None of this year's Mid-South Pride Parade grand marshals are old enough to drink, and one isn't even old enough to drive a car. But all three have already made great strides for LGBT equality.
Constance McMillen of Fulton, Mississippi made national headlines when the Itawamba County School District wouldn't allow her to bring her girlfriend to the senior prom nor would they allow her to wear a tuxedo to the event. McMillen contacted the American Civil Liberties Union, and they filed a lawsuit on her behalf. She was recently awarded $30,000 from that suit.
Ceara Sturgis of Wesson, Mississippi wore a tuxedo in her senior pictures, but school officials at Wesson Attendance Center told her she couldn't use the photo for the yearbook. When the yearbook was released in April 2010, Sturgis' photo was not included, nor was her name listed anywhere in the book. The ACLU has filed a lawsuit on her behalf.
Will Phillips of West Fork, Arkansas was only 10 years old last fall when he made headlines for refusing to stand up for the Pledge of Allegiance. He reasoned that because LGBT people don't have equal rights under the law, he shouldn't recite a pledge that contains the phrase "with liberty and justice for all."
The featured speaker/guest of honor at the Pride festival will be Robin McGehee of Jackson, Mississippi, co-founder and director of Get Equal. McGehee helped organize Meet in the Middle for Equality in Fresno, California, a statewide reaction to the passage of Prop 8. She then was asked to co-direct the largely successful National Equality March in October 2009 in Washington, DC.
This year's Pride parade and festival will be held on Saturday Oct. 16th. The festival will begin at noon at Peabody Park in the Cooper-Young Historic District. Parade line-up begins at 3 p.m. in the First Congregational Church lot and kicks off at 4 p.m. For more information, go here.