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by Brian Murphy
I’ve formatted our West bus Equality Ride videos for iPod. You can download them using the links below and then all you have to do is add them to your iTunes Library. They’re all ready to go. Thanks to Adam Britt for hosting the files.
University of Notre Dame
Wisconsin Lutheran University
Brigham Young University
Brigham Young University – Idaho
West Bus Photo Slideshow
I will add videos from other stops as soon as they’re available.
by Brian Murphy
First of all, I apologize for the severe delay in bringing you this video. It was completed while I was still on the ride but a series of unfortunate events delayed the release. Thanks for sticking with us and continuing to be interested in the Equality Ride.
As a note, Soulforce will be co-sponsoring a New York Marriage Ride this summer from July 14-27. You can visit the site for more information. Soulforce also has an important Ex-Gay Survivors conference coming from June 29 – July 1. Many Soulforce participants have experienced the pain caused by so-called ex-gay therapy. Hopefully this conference can be a place to start the healing process for the many people who have been victims of anti-gay rhetoric.
And here our video from BYU-I
by Brandon Kneefel
How does a journey like the Equality Ride end?
Maybe with a colon introducing a list of things to do: “get your evaluations in, write in everyone’s affirmation book, get in that one last smoker caucus, pack, and say ‘good-byes’.”
Or maybe with a dash that completely disrupts our lives and inputs a thought where no thoughts outside of exegesis and vigils have been since February—a plane trip away from a life on the road and schedules that now seem calm comparatively.
It may end with a period that finalizes one moment in time and introduces the next moment. Yes, I can’t wait to see my friends back home.
It seems that it could end with a question mark. What did I learn from the Equality Ride? Whose hearts were changed? What do I/we do now?
I can see how the journey might end with a semi-colon; let’s continue to be Equality Riders wherever we go.
Maybe the Ride ends with a comma, because this is all a work in progress, and God is still speaking.
An exclamation point seems conclusive enough. WE DID IT!
All of these seem appropriate, but, to me, it seems like, although seeds must be planted, progress simply happens. Fears subside as knowledge is gained. And if we were to look at the big paragraph of our experience and turn it into a quote we would need to end with ellipses. “Equality Riders arrested at Brigham Young University and Patrick Henry…city proclamations in Seattle and New York City honor Equality Riders…Equality Ride 2007 ends…Equality Riders continue on to seek equality everywhere they go…”
Yes, that seems about right. Goodbye for now.
by Aaron Lauer
Coming to the end of the road has been quite the experience. It is so nice that our co-directors have given us free time on Saturday and Sunday because we all really needed a break! It has been so nice to meet up with the East Bus and hear about their experiences and to just hang out with them on our days off.
On our second day back in Minneapolis, the West Bus sat in a circle and talked about the experiences we had on the Ride. We talked about what we learned and what we will miss most about the Ride. When it came around to me I really had to think. I ended up explaining to everyone that it will probably take about two months for everything to really hit me. It took about two months on the Ride to figure out how much I missed my friends and family at home. I think it will take about the same amount of time for me to figure out how much I miss my friends and family on the Equality Ride.
We have been through the ups and the downs of two months on the road. We know each other so much better than we could have ever imagined at the beginning of January in Austin. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, life stories, and hygiene rituals. Most importantly, I know that each person on this Ride has a deep passion for seeing equality for all people. My family on the Equality Ride has shown me that the fight for justice is not an easy one, but together we can make it happen. I really don’t know what else to say. Call me in two months and I’ll tell you.
by Kourt Osborn
Looking back on our last stop, it just doesn’t seem real to me. We all walked onto campus together, which was an Equality Ride first. I stayed back a little bit to see everyone walk on. It was humbling and amazing that almost eighty people felt so compelled to walk onto campus for equality at the same time. It was truly a beautiful sight.
The Equality Ride has left me with so many memories–hard memories that kept me focused throughout the Ride, moments that aren’t so easy to look back on with a smile–and beautiful memories. There is beauty in watching my fellow Riders lay out shawls in the colors of the pride flag. There is beauty in their act of giving up autonomy in being arrested for that. There is beauty in thirty people gathered around a Rider for discussion. Even though there have been many hard moments, for me the Ride was filled with beauty.
