Jackson’s Pride: First LGBTQ+ Shelter Opens in Christian-Dominated Mississippi

Summertime brings out a time of celebration. The return of warm weather, relief from work and school. Each year, starting in June, people across the northern hemisphere rejoice at the refreshing reset of the favored season.

The Meaning of Pride

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While many celebrate the brightness in general, June also brings on a different meaning of pride. June is LGBTQ+ history month, and throughout the 30 days, queer people use the time to embrace the struggles and achievements of their community.

No One Way to Celebrate

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Within the US, these festivals are held in major cities, highlighting queer artists, politicians, and everyday citizens. The jubilees often entail drag performances and a plethora of parades. But public demonstrations are not the only way to show support.

Praying for a Better Tomorrow

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During this time, many political moves are made to advance LGBT rights. This most often comes in the most unlikely of forms and in the most unlikely of places. One such place would be the Christian-dominated US South.

Big Moves in a Small Way

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This year, Mississippi is making waves by opening a shelter for queer individuals in need of somewhere to go. The shelter, located in Jackson, will open at the end of June, being the first of its kind in the state.

Jack Myers House

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As the flagship shelter in Mississippi, it will serve as an asylum for all those facing hardships commonly experienced by the LGBTQ+ community. Opening to the public on June 28th, the Jack Myers House helps those undergoing homelessness and domestic violence.

All-Encompassing Housing

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The site has enough space for 10 people at a time, offering the exact amount of beds. The Jack Myers House encompasses a variety of services to its residents, providing access to support groups, internet access, and three meals a day. 

Honoring Activists

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This new shelter received its name after a famous LGBTQ+ advocate from Mississippi. Activist Jack Myers heralded many great efforts during the queer liberation movement. Some of his most notable work took place in the 1980s when Myers founded housing for HIV positive individuals.

A Path Forward

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The shelter doesn’t just provide a location for those to lay their heads at night. It also offers resources for those looking to find employment. Services also include opportunities to secures long-term housing after their time at the shelter. 

Harm Reduction for Mississippi

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Jason McCarty, the director of the Mississippi Harm Reduction Initiative, says there additional opportunities provided by the Mississippi location. This includes chances to further education through community college or GED courses. 

Not Slowing Down

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In tandem with the site opening, officials are planning to build an add-on by August 2024. The annex, being referred to as the  Jack Myers Wellness Center, will provide a space for social support.

Serving the Community

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This support comes in the form of legal aid and mental health care. The facility will contain expert counseling services, pro-bono felony expungement services, and assistance with replacing documents following name changes.

What’s All the Buzz?

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The opening of the Jack Myers House has many,  like McCarty, buzzing with anticipation “The LGBTQ shelter has been about a 10-year dream. We’re really excited and grateful that through MS Harm Reduction, we are now being able to open,”. 

Helping the Youth

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This location acts as a steadfast service for those fleeing from dangerous situations. Many queer teens are forced from their homes due to their sexuality or gender identity. Having spaces like the Myers House allow those teens to have a safe space to go.

Critical Care

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Efforts to provide housing like this are especially critical in states like Mississippi. Much of the state legislation in the Southern region of the US often persecutes against queer voices, erecting more political obstacles to vulnerable demographics.

Open Doors

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While the site is located in Jackson, Mississippi, the exact location has not been disclosed. This practice has been put in place in order to protect the identities of those seeking a queer sanctuary. The location is already open for contact.

Giving Spirit

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In attempts to support the ongoing project, The Jack Myers House is also open for donations. Any donations made prior to June 20th will be matched by donors up to the amount of $50,000, with all proceeds going to the organization.

Feeling Proud

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As the month of June continues on, places like the Jack Myers House must be lifted up for those who need it. And for those fighting in US states that lack LGBTQ+ support, stories like this are sure to make people a little more proud.

The post Jackson Mississippi Pride: First LGBTQ+ Shelter Opens in Christian-Dominated South first appeared on Pulse of Pride.

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