All right, all right, let's... places to start.
Since I'm not Southern...
There are no one-syllable words.
Like "too" would be "to-oo."
Anything that's an "E," pronounce it as if it's an "AI."
Ai. Okay. Ai.
This is like Blanche from "The Golden Girls"?
Oh, a wonderful interpretation of your character.
I think that was excellent.
We're taking it from Mary Bell's entrance.
♪ Did you see them? ♪
♪ Oh, did you see them? ♪
♪ They're just walking around, yeah ♪
Right now I am on my own personal gaycation.
Sadly, Ellen couldn't be here with me, so I'm going alone on this one.
And I'm road-tripping throughout the deep South.
I'm going to Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, and Georgia.
I'm driving through the deep South...
The states that originally formed the Confederacy.
Each of these states has its own unique identity, which contributes powerfully and positively to American culture, going beyond Southern charm and hospitality.
At the same time, the region is highly conservative and tightly bound to its traditions of God, g*n, and Southern glory.
These Republican strongholds have created some of the most anti-LGBTQ legislation the country has seen. But yet the South has a higher population of LGBTQ people than any other region in the nation.
So on this road trip, I want to talk to as many people as I can to understand the LGBTQ experience here and find out what it means to be Southern and q*eer.
I'm starting my trip in Texas, the biggest state in the deep South.
And I've come to Austin to meet someone who considers himself quintessentially Southern.
Hey, Ian. How you doing, sir?
I'm pretty... I'm hot as hell.
What? Well, welcome to Austin, Texas.
Michael Cargill is pro-g*n, pro-God, conservative, and a proud gay man.
Well, today we're gonna do some sh**ting.
We're actually gonna teach you how to sh**t.
These are your friends?
Yeah, a group of friends that I drink with, have fun with.
We actually get a chance to come out and go sh**t.
A lot of them are in the gay community, so it's all about LGBT rights and being able to defend ourselves and being proficient with our firearms.
How you feel?
I get a little nervous, to be honest.
I don't know what it is. Well, I mean, I know what it is.
Yeah, it's a g*n. Slide that sucker in there.
There you go. Now, I want you to take this hand.
I want you to pull it back on the slide and let it go.
Pull back hard. Do one sh*t.
Just pull it all the way. There you go.
It gets your blood pumping, let me tell you.
Oh, we better run for it. You guys want to run for it?
Run for it.
I think we should run for it.
To the vehicles. To the vehicles!
Run for it! Aah!
What does it mean to you to be Southern, or to be from the South?
Well, it's... it's...
Texas. You know, there's nothing like Texas... the Lone Star State.
You know, where we can carry a g*n inside the Texas State Capitol.
We can testify before a state representative about something that we're passionate about at the Texas House.
That is about being a Texan.
That's about being from the South.
You've had a full experience of being gay in the South, and what... what's that been like?
We're in Austin. We can do whatever we want to do here.
Most of the people here are liberal.
I'm conservative. You know, it's hard for me.
It's very hard 'cause I am that gay black Republican.
And so where did your conservative values come from?
Was that from your upbringing?
That comes from just being in the situation that I've been in...
Mm-hmm. and living the life that I've lived.
I've served in the military, owning my own company.
I like the conservative values.
There are a lot of things about the conservatives I do not like.
But there are a lot more things that I like than I dislike.
How do you feel, then, about laws against LGBT people...
Discrimination laws, religious liberty laws that are happening in our country, which are being pushed upon states and cities by Republicans, mainly?
I totally disagree 100%.
I'm not gonna allow you to come into my bedroom. Stay out of my bedroom, you know, and that's just the bottom line.
You're... You're in a loving relationship.
I met your partner.
And you're very cute together.
Cute couple, okay.
Not gonna deny. But, you know, what if you wanted to get married and then you vote Republican and then that right is stripped away from you?
What do you say to that?
Because a g*n's not gonna help you in that scenario.
And then I have to be fair...
Because he's actually a liberal.
So he's actually a Democrat.
So we actually... We argue about this at home.
I'm sure there are a lot of arguments.
I'm feeling that argument tension, yeah.
Oh, yeah. So, yeah...
So we do argue at home. So we... It's...
It's a healthy...
Okay, and what do you argue about?
Oh, it's a...
About that, mainly?
Yes, "Who are you gonna vote for?"
You know, "No, we shouldn't do this," or, "We should do that."
