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.
The work of the Ride is that of connecting with students and community members to understand local needs at a deep and specific level, crafting workshops and giving trainings, connecting with media to share the story of social change through nonviolence and soulful activism, and partnering with students and local activists to address campus policies and practices, build solidarity across difference, and create long term game plans for bringing more love and justice into the places we commit to.
You can watch an Equality Ride Redux video here from the 2006 and 2007 Equality Rides. The major differences are that we engage with police far less (usually not at all), get on campus far more, and have opened up participation to all ages.
The heart of the Equality Ride is the never-before kind of conversation that connects people who have historically been divided by bi/trans/homophobia, racism, and classism.
Fill out a pre-application below to signal your interest in participating in the Equality Ride House work.
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. If you are a member of the Crew living in the Equality Ride House, your responsibilities and time commitment differ from folks who are part of the larger support team.
We have exciting opportunities for travel, leadership development, skill building, and connecting with like-minded folks across the country, such as the Creating Change Conference. We also provide housing, food, work stipends, and travel stipends in some circumstances. Apply today to join this unique program!
Click on the links below to fill out the pre-application.
We are currently looking for activists of all skills, experiences, (non)faiths, and ages for Houses in Michigan, North Carolina, and Los Angeles.
Active House dates: January 5 – April 30, 2015. Priority deadline October 15, 2014.
Active House dates: March 1 – April 30, 2015. Priority deadline October 15, 2014
Active House dates: August 15 – December 1, 2015. Priority deadline December 31, 2014
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.
….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 and fired up about changing the reality of race, particularly within fundamentalist settings, to apply.
We believe it bears being upfront about how we understand the nature of what we are challenging and the steps we are taking to resist those beliefs and practices 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.