Post submitted by Lorraine Stigar, volunteer
Arkansas Summer of ConversationRecently, I held a Summer of Conversations cookout at my home in Conway, Arkansas.
I sent out several invitations on Facebook inviting some close friends and others with whom I have never had an intimate conversation. As the weeks went by, I became more and more anxious about how the night was going to go; if people would show up; if I would have the backyard looking great; and wondering how I was going to get people to talk and open up to people they either barely knew or didn’t know at all.
When the night finally arrived I was pretty calm. By this point, I had finished everything I could possibly do to be ready and now I just had to let things happen. My fiancé and I began cooking and getting sides ready as people began to show up for the event. We all sat in one large circle, talked and enjoyed everyone’s company.
As the night progressed I made a small announcement thanking everyone for coming and that we were there to talk about their experiences with equality and how they felt about the movement here in Arkansas. Everyone was very receptive and I couldn’t believe the amount of support there seemed to be from the mostly straight population that attended the cookout.
The most amazing part of this cookout was meeting my neighbors and finding that they were extremely supportive of the LGBT movement. They told us they felt like love was love. It was the best feeling to find out that they supported not only the LGBT community, but also my family and me.
Getting people to start talking about issues was not as hard as I anticipated. I found myself relieved after the conversations began and I was excited to learn what other people have experienced and witnessed within their own homes and communities. As people began to depart I began taking pictures of them with the “I’m an Arkansan for Equality” sign.
Everyone accepted the photo opportunity with enthusiasm, which warmed my heart even more.

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