TUPELO • The Pride Resource Center of North Mississippi (PRC) had a soft opening Tuesday at the Link Centre in Suite 134. It will be open weekly Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 12:30-4 p.m., with the possibility of adding hours as needed and availability by appointment.

The organization’s mission is to provide a safe space to meet, for support, education, and various other programs for the LGBTQ+ community as well as providing information on safe and welcoming resources in North Mississippi. Visitors are welcome to stop by for coffee, a cookie and community.

Linn Wotring decided to create the PRC due to her own experiences being intentionally hurt by a dentist and doctor because of her identity. She said being in the South and being new, it could be scary trying to find LGBT friendly resources.

“I wanted to find a safe doctor, a safe attorney, a safe everything, and where do I go? I didn’t know who to talk to, and being new, you don’t know anybody else in the community, so my wife and I sat down one night and decided to do this,” Wotring said.

Wotring plans to host a grand opening in the next few weeks via a potluck. Aside from hosting PRC hours, Wotring also wants to host monthly potlucks and is considering hosting dances at the Link Centre where everyone will be welcome. The goal is for the PRC to be like a clubhouse where people can come and feel free to be their authentic selves, have coffee, lunch and just talk with others in the community.

“There’s a lot of people out there where it might kind of be nice to talk to someone at lunch time without judgment,” Wotring said. “My long term goal is this room will never be big enough.”

Licensed therapists have already reached out to Wotring about hosting support meetings in the evenings. They would be open to everyone in the LGBT community, but Wotring said they may later begin having specific identity support groups. A 12-step program has also expressed interest in hosting an LGBT-centric one.

Wotring wants to be able to have a list of welcoming therapists, attorneys, medical professionals and other resources people may need. An ordained minister, Wotring is also open to doing marriages. The PRC office will have business cards of LGBT-welcoming services and provide news of LGBT resources across the state. She also hopes the space will help connect the LGBT community together.

For Wotring, having a space like the PRC in Tupelo is huge. Growing up, she said people didn’t talk about LGBT people and said her own parents threatened to send her to girls training school.

“To be able to sit here in Tupelo, MS, even if no one walks in the door, I’ve done something,” Wotring said.

From previous experience, she knows finding medical services can be tricky and is still looking for transgender resources. From speaking with friends, she knows some centers in the area will treat transgender patients but are not able to help them start hormones. However, two resources Wotring has found that provide hormones are Choices, the Memphis Center for Reproductive Health, and Spectrum: The Other Clinic, a transgender telemedicine clinic which specializes in gender affirming hormone therapy and PrEP prescribing.

While working to compile resources, she received a lot of help from Conscious Healing Therapies, LLC, especially from Melissa Ratliff and Dana Bailey, due to their work with clients in the LGBT community. Wotring already knew people in Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), and additional help from Amanda Daniels, PFLAG Tupelo president; Melanie Deas, executive director of the Link Centre; and J.M. Benson Hill, who provided the legal help necessary to become a 501©3. Wotring also thanked her wife, who provided support for “everything”.

Most other LGBT resource centers Wotring is familiar with are on college campuses. The PRC welcomes donations.

“I’d just like the community to know this is a safe space for them to come, and we’ll build from here together as a community, whatever our needs are,” Wotring said. “I can’t decide what the community on the whole would want from this space, but I can hold the space.”

Additional information can be found at https://prideresourcecenter.org or on the Pride Resource Center of North Mississippi Facebook page.

danny.mcarthur@journalinc.com

Twitter: @Danny_McArthur_

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