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The County Where Gay People Don't Exist: VIDEO


Franklin County, Mississippi is ranked as one of the least hospitable county for gay couples because none were counted in the U.S. Census, so CNN's John Sutter went there to find out if that was the case:

2_franklinI drove to this place of rolling hills and misty valleys with a few questions on my mind: Can there really be such a thing as an all-straight county? If so, what is it like to be someone who never has met a gay person? Do you just watch "Glee" and figure it out?

If there are gay people in Franklin County, what keeps them hidden?

I spent a few days searching for answers before I realized I was making the wrong assumptions: It's not that gay people here (or anywhere really) want to be in the closet, necessarily. It's the rest of the world that pushes them in and shuts the door.


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  1. F her and her mother's broom she rode in on........F that awful ugly state

    Posted by: disgusted american | Mar 25, 2013 9:10:21 AM

  2. You have to admire those brave souls who have the courage to be out in that culture.

    Posted by: voet | Mar 25, 2013 9:19:13 AM

  3. "....F that awful ugly state"

    Disgusted American,

    as a Black person I truly understand your sentiments about Mississippi...and Alabama and Georgia and South Carolina...and so on and so on...yes, DIXIE.
    But I don't believe in condemning or throwing slurs at an entire state or country or nationality or race.

    Yes, Mississippi gave us the White Citizen's Council, it gave us the horrendous murders of thousands of Black Americans. BUT Mississippi also gave us William Faulkner, Richard Wright, Eudora Welty, Tennesseee Williams, etc....

    You can't slur an entire group of people...except Mormons.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Mar 25, 2013 9:27:36 AM

  4. It's not that gay people here (or anywhere really) want to be in the closet, necessarily. It's the rest of the world that pushes them in and shuts the door.

    LIKE DA!

    Posted by: seniceguy | Mar 25, 2013 9:42:49 AM

  5. I've never been to Mississippi and now I intend never to go there.

    It just looks like a big trailer park.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Mar 25, 2013 10:07:34 AM

  6. I don't really see anything in this report that hasn't been obvious as part of the lived gay experience for decades. I came from a small town in a rural county in Michigan, and was in high school there in the mid-1990s. I didn't know of anyone openly gay there. Certainly no gay couples who lived openly. I still have a ton of facebook friends from high school and not one is gay or knows someone gay. I feel like this report is a big "well, duh."

    It also totally misunderstands the census. If the census says there are no gay couples, that could mean no couple openly identified, or no one is coupled who is gay, or that those folks were simply not sampled. It doesn't make it a "county with no gay people." Shoddy journalism.

    Posted by: Thomas | Mar 25, 2013 10:14:05 AM

  7. If you wanna know where The Gays are you should always start at the local hair salon.
    Love the hairdresser!

    Posted by: Gigi | Mar 25, 2013 10:35:51 AM

  8. Just finished watching the entire video. Why would these people STAY THERE?

    Posted by: Gigi | Mar 25, 2013 10:38:30 AM

  9. The doc "Small Town Gay Bar" is a great illustration of life in rural America if you're gay--one little backwoods hole-in-the-wall for several counties, unless you're willing to meet all your partners surreptitiously online. These are the communities that Obama got dinged for describing as "clinging to their religion and their guns," but it's often true: the "three G's" that used to decide social issues for the GOP were God, Guns, and Gays. Alabama is no better, and I'm sure there are other Southern/Midwestern states that also fall into this category. (Then again, Matthew Shepard was killed in Wyoming, a supposedly "live and let live" Libertarian state, in a college town.) Any place where you have people who fear change, you're going to have opposition--sometimes violent opposition--to LGBTQ lives.

    Posted by: Dback | Mar 25, 2013 10:50:52 AM

  10. Thomas, At least on paper, according to the census there are no gay couples in that county. The whole point of the piece is to prove that's not true, that despite the official record even a wide place in the road in rural Mississippi has gay people and couples.

    I just hope that by coming forward none of them face harassment.

    Posted by: Caliban | Mar 25, 2013 10:52:59 AM

  11. Caliban--It seems like everyone knows that, though. We know that openly gay people and couples are rare in rural America, and that the closet is a lot more durable there because of religion, tradition, etc. I guess I was expecting it to go deeper--why were some of the people out but others weren't? Were they really part of the community or did they just happen to live there (i.e. worked somewhere else, socialized with gay couples in nearby cities, etc.)? Was there a difference for lesbians? Any young gay people or old gay people to show how things have changed?

    Posted by: Thomas | Mar 25, 2013 11:31:19 AM

  12. Obviously lesbians aren't as likely to just be outright murdered as gay men are. It's a fact. I wonder how it is something so obvious could seem like such a mystery...

    It's one thing to be invisible, or to simply be asked not to "flaunt" what you are.

    It's quite another, however, to know very clearly that people will want you DEAD for being what you are in the open.

    So yeah, it's hard for rural lesbians, and not to say they don't face real potentially life-threatening situations. It's just that the guys are a LOT more likely to just be killed than the girls.