So we can agree to disagree on a lot of things without being disagreeable, and we can make sure that this country does the right thing by making sure that our elected officials do the things they need to do.
And they don't go far to the right or too far to the left.
That is up to you.
That is up to me to make sure that we do do that.
But in the deep South, are things straying a little too far to the right?
The Republican Party has strong influence in the region and continues to propose anti-LGBTQ bills...
Crowd: Hey, hey! HB2 has got to go!
Daniel: Including the controversial transgender bathroom bills, which have stirred national debate, as seen in this ad campaigning against the Prop 1 bathroom ordinance.
And now Texas is one of 13 states suing the Obama administration over transgender rights in schools.
Woman: Vote "no" on the Proposition 1 bathroom ordinance.
It goes too far.
Daniel: Though I'm in Austin, a liberal outpost, I want to know why the Southern states are so politically conservative, so I'm meeting with Wendy Davis, a former Democratic state senator, to learn more.
She's invited me over for a cookout, obviously.
And this is where we have our f*re going.
Grilling is a Texas thing.
Smoking is a Texas thing.
In 2013, Wendy Davis made national headlines when she endured an 11-hour filibuster and protest of an anti-abortion bill which would have closed healthcare facilities in Texas.
This legislation would have not only denied many women access to healthcare, but also LGBTQ people who relied on these clinics.
She also co-authored some of the state's first LGBTQ non-discrimination bills, solidifying her reputation as an ally to the community.
I wanted to talk about Texas and why so many conservative politicians come from Texas, and why they have so much influence.
Ultra-conservative voices in Texas are rewarded by voters who show up...
... and vote for them.
The people who are leading the state right now come to understand that advancing hateful rhetoric, discriminatory laws...
... it's what keeps them in office.
Disrespecting the Supreme Court's marriage equality opinion and the discriminatory perspective about transgender people, a lot of the politicians here feel like they can't be loud enough on those issues.
So, how do you see what's happening to women's rights affecting the LGBTQ community?
In 2015, the Texas legislature, in its infinite wisdom, pulled all HIV screen funding from Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood was the largest provider of HIV screens in the state.
So with it follows the possibility of a healthcare crisis with an increase in HIV purely to gain political points.
So think about that for a moment.
We're talking about politicians who are making decisions that they know are going to put people's health in jeopardy, and they do it anyway.
Wendy leaves a legacy of Texas state's first anti-LGBTQ bullying bill and continues her advocacy by empowering younger generations.
Hi. I'm Ian.
How's it going?
Nice to meet you.
Let's high five. I like the high five.
High five. So I'm meeting with some teens from Out Youth, a local organization that provides a safe space for young people to get their thoughts on being LGBTQ in the South.
As young Americans in the South, I'm wondering what you think are the biggest issues of your time.
A lot of people...
You know, they feel like they're inferior some way, somehow.
Everyone deserves a safe space to learn and a safe space to walk the halls.
I mean, are you worried about when you use the restroom?
Is that a daily concern for you?
Yeah. Every day.
It triggers anxiety, and it's just like, "Oh, my gosh."
So I'm always like, "Got to go to the bathroom before I leave the house, especially if we're going somewhere for, like, more than an hour."
And then when I do use, like, the bathroom, it's like I go inside the women's bathroom, and I'm just like, "I don't ... Like, this feels so wrong."
How do you both feel about gender and sexuality and putting labels on things?
I mean, I'm pretty simple female-to-male and pansexual.
So I'm more so just attracted to people by their personality.
I'm pretty simple, as well.
Female-to-male trans guy, and pansexual, as well.
And is that... Is that a part of the conversation between your group of friends?
I mean, usually, it's, like, upon first meeting somebody, you would be like, "Hey, what are your name and pronouns?"
I'm really bad at, like, other gender-neutral pronouns.
So I, like, try my best "zes" and "zir" pronouns, but, yeah.
Yeah, I've never heard of that one.
Younger kids are using "ze"?
Well, basically, instead of saying something like, "He's over there," you'd be like, "Ze's over there."
I feel like you have a lot of faith in your fellow young folks. Do you have hope in our politics?
Honestly, it's kind of hard to tell.
It more so depends on how much of an uproar, like, we as a society make...
... and if they choose to listen.
I've only just started my trip, and Texas is already expanding my perspective of not only what it means to be Southern but also q*eer.
Next stop... Louisiana.
I'm Ian Daniel.
I'm in the swamps of Louisiana right now.
And this is "Gaycation: Deep South."
