Equality Ride

equality ride

What is the Soulforce Equality Ride?

The Equality Ride has been instrumental in challenging and changing unjust policies and attitudes towards students and staff at distinctly Christian colleges and universities with onerous anti-LGBTQ policies since 2005. And in this process, we honor the many students and alumni who have boldly organized on campus and taken public leadership when it was risky.  

In the past, the Equality Ride has taken the shape of a bus of young activists traveling the country to visit colleges and universities where religious opposition to LGBTQ people is prevalent. We are now shifting to an Equality Ride House format that establishes communities of activists to work together towards the same goals of conversation, education, and reconciliation.

Upcoming events:

September 17th and 18th

Grand Rapids, Michigan area

Drop-in and formal sessions to learn how to be involved, See below

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We have opportunities for all levels of engagement – from LGBTQA students on Christian campuses who need to keep a low profile to community supporters with advice to share or folks ready to be Equality Ride House members. Click on the links below to apply for any of these roles.

Signal your interest today with an application below to be a part of an Equality Ride House. We are currently looking for activists of all skills, experiences, (non)faiths, and ages in Michigan, North Carolina, and Los Angeles.

Michigan Equality Ride House.

Priority deadline November 1, 2014

Los Angeles Equality Ride House.

Priority deadline November 1, 2014

North Carolina Equality Ride House.

Priority deadline December 31, 2014

 

Meet with Soulforce on the ground in Michigan, September 17th and 18th!

If you are interested in learning more about what an Equality Ride House in West Michigan could look like, stop by one of the following events:

September 17th

  • Sparrows Coffee Shop from 7 to 9pm, located at 1035 Wealthy SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506

September 18th

  • LGBTQ Resource Center, Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Drop-In for Pizza and learn how to get involved, 12 to 2pm.
  • Kirkhoff Center Room 1142, located on GVSU Allendale Campus, 1 Campus Drive in Allendale, MI 49401 from 2 to 4pm, a more formal presentation on the changes to this program and how it uniquely serves the students and citizens of West Michigan.
  • Lantern Coffee Bar and Lounge from 5:30 to 7pm, located at 100 Commerce Ave SW in Grand Rapids, MI 49503.

Contact Haven Herrin at haven@soulforce.org with questions or to schedule a confidential meeting.

More About the Equality Ride, Past & Future

This ongoing project started in 2005 when there were fewer than 10 active and out LGBTQ student groups in the country.  Since then, Soulforce has visited 101 schools and contributed to 17 school policy changes and the growth of over 30 student and alumni groups.  In this time, we led 6 buses on cross-country tours to host workshops, classroom visits, meetings with administrators, and direct action where necessary at colleges, universities, and seminaries.

Then and now, we continue to focus on schools where campus policy or culture, largely driven by religion, is in opposition to LGBTQ people.

The Soulforce Equality Ride is now at an inflection point.  As many student and alumni groups have sprung up, our role is naturally changing into a solidarity and co-worker position.  The needs we hear students express are More resources and training! More networking with students at other schools! More time to put in place sustainable structures!

We hear you. Based on your feedback, we are debuting the Next Generation Equality Ride.

Shift #1: Introducing the Equality Ride House and the Soulforce Crew

The Equality Ride is utilizing regional leadership teams called “Crews” comprised of students, alumni, and community activists to become the Riders themselves. As much as possible, we want the people who live, work and study in the conservative sectors we visit to be in charge of the programming. These localized team efforts that allow for participants to be as public or as “behind the scenes” as they want to be. Crews will live and/or work in Equality Ride House that serve as the central organizing hub for all the volunteers working on this project together.

Shift #2: Introducing an Intersectional Approach

The content of our training and conversations on and off campus is growing to reflect the challenges that students and community members face that include homophobia, transphobia, racism and other forms of injustice. We are excited about broad cultural shifts grounded in the understanding that religious discrimination is a took of many oppression and links our issues and identities.

This approach will be reflected in the diversity of leadership, volunteers, staff, workshops, and aims of the Crews on and off campus. We recognize that the conversation about culture and policy on campus is related to off campus realities that impact many marginalized groups.

Given that…

….Less than 2% of LGBTQ funding goes to communities of color

…Many of the schools we visit were birthed of out a reaction to desegregation in education

…The vast majority of the boards of trustees, schools presidents, and leaders of the Religious Right are white men for reasons not distinct from their anti-LGBTQ beliefs

Soulforce is dedicated to putting forth an appropriate and converse challenge to this reality by seeking and supporting a majority people of color leadership in Equality Ride organizing positions and staff.  We want racial diversity within our programs and invite all who, like us, are dismayed, fired up, and angered by reality of race, particularly within fundamentalist settings, to apply. It bears being upfront about how we understand the political framework of what we are challenging and the steps we are taking to resist the beliefs of the adversary in form, content, leadership, and process.

Shift #3: Introducing Longer Term Engagement

Participants in the Equality Ride work will all receive training, resources, partnership, and work retreats to prepare and implement their strategic plans on and off campus. Instead of working with a school for 3 or 5 days, we can now be present and active for months. The localized nature of the Equality Ride House lends itself to follow up and lasting activist relationships. To bolster that, we will provide seed grants, alumni support, and ongoing leadership development opportunities like travel stipends and conferences.

 

 

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