of the Mississippi Rising Coalition, Cindy Eldridge, an attourney with the Department of Justice lawyer, John Perkins of Come As You Are discussed equality and safety for immigrants, accessible healthcare and resources, mobilization of the local LGBT community and the needs of aging LGBT people. 

Community members found the event to be positive and impactful and stressed the night for more events like it.

"We need to get other people to events like this one," a local man said, urging that as a strategy for rallying sustainable change and LGBT advocacy on the Gulf coast.

Local news station WAPT News also interviewed Ross Murray to discuss the importance of LGBT advocacy in the US South, especially in Mississippi. Watch the report here.

To view where else GLAAD will be going on its Southern Stories Summer Tours, click here