Mississippians are proud of their state and proud of their country. They re-enact the Civil War annually, a war they are proud they fought even if they lost. On every corner of a Mississippian town is a church but the Church is not proud of gay people. We learn this in Harriet Hirshorn and Katherine Linton’s excellent high quality documentary "Mississippi: I Am", part of the official selection at the San Francisco Frameline36 LGBT Film Festival .
You wonder in the beginning of a series of interviews and footage of this beautiful southern state why gay people don’t move away because of the ostracization and discrimination they experience. But midway through the film you discover why.
"Mississippi: I Am" is an important document on the importance of activism and the power of youth. Rather than accepting the status quo of discrimination in their state, LGBT youth banded together and created the Safe School Coalition. The ACLU successfully challenged a state high school for forbidding Constance McMillen from bringing her girlfriend to a prom and a dress code excluding girls in tuxes. The story made national headlines, and resulted in a "Second Chance Prom" for LGBT youth including a second chance for former Mississippian high school student and member of ‘NSync’ Lance Bass. Bass is one of the young gay men that heard about the breaking news.
When he was at the height of his fame in the successful boy band 'NSync' with Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez, Chris Kirkpatrick, and Joey Fatone, Bass felt he was anonymous outside his state and no one would find out that he was gay. The press did and that story also made breaking news in 2002. Bass is executive producer of "Mississippi: I Am" and is also proud of his state. He hopes the documentary will be seen by mainstream America. There is a good chance this film will capture national attention. The cinematography by Vincent Venturella and editing by Harriet Hirshorn and Jillian Buckley is brilliant.
"Mississippi: I Am" is destined to attract wide appeal. If Mississippians can change the forces that prevent equal opportunity for LGBT youth, there is hope for the rest of the USA.