47032 440842682668 719352668 5346279 1699989 n 300x206 Bringing the Message of Equality to Small Town Arkansas[Full disclosure:  This article is totally about one of my friends.]

National Coming Out Day is Monday, and in Memphis, that means the gays are on the march for equality.  The idea for the march formed after an inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance was tabled in the Memphis City Council because, frankly, at least half of the council wasn’t taking it seriously.  So the idea for a march was born in the head of Michael Hildebrand, who wants to send the message, in a visible way, to the citizens and lawmakers of Memphis that Memphis’s gay community is every bit as much “Memphis” as the rest of her citizens are.

Like several people that I know [and like me], Michael started out in Arkansas, though.  Arkansas, by the way, makes the best gays.  You can look it up in the Book of Gayness.  He specifically came from a little town down the road from where I grew up [in the Big City] called Stuttgart, which is famous for its German engineering, obviously.  I was glad to see the event written up in Stuttgart’s newspaper, because the message has to get out there, even in small towns in the South, that we are your friends, family, neighbors, or maybe we are your farmers!  Who knows?  Point is:  we’re everywhere.  So here’s what the residents of Stuttgart are reading in their paper today:

Segregation, bias, bigotry, discrimination … many different groups of people experience events like these across the United States. One form of discrimination that is not quite as acknowledged as the others, however, is homosexuality and one man who was raised in Stuttgart, along with his family, have organized a demonstration in Memphis to bring light to the fact that gay rights are being heavily ignored.

“We [gays] are only 10 percent of the population so nobody really [cares] about our rights,” Michael Hildebrand, who was raised in Stuttgart, said. “America is behind the curve [compared with many other countries] on gay rights.”

“I hope that this message can reach the parents and students of the Stuttgart area who need to see that gay rights are important to small towns where we grow up just as they are to larger cities,” Hildebrand said.

Too cool. I will, of course, bookmark that site now, because I’m sure next week’s letters to the editor will be hilarious.

The Memphis March for Gay Rights begins Monday afternoon at the National Civil Rights Museum, and will end at City Hall.  Many, many straight people are expected to march as well!  So that’s good.  If you’re in the area, come on by!  I will, of course, be signing autographs.