Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Summary of the Ride

I found a great article that summarizes some of the positive things that happened on the ride. I wonder how many of the changes schools said they would make actually happened. Or, how many more changes in people's lives happened that we will never know?

2007 Equality Ride and beyond

Today I was thinking about the profound affect Soulforce has had on my life. What if the Equality Ride hadn't come to Calvin College in 2007? The impact of the 33 Riders who came to my school is so much bigger then this article I found in the Chimes would lead anyone to believe. ( In some ways, I think I'm an incredibly different person because of this. I found my voice. I started speaking up about queer issues. I was inspired by the Riders boldness and courage to do what I had always been afraid to do. Then I met a seven Calvin students who wanted to make things better at Calvin. Somewhere between the Riders and my new friends at Calvin I finally made sense of myself. I realized I am queer. It turns out, straight women do not find women attractive (as in date worthy) in addition to finding men attractive. I started getting involved with activism and there was an interesting switch in the straight to queer friend ratio. I now have some of my best friends in the world because of the Equality Ride coming to Calvin. The summer after my final year at Calvin, I was accepted into Q Camp with Soulforce. I learned a ton about intersectional social justice, it changed my frame work for doing justice. I also met my amazing woman at Q Camp and now we're dating and I'm in love and ended up here in Kansas City. Aside from Yantezia, I'm also grateful for the other Q Campers who are amazing activist that I can go to for friendship and activism advice.

I knew right away after the bus pulled away from Calvin that I had to go on the Equality Ride. I wasn't sure if I would get accepted but I really wanted to go. Q Camp only made me more aware of that desire to go. I applied for the 2010 Equality Ride and was accepted!!! The 2010 Ride changed me in ways I'm still trying to figure out.

Here in Kansas City, I'm working with Equal. It's super sweet because I get to work with Wick, a 2007 Equality Rider, Yantezia and another cool activist, Yahaira. We're training/mentoring queer youth to learn about intersectional justice, direct action and other campaign work. I'm really excited to take on this leadership roll and help empower young queer activists, grow as a leader, gain friendships. Although I get homesick sometimes, I'm really happy where I've ended up. I'm making really cool new friends. I'm enjoying every minute I get with Yantezia. I am happy and confident as Christian queer woman. I am happy to be growing as an activist. Sometimes I wonder who is going through changes like this because of the 2010 Equality Ride and what changes will happen long term and short term because of me? I hope that more people are activist and growing comfortable in there skin and of course, I hope schools change polices to do better but I think more realistically, change happens with individuals. Who knows. What I know for sure is I thank God often for the 2007 Equality Ride and how it changed me.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Word Association

On one of the last few bus rides Heather and I started a list of things that remind us of the ride. I started trying to put them into my journal. This is a monified version. I will add a little commentary to the list.

The songs I listened to on the way to schools to mentally prepare myself:

The Way I Are by Timbaland
Spottie Ottie Dopalicious by Outkast
Die Another Day by Madaonna

Others songs I associate with the ride:

Tik Tok by Ke$ha
Smiling Faces Sometimes by The Dramatics
Hey Jude and Let It Be from Across the Universe
Wild Horse I don't know the version we listened to
I Want to Know What Love is by Foreigner

Phrases we like to use:

Saw-reee! (Sorry)
Lama Y'all! (With the ASL sign for Lama raised high in the air)
Get Yo Ass
Trife/Trifflin'/Trife Ball
Fancy Pants/Fancy Bottoms
Jazzy/Jazzy Gem/Jazz Factory
The children are intersecting
Burning, Burning, Burning
Grown Ass Woman/Man/Person
Never in a million years did you imagine....?
Awkward with ASL sign

Things I associate with school visits/:

Love the sinner hate the sin/I love you but....
Polo shirts
Stayed on Equality
Om Shanti
Go Now in Peace
Love love love, Christians this your call, to love your neighbor as yourself, for God loves all

Jam Packed Elevators
Defending my humanity
PGP-Preferred Gender Pronouns
Culture of silence/fear
Clobber Passages
Spiritual Violence
Repent America

Community Stops/Affirming Places

Singing Stayed on Equality to thank people for meals
Safe Churches
Kind people
Community Service Projects
Panels/QPOC Panels
Open Mic Nite/Story Telling/Dancing/Poetry


Long Bus Rides/Dondi/Dondi's Music
Bus Roles
Post Cards
Hotels/Moving Every Few Days
No Personal Space
Buddy System
Sign Language
Subway/fast food
Where Justice Meets Faith
Feelings, LOTS of Feelings!
Community Agreements
Gender Neutral Bathrooms
Plug and Socket
High Femme
My life is a series of awkward moments
Big Queer Bus/Soulforce One

Monday, May 10, 2010

Speaking Truth

I have found two spoken word pieces that sum up the truths I tried to speak for the last two months more powerfully and beautifully then I ever could so I will just post them here.

This first one is by Staceann Chin.

The second one is Andrea Gibson.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Dare You to Move

I was sitting in the hot tub looking at the stars and listening to the radio. The song "Dare You to Move" by Switchfoot came on. It got me thinking a lot about today and the last few months.

Today I ran into one of my Aunts while out with my parents. I was at a huge gluten free food fair. Hundreds of people swirled around the room getting samples of gluten free food as my Aunt asked me about what I had been up to. She started with, so you were like gone or something? I said something like yes, I was on the road for two months on a social justice tour traveling to different colleges and states. So what were your goals, the goals of Soulforce? Well, to get policies changed and create a safer place for students. So do you push the lifestyle? Is Soulforce in favor of the lifestyle or safety for students? Well, we work to make a space for students to be wholly themselves, a space where they do not face spiritual violence, a space where students don't have to chose between identity and faith. Oh. So you want people to see everyone is a child of God to be loved. Yes, that is very important. Yeah. Awkward stares. I mumble it's important and walk away.

