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What Y’all Means All — Natchez is about

I would like to take this opportunity to respond to Sunday’s article referencing the anti-discrimination ordinance the city is considering.

As the president and co-founder of Y’all Means All — Natchez, thank you for mentioning us in your article; however, we were described as an “activist” organization.

This is not how we think of ourselves or our intentions. In fact, in the initial conversation among our founding members, we all expressed a desire to avoid political issues and a confrontational disposition.

We do feel like our mission statement offers the best description of our purpose as a recognized nonprofit. It reads as follows: We are an organization of LGBT+ individuals and supporters banding together to advocate for a better understanding of diversity in our community and to support like-minded groups serving the community in areas such as suicide prevention and mental wholeness.

Like many groups, we had our beginnings in a simple discussion among friends. This discussion followed the unfortunate and unnecessary death of a young person here in our community.

My friends and I all feel we have benefitted from a welcoming and open-minded community here in the Miss-Lou. And we considered it a tragedy that a young LGBT+ person could feel so isolated and desperate as to resort to the irreversible and heartbreaking choice of suicide.

As the discussion progressed, we realized we wanted to do something proactive that may help others experiencing the same isolation and confusion.

We are in the final stages of planning a fundraiser that will benefit a separate nonprofit group here in Natchez that offers crisis help and mental wholeness counseling administered by licensed and qualified professionals.

The “agenda” is to raise money for what we see as a good cause. We feel many others will identify with this. Part of the aim of the fundraiser is to show off our lovely city and all that is has to offer.

And yes, we do feel this city has a long list of unique qualities that will appeal to the LGBT+ individuals and friends. Many of these same people would find our architecture, history and culture a strong draw for continued visits, helping this city expand its tourism base and show off its beautiful assets. That is all a part of who we are.

What we have scheduled is a ticketed fundraiser open to the public. Thus, there really is no “LGBTQ private event.” The Natchez Convention Promotion Commission agrees that this event will be a draw for increased visitors and has generously supported us with funds designated to market this event and the city of Natchez.

We are also happy to report that the State of Mississippi has also granted us non-profit status and we have applied for 501c3 recognition from the IRS. We would like to thank Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell for his support of our group. Here, too, the anticipated benefits of our efforts seem to be adequate justification for such an investment.

Finally, I’d like to take a brief moment to speak purely from a personal perspective, and not as a spokesperson for our nonprofit organization. I was born and raised in this community. My love for Natchez drew me back after many years away, demonstrating the truth in the words of a very prominent icon: “There’s no place like home.”

Should anyone believe we have a hidden agenda, then perhaps that is why an anti-discrimination law might be necessary. Personally, I believe Natchez is better than that.

Jesus did not tell us to discriminate, segregate or hate. He taught us one word: Love. I feel loved here in my hometown. My sincere hope is that all others share this same blessing.

John Grady Burns is the president and co-founder of Y’all Means All — Natchez.

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