Monday, October 10, 2011

Bomb Threat Fails to Derail First-Ever Equality Event in Tupelo

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.


: 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.


Faces by Eric Y. White said...

Joe, this is Diva, the big haird drag queen from today's event; it was such a pleasure to meet you and Dean. Your documentary was such a pleasant and proud moment for me as a gay man. I am so moved by the work you guys are doing and I offer you my support now and throughout the rest of your journey. You inspire me. We made a little bit of history today, and thank you thank you thank you for being part of making this happen. Words can never be enough so I'll be passing it along through my work.
Life is better having met you guys;) Please stay safe and know there is a group in Tupelo that always has your back.

AF said...

Joe and Dean, Hey! I made it into a picture in my 80s shades. I am so proud to have met you both today, and I can't express how much Tupelo needed this. Thank you for sharing part of your experience with us, and as Eric said, there will always be people here in the Bible Belt who will come to bat for you any time. Again, thank you. The film was awesome, and I'm so grateful to have been a part of this. Hopefully next time we cross paths, I won't be sick and I'll be able to chat without coughing my head off. :)

Joe Wilson said...

Eric & Aleigh, Thanks so much for your incredible presence and efforts to help raise visibility in Tupelo and beyond. Your voices are helping to create ripples for change that will go farther than you may ever know. It is important and greatly appreciated. Cheers, Joe

Crusader Liberty & Justice for ALL said...

I was blessed to be with you yesterday we a wonderful group came together in spirit and body to declare that Gay Rights are Civil Rights. This kind of action must continue, LGBTQ people need to stand up and declare their humanity, stand up and demand the rights our Constitution proclaims are due to all citizens. We need to remember Rosa Parks, and the unsung others who had the courage to act. Tupelo WILL see us again.
Bob Spencer
Lay Minister UUC Tupelo

Crusader Liberty & Justice for ALL said...

I was blessed by the presence of all who attended yesterday's "Give Hate a Holiday" event in Tupelo. Thanks to everyone who stood up for Liberty and Justice for ALL. Thanks to your courage we helped Tupelo move one small step closer to the reality of the fact that Gay Rights are Human Rights. This kind of action must continue, the fact that LGBTQ people are humans entitled to all the rights the US Constitution guarantees. This is not about being against anything but bigotry. This is not about being against any Tupelo Organization, even though some will try to make it about them. This is about living and practicing the teachings in the bible: Love is the message; not hate, not judging others. Treat everyone as you wish to be treated is commanded in every religion in the modern world.
Bob Spencer
Lay Minister, UUC Tupelo

Mike Price said...

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. Romans 1:18-32