Every day, thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people suffer harassment, violence, and discrimination at the hands of those who do not understand them. This oppression usually hides in plain sight, masquerading as rigid doctrine or timeless tradition. Consequently, it often goes unchallenged and unchanged. Guided by principles of nonviolence, we at Soulforce Q approach these controversial issues with a readiness to meet people where they are. It is our belief that open and honest discussion begets understanding and healing, and that philosophy is at the heart of our work.
The Equality Ride is a traveling forum that gives young adults the chance to deconstruct injustice and the rhetoric that sustains it. It allows emerging young leaders to unite in the struggle for common equality. The idea is this. We get on a bus and journey to various institutions of higher learning. Through informal conversation and educational programming we explore concepts of diversity, comparing the effects of inclusive and exclusive viewpoints. More practically, we share and gain insights about how our beliefs influence policy and culture, thereby impacting society. Our goal is to carefully and collectively examine the intersection wherein faith meets gender and sexuality. Such discourse, especially when it affirms the beauty of our differences, plays an essential role in creating a safe learning and living environment for everyone.
Thus far, the Equality Ride has engaged more than fifty academic communities. Most have shown considerable hospitality in welcoming us, and our legacy at those schools is one of mutual growth and compassionate fellowship. In addition to panels and schoolwide symposiums, we have joined students in cafeterias and coffee shops, participated in Bible studies and worship services, and given presentations in packed classrooms. Unfortunately, not every school chooses to host the Equality Ride. With the notable exceptions of Morehouse College and Spelman College, voluntary redemptive suffering in the form of civil disobedience may become our avenue towards progress if, and only if, a school ignores the urgency and rejects dialogue.
A Movement in itself, the Equality Ride is empowering future generations to put their faith in action and make social justice a reality.
The Riders are on summer break now, but they soon begin their travels for justice in the 2010 school year. Do you have a need to work for justice and spread the word of equality? Do you think you have the right stuff for the Soulforce Q Equality Ride? Apply now – the deadline is Sept. 6, 2009.