HATTIESBURG, Miss – In two weeks Hattiesburg will host the city’s first “Pride” season. The Spectrum Center is hosting the inaugural events and organizers tell us the weekend is geared towards love, equality and unity.
Pastor Brandiilyne Dear of Joshua Generation Metropolitan Community Church said “Hattiesburg Unified Southern Fried Pride” is a weekend of events focused on bringing together all sexual orientations.
“The unified is the most important part. The unified is what we’re trying to accomplish. This is not gay pride, it’s not a LBGT pride. That’s why we put the word unified because that is our goal. We want to not only unify the LGBT community but all communities,” said Pastor Dear.
We asked people around town if they would attend any of the events, many who didn’t want to appear on camera told me it would make them uncomfortable, others offered support, but said they still won’t go.
“It’s something I wouldn’t attend. I do support lesbians, people who are gay or transgender but it’s something I wouldn’t take part, but I do support them,” said William Wright, a University of Southern Mississippi student.
Molly Hinesley’s opinion differs from that of Wright. Hinesley said gay rights should be openly supported, “It’s important even though you aren’t a member of the LGBT community that we support who they are because they deserve to be treated the same as anyone else.”
Pastor Dear said the world is divided, our differences should bring us together, “Our orientation should not separate us, our religious beliefs should not separate us, our race should not separate us. Diversity has separated us long enough and that is our goal. Bring people together, come together. If you don’t understand someone’s orientation or their belief system, come together, we can talk.”
Organizers tell us that people are scared of what they don’t understand and this new “Pride” season can open the doors of dialogue, “If is something you don’t know about or something you’ve never been exposed to, that can make you timid, it can make you nervous about being surrounded by a lot of it. But you don’t know how deep the pool is, into you get in. You’ll never get the full experience,” said a LGBT supporter.
“Our goal is not to separate people, it’s not to make any statement; except we want to get to know you, you get to know us. We want to be equal.”
The Hattiesburg Unified Southern Fried Pride weekend will take place October 9th-11th.