While LGBT rights have progressed in the national conversation, it appears that some areas are still stuck in a state of extreme intolerance. Franklin County, Mississippi is one place where gay people cease to exist, at least not according to government knowledge. The question remains, what will become of one of America’s most conservative states? Based on public opinion’s lack of support for gay marriage, the LGBT community may have to reside elsewhere to avoid living in constant secrecy.
According to 2010 U.S. Census data, Franklin County reported zero same-sex residences for a population size of roughly 8,000 people. Although the findings suggest a completely heterosexual community, they are indicative of something else entirely. Gay people do exist but in an area where God conquers all, it is highly unlikely that homosexuals will broadcast their sexuality to their extremely conservative counterparts.
Franklin County also made headlines in 2007, when former Ku Klux Klansman James Ford Seale was convicted on kidnapping charges for his role in the 1964 deaths of two black teenagers. Ford was serving three life sentences for murder and conspiracy charges, and died in prison in 2011. Today, race is still a defining characteristic of the county, with a 64% white majority to a 35% black population. An event such as these tragic killings is indicative of Mississippi’s deep rooted animosity toward minorities.
Public opinion also demonstrates a strong lack of acknowledgement toward gay people. Mississippi has enacted a marriage ban that only allows marriages to be recognized between a man and a woman. A 2004 poll found 86% of residents supported the ban. More recently, a 2011 study conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP) reported that 60% of participants agree that gay marriage should not be acknowledged in any legal form.
From these findings, it comes as no surprise that same sex couples remain in the dark in Franklin County. Why live openly when you can be faced with persecution? It is troubling that such negative thinking remains a vital part of cultures in areas of the country. However change simply cannot be achieved through sporadic gay rights advocacy, but rather through slow and extensive growth through the generations. Franklin county residents seem to enjoy there close knit, Christian community that is free from homosexual “sinners,” at least to their knowledge.