    So why wouldn't a single gay guy stay "in the closet" in rural America ?

    Yeah, I know, we're all supposed to be activists. I just love how so many urban gays who don't really ever put their lives on the line seem to think everybody at real risk should.

    Posted by: Tom | Mar 25, 2013 11:56:33 AM

  13. Yes, Mississippi gave us ... the horrendous murders of thousands of Black Americans.

    Posted by: Derrick


    Posted by: David Hearne | Mar 25, 2013 12:11:36 PM

  14. David Hearne: f#ck you you racist piece of sh#t.

    You know full well about the history of lynching in the American South. It takes very little effort to research that history.


    All the sources you need.

    We've all known you're a racist troll for some time. But this really takes the cake. Prick.

    Posted by: MateoM | Mar 25, 2013 12:41:35 PM

  15. Thanks, MateoM.

    Hearne, are you Rick? A few Towleroad visitors have said you two are the same person. Why the hell do you need to create a second blog persona? I thought all your talk about being retired and living in Florida was true. I am so damn gullible. Don't communicate with me anymore.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Mar 25, 2013 12:54:03 PM

  16. At least they edited out the part where one of the locals says "whut? whut on earth is a sume-sex coup'l?"

    Posted by: AdamTh | Mar 25, 2013 1:10:38 PM

  17. The idea that tiny rural towns don't have much of a gay presence, and that small town life tends to be more conservative is neither new nor interesting, nor is it peculiar to Mississippi.

    Pick any number of rural outposts in Wyoming, Maine, Idaho, etc. and you'd probably find about the same lack of awareness and the same presence of bigotry, just with a different accent.

    I am a grad student at a Mississippi college in a town of about 48,000. We have numerous openly gay professors and students, there is an active gay campus organization, and there is an active and visible gay community in the town separate from the university.

    There are several gay bars in Jackson, a few more in Biloxi, and even one in little ole Meridian. We have AIDS awareness organizations, political action groups, and even gay/lesbian chapters of alcoholics anonymous. Beyond that, the gay life of bigger cities such as New Orleans or Memphis is easily accessible depending on which part of the state you live in.

    Long story short, there are numerous gay people living happy, proud, productive, lives in our state.

    Aside from not being particularly informative or revelatory, this piece simply shows yet again the blatant media bias against the South.

    Posted by: kjq | Mar 25, 2013 1:25:24 PM

  18. "You said you got two gay cousins!"

    "Yeah, but so what? That's two out of millions!" and she walks away.

    LOL at having millions of cousins...

    Posted by: BobN | Mar 25, 2013 2:20:02 PM

  19. Mateom - I asked for a source for the claim of "thousands" of horrendous murders presumably at the hands of white people in Mississippi. You linked to Wiki which reference the Tuskegee Institute statistics for lynchings. Did you even bother to read those statistics? I doubt it. So I'll give you the short of it: 581 people were lynched in Mississippi. Not thousands. Many of those people were executed for crimes they had committed. Hanging people was a typical form of execution at the time.

    Lynching has never been commonplace... not in any part of the country.

    Posted by: David Hearne | Mar 25, 2013 2:44:06 PM

  20. Poor Derricka - Being factual and objective is traumatic?

    Posted by: David Hearne | Mar 25, 2013 2:47:22 PM

  21. David Hearne: I've provided more than enough evidence. But you're a racist and refuse to acknowledge it. Trolls like you aren't worth the effort it takes to respond.

    If anything, our responses to you are signals to the rest of the commenters on this site that you are not to be taken seriously, as you are a blatant racist. That you can so easily and without shame brush off the murder of hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent African Americans in the American South is proof of that racism.

    Posted by: MateoM | Mar 25, 2013 3:05:46 PM

  22. Poor Mateom - Being factual and objective is traumatic?

    Read more: http://www.towleroad.com/2013/03/franklin.html#ixzz2Oa4UE5FM

    Posted by: David Hearne | Mar 25, 2013 3:18:39 PM

  23. Mateo - Hearne is just another alias of this site's resident crazy racist closet dweller. hatred in a vacuum.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Mar 25, 2013 3:27:44 PM

  24. David Hearne: speaking of being factual.....

    But then again, as a racist troll I'm sure you'll just blow this off too. Whatever. As Kiwi pointed out, you're simply just another alias of Rick/Jason/Ratbastard, and only come here to rile up the comments section. I'm hoping our small exchange makes everyone aware of what you are so that you're further ignored in the future.

    Later, troll.

    Posted by: MateoM | Mar 25, 2013 3:33:12 PM

  25. The number of recorded lynchings doesn't tell half the story. There were mass killings of Black people after the civil war. And another wave a few years later when Democrats tried to enact the "Black Codes" throughout the South.

    So, yes, there were not hundreds of Black folks killed in Mississippi over the last 300 years--there were thousands.

    The last thing Black Americans need is to have their history distorted by some wretched old White supremacist hag named Hearne or Rick or whatever.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Mar 25, 2013 3:57:11 PM

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