A Brief Introduction

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

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Everywhere, USA

I drove all night long through middle-of-nowhere Montana in a bus with twenty-four people I'd known for less than two months. Only twenty-four hours prior I stood in the freezing rain with winds up to 30 miles-per-hour for hours on end. We were on our way to North Dakota and in twenty-fours, I would be standing with these people in the middle of a small-town war zone: police cars and vans, wire fencing, concrete barriers, mobile command units, an ambulance, evacuation teams on stand-by and two streets closed down. Ellendale, North Dakota has a population of 3,000; this was big.

What could twenty-five young adults do to provoke responses of such intensity? Proclaim an affirming message to queer young people: "God loves and affirms you just as you are!"

This is the Equality Ride.

It's a two month long, cross-country, take it to the streets, non-violent direct action campaign which seeks reconciliation between faith and identity and today the bus sets out for the first school of the third ride. Modeled after the work of Gandhi, King, Jr., and others, the Soulforce Q Equality Ride recognizes misunderstanding and misinformation—not individuals—as the source of homophobia and transphobia. We confront the hurtful teachings which fuel spiritual violence . Liberation comes not only for the gay and transgender people who are finally able to accept and love themselves, often returning to and reclaiming their faith, but also for the former oppressors who are now able to understand their faith more fully.

Some organizations branded us radical gay activists, but I'm not sure if I deserve that title. You see, I'm really rather ordinary. As I was searching for something to do after graduation, I found the opportunity to share my story with America and ask America to learn from me. I had never participated in an advocacy campaign, nor studied queer theology, nor received any training in public speaking, event planning, community organizing, or any of the numerous other fields I would need to master. But that didn't matter. I was enough.

I have an abiding faith that God of this Universe created me with intentionality. And when God created me, God called the creation good. I have not always known what my purpose was, I still don't. I have struggled to make sense of how sexual orientation and gender identity fit into God's creative plan for humanity. I loved the Equality Ride because I was able to move from theory to reality. Anti-gay rhetoric is devastating. It isolates people from their faith, their family and their communities; it destroys integrity when it forces an individual into the closet; it fosters shame and turns people inward; it inhibits the growth of healthy relationships; and it, unfortunately, often manifests itself through violence, against self and inflicted by others onto queer people. As truth creates justice, lives are released. Gay and straight alike are set free to experience faith, love, and healing in powerful ways. The good fruits of affirming theology are evident: reconciliation with family, friends, and community; return to faith; healthy relationships; holistic understanding of self; outward-focused productivity; and the list goes on. The beauty is that these fruits are not for queer people to feast on in isolation, but to share with heterosexuals. When I ask my straight friends to love me, I don't need them to stand up for me; I want them to grow with me.

The Equality Ride showed me that anyone can be an advocate. I did it, you can do it. My journey was across the country but perhaps your journey is down the hall to a co-worker's office, across town to your church, or back home to your parent's house. Or perhaps your journey is getting on the bus. All around the world, people are waiting to be asked to love their gay and transgender friends and family. Let's tell them it's time.

To see this year's riders, visit: www.soulforce.org/2008riders

2 comments:

Casey said...

Very, very nicely done. Thanks for posting.

Taueret said...

Brian,

I'm so happy to have found your blog. I look forward to reading it all of the time :D

Thanks for this beautiful account of the Equality Ride.

<3

 
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