Soulforce Equality Ride 2007

Uncle Gerry from Nichevo here ghost writing for Ryan and Mike as they are in the Pits at Daytona and all around Florida on vacation. My cohort in the effort is Patti from Patti-Cake Land and we shall be sharing time keeping you in reading material while the boys are out having a good time. Now for today's subject:

The 2007 Soulforce Equality Ride is the second annual ride featuring 56 Riders in 2 buses visiting 32 schools including my alma mater Baylor University in Waco, Texas. One of the reasons they are visiting the schools around the nation is to bring about a change in policy like this one from Baylor:

  • "Baylor will be guided by the understanding that human sexuality is a gift from the creator God and that the purposes of this gift includes (1) the procreation of human life and (2) the uniting and strengthening of the marital bond in self-giving love. These purposes are to be achieved through heterosexual relationships within marriage. Misuses of God's gift will be understood to include, but not be limited to, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, sexual assault, incest, adultery, fornication and homosexual acts."
Back when I went to Baylor, this was the policy, but even more surreal was the fact that young women could not wear pants or shorts on campus except for gym shorts while in the gym. They have loosened a little but the above stated policy still is fully in force. This needs to change.

For reasons as to why the 56 young people have taken up the challenge to try and affect change, here are some of their own words:

From Brandon Kneeful in Livonia, Michigan: "We have been given a window of opportunity to change the world. The time and place is now. There is a platform that needs to be used; if we don't use this delicate time to progress society, then someone else will use it to digress society. Our world needs to see that the BGLT youth is full of love, life, and goodness. We are whole as we are! The world was educated against the BGLT community for centuries; the way we correct this is to get out there, build relationships, and re-educate, and to do this not out of pride that will only cause dissent, not out of hate that will bring us suffering, but out of a unifying compassion for those who have been taught to "change" us. Those of us who are aware enough to educate, must. When my parents said that I cannot be a gay man and a Christian, I said: I am a gay man and a Christian. When my church reached out to "help" me because, in their eyes, a gay man cannot be a Christian, I said: I am a gay man and a Christian. And when the world tries to exclude my identity because they believe that it is oxymoronic, I will say I am a Christian and a gay man, both founded on love."

From Jeremy Gabbard in Arkadelphia, Arkansas: "I think that the Equality Ride tackles one of the biggest opportunities for advancing gay rights in the United States, because what these students learn in their university shapes their beliefs and attitudes for the rest of their lives. If they are taught intolerance for four years in school, they will most likely continue to be intolerant. One day, I'd really love to see GLBT students being out and proud on all campuses, instead of being forced into the closet. More than anything, I'd like to see the Ride create love and acceptance. That's it. It sounds cliché, but if everyone loves and accepts each other, small differences like sexual orientation suddenly aren't so big."

From Robin Reynolds in Valdosta, Georgia: "I fight for those who struggle with this today, those who have yet to meet the point in their journey when they realize, "I am a part of God, perfect the way I am. I reflect God." I fight for those whose voices are blocked by fear, who can’t scream or shout or command a halt to the violence and dehumanization they suffer. Like Dr. King and so many others, I too have a dream. I dream that my children will be allowed academic freedom at any institution without fear of dismissal. I fight for people of faith who love God, but have found that their religious community has shut them out or made them second-class citizens by restricting their privileges. Lastly, I fight for Americans who experience gross injustices and the erosion of their constitutional rights due to legacies of untruth. I am on the Equality Ride because it speaks to my life and I know these pains well. I fight with love and hope and faith."

These are just 3 of the 56 who have dedicated themselves to making life better for all of us. Each of the 56 has committed to raising $3500 to help defray the cost of the Ride. To find out more about sponsoring a Rider go here. This is the largest project in Soulforce history and here are some statistics on the cost:

  • The 2007 Equality Ride will cost approximately $387,500. Chartering the buses will cost $100,000. Flights to training sessions at the start of the ride will cost about $28,000. Hotels will run about $80,000. Food will be about $48,000. Printed materials to distribute to the colleges, such as Soulforce's What the Bible Says - And Doesn't Say - About Homosexuality, will be about $36,000.
  • These college kids know how to stretch their dollars. A donation of $400 will fill up a bus's gas tank. A gift of $250 will provide a meal for everybody on the ride. A gift of $75 will buy housing for four riders for one night.
  • Soulforce continues to be the only national organization that utilizes Dr. King's brand of peaceful "take it to the streets" activism in the pursuit of LGBT justice.
  • Your support is urgently needed. The first stop on the ride for both the East and West buses is March 8th and we need $310,000 in the bank by then.
If you can help by sponsoring one of the Riders, please do so at, click on a picture and read their stories, then show some love and support. A collage of all the riders is just below this paragraph. Stop by Patti-Cake Land and Nichevo and check out our blogs, post a comment and let us know what you think.

So long for now from Big D!

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