Thursday, July 12, 2012

Mississippi I Am

By Moira Sullivan

When Constance Millen asked to bring her same sex partner to her high school prom in Mississippi in 2010 she was told no. She contacted the "Safe Schools Coalition" in her state and brought up a discrimination complaint.  The high school was ordered to explain their policy and allow Millen to bring her date. Rather than do that, the high school cancelled the prom.

The incident brought Mississippi to national attention, a state that Lance Bass, former member of 'N' Synch was tired of seeing regarded as backwards. Bass came out in 2006 and received flack in his home state despite his popularity nationwide. He decided to produce Mississippi I Am, after hearing about Constance Millen, - a high quality documentary directed by Katherine Linton, and Harriet Hirshorn. They set out to interview the young gay people of Mississippi who became activists in order to change the attitudes of discrimination of gays in their state. According to the documentary there is a church on every corner of Mississippi. The church does not approve of gays and lesbians and tries to convert them in order to be changed. One of the interviewees was a pastor in a church who willingly admitted on camera his prejudices against gays.

Most Mississippians love their state and their country. The first thought that comes to mind when you see the blatant prejudice against gays in this state is why don’t they leave. You realize by the time the film ends how change has come about and how inspirational that is. Thanks to the efforts of these young activists interviewed in the documentary, a new era of civil rights has been ushered into Mississippi. These young people created "Second Chance", the opportunity to attend a same sex partner prom. Lance Bass at 32 attended. If Mississippi can change through the efforts of young activists this can happen anywhere. The cinematography by Vincent Venturella is excellent and the film is well edited. It is Lance Bass’s wish that the films be seen my mainstream America in order to change public opinion. Mississippi I Am is just the kind of film that will be able to address the homophobia that is an important civil rights issue today.

For Movie Magazine this is Moira Sullivan

© 2012 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 07/11/12
Movie Magazine International

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