“This bus is not the only vehicle for change.” – Katie Higgins, Equality Rider
SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: May 3, 2006
For Immediate Release
Contact: Richard Lindsay, 646-258-7193
(Washington DC) — With tearful hugs and farewells, Equality Riders went their separate ways on Monday, after a 51-day, 19-stop tour that changed thousands of hearts and minds at colleges and universities across the country. After their final stop at West Point, Riders spent several days in Washington resting and planning for the future before dispersing to continue their hard work throughout the country.
Several Riders will be setting up an "activist house" in Oklahoma City in order to bring change to that conservative state; others are making plans to move to Minneapolis to plan further actions in the youth movement for LGBT equality begun by the Ride. Many Riders have already been engaged to speak in colleges, community centers and churches in their hometowns. Riders also look forward to the release of a feature-length documentary directed by Dave O’Brien, which has the potential to spread the message of the Equality Ride to millions more.
"The Equality Ride marks the beginning of a national, coordinated LGBT youth movement in this country," said Equality Ride founder and co-director Jacob Reitan. "The Ride is just the first step in a long journey toward equality, and as history has shown us, it will be students and young people who will lead the march for change."
Riders already have committed to assisting with the Soulforce action at Focus on the Family in Colorado in July and holding sit-ins in military recruitment centers across the country this August. Riders are planning next year’s Equality Ride, as well as a "sit-in summer" in 2007 in city halls country courthouses across the country for marriage equality.
"There were so many lives we touched, so many young people who showed incredible courage in coming forward and coming out to their schools," said Haven Herrin, Equality Ride co-director. "From what we’ve heard, things have already changed for the better on many of these campuses. A few highly-committed people really can make a difference."
"We’ve gotten messages from so many people saying how much inspiration the Ride has brought them," said Equality Rider Katie Higgins. "It’s so important that they realize they can change things in their own hometown, on their own college campus. This bus is not the only vehicle for change."
For more on the Equality Ride and for continuing updates on the LGBT youth movement, see: www.equalityride.com.
The Soulforce Equality Ride is a journey to change the heart and mind of America on the issue of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality. Following in the footsteps of the Freedom Rides of the 1960’s, the Equality Ride uses principles of non-violence to confront military and religious colleges and universities with policies banning enrollment of LGBT students. The Equality Riders reflect on the lessons of history, which have shown past religion-based discrimination against women, people of color, and religious minorities to be an unacceptable abuse of the sanctity of religion. At each of the 19 schools on the 51-day bus tour, the young adult ambassadors of the Equality Ride bring this simple message to students, faculty and administrators: Learn from history; end religion-based discrimination.