A planned Jackson, Mississippi march for LGBT equality was stopped short yesterday by police permit issues, but that didn’t prevent the 50+ gathered activists from rallying on the steps of the state Capitol. Organized by 18-year-old Bob Gilchrist with support from GetEQUAL, the protest sought to raise awareness for LGBT protections in a state that has none whatsoever. Gilchrist spoke of his own experience being bullied for being gay and called on the state to break free of its reputation for discrimination:
GILCHRIST: We’re not going to settle as second class citizens and we’re going to keep on protesting until the day that we become equal citizens… There’s a whole anti-gay culture in Mississippi and I want to battle that head on. We’re not a stigma, we’re not freaks that live underground, we’re ordinary people that happen to be gay and homosexuality is very real and you can’t pray it away.
GetEQUAL’s Robin McGehee claims that the permit insurance requirements are an intentional obstacle created “to prevent people from simply walking down the street as openly gay.” Mississippi native Zach Magee, who helped organize the protest, pointed out that “if the police can’t maintain safety while also permitting gay Mississippians’ freedom of speech, then I don’t know why they’re in the business of law enforcement.” But even without the march, the rally attracted media attention and will hopefully inspire future discussions about protecting Mississippi’s LGBT community. Watch a local report from WDAM.