Hey, you guys. I'm in the Bayou.
I've left Texas, and I'm making my way through Louisiana to find out what it's like to be LGBTQ in this part of the South.
For my first night out, I'm headed straight to New Orleans, a Mecca for gay tourists and the home of Sissy Bounce.
Sissy Bounce is a local subgenre of rap that's flourished in the post-Katrina q*eer community.
I'm meeting up with Ro, a legendary bounce dancer who's taking me to the Vibe.
We're going to go have fun.
You're gonna see the style of dance that I like to actually release my feelings in.
Yeah. You put your feelings into it.
Yeah. The reason I do it is because I'm not a person that expresses myself a lot.
And by me holding my things in, dance was always the reliever from it, so...
Do you identify as a gay man, or what... how do you...
How do you identify?
I'm not going to say I identify as a gay man or as a q*eer or none of that.
I identify as me.
Whatever comes my way, whatever floats my boat, if I want to take it, I'll take it.
That's just me being me.
Let's go inside.
♪ Hands on the wall, hands on the wall ♪
♪ Here you go, hands on your ankle ♪
♪ Hands on your ankle, here you go ♪
The Vibe is one of the first and possibly last remaining Sissy Bounce clubs in the city, and a place where young q*eer people can make a name for themselves as dancers on the scene.
♪ Turn it up ♪
♪ That was hot ♪
So, you own the place.
And what is this place, exactly?
It's the Vibe. It's the bounce night, gay night.
From your point of view, what is bounce?
Well, it's a lot of them expressing themselves on the mirror, on the... on the floor...
Anywhere they can catch it. They just catch that b*at.
Right. It's a b*at that makes them go crazy.
Makes them move.
And you would say that your club's really important to the LGBT community around here?
And why is it important you have a space for the LGBTQ community?
Well, because I am also gay, and I like what I feel when I'm in there.
I love to see these kids get out here.
I'd rather them do that than do something else bad on the street.
You know what I'm saying?
So for me, it's...
It's like a blessing.
We had an amazing time.
It's so cool you have this place.
Notably, New Orleans has the fourth-largest gay population in the country, but after the party is over...
Across the South, HIV rates are on the rise, and according to a recent report from the CDC, Louisiana has the second-highest rate of new diagnoses in the country.
I'm in Shreveport to learn more and to try to understand why one out of seven people with HIV in the state are unaware of their status.
The Philadelphia Center is one of the only HIV support centers of its kind serving Northern Louisiana.
I'm joining a local support group for HIV-positive people and their allies.
We can start talking about, maybe, some of the stigma attached to HIV and maybe how it's been difficult for you guys in the past and how, maybe, things are different now.
I was diagnosed back in the '80s, when the first epidemic started.
And over the years, it's ... it's been a struggle.
I've lost three long-term partners, and that's been tough.
But the good news is it's become a manageable disease, where we can just live on our medications, and if we're diligent and we keep our regimen going, we're gonna... we're gonna survive this.
You know, my biggest fear was being rejected.
When I finally came to terms myself with it, I was like, "Screw everybody else," you know?
If they... They're either gonna like me, or they're not.
I'm thinking about education in schools, and maybe you can talk to me more about what...
What's in place in... in the state and in the South.
Not a lot.
You know, they do call it the Bible Belt for a reason.
We teach a lot of abstinence-only down here, which has really been proven not to work.
People are going to have sex.
And then on another level, we are a criminalization state, to where you can be criminalized for having sex with somebody and not telling them you're positive.
So then you have occasions of people knowing they might potentially be positive, not getting tested because they don't want that criminalization to be following them in the system.
So, I mean, it's just...
Fundamentally, the way things are run is probably why our numbers are so high down here.
Daniel: And according to the CDC, if HIV infection rates persist, half of all gay black men in the U.S. will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime.
But this doesn't have to be the case.
I'm meeting with Chanse and Josh, a young couple who are living together and staying healthy in a mixed-status relationship.
Chanse has an undetectable viral load due to daily medication, and Josh is on a course of drugs referred to as PrEP that keeps his risk of exposure very low.
How exactly did you find out you were HIV-positive?
He wanted to do a blood drive.
So it was like...
It was the National Gay Blood Drive.
Like, it slightly crossed my mind, like, "Oh, what if I do have something?"
And then she called us in, she turned around and she was like, "You just came back positive."
And I was like, "Now I got to go tell Josh."
