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.
Archive for the ‘2010 Equality Ride’ Category
Six months ago, I started working with Soulforce, running our web and media efforts. I have a three year history with Soulforce which started as a 2007 Equality Rider. Soulforce retained me just as the 2010 Equality Ride was setting out and a week into the campaign, I joined them in North Carolina for a visit to Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Some things I remember: the long hours, the instant bond between riders, the unmistakable feeling that we are doing something truly remarkable. Some things were different: the diverse group of riders were even better prepared and more intentional… the ride improves every year.
After our short visit to Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, I spent the entirety of a community picnic speaking with a seminary student. We talked about The Law and Leviticus for three hours. It was grueling and utterly exhausting. During that conversation I also connected, briefly, with another seminary student. The student joined us later that night for conversation in our hotel lobby and for lunch the following day. They shared a bit of their passions and joys, some struggles and theological differences they experienced at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. After talking with young adults about queer issues for three years, I have a pretty good sense of when a person wants to say something but can’t. I got that feeling from this person.
Today, that student, now a graduate, sent me a message. They shared a brief update on their life and then, almost in passing, mentioned that they are now in a queer relationship and could not be happier. They are starting to come out, they might lose their job at a Baptist church, but all will be well.
That is all I have to share today: that six months ago I spent three hours talking about Leviticus in a park in rural North Carolina and today a Southern Baptist told me that they are beginning to love themselves. The Equality Ride never really ends. And thank goodness it doesn’t.
Please help us ensure the future of the Equality Rides be making a donation toward the next ride today.
Sitting in Meadowlark Coffee & Espresso after our 14th school stop at Union College, the only thing that came to my mind was one thing: I was tired. I was tired from the lack of sleep and countless hours on the road. I was tired of watery hotel coffee. But most of all, I was tired at defending my humanity.
Editors note: Brian Adkins, a 2010 Equality Rider, composed this note to his fellow Equality Riders. We reprint it here with his permission.
I joined the 2010 Soulforce Equality Ride not because I am queer, but because I am a Christian. I wanted to be a part of the dialog around the intersection of faith and sexuality and justice. Along the way, I have seen the best and the worst of Christianity. I have seen love beautifully and unconditionally expressed, and I have heard oppression called love. I have at times expressed my own truth eloquently, but more often I have fumbled with it clumsily like the lyrics to a song I have never heard before. My truth is a song still being written.
The last time I blogged for the interwebs, the Equality Ride had just finished its first stop at Valley Forge Christian College, several weeks later and now I am here to talk about our stop at Southwest Baptist University (SBU). The day was interesting starting off with a little gathering with our hosts in a conference room where we had a little chat and told them exactly why we were here: 1) Their policy clearly discriminates against the LGBTQ and allied students/faculty on the campus 2) To spread love and affirmation to said persons 3) to engage in true dialogue to foster change and provide safe spaces for those who identify to being LGBTQ and allies.
Next was chapel, which left quite a few riders in emotional turmoil as the topic was about missionary work and the speaker seemed ignorant about what he was saying and just condemning people to hell. I know I felt the spirit move me out of the chapel quickly, just get away from the rhetoric spewing out of that man’s mouth. After the chapel, a few of our Riders, particularly Isaiah and Asher, went and conversed with the speaker about their feelings and how offensive they found this chapel service. I hope the man actually took the words spoken seriously and will try a different approach to things in the future.
Skipping ahead, the awkward conversation about racism is blooming at SBU, a group of riders, students, and faculty members were a part of a panel that talked about what Soulforce was and the topic of LGBTQ persons on campus. One of the faculty members was just plain combative and could not even see a LGBTQ person as an actual human being. I give kudos to all the Riders that dealt with that woman because she was just plain rude!
With emotions still high, and many of our Riders experiencing spiritual violence, the Dean of Students, with permission, got on the bus to “talk” to us about how we experienced the day. If “talking” to us, was a rant about how we betrayed his trust by holding a vigil later that day, then yeah, we had some “great” dialogue. Several of the riders, challenged the administrator to actually listen to what we felt, and he did.
After this, the Equality Riders set up camp right outside the campus and some ate food from the awesome PFLAG parents, talked to community members and students, or simply just sang songs. It felt like a nice, sweet closing after the tumultuous and emotionally exhausting day defending our humanity and dealing with the rampant issues of racism on SBU’s campus.