The second annual Jackson, Mississippi Black Gay Pride Celebration scheduled to kick off tomorrow and commence on Sunday with author and keynote speaker Bishop Terry Angel Mason (Love Won't Let Me Be Silent) of Los Angeles has been created with good intentions to address the health disparities amongst LGBT people of color in Jackson- but good intentions haven't stopped a fierce amount of opposition in this bible belt state.
A recent article in Mississippi's Clarion Ledger detailing the purpose of the Pride event and the reaction from some Jackson residents clearly articulates the lack of progress on LGBT issues in rural communities and the gays and lesbians who suffer from a lack of support, medical attention, and an environment conducive to living openly and honestly.
"We've noticed a growing health trend in this community of LGBT people who did not seek medical attention because they feared discrimination", says Dorlisa Hutton, program manager for My Brother's Keeper Center for Community Based HIV Prevention, a co-sponsor of Jackson Pride.
A scheduled Black Pride Prayer Breakfast featuring Bishop Mason and his message of religious inclusion and empowerment for Jackson's gay community has more than ruffled a few feathers among conservative fundamentalists.
Clarion Ledger commenter "Obrewsky" states: "Homosexuals, lesbians and transsexual-genders,et al, suffer from a form of mental illness. They are delusional and have succumbed themselves to a hedonistic abnormal lifestyle. They are not happy people. There's nothing GAY about being GAY."
Mason tells the Clarion Ledger: "Some Christians think being gay is a choice like a cigarette habit, but it is not," he said. "When an individual who is gay comes to Christ, his spirit is born again just like any other Christian's spirit is born again.
"The problem is many Christians think that a born-again experience should immediately deliver the person from being gay. It does not.
"The church says God is saying, 'Give up being gay.' No, God is telling me to be a holy man."
Many hold the view that the creation of a black gay pride celebration in Jackson and the presence of an openly gay bishop who challenges the stereotypical views of gays and lesbians will do very little to decrease the persistent homophobia that exists in the south. But if nothing else, Mason and Pride organizers will be sending a message to Jackson's LGBT youth that they are not alone as they face the difficulties of coming out in a hostile environment towards LGBT people.
For info relating to Jackson Black Gay Pride visit the official website here.