And I couldn't tell him 'cause I was crying.
He was like, "Well, what's wrong?"
And I was like, "My test results came back positive."
And he was sitting there for a second. He was like, "Well, let's go get mine and see if they come back positive."
I was like, "I'm going in there, and I'm gonna be positive."
I went in there, and she's like, "You're negative."
I'm like, "Oh, wait.
Test me again. I know I'm positive. I got to be."
What has this done to your relationship?
When you found out you're HIV positive and that you were negative?
Yeah, our relationship, like, got like 10 times stronger 'cause when you love someone unconditionally, a health issue shouldn't break y'all apart.
That was why I proposed to him six months later.
Had you heard much about HIV before this experience?
What did you know about it?
That's why I was so mad 'cause all I knew was that it was HIV, there was no cure, and that it turns into AIDS.
'Cause that's the first thing I asked her when she said it.
I was like, "How long am I gonna be alive?"
Because it's painted in this way that's, like, so fatalistic...
... and a death disease.
That's what people don't, like, understand is nowadays HIV is not a death sentence anymore.
Like, nobody should be dying because of this anymore. Like...
And a lot of people are...
Aren't really scared about getting tested.
They're scared to find out the results.
And... And you're going today.
And I will go with you.
You're gonna get tested with me?
Yeah, I'll get tested with you.
Woman: May I help you?
We're here to get tested.
Okay. Hold on one second.
So, we're both here for an HIV test?
We do have a new test.
It takes 20 minutes.
It's the same finger stick.
If I've had sex in the last 10 days, when should I get tested again?
To get a true negative, we suggest a month.
Okay. Before it clots.
I need a non-texting finger.
Well that took no time.
You have 5 1/2 minutes.
I'm going to stand out here for a minute.
I just don't feel like I should, like, look at it.
Do you get tested a lot?
I do get tested a lot.
I'm like, "Hey, I'm around it all the time."
Yeah, no, that's smart.
Ready for your results?
Okay, here we go.
You have a negative test result.
So you are negative for HIV.
And you're negative for HIV, as well.
Daniel: My question is now that I've come up with the negative and I'm not on PrEP but I'm interested in it, I mean, what's the next step for... for me?
Your first step is to find a physician that'll prescribe it.
You have to be HIV-negative.
And you have to test once every three months.
I have a brochure...
That I'll grab you here in the hallway.
Okay, well, thank you. Yeah.
Let's grab some condoms on the way out.
Okay. Do you get people in here just take them all, like I'm doing right now?
That's a cute one.
I'm gonna do my limit of, like...
That's what they're here for.
All right, cool.
You sure you don't need more?
We love sharing our story because I think that if you don't, then the stigma just gets stronger.
And removing the stigma is the first step.
Chanse and Josh affirm that with access to information and healthcare, we will one day b*at this disease.
Okay, we're gonna be able to cross in a minute.
Think we can make it?
Sure, if he hits me, it'll just get... I'll be road k*ll.
I'll do more damage to it than it will to me.
Yeah, can you stand right here?
And we'll just skip along.
Y'all can see it's in the middle of a road.
At least they had enough decency to move around it because there's a lot of our history that's being bulled over just because people think they can.
I would like for you to say a prayer, if you don't mind.
You want to say the prayer?
A young Confederate's prayer.
I wondered if God would forgive me for the men that I have k*lled.
Would he understand the reason I was fighting for my freedom of my homeland.
Before I go to sleep forever, I pray put a Rebel flag on my grave because I died for the love of the South.
Will you pray for me? Amen.
Daniel: The deep South is experiencing what some call the Confederate Spring, as ultra-conservative Tea Partiers gain influence in the region.
I'm making my way into Mississippi, which is one of a few Southern states whose flag still contains Confederate imagery.
It's a symbol of heritage to some but a daily reminder of systemic oppression to others.
Just before I arrived, the last segregated schools in the state are being ordered to integrate by the Federal Government.
And this is the same state responsible for passing the nation's harshest legislation targeting the LGBTQ community.
Since blocked, House Bill 1523 would have allowed any persons or businesses to discriminate solely based on sexuality or gender identity.
But right now I'm going to a town that largely opposed the Confederacy.
I came upon this small town called Natchez, Mississippi, and it's really cute and it seems very all-American Southern.
And we Googled it to see what it was like, and it said it's the birthplace of Mississippi.
But it also said in a local newspaper... one resident said that after midnight, all men turn gay in Natchez.
