McMillian’s murder has threatened to become a tabloid-style case in this rural Delta town. Police investigators and several of the suspects' friends have said that Reed is claiming a "gay panic" defense. But friends of McMillian “say the two men were romantically involved and quarreled immediately before the slaying,” reported the Clarion-Ledger.
“There are many gay men and lesbians here—but we are often invisible,” says film director Patrik-Ian Polk, a native of Hattiesburg. Polk created the groundbreaking television series Noah’s Arc for MTV/LOGO—the nation’s first Black gay television series—and its successful big-screen spin-off. Polk returned to Mississippi to shoot his next project, an adaptation of the novel Blackbird. "It’s not like being gay in a big city like New York or Los Angeles. It’s still a ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ vibe—it’s not often discussed."
The interviews include: Film and television director/screenwriter Patrik-Ian Polk (Noah's Arc), a native of Hattiesburg who is lensing his next film in his hometown; Mississippi State University's Dr. Ravi Perry, friend and political adviser to McMillian, whose historic same-sex wedding was recently featured in JET; and UCLA's Mignon Moore, who has researched Black same-sex couples in the South.