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Endeavoring to define myself outside of a "job title." I'm a nomad of sorts who fell in love with technology, activism, and helping others. I run a web & media consulting firm, have a blog specifically for activists & non-profits, and travel often. I love talking about theology, politics, and social change. I love doing something about it even more. I also like to be a well-rounded and fully present person. That's why I write here. Connect with me on twitter

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Equality Ride and the LDS Church

This year's Equality Ride will stop at two Latter Day Saints schools this year, BYU and BYU-Idaho. Last year Equality Ride stopped at BYU and were able to speak with students. When riders attempted to speak with groups, they were arrested. Later, a protest honoring the GLBT BYU students who have killed themselves drew more arrests. The Equality Ride organizers, as well as the riders ourselves, see the current policies of the LDS church as a threat to the mental, physical, and spiritual safety of GLBT individuals. We will be returning to BYU and adding BYU-Idaho to our stop list because of this.

In anticipation of the upcoming visits, Affirmation, an organization for gay & lesbian Mormons, recently featured an interview with Matt Kulisch.

Matt Kulisch, 24, became well known one year ago when, as a BYU student, he decided to join the Soulforce Equality Ride demonstration held at his own campus and led a “die-in” event in remembrance of gay Mormon suicides. Matt, who has since transferred to the University of Utah, is one of four young people with an LDS background who will participate in this year’s ride as it stops at BYU, BYU-Idaho, and some 15 other religious colleges that discriminate against LGBT students.

The Equality Ride will visit BYU on March 21-22 and BYU-Idaho on April 16-17. For more information on these four Riders of LDS background, and to help sponsor their Ride, please visit the pages for Mike Cramer, Matt Kulisch, Kourt Osborn, and Emil Pohlig at www.soulforce.org/2007riders.

One year ago, as a BYU student, you joined the historic demonstration that the Equality Ride was organizing at BYU and, as a result of your participation, you were placed on probation. Had you planned to play such an active role in that demonstration?

Honestly, no. I didn’t, at least not initially. Several of my roommates and friends had been following the Equality Ride as it was traveling towards BYU, and they had been communicating with the Riders in preparation for their visit. I didn’t decide to get involved until the day the Equality Ride arrived in Provo. But a friend of mine had just lost someone to suicide because he was gay and couldn’t reconcile his feelings with his religious beliefs, and another very close friend had come out to his family the very day the Ride came to BYU—it went pretty badly. I decided to demonstrate for myself, and for them.

One thing I found interesting is that you were not disciplined for being gay, but for refusing to remain silent. Do you think BYU is a healthy environment for gay and lesbian students?

I think you have just identified BYU’s true policy toward their LGBT students: You’re welcome so long as you’re submissive and silent, which is a pretty poor way of following the counsel of LDS church leaders on the subject. Any environment that does not offer LGBT students—or any other minority group, for that matter—a voice to speak their minds and share their concerns is not a healthy environment. BYU is certainly no exception.

Read the full article here
It is with a heavy heart and a renewed resolve that I prepare to stop at BYU, BYU-Idaho, and other stops that so forcefully oppose our presence. I am inspired by the stories of individuals such as Matt and Kourt Osborn. I am blessed to know them and I know that they will be a blessing to the students we will encounter at these schools.

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