In a powerful op-ed in The Clarion-Ledger, HRC Mississippi Faith Organizer Denise Donnell shared a powerful story about faith, love and acceptance in the Magnolia State.

At the Egg Bowl in Oxford, Donnell set up a table to raise awareness All God’s Children, a first-of-its-kind campaign led by HRC to bolster public support for LGBT Mississippians.

While tabling, a man, Paul, pulled Donnell aside to share his own heart-wrenching story.

Donnell wrote:

“Recently, Paul learned that his son is gay. He'd had absolutely no idea. He was shocked, stunned, and unable to respond. I braced myself to hear the reason for his silence.

Paul shared his son's coming out story without much emotion — until the end. Without warning, he choked up. Tears filled his eyes. He stared straight into mine. The tears began to fall. He made no attempt to wipe them away or shield them from me. He grabbed his chest, pulling his shirt as if was trying to grab ahold of his heart, and stumbled through the next couple of sentences:

‘What hurts me the most is knowing that my son struggled for more than 20 years trying to fight who he is inside.’”

Donnell stood by Paul, offering support. With tears still streaming down his face, Paul committed himself to his son. “Now it's time for me to protect him, and that's exactly what I am going to do. I'm going to fight for him for the rest of my life," he told Donnell.

Paul’s powerful story and connection with his son is exactly what All God’s Children is about. Together, through faith and awareness, we are connecting with Mississippians through hearts and minds to treat all people fairly.

Read the op-ed in its entirety here.

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