So let's find out if that's true.
♪ Y'all come out, come out, my dears, to lavender country ♪
♪ Sashay out and give our a way a try ♪
I want to meet a q*eer Mississippian, and there's no gay bars here. So...
Man: These are all the period dresses.
This is Layne Taylor, the artistic director of the Natchez Little Theatre.
You haven't lived until you've tried on a hoop skirt.
And he's cast me as his leading lady.
We won't put you in the pantalettes of the period...
Because they were crotch-less.
All right, this is ladies' wardrobe storage.
And this is our prop room.
This is our makeup room, where we keep our wigs, a lot of women's blouses.
If you'll just hold the... Put your... Yeah, perfect.
Here we go.
Those bangs are a little short.
I actually know what I'm doing, believe it or not.
You're a natural beauty.
She looks... She looks like she's a little bit lopsided, but that might be part of her thing.
It could be.
She's a little messy.
She could have been in an accident.
She could have fallen going under the hill for cocktails.
Look at those lovely hips.
And that is natural.
Popping that booty.
I want you to know we did not use a bustle in this production.
Money, money, money.
I love it.
All right, let's go. Places to start.
How lovely you look. [Giggles]
Layne revives historic plays about the antebellum South.
Before he took over the theater in 2001, actors were still performing in blackface.
He immediately changed that, ushering in a new era where parts are cast regardless of race, gender, or sexuality.
Oh, played fabulously!
[Applause] Brava! Brava, diva!
Brava, diva! Oh, fabulous!
Just think of the plays you could do here, starring Ian.
Ian as Jezebel. Is that a play? I know that's a movie.
I'm imagining it.
I don't know what the hell's going on in Natchez?
I don't really know much about Natchez. Let me tell you.
It's one of the oldest settlements on the Mississippi River.
We're celebrating our 300th birthday.
We didn't participate in the Civil w*r.
We were Union-sympathetic.
We voted against secession from the Union.
Would you say that it's a gay-friendly city?
I... in all honesty, believe Natchez was a gay-friendly city 300 years ago.
I've been in and out of Natchez all of my life.
Gay life is what you make it here.
And it's accepted.
What about Mississippi? Because, um...
I mean, Mississippi now...
You would say it's becoming more conservative, and what does that... what does that mean to L... for LGBT people?
Well, I... I... I think we've gone about as low as we can go.
I do not understand why the population of the state elects people that don't have the interests of the people at heart.
See, I do have issues with that. I don't like hypocrisy.
As Ms. Sugarbaker in "Designing Women" said...
"We love our skeletons in our closet.
We bring them out and rattle them."
I mean, that's the way it should be.
I had such an amazing time.
Layne revels in rattling the long-held traditions of the South, but if you look closely, he doesn't just make plays.
By reclaiming Southern literature, he gives voice to the many narratives that make up the true diversity of the deep South.
Daniel: I'm making my way through the deep South, and now I'm falling off the map and going to a lesbian-only community that's been hidden in the woods for almost 20 years.
And to keep it that way, they've asked that we not reveal their location.
All right, so, I don't know where I'm going.
I think that's the point.
Oh, there's Barbara right there.
Hi, it's great to meet you.
I'm Barbara Lieu.
Oh, it's so nice to meet you.
I like your outfit, by the way.
Yeah, I'm very chic.
You're chic! Yeah, you're, like...
You're, like, woods-chic.
The place where I...
Woods-chic. That's me, yeah.
They've been gracious enough to invite me on their land but are putting me to work clearing some brush.
You've lived through a lot. You've... You've seen a lot.
So what is the difference between coming out in the '70s, coming out now?
You know, when I came out in the '70s, the group that I came into in Charleston was fighting for women to have the right to have a credit card in their own name.
Hello. Women couldn't have a credit card in their own name.
They oftentimes couldn't own the property that was theirs that they brought into a marriage. I mean, it...
It seems it's just a short lifetime ago that these things were true.
And we've built a retreat space for lesbians.
They came from all over the country, and they called it Lesbian Heaven.
What do you think about the...
I think... the lesbian community now, or the younger generation of women coming up in the movement...
I'm very proud of the lesbians now and so glad that they have the opportunities that they have.
And we fought hard for that.
There are 18 women living in this community, and they come here from all over the country to create a society closer to the land.
This is Barbara.
[Chuckles] Barbara, this is Ian.
Hi, how are you?
It's good to meet you.