We went around in a circle before the East Bus rejoined us with a list of questions that we could choose to answer, or not answer as we felt led to do. One question I had fun answering was this: “What moment will you take with you into senility?” My answer was Rebecca Buck’s shopping bags, and our bus driver Travis’s random bursts into song while we were all sleeping. His singing is something that always lightened my heart when things got too serious.
Another question was this: “What have you learned about yourself?” I learned so many things about myself on the Ride, I couldn’t really begin to list all of them, but the most important thing I learned about myself is that I have a great capacity to be serious, to be intense, and that I can do a lot of good things with that.
I also learned that I am truly a sixteen-year-old boy at heart (bio-chemically and spiritually). I’m still really awkward around people, and enjoy dinosaurs. I made “Kourt Forts” by draping a blanket over the seats on the bus to create a tent. I did dinosaur dances, and I always jumped at the first mention of food.
Even though I am a sixteen-year-old boy, I know that I have a big space in my heart to learn about love in a way that many people never get to experience. I get to take the lessons of non-violence that I have learned on the Equality Ride and put them into practice in my life toward my family, friends, and people I have yet to meet.
To sum up, I am thankful for the opportunity the Equality Ride afforded me, and I will forever be in its debt. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. There’s so much work to be done.
by Jillian Nye
Today was our last official day of campus visits for the 2007 Soulforce Equality Ride…
It is now midnight and all I can do is sigh…
At this point, if I think about it in too much depth, I will melt in my tears. As we wrap up this colossal road trip, I am finding the conclusion of this communal experience completely bittersweet. The bittter? I will miss my tribe, by people, my purpose, my cause. The sweet? I will return home to California and all that is familiar.
I am ready to go home. Or rather, ready to go back to my almost three year old son Jubal-Lee. I am not so much home sick as I am Jubal-Lee sick. “Home” has become a completely relative word over the last two months and will continue to be that way for the next 4 months of camping. “Home” has been a motel in Rexburg, Idaho. “Home” has been a hotel in Portland, Oregon. Row 15 on a coach bus with rainbow colored interior was a place I called “home” for 12 hours at a time. However, “home” was never complete because it did not include Jubal-Lee. So now I realize that home will be found with the people I love the most. Right now there is only one human that I love the most. My little one. When I find nothing else in the files of my mind that I can smile about, I conjure up an image of him…and there it is. A heart smile. A soul revival. True and pure love. A love that is so hopeful and so intentional. A love worth everything in the whole world. A love that I must return to. My job is complete. I return soon.
Today on campus we were in full force, all 52 passionate and collected Equality Riders. We stood vigil at Bethany Lutheran College for two hours. I spoke with two officers of the peace an hour into it. I explained once again that our intention was not to get arrested, but rather talk with and connect with students. They knew that was not going to happen on campus, and so they prepared accordingly, as did we, though we continued to hold out hope for an enriching on-campus dialogue with Bethany Lutheran students and faculty.
At noon, we broke vigil and flooded the campus green like a wave. Ten Riders met police with poster pictures of the Ride in their arms. I was able to make it over to a group of students, introduce myself and shake some hands. (One girl turned her head and said, “No thank you.”) I knew every moment counted at this point, as I saw the officers approach. There were now what seemed to be as many officers as there were students. The original two had multiplied, emerging from thin air. I smiled to each student and chose my words with care…
“I came here to promote love. I came all the way from California to introduce myself so you could see with your own eyes what a gay Christian looks like. I left my young son to do this. I wish to be recognized as a sister in Christ. I have been a Christian all my life.”
With that I was given my warning to leave campus lest I be charged with criminal tresspassing. As I backed away from the group of 20 or so students, I calmly remarked, “Your school has decided to silence us today.” They stared blankly as I walked away and shifted my attention to my friends who were now on their knees being placed under arrest. I stood on the sidelines and sang what has become somewhat of an anthem here on the Equality Ride…”go now in peace, go now in peace, may the love of God surround you, everywhere, everywhere you may go”. We sang to our friends as they drove away in custody. I returned to the vigil line until I saw what I had been praying would occur.
