PBS is focusing on the LGBTQ+ life in the South in its new digital series, Prideland. Hosted by Pose’s Dyllón Burnside, Prideland follows Burnside as visits various LGBTQ+ communities in the South.
“Being a queer boy raised in the South, I had distinct memories of feeling like I could never be my authentic-self there, so I left seeking acceptance and affirming communities. But I never left my southern roots,” Burnside said. “I wanted to go back as an adult and see if things had changed, and I’m proud to report that they have. Although there are still many challenges for queer folks in the south, which is home to more LGBTQ+ adults than anywhere else in the U.S., I’m in awe of everyone I met who are creating change in their communities. I believe that authenticity is a superpower, and these queer heroes and allies are truly inspirational.”
The six-part digital series, which can be seen on PBS’ YouTube channel, PBS Voices, tackles the evolving attitudes toward the LGBTQ+ community. Prideland explores the differing backgrounds and views of people in the South through the eyes of Burnside.
Brandon Arolfo, Head of PBS Digital Studios, explains:
“LGBTQ+ culture has always been a part of the American story, but a lack of understanding and representation still exists in many regions of the country. With the launch of PRIDELAND on PBS Voices, PBS is excited to travel into the heart of America to see first-hand how the United States is changing from within, and how so many LGBTQ+ people and their allies are working to ensure they can live their lives with pride.”
PBS provided the descriptions of each episode of the Prideland digital series and the on-hour special, scheduled to air on PBS on June 12 at 9 pm EDT.
Episode 1: “Out, Proud & Southern: Dyllón Burnside’s Story”
Premieres: Tuesday, May 26 on PBS Voices
Description: Dyllón Burnside begins his journey by setting the stage of the series with his personal story of growing up in Pensacola, Florida. He explores what the South means to him, and why he left after getting fired from his church for coming out. He returns to discover that the South is home to more queer people than any other region in the U.S. with more than one-third of all LGBTQ+ adult Americans live below the Mason Dixon line. He also learns that the region has the most negative LGBTQ+ policies in the country and meets different people fighting for equal rights, starting with Carmarion D. Anderson, HRC Alabama State Director, the first transgender woman of color to hold such a leadership position.
Episode 2: “An Openly Gay Pastor’s Journey to Acceptance in the Bible Belt”
Premieres: Tuesday, June 2 on PBS Voices
Description: The LGBTQ+ experience is as diverse and varied as the individuals who comprise it. While some still find rejection close to home, others are finding more and more acceptance in communities of origin or those they create. In this episode, Dyllón Burnside introduces viewers to Rob Lowry, an openly gay minister at a small, but mainstream church in Jackson, Mississippi. He was offered the job before the church knew he was gay, but they accepted him with open arms when he told them he would only take the position if he could lead while openly gay. Lowry is creating just that kind of community—open to all who take the command to “love thy neighbor as thy would thyself” to heart and in practice.
Episode 3: “Polyamory, Demisexuality, and Being Transgender in the South”
Premieres: Tuesday, June 9 on PBS Voices
Description: Dyllón Burnside sits down with a group of diverse LGBTQ+ members to learn how to embrace sex positivity and maneuver the modern dating scene. They talk candidly about asexuality, polyamorous relationships and how to manage diverging expectations in the queer community.
Episode 4: “The Heartwarming Story of One of Alabama’s First Same-Sex Adoptions”
Premieres: Tuesday, June 16 on PBS Voices
Description: Dyllón Burnside is invited into the home of a lesbian couple who wouldn’t let anyone, or any law get in the way of them getting married and adopting the child of their dreams. He listens to how they’ve overcome the unique challenges of forming a family in the South, and learns what obstacles remain for other LGBTQ+ people in their home state of Alabama.
Episode 5: “Championing LGBTQ+ Healthcare in Mississippi”
Premieres: Tuesday, June 23 on PBS Voices
Description: Dyllón Burnside meets Scott Rodgers, M.D. and Lillian J. Houston, M.D., two doctors who founded the Center for LGBTQ Health at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, one of the few LGBTQ+ clinics in Mississippi to provide quality healthcare without fear of discrimination. In many parts of the South it’s legal for doctors to deny services to LGBTQ+ people based on their religious beliefs. To make matters worse, the South has the highest concentration of people living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S. These doctors and their team are determined to address these issues head-on.
Episode 6: “The Bakery Battleground: The Mississippi Baker Standing Up For Gay Rights”
Premieres: Tuesday, June 30 on PBS Voices
Description: Dyllón Burnside examines the crucial role of allies in advancing LGBTQ+ rights and how religious beliefs have sometimes been used as a pretext for discrimination. In this episode, he visits Mitchell Moore, a baker in the heart of the Bible Belt who risks his business, Campbell’s Bakery, to take a stand for LGBTQ+ rights.
One-Hour Special: PRIDELAND
Premieres: Friday, June 12, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET on PBS
Description: Follow Dyllón Burnside on a journey across the American South to meet diverse members of the LGBTQ+ community. From a lesbian rodeo champ in Texas to an African American mayor ally in Alabama, he discovers how LGBTQ+ Americans are finding ways to live authentically and with pride in the modern South.
The series has recently become the focus of a boycott of PBS by the conservative Christian advocacy group, One Million Moms. OMM is pushing a petition in a post on its Facebook page.
The post links to a page devoted to a campaign to demand PBS cancel Prideland. On the page, it states:
PBS’s decision to partner with Burnside to push the homosexual agenda is an unjust attack on Christianity and a mockery of the Bible and God’s design for human sexuality.
Sadly, PBS is proudly promoting a lifestyle that is unhealthy to both the individual who participates in the unnatural sexual behavior and to society as a whole.
The first two episodes of Prideland are now available on the PBS Voices YouTube Channel with new episodes every Tuesday in the month of June.
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