I felt like a liar. Aunt Barb, I am queer-I wanted to say. I have a girlfriend-I wanted to say. I was so torn. I wanted to tell her. It tried to bust out of me but the room full of hundreds of strangers stopped me. The fear of her reaction stopped me.

All day I have been feeling like crap. For the last two months, I went from place to place saying, live authentically. Living inauthentic hurts you and others. The quest was not to get every queer person to come out, it was for equality, for safe spaces to learn, to let queer people know God loves them too but I encouraged people (when it was safe) to be authentic and come out. I couldn't do it for myself. For the last year I've wanted desperately to come out to my extended family. I hate being in the closet. It makes me hate a part of myself. I feel awkward and fake around them. I'm quiet and introverted. I don't know what to talk about. Most of my free time is filled with LGBTQ things. I'm on the Board of Directors for GLSEN (Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network). When I was in school most of my free time was spent doing activism on campus and off campus for LGBTQ equality. The last two months of my life were working for equality. I have a girlfriend who I love and spend hours talking to all the time.

I Dare You To Move. Welcome to the fall out. The tension is here, between who you and who you could be, between how it is and how it should be. I dare you to move. Where can you run to escape from yourself? I dare you to move, to lift yourself, to lift yourself up the floor.

I think it's time to come out. I'd rather deal with other people's shit then the tension of who I am and who I could be if I wasn't hiding in the closet. If I wasn't wondering which family members would still love me. It's time to move, to be real and authentic. To liberate myself from my fear so others can do the same.

It's time to stop living in fear.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Epic Fail On Blogging The Advedture

Hey Ya'll,
Sorry I did so bad at updating this. The ride was crazy. It kept me far busier then I have ever dreamed. I have so much to process from this ride. It touched my life in profound ways. I learned about myself. I found my voice. I became less afraid. I saw christians show hate masked as love. I saw other Christians show love in ways that touched my soul and brought healing. I was shown love by non-Christians that was more Christ-like then I have seen from many who call themselves Christians. I experienced spiritual violence in a real and painful way. My heart broke for students who are queer going to the colleges as I feel the hate for LGBTQ people on campus. I felt hope because I met awesome allies who care enough to stand up for LGBTQ students at their school. I met fierce LGBTQ students coming out of the closet and finding their own voice. I developed friendships with the other Equality Riders that run deep, they now are family to me. My faith has changed, grown in leaps and bounds. It's hard to know where to begin when I'm at the end.

I am supposed to be looking for work so I'm going to keep this short but I'm sure I'll keep some post ride thoughts and ramblings.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Media Update

Hey Friends, below is the e-mail from Soulforce about the Equality Ride. I thought I'd share it here.

Climb on Board
Gearing up for the Ride!

Last week, an inspiring group of 21 young justice-seekers descended upon Austin, Texas, to train for a journey. They are this year’s Equality Riders, and they have just spent 8 days preparing for the work ahead of them.

Equality Ride Training a success!

The 2010 Equality Ride’s first training was successful by all measures! The week was jam-packed. The group participated in―and some chose to lead―workshops on everything from planning a direct action, systems of oppression, transgender identities, anti-racism and anti-racist organizing, scriptural analysis, stop-planning, nonviolence, disability and ableism, working with the media, and more.

They sharply brainstormed innovative ways to work with students, administrators, and community members towards sustainable, progressive, and significant change this spring and beyond.

Though the week was busy with learning, there was also time for Riders to build a cohesive and supportive group. Tight bonds were formed that will sustain them during their two months on the road.

The 2010 Team

Hailing from across the country, and one from Cyprus, the 2010 team brings a multitude of unique experiences and backgrounds, bound by a common desire to make campuses and communities safe, welcoming and affirming for people of all identities. You can meet the Riders here:

During training, the Riders signed up for their roles as stop-planners, each with the responsibility of coordinating one of the 17 locations on our itinerary. Back at home now, they are eagerly making preparations for the road ahead.

The Route

We are stopping at 16 campuses in the Northeast, South, and Midwest, all with policies that are discriminatory to LGBTQ students. Many of the schools, while recognizing that there are places where we do not agree, have extended their welcome to us. We are hopeful that this spring will offer many opportunities to share ourselves and our stories with students, faculty, and administrators. You can view the full route here.

We are placing a special focus on community work this year, and are hoping to engage not just with the campuses we visit, but with the communities they live in. This means partnering with communities in volunteer work, hosting activism/organizing forums, linking students with community members, and offering our support for the justice work that is already happening in the places we are visiting.

Help us Blaze a Trail for Justice

The Riders will have one more opportunity to train at the end of February, and will board the bus on March 4th. But they need your support! We would like to be greeted by affirming community members along the way. If you or a friend live in one of the areas along our route, and might be interested in volunteering with us, hosting an event, participating in a potluck, or anything else, please get in touch with the Rider coordinating that stop, or one of the Ride’s co-directors soon. Being in touch with supportive community members is vital to planning a successful Equality Ride stop!

Each Rider, in addition to planning their community and school stop for the Ride, is working really hard to meet their $3,500 fundraising goal. The Rider donations are a vital part of the overall funding for the Ride. If every Rider meets their goal, we’ll raise nearly half of the budget. Were it not for the generosity of Soulforce supporters in 2008, the Ride literally would not have happened. If you’d like to be a part of the 2010 Equality Ride as a sponsor, you can sponsor a Rider directly through their pages and help them make the Equality Ride a success this spring!