LGBT Equality Ride begins in Philly

Thu. February 23, 2012 11:35 AM by Wisconsin Gazette

Philadelphia, PA - A two-month bus tour – the 2012 Equality Ride – will begin this week in Philadelphia with a send-off ceremony for the young LGBT activists planning a cross-country journey.

Sponsored by the Soulforce civil disobedience group, the Equality Ride will take activists to fundamentalist colleges and universities with a reputation for anti-LGBT programs and policies.

The Equality Ride launch in Philadelphia includes a kick-off party on Feb. 26 and a send-off ceremony on March 3.

The next day, 17 young riders will board a bus and travel across the United States, their trip ending in San Francisco at the end of April. Along the way, the activists plan to talk with students and faculty at various schools, hold public forums and even organize performance events.

In four prior tours, Soulforce Equality riders visited more than 70 religious colleges. At several stops, the riders were arrested for trespassing and at others they were barred from campus.

During the 2006 Equality Ride, U.S. Rep. John Lewis, an original Freedom Rider for civil rights in the 1960s, encouraged the young activists to "make good trouble." He said, "My mother told me growing up, ‘don't get in the way; don't get in trouble.' I'm so glad I got in the way and got in trouble."

J. Mason, co-director of the 2012 Equality Ride said, "The 2012 ride has received an incredible amount of support so far, and we hope to see the same encouragement in communities across the country – from Philadelphia to San Francisco – as we work with them to promote a message of acceptance and equality for all."

Soulforce, founded by Mel White and Gary Nixon in 1998, is a national nonprofit that uses nonviolent resistance – the teachings of Gandhi – to challenge the religious and political oppression of LGBT people. White had been a ghostwriter for Christian right leaders, including the Revs. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, before he came out as gay and joined the movement.

Article provided in partnership with Wisconsin Gazette.