Small Mississippi Town Successfully Prevents Lesbian From Opening Gay Bar

A small town in rural Mississippi successfully prevented a local business owner from opening a gay bar, according to an investigative article written for the Huffington Post.

Earlier this year, Pat “P.J.” Newton (pictured) applied for a license to open a bar in Shannon, Mississippi (population 1,753). Newton is a lesbian. When she attended a town hall meeting to discuss the bar back in June, she was met by more than 30 opponents and presented with a petition signed by nearly 200 residents that claimed the proposed business would offer “no benefits or enhancements to the citizens of the Town of Shannon.”

During the meeting, one man said children “would be influenced” by the bar. Another woman claimed she didn’t want her son playing soccer “anywhere near that bar.” And another woman, 80-year-old Betty Scott, boldly said: “I’m antigay. I know that’s not politically correct these days, but that’s the way I feel. I’m a Christian and in the eyes of God it’s an abomination.”

At the end of the meeting, the city counsel votes 4 to 1 to reject Newton’s application.

“Hell, we know they’re gonna sue us, but that’s okay,” alderman Joey McCord was reported telling two people after the meeting was adjourned. “It will be tied up in court for two years and that’s two years she won’t be able to open.”

McCord was right. Newton is suing. She recently filed a lawsuit against the town of Shannon, claiming her civil rights to free speech and equal protection have been violated. The lawsuit also requests the court award legal fees, as well as damages for lost revenue and expenses, and issue an injunction allowing the business to open.

Most of the 60 people interviewed said they opposed homosexuality but declined to give their names. One woman went so far as to say: “I don’t think we need any bars, but we sure don’t need a gay and lesbian bar. That’s for New York and places like that. Not for a little town.”

While on her soapbox, she continued: “You’ll never get Mississippi to go for same-sex marriage. That may be 200 years down the road, but I don’t think it’ll ever happen in Mississippi.”

Asked if she knew any gay people personally, the woman replied: “I have no one in my family who is gay, I don’t. I might feel differently if I knew somebody, but I don’t.”

Photo credit: Huffington Post.

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  • dirknerd

    I can’t imagine why anyone would want to open a bar in that one horse town and the building looked like a tacky shack. No one understands the plight of the rural gay better than I that’s why I moved, duh. Shannon is an ugly backwater full of homophobes and hello it’s bloody Mississippi. I had some pretty funny snarky comments to make but I shall leave those to others who possess less decorum and are better known for their quips and acerbic wit.

  • Evji108

    @dirknerd: I agree, but go figure. She lives there and probably wants some people to hang out with in her own bar. But who wants to go against the whole town to do it? Life is too short.

  • mezzacanadese

    Maybe P.J. grew up there and feels an affinity for the town. Either way, I am glad she is fighting them, and I wish her success. It’s a shame that there are so many ignorant people in the world. Perhaps they are afraid of their own tendencies?!

  • Polaro

    Seriously, they may have saved her from a big business mistake. Perhaps the lawsuit will be a bigger moneymaker. Anyway, its another reason not to move to the rural south, ever. For any reason. Ever.

  • TheNewEnergyDude

    In a perfect world, Mississippi and all of the back asswards Bible Belt states would miraculously break off of the rest of the country.

  • Doughosier

    It it’s an abomination to God why wouldn’t they leave it to God to deal with? Maybe they know no one’s listening.

  • Eiswirth

    The good thing is, the 80-year-old bigot will be dead soon; we can only hope her cohorts in homophobia will follow her quickly, because in a small town of inbreds like that the only chance for social progression is the opposition dying off.

  • DarSco

    @Eiswirth: I hate saying this but I agree with you. Most people under 35 do not care about racism,sexism or anything like that. Those senior citizens will never get it.

  • Harley

    All she has to do is change the application for a license to open a bar / gun range with a big sign saying “we luv FOX news”. It would pass easily. The citizens will be happy and the gay folk would laugh at the idiots for falling for such a stunt.

  • Gigi Gee

    Like or not – understand it or not – some of us live and feel more comfortable in small towns. I can’t imagine it, but there you go. The ridiculous piece to this homophobic puzzle is that P.J ran a gay bar several years ago in that space. After she left, another guy ran a gay bar there under a different name. There’s been a gay bar in that space for more than a decade. The bigots think they’ve won, but they haven’t.

    This doesn’t just happen in small towns though. In Toronto where I live, a gay pub opened about ten years ago in a space that was run as a steak house [mostly straight clientele] for about 40 years. Even though it was located downtown on Church Street, smack dad in the middle of the gaybourhood, similar arguments were made. Parents wanted to stop it from opening because it was beside a school. Never mind that the pub opened every day after school let out. Bigots never let facts or logic stand in their way. Ultimately their pleas were ignored, the pub opened, and life went on. Hopefully the same will happen in Shannon.

  • Teleny

    I give PJ credit just for living in a place like that.

  • HirsuteOne

    It’s almost sad (almost) that the backward backwater hillbillies don’t realize they will be using their tax dollars to pay her to open her bar.

  • Scribe38

    PJ is a very strong women. I am always in awe of people who fight for what is morally right. I hope the court gives her a quick legal win.

  • pauleky

    Proud of their ignorance. They’re what’s wrong with this country.

Comments are closed.