Media Advisory: For Immediate Release -- October 10, 2011
Bomb Threat Fails to Derail First-Ever Equality Event in Tupelo
Tupelo, MS – First the venue hosting a screening of “Out In The Silence” as part of a first-of-its-kind pro-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality event in Tupelo, Mississippi, was pressured by local "family values" advocates to cancel the event, then it received an anonymous bomb threat as things were getting underway.
The intimidation and threat occurred at the Link Centre on Main Street as organizers and allies were gathering outside the building to welcome attendees and offer a public display of support for efforts to raise LGBT visibility and build the local movement for inclusion, justice and equality for all.
Tupelo holds special significance as the setting for these events as headquarters for the American Family Association (AFA), a national organization designated as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for the “thoroughly discredited falsehoods and demonizing propaganda it pumps out about homosexuality and other sexual minorities.”
The bomb threat followed a press conference at which the SPLC unveiled an explosive new Special Report titled “THE PROPAGANDISTS: Bryan Fischer, the American Family Association & the Demonization of LGBT People.”
The threat was investigated by the Tupelo Police Department who swept the building and cleared it for use. The film screening took place as scheduled followed by a powerful community dialogue where a diverse audience pledged to join together, speak out against homophobia and transphobia and build the movement for change in Tupelo and beyond.
Co-sponsors of the event included: Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Tupelo -- Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Oxford -- 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 -- GetEQUAL.
UPDATE: Rally Urges Support for LGBT Community - from the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal - Oct. 11, 2011
TUPELO - Demonstrators outside the Link Centre on Monday held up signs reading "Love" as they showed their support for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
The event, called "Give Hate a Holiday" was organized by the Unitarian-Universalist Congregation of Tupelo and brought together about 35 legal analysts, gay rights activists and their supporters.
"Homosexuals do not expect special rights, only human rights," said Amanda Todd, an attorney and organizer of the Tupelo chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, or PFLAG.
Speaking alongside Todd at a press conference prior to the demonstration were representatives from the ACLU, the Tennessee Equality Project, the Mississippi Workers' Center for Human Rights and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Earlier this year the SPLC designated the Tupelo-based American Family Association a hate group. The SPLC based its designation in part on comments made by Bryan Fischer, director of issue analysis at AFA and host of "Focal Point" on American Family Radio.
Mark Potok of the SPLC called Fischer's comments about gays "outrageous" and "intentionally false." Potok referred specifically to comments Fischer made in a May 27, 2010 blog post in which he endorsed a theory that links gays to Adolf Hitler, the Nazis and the Holocaust.
AFA President Tim Wildmon said that comments on blogs like Fischer's don't necessarily reflect the positions of the AFA, adding that while he believes the Bible plainly teaches against homosexuality, "I reject the notion that we're doing anything that fosters hate against LGBT people. That would be un-Christian."
At noon folks were dismissed from the press conference and gathered along West Main Street holding signs proclaiming their belief in the fair and equal treatment of gays. A march that had been planned at AFA's headquarters was canceled because of traffic safety concerns.
Filmmaker Joe Wilson, whose documentary "Out in the Silence," about a Pennsylvania teenager picked on because he's gay, said events like this raise awareness within a community and help deter injustice. The film was shown twice at the Link Centre on Monday.