GIVE HATE A HOLIDAY
Tupelo, Mississippi – October 10, 2011
Tupelo, MS – A very special series of events will take place in Tupelo on Monday, October 10, to help raise public awareness about the lives and concerns of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Mississippi and throughout the South and to help build support for ongoing local, state, and regional efforts to make our communities more just, inclusive, humane, and safe for LGBT and all people who call them home.
In line with recent high profile public debates about bullying and youth suicides, safe schools, family equality, military service, racial intolerance and other civil and human rights concerns, there will be an emphasis on the perspectives and needs of LGBT youth, as well as efforts to help bridge the gaps that have divided families, friends, churches and communities on these issues for far too long.
Tupelo holds special significance as the setting for these events as headquarters for the American Family Association (AFA), a national organization recently designated as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center for the “thoroughly discredited falsehoods and demonizing propaganda it pumps out about homosexuality and other sexual minorities.” (Venango County is home to the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Family Association.)
The Give Hate A Holiday events will begin with an 11:00 AM press conference at Tupelo's Link Centre, featuring coalition representatives, to offer statements and answer questions about its purpose and goals. Mark Potok, Director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project will also unveil a highly anticipated new Intelligence Report on Bryan Fischer, the AFA's prominent, and controversial, spokesperson. Additionally, Southern Clergy for Inclusion will release “A Southern Proclamation” in which they proclaim God’s love for all, including LGBT persons and publicly apologize where they have been silent.
The public events start at 12:00 Noon with a peaceful and colorful public gathering outside the Link Centre where participants are invited to demonstrate, with signs, chants and other creative forms of public witness, their commitment to the struggle for inclusion, fairness and equality and to call out to others to join the movement and take a stand in their community.
At 2:00 PM, in the Link Centre Concert Hall, there will be a Free Public Screening of OUT IN THE SILENCE, the acclaimed, hopeful and entertaining documentary film about courageous local residents confronting homophobia and the limitations of religion, tradition and the status quo in their conservative small town, followed by a dynamic Town Hall-style Public Forum aimed at engaging the audience in an action-oriented dialogue about inclusion, fairness, and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and all people in Mississippi, throughout the South, and across the country. Filmmakers Joe Wilson and Dean Hamer will be on-hand to help lead the discussion, and the public is invited to participate and to share their perspectives and ideas for promoting positive change with the audience. (There will be a Repeat Film Screening and Town Hall Forum at 7:00 PM for those unable to attend the afternoon showing.)
Following the film screening and town-hall forum, participants are invited to continue the conversation in the Link Centre's Reception Hall and to visit with representatives of local groups and organizations to learn about their work and about how to get more involved and take action. (Groups or organization that would like to set-up an information table should contact Melanie Deas at: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Co-sponsors of the Give Hate a Holiday event include: Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Tupelo -- Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Oxford -- All Saints' Episcopal Church of Tupelo -- PFLAG Tupelo -- PFLAG Oxford/North Mississippi -- Gulf Region PFLAG -- University of Mississippi Gay-Straight Alliance -- OUTlaw at The University of Mississippi -- Mississippi Workers' Center for Human Rights – ACLU of Mississippi – Unitarian Universalist Mid South District -- Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations "Standing on the Side of Love" Campaign – Believe Out Loud – Americans United for Separation of Church and State -- Tennessee Equality Project -- Georgia Equality -- Equality Federation -- Out Now Youth (Springfield, MA) -- GetEQUAL.