Though McMillen has suffered plenty throughout her ordeal, much of her life is proof that the South is changing culturally as well as legally. This spring, she casually mentioned to radio host Michelangelo Signorile that she is not the only lesbian in the family. Denise McMillen, her mother, who is 37 and lives in southern Mississippi, has openly dated women since her 20s and raised Constance's 15-year-old younger sister with her partner, Elsa. Her mother is not a gay activist, unless that is what living openly makes you. She works as a waitress and manager at the Whistle Stop Café in Wiggins, Miss., sells Mary Kay cosmetics on the side and refers to herself as a small-town girl. . . .
And Constance herself is the kind of young woman a state entirely mired in bigotry can't produce. Though she doesn't belong to a church, McMillen describes herself as an "open-minded Christian" and a strong believer in monogamy, which she expresses in a distinctly evangelical way. "Actually, I have a promise ring from my girlfriend, and I'm pretty sure that within the next year she's going to propose. Of course, we wouldn't get married until she's 18." One male student once asked McMillen's girlfriend, "How can you be redneck and gay at the same time?" which seems tantamount to proof that the woman in front of him had that figured out. McMillen would like to live in Los Angeles when she gets older, but that is due in part to many, many hours spent watching the L Word. Her girlfriend says she doesn't want to come because she can't hunt there.