Press releases and other happenings
'It Starts With Me': Ty Herndon On Re-Releasing His Country Hit With Male Pronouns
Ty Herndon will appear in Natchez,
Oct 26 with Host Nina West
at the Battle of the Belles
Y’all Means All founding members, from left, John Grady Burns, Jason Dauphin, Troy Bickford and Michael Gray welcome everyone to the group’s inaugural gaYrage sale. (Courtesy of Douglas Adams)
Y’all Means All Natchez is a group of LGBT+ Natchezians and their supporters. The group was formed recently to celebrate and expand the town’s spirit of acceptance and diversity, organizers said.
“Y’all Means All means everybody,” board member Jason Dauphin said.
The gaYrage sale will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and from 9 a.m. until on Sunday at 411 Franklin Street.
Money raised from the sale will go to Southwest Mississippi Mental Health for mental wellness programs and suicide prevention, board president John Grady Burns said.
“Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year-olds in the United States,” Burns said. “If you are gay, you are five times more likely to attempt suicide.”
The statistics and news of a recent suicide in the community were a call to action for Burns and other members of the gay community in Natchez.
“Y’all Means All started (approximately a year ago) with a conversation between John Grady and myself,” board vice president Troy Bickford said.
Bickford said he and others recognized that not everyone in the community has the necessary support network and may feel isolated.
“There are a lot of gay people in this town who lead productive lives. Just that visibility can provide hope and inspiration for people who are marginalized or on the fringe of the community,” Bickford said.
“We didn’t have such a support group when we were growing up,” Dauphin said. “We want (those who feel isolated) to know that there are people they can reach out to to help.”
This weekend’s gaYrage sale is the first public event for the group.
Everything from homewares, furniture, clothing and other items will be on sale.
“Everything has been donated for the fundraiser,” Burns said.
Y’all Means All Natchez recently received its 501(c)(3) status as a nonprofit. All donations to the group are tax-deductible.
Burns said the money that will be given to Southwest Mississippi Mental Health would not be earmarked for any purpose.
“The funds will not just be for LGBT+ youth but for anybody who cannot afford mental wellness services,” Burns said.
Burns said the group’s hope is that the money will be used to underwrite licensed counseling sessions and support Southwest Mississippi Mental Health’s crisis hotline at 877-353-8689.
“The State of Mississippi has kind of dropped the ball on mental health issues,” Burns said. “We want to help provide assistance.”
Y’all Means All Natchez is also planning another fundraiser in October the group is calling “The Weekend.”
The two-day event on Oct. 25-26 will include a “Battle of the Belles,” featuring country music singer Ty Henderson and drag queen Nina West from the television show “Ru Paul’s Drag Race.”
Proceeds from the weekend will also benefit mental health and suicide prevention.
Anyone interested in Y’all Means All Natchez can find more information at yallmeansallnatchez.org or visit the group’s Facebook page @yallmeansallnatchez or Instagram page /yallmeansallnatchez.
Bickford said the group has already received a lot of support from the whole community — from both gay and straight supporters.
“Natchez seems to take pride in being a little different and accepting of differences,” Bickford said. “This gives Natchez an opportunity to show off its strength.”
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.