Post submitted by Harry Hawkins, HRC Mississippi Field Organizer

Vicksburg, Mississippi Recently, I had the opportunity to return to Vicksburg, Mississippi, also known as the Key to the South, on behalf of the Human Rights Campaign.

HRC Mississippi State Director Rob Hill and I traveled to Vicksburg to take part in an all-day meet-and-greet with citizens and city officials. It was the first time I had been back in several years to the place where I grew up.

In the year 2007, I graduated high school and was planning my “great escape” from Vicksburg. I had come out a year earlier. I consider myself fortunate that my coming out story was a peaceful one when I know many others could not label theirs as such.  Nevertheless, I counted down the days until I could moved to Starkville to start my first semester at Mississippi State. I viewed college as my chance to be free and meet others like me. At the time, I thought there was no one gay in Vicksburg and that no one could understand me.

Fast forward to August 27, 2014. I am driving back to the place that I made an effort to avoid. In all of the conversations and introductions, I saw individuals of different ethnicities, gender, ages, generations, and sexual orientation sitting together, talking about issues facing our respective communities and how we can work together to bridge the gaps and solve these problems collaboratively.

An overwhelming sense of comfort took over me. It was as if things had finally come full circle in a small sense.

I was glad to be back in Vicksburg and having these conversations, but also I was glad to be home.

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