Thanks for having me.
I lived in Florida in an area where you really didn't want to come out too much, okay?
And even though you don't want to come out too much up here, either, it was a different type of peace.
What about around here? 'Cause driving in, I saw probably like three or four Confederate flags.
And does that influence what's going on here?
Or does that influence how you interact with your community?
My feeling is that I've come into this area where this is the precedent here of how it is.
And it is right-wing, and it is conservative.
So my thing is to come in and quietly be a help and be an influence. And I am.
I work with a local church helping to feed, you know, people in this community.
And I do things like that.
And more people are beginning to know that I am gay.
And it's okay.
All right, let me just get my foot here.
Daniel: Spending time in a q*eer utopia in the woods makes me want to stay all day, but I got to hit the road...
... and make it to my next stop...
And what better way to roll into town than with an all-lesbian motorcycle club?
They call themselves the Fat Bottom Girls.
That was fun.
Welcome to helmet head.
Helmet head? I think it's kind of a good look for me.
So, Fat Bottom Girls...
I like it. I started...
I started Fat Bottom Girls in 2008.
You know what happens after you break up with somebody and it's been one of those kinds of break-ups?
And you're like, "Oh, my God, I've got to start my life all over again, do it all different."
So I started a meet-up.
Being on a motorcycle gives you access to a kind of community that you might not automatically...
... feel a part of.
So, what is that community... The lesbian community in Atlanta?
I don't know. It can be a little difficult to get into, a little difficult to get out of.
I've heard, yeah.
Right, because, you know...
You know, you break up with your girlfriend, but they don't go away.
They're around forever.
They're around forever.
What is it about the bike, right, that you... That you like?
We love the power.
You just feel it underneath you, and you just kick it, you know?
I mean, I'm not trying to put something on it that it's not.
It was a little erotic. It's vibrating.
That's on it.
That's on it?
It's got the leather.
It's got the... It's got the... It's got the...
That's on it.
You feel it.
You feel it in your whole body.
I think we're good on the big vibrating things.
Yeah, we got that. We got that.
Daniel: Talking to the women has me thinking about freedom, sex, and leather.
Right now I'm on my way into the Eagle, which is one of the oldest gay bars in Georgia.
It's a leather bar.
All right, I've been to a few leather bars in my day, but I've never put leather on this... this bod, and I think that I'm feeling like tonight's the night.
So I'm gonna go experiment.
Hello. How are you?
Hey. I'm Ian.
Ian, I'm Ray.
Nice to meet you.
I would like for you to tell me what's gonna make me, like, pop off?
I would maybe do a Bulldog.
It's designed for guys like myself, or you, who don't have the pecs out to here and the six pack, okay?
That is where this where this harness...
You may not know what's underneath this shirt.
Well, I don't know that. That's true.
This is inappropriate for the camera.
Look, Mom, I'm on TV.
Oh, there's a snap?
There's a snap right here.
And it would go right there.
Right on your...
I've come to the Eagle on a special night.
It's their monthly BDSM party "Unchained."
So, what's going on here?
This is the flogging.
All right. So, tell me about the event.
Daniel: The sense of community here feels just as strong as many of the places I've been to thus far.
It feels important to have spaces like these, where q*eer people can come together and embrace their sexual identities.
Before I leave tonight, there's just one more thing I got to do.
Okay, red, red, red, red, red, red, red, red, red, red.
That hurts, yo.
Daniel: I'm in Atlanta, Georgia, the heart of the Bible Belt, where 76% of the population identifies as Christian.
♪ Walk, walk, walk ♪
During the civil rights movement, churches provided rationale for both justifying segregation and encouraging progressive reform.
♪ I want you to walk ♪
Still today, many look to the church for political and social guidance on today's most pressing issues, like LGBTQ rights.
While there's some churches that are making progressive strides, many still condemn h*m* as a sin.
But just because some churches don't accept gay people doesn't mean that there aren't gay people in church.
Church is one thing, but, like, the black church...
Being attached to, like, a pastor, and then I'm gay...
What would happen if we took the blur away from your face, and you were on the show?
It would directly affect my parents and their ministry...
... and the people that follow them.
What is the church's stance on h*m*?
Or how does your dad feel about it?
It's... It's not okay. It's not accepted.
It's not anything that they will acknowledge.
And he's kind of like, "I love you with the love of God, but, you know, I'm not gonna condone your behavior." Like, it's those type of conversations.
And so you're feeling this, like...
