Take a look at some Southern Stories that accelerated acceptance in 2015

While the public is increasingly embracing LGBT civil rights and equal protection under the law, many are still uncomfortable with having LGBT people in their families and the communities where they live. The GLAAD-commissioned Harris Poll, "Accelerating Acceptance," found that Southerners feel significantly more discomfort about their LGBT family, friends, and neighbors than is found in other regions of the country. Americans' attitudes and behavior on LGBT equality are not just influenced by what they see and hear, but who they know.

GLAAD's Southern Stories initiative tells the stories of LGBT people and their allies in the South to create a cultural shift towards LGBT acceptance and understanding in the region. Here are just some of the ways GLAAD worked towards this mission in 2015:

GLAAD embarks on first-ever Southern Stories Summer Tour

In partnership with leading LGBT organizations from across the US South, GLAAD engaged with LGBT Southerners and their allies on the ground during the Southern Stories Summer Tour across Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, South Carolina, and Georgia. From the "Concert for Love & Acceptance" during Country Music Association Festival, to meetings with leading advocates in the region, GLAAD learned and shared stories and strategies to collaborative accelerate LGBT acceptance across the nation.


State of Change mini-documentaries spotlight LGBT advocates & allies

The stories of LGBT Southerners live on outside of the Summer Tour, of course, and GLAAD has shared them far and wide with GLAAD Presents: State of Change films. To foster full cultural and legal equality nationwide, GLAAD works with LGBT Southerners to speak their truths to diverse audiences. The result? GLAAD Presents: State of Change paints a multidimensional picture of the challenges and successes of being LGBT in Georgia and South Carolina, and the featured story tellers move hearts and minds towards acceptance, simply by sharing their experiences.

Collaborative resource guides empower media experts

In order to share LGBT stories most effectively, GLAAD partners with leading LGBT advocacy groups in the Southern states to equip media outlets, experts, and consumers in the region to cover LGBT-related topics accurately and responsibly. With the helpful teamwork of Georgia Equality and South Carolina Equality, respectively, GLAAD has so far released resources for Georgia and South Carolina, complete with state-specific LGBT timelines, story ideas, LGBT organization lists, preferred terminology, and more.



Assault survivor Kristene Chapa gets standing ovation, & other LGBT heroes

After surviving a brutal attack in Texas that left Kristene fighting for her life and her girlfriend, Mollie Olgin, deceased, GLAAD connected with Kris to tell her own story for the first time on a national scale. This included taking her first flight to the Big Apple and speaking at the GLAAD Media Awards – New York about her dedication to recovery and the life-or-death matters of family support and cultural acceptance. The crowd met her bravery with a standing ovation.

Along with that of Kristene, GLAAD has amplified the voices of an array of LGBT advocates with diverse backgrounds from around the southern States in various forms. From Alabama to Mississippi, South Carolina, and beyond, GLAAD's introduced folks including Britney, a healthcare student about finding community as a queer woman of color and working to end health inequalities for LGBT South Carolinians; Brandiilyne, a pastor and non-profit founder developing resources around Mississippi; Nicole, a MS-based woman about being trans and disabled and confronting mental health issues in the Magnolia State; and LB, a trans man, respected LGBT advocate, and award-winning physician.

GLAAD even sat down with LGBT Southern celebs, including Big Freedia and Lance Bass, and acknowledged numerous Southern Stories at the 26th Annual GLAAD Media Awards.

Looking towards 2016

In 2016, GLAAD will continue releasing films to amplify LGBT voices and resource kits to empower the media, advocating for issues like enacting non-discrimination protections, bringing attention to LGBT people of faith (such as in GA & MS), and more. GLAAD's Southern Stories program will reach new heights in accelerating acceptance in a region of significant need in the US.

Check out glaad.org/southernstories for more.