Arts & Culture

This night on the town was a celebration for LGBTQ people in Mississippi

“Davin, if I stumble over my words, are you going to fire me?” I asked, blinded by the stage lights.

“Davin, did you hear me?”

Davin Coburn, podcast executive producer for McClatchy, was ignoring me. At this point, we’d been over my introduction about five times.

Davin believed in me more than I believed in myself. OK, Dav, I get your point. Just shut up, don’t talk so fast and be yourself.

The Sun Herald and McClatchy hosted One Night OUT Sunday evening at the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center in Ocean Springs.

The event was a film screening of Evan Wolfson’s and Eddie Rosenstein’s “Freedom to Marry,” a documentary that purely presents the fight throughout the nation for marriage equality for LGBTQ people.

After the film screening, I asked Eddie and Evan questions — and so did the audience — during a live taping of the “Out Here In America” podcast that I host.

Sunday afternoon, I was frazzled. I was saying “refreshment” instead of “reverend” and “shaw” instead of “saw.” I was mumbling over stuff that I know better than anybody else — the story of my childhood.

I was sweating. I was nervous. I needed a McDonald’s fountain Diet Coke stat (Jeff Clark came in clutch with that one).

But as soon as I worked it out with Davin and heard people arriving in the foyer, I knew it would be OK.

Even if I did mess up one or 28 words.

Evan and Eddie gave me some integral advice before the podcast taping — act like a clown.

You don’t have to ask me twice to be a little extra.

As the night winded down, I watched a beautiful movie that moved me to tears, hosted a live taping of a podcast surrounded by my closest family and friends, and managed to get to know two awesome advocates for LGBTQ equality.

And drag queen superstar Lexis Redd D’Ville was there to calm my nerves, make me smile and be the best host ever.

The one thing I learned tonight at One Night Out is that people in a place like Mississippi, a place that gets a bad rep, a place that’s “last in everything,” has people that really believe in marriage equality.

They believe in the LGBTQ community. And they believe in us.

I’d like to end this blogpost and podcast with a thank you to my boyfriend, Alec, all of my friends and family who listened to my whining for the past six weeks, to marketing extraordinaire Brittany Ridgway for keeping me sane, Amanda McCoy for always being down to do any kind of story I pitch to her, the Sun Herald team for letting me grow my wings and the McClatchy podcast and video team for believing that a sassy gay man from Mississippi had what it takes to host a podcast that is unlike anything else in the world.

Love one another, y’all.