We had a full... full blow-out last week, literally, about this conversation.
You're saying "break out," "come out."
Maybe not come out aggressively.
But, you know, you could find a balance of being true to yourself while respectful of how other people feel.
I don't know.
I'm terrified to even do that, you know?
All right, I'm...
I'm gay. This is my partner. I love worship.
Come see me Sunday night. I don't know.
It sucks that we have to live in this... this blur.
Crazy, yeah. Absolutely.
But things change.
LGBTQ Southerners are still up against social stigma, and unchecked stigma breeds hate, which, in some cases, leads to v*olence.
In fact, according to the FBI, LGBT people are more likely to be targets of hate crimes than any other minority group.
Marquez Tolbert was sleeping when his boyfriend's mother's partner attacked him with boiling water.
He's now recovering from third-degree burns.
I'm meeting with him and his mother.
You grew up in Atlanta?
Yes, born and raised.
Born and raised. What about you?
You, as well?
Born and raised.
All right. But, you identify as a gay man.
Yes, I do.
Yeah, put that out on the table.
And so with that, how did that come into play about your...
Your upbringing and... ?
I came out at 19.
I wanted to come out for a long time.
I just didn't know how to say it. I didn't know what to say.
I didn't want to spew it on people 'cause everybody's not the same. It's like, "Oh, you're gay? It's cool. You know, it's fine."
Everybody's not like that, so...
The moment, then, that he comes to you and says, "Hey, Mom, I'm gay," were you excited?
Were you relieved? Were you scared?
Relieved and scared.
My biggest fear had always been someone bothering him.
And then, so, when he finally came out, my biggest fear became someone bothering you because you're gay.
You know, so...
Let's talk about the incident. All right?
Because it was a big story.
It went very viral.
That's a lot to be going through.
Yeah, it was an awful lot to go through, you know, in such a short time.
So much happened, and with all that happening to you, when you're in such a bad place right now, you just have to find the light, or this will destroy you, you know?
So I thought... I was just like, "I know this is terrible.
Like, look at your face, but you have to believe you're gonna get through this."
And there are no hate crime laws in Georgia.
No hate crime laws in Georgia.
So what... what happens when there are no hate crime laws?
Does that... What does that affect?
Honestly, it affects his true punishment.
Like, this is a hate crime...
And I feel like it should be recognized as such.
I honestly feel like he tried to k*ll us.
So it was... it was just... And now with me healing, my body's not the same as it used to be.
I basically have to adjust to a new normal.
What is that called?
This is my compression shirt.
This helps with the swelling.
So I actually have to wear this for one to two years...
For my skin to heal completely.
Without further ado...
It doesn't hurt when you're touching it right now?
No, it doesn't hurt, but it actually, like...
Like, say somebody gives me a hug, and they're patting me on the back, it's a little irritating.
So it's like, "Wait, don't do that."
You've overcome a lot, to be honest.
What about... I think just on a minor level, of young kids that are... that are having the same worries about being out and feeling like there's potential danger lurking around any corner. I mean, what...
Now that you've been through this, what advice do you have?
Be careful, but do not live in fear.
Don't let that fear stop you from... from living, from being who you are or who you want to be.
All right, Officer King.
Daniel: I'm in Atlanta, Georgia, where the police force is now taking some steps to deal with v*olence against the LGBTQ community.
Let's take it to the streets.
I'm on a ride-along with Officer Eric King, Atlanta P.D.'s LGBTQ liaison.
Wow, you're giving me the gay tour of Hot-lanta right now. From a cop in a uniform.
Why do you think Georgia, which seems to not be that progressive in terms of laws for LGBT people, would have this kind of program in place?
Atlanta has always been this black-gay Mecca.
They've had to evolve in order to support the LGBT community.
You know, Georgia... We don't have any hate crime laws, and we actively have hate crimes occurring on a daily basis.
And now trans women of color are the number-one victims of abuse.
That's interesting that you...
You're a liaison with the LGBT community, but I think in the trans community, especially, there is a stigma around police officers.
And I'm wondering how do they feel about you coming around?
Do they... Do they feel like you're there to help them, or do they feel thr*at by your presence?
Well, it's always... have to get past the uniform first.
The rainbow is a sigh of relief just because they know they don't have to go on the defense so much.
They still have reservations because I am a police officer, but the conversation...
The tone of the conversation goes differently.
Atlanta may be taking some steps forward, but systems are still in place that keep members of minority communities down.
