Arts & Culture

He spent 30 years fighting for marriage equality. This is why.

They came from cities across the Mississippi Coast — and larger areas including New Orleans, Georgia and even France — to a small theater in Ocean Springs for the first-ever live recording of “Out Here in America,” a podcast by Sun Herald and McClatchy that explores the lives of LGBTQ people living in the Deep South and in America’s heartland.

Hundreds of people packed into the theater at the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center to listen to host Justin Mitchell talk with two men who have made an iconic impact on the fight for marriage equality in the United States.

Evan Wolfson began advocating for the freedom to marry in 1983 as a student at Harvard University. He later founded Freedom to Marry, a group that advocated and fought for marriage equality through several decades.

Wolfson’s friend and documentary filmmaker Eddie Rosenstein compiled Wolfson’s fight in a documentary, “Freedom to Marry,” that ends when the Supreme Court in 2015 ends the ban on same-sex marriage.

Wolfson and Rosenstein joined Mitchell in Mississippi and talked about the why they fought, why gay marriage is so important, and why making a film about it was integral in the decades-long battle for equality.

Even though the LGBTQ community had been told no for so long, Wolfson said he never doubted that he’d see the chance to be able to marry. He always remained optimistic, even when others weren’t sure what the outcome would be.

“I believed that we could fight for the freedom to marry and that we could win,” Wolfson said. “I believed this back in 1983, and I believed every year, with all of the ups and downs thereafter.”

Guests in the audience also asked Wolfson and Rosenstein questions, and their responses can be heard in the podcast.

In this episode, you’ll hear:

▪ Why Wolfson decided to focus on the marriage part of the fight for LGBTQ inclusion.

▪ Why Rosenstein, a straight man, wanted to make a documentary about the fight for gay marriage

▪ What fighting for something you believe in looks like over a span of three decades

▪ Why it’s important for people living in small towns to stay and fight rather than move away to big cities

If you have questions for Mitchell or ideas for an upcoming show, e-mail him at jmitchell@sunherald.com. You can subscribe to "Out Here in America" on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher.

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