One Equality Rider (my fellow Californian) stood surrounded by 30 or more students conversing. I went and stood next to him, and we discretely held hands. The students were asking all kinds of heated questions regarding sexual identity. I chimed in, “Let’s talk about Christianity; we are really here to sow love.” Thus began hours of dialogue and connection as more Riders joined us and broke off into smaller groups with students. For a moment, I stepped away from it all to observe and soak in every detail. It was happening. Progress was being made. Disagreement or laughter, it did not matter to me at that point. The over arching epiphany was that THIS CONVERSATION WAS HAPPENING. That was the desire of our hearts. God bless each one of you who has courage to make change in this world. God bless each one who has a heart capable of loving ALL of God’s creation.
by Michael Cramer
It is really a daunting task to look at this empty word file and know that I will need to try and find the words to describe this day such that those of you who were not here might have a glimpse of what occurred. I can only promise that I will try my best and use my heart and all the love that I feel right now to explain.
Today was truly the encapsulation of the entire Equality Ride. We laughed, cried, ate, drank, sang, were silent, conversed, dialogued, prayed, were arrested, met many new friends, said goodbye to many others, and basically did it all, and what was more and honestly the most special, today was the only day that we did it all TOGETHER. The East and West buses of the 2007 Equality Ride had only one stop at which both buses, 50+ people in total, collectively participated. This stop was Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, Minnesota.
The feelings of joy, of completeness, in finally being reunited with the only other group out there who could truly understand what we the West bus had done and were doing, were palpable last night when the East bus joined us at the Ramada Inn in Minneapolis. There were few dry eyes in that room. Each bus had given up half our strength so that we might be able to reach more people, do more good, and spread our message of love more widely in the country, but now that we were together again, at full strength, at the peak of our game, there was NOTHING we could not do.
We all assembled early this morning for the 1 ½ hour bus ride out to Mankato. It was really special watching us load both buses, knowing that today we would be working, dialoguing, and praying with ALL our friends and compatriots. We arrived at Bethany Lutheran College, which unfortunately had made the decision to be closed, silencing, and fearful. We stood vigil, one east Rider, one west Rider, and so on, on two long stretches of sidewalk outside the school gates. We held poster-sized photos of scenes from our travels, both of welcome and of rejection. We stood in solidarity with a common message to the students and administration of Bethany Lutheran, that being: What is the Christian response – love, truth, and peace, or silence and rejection?
But even with the wonder and joy of all being together again, we were blessed by the fact that we did not stand alone as Riders at this vigil. We were joined by supportive community members and students from other local schools, in ones and two, in trickles that became a mighty stretch of humanity, until at 12:10 when we all stepped onto campus, to bring our message of inclusion, we were a sight to see. Our line was long and strong. We covered the large grassy field separating us from the school. There were close to 100 people who stepped in solidarity and love onto that grass at the same time, and this vision is something that I will carry in my heart forever.
We were met and turned away from campus loudly and harshly by police officers. Those few of us holding the 10 poster pictures kept going, walking forward when told to stop. They walked toward the school, toward the students waiting for this message, until they were placed under arrest, then knelt in prayer. The rest of us stood silent watching their bravery as they were taken away in police cruisers, honoring their gift to Bethany, until we collectively began to sing, Go now in peace, go now in peace; may the love of God surround you, everywhere, everywhere, you may go.
And then like a dam breaking, we watched as the Bethany students crossed that same field and came to talk and dialogue with us. There were many clumps of students, Equality Riders and supporters all along the sidewalk. Not every conversation was perfect, not every viewpoint understood and agreed upon, but the dialogue happened. And it was good.
Afterward, we had two amazing meetings, first at Minnesota State University Mankato, and then at a local UCC church. We shared our trip via a slideshow with students at the MSU Mankato Pride Center, and had a wonderful time answering questions, talking about our experiences, and enjoying the company of one another and of our new friends. Then we drove down the hill to the church where we were greeted warmly and served a delicious meal. We then meet together in the chapel for a unique and inspiring church service welcoming us home. Pastors from five different denominations attended to welcome and affirm us. We sang, prayed and loved together. It was a great way to end our Ride, together and among friends.