For my last stop on this trip, I'm meeting with Ashley Diamond, who fought, and is still fighting, for reform within the state's prison system.
How can we go on "Gaycation" and not have a glass of wine? That wouldn't be good.
That's sort of the setting pretty much every day.
[Laughs] Yeah, right?
Four years ago, Ashley was convicted of a non-violent crime and was sent to a series of high-security male-only prisons.
So, when I arrived at the place in Jackson, I will never forget the yellow lines and standing on the "X."
I will never forget the humiliation of being stripped in front of all those men and having breasts and everybody looking at me.
I'll never forget when they called my name off the bus 'cause there's a roster.
But I'll never forget when they said "Ashley Diamond" and I stood up and they were like, "What the f*ck?"
That was their exact words.
What's going on with your hormone treatment and just that part of the equation?
They were like, "We're not gonna give you that, but we're gonna..." The state of Georgia was gonna make a man out of me.
And I was told that often.
And what... what did that do to you? I mean, what...
Oh, my gosh, four years of not having hormones for the first time in my life, I had facial hair... beard.
I was crying. I was vomiting all the time.
I would never wish that on anybody in the entire world.
I mean, prison, in general, is probably scary for people that have not been in prison.
It is. Prison is.
And that's the thing that I need to emphasize.
Listen, I literally was housed with a guy in a room who had 235 years.
You put a 135-pound transgender woman in a cell with a 220-something-pound man who's not had sex with a woman since the last person he r*ped and k*lled.
What do you think's gonna happen?
I wasn't in prison 30 days.
I was r*ped and beaten, g*ng r*ped by six guys and beaten.
I thought that that was the first... you know, that that would change after that, but that set the tone.
I'm understanding, then, that there's some officers that gave you a phone just to ...
An officer let me use his.
And what was his intention with that?
To help me get the word out.
I cannot stress to you what a treacherous journey this has been.
This is about gross human-right violations.
What you can see is only 25-second snippets because this is the only way to get it out.
When I came into the system, this is what I looked like.
My body shape has changed.
The way my skin looks and feels.
Morally and ethically, everything that has happened to me is wrong.
Sexual v*olence has become a way of life in the Georgia Department of Corrections.
Many of our stories go unheard or even never even reach the right ears.
It's time to stop this now.
Daniel: Last year, Ashley filed a case against the Georgia Department of Corrections.
Because of her, the state is reviewing their sexual-as*ault policies, and many transgender inmates across the country now have access to their hormones.
A powerful first step towards reform in the ongoing battle for human rights for LGBTQ inmates.
"Without you, I wouldn't be able to be myself.
You gave me courage with your courage.
And you gave me hope inside of me.
You gave me a fight to fight for."
See, that makes me want to cry.
I mean... people are really moved by you, you know?
I've got to fight. Somebody's got to fight.
So I encourage whoever that is that may be listening...
If it's something you need to change, the only way it's gonna change is if you change it.
And people always say, "What can I do? I'm one person."
It only took one person.
Look at history. It always takes one person.
Plug it over here.
This is your studio?
This is the studio where all the dreams happen.
♪ We clawed, we chained, our hearts in vain ♪
♪ We jumped, never asking why ♪
Where's the mic go?
♪ We kissed I fell under your spell ♪
♪ A love no one can deny ♪
♪ Don't you ever say I just walked away ♪
♪ I will always love you... ♪
♪ Always want you ♪
Oh, "want you."
♪ I can't live a lie, running for my life ♪
♪ I will always want you ♪
Oh, this is your verse. You do the first one.
♪ I came in like a wrecking ball ♪
♪ I never hit so hard in love ♪
♪ All I wanted was to break your walls ♪
♪ All you ever did was wreck me ♪
Daniel: Southern values are at the core of what it means to be American.
The rebellion, self-determination, and disruption of its history is reflected in the LGBTQ community in the present.
Throughout my trip, I've experienced Southern hospitality, passion, and charm.
And through the people I've met, I've seen what it means to be q*eer and Southern, and it's tough as nails.
We'll be here all week, people.
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02x04 - Deep South
Episode transcripts for the TV show "Gaycation". Aired: February 2016 to April 2017.
"Gaycation" follows Ellen and Ian as they set off to explore LGBT cultures around the world. From Japan to Brazil to Jamaica to the USA, the two meet some fascinating people during their travels and hear their stories.
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1 post • Page 1 of 1