This morning we left New Orleans and headed toward Jackson, Mississippi. We weren’t able to set up an interview with anylocal LGBTQ organizations in the state, so we decided to try our luck in the State House. I wanted to find a representative or senator willing to talk to us on camera about LGBTQ equality in Mississippi. I wasn’t sure how this would work out; we didn’t have an appointment to meet with anyone, and, as one aide put it, we were asking about a “pretty controversial subject.”
We had to try. I put my wireless microphone on my shirt and Potter grabbed the camera. We walked up the steps and into the State House. We made it through security and began wandering the halls, looking for someone to speak to. We hung out outside the Senate chamber and waited, but they were in session and no one came out.
We decided to look for a rep or senator in their office. We started walking the halls, looking in the office doors for someone to meet with. I poked my head in this one office and saw a life-size cardboard cutout of President Obama. That seemed link a good sign to me. I explained to the receptionist that we were traveling across the country making a documentary about gay rights and that we were looking for a rep or senator to interview. She was amazing. We would not have gotten an interview if not for this woman. Both the Senate and the House were in session, but she called a rep on his cell phone and persuaded him to meet with us.
We had a good interview with Representative Greg Holloway. We talked about equality for LGBTQ folks in Mississippi and if that is a possibility. He supports equal rights, but doesn’t quite understand the issues facing the queer community. He was not aware that it is perfectly legal in Mississippi to fire someone for being gay. LGBTQ folks in Mississippi are not protected under employment, housing, or hate-crimes laws. Same-sex relationships are not recognized by the state. There is a lot of work to be done in Mississippi. We need to educate our allies, like Rep. Holloway, about the struggles facing our community. This is difficult in a place like Mississippi where folks are in jeopardy of losing their job if they come out. But, just the fact that a State Rep was willing to meet with us and publicly support LGBTQ equality on camera is a positive sign.