Name: Kimmy Devries
Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI
When I was young, a very dear friend of mine came out to me. I knew that I still loved him, and that the only thing that had changed was that he was attracted to men instead of women. I was young but I knew that the world was not going to see him the same way I did. I knew I had to be a good friend to him and an ally to all gay people but I was unsure of what to do. For many years I continued to struggle to figure out the best ways for me to help. Then in 2007, the Equality Ride came to Calvin College, where I was a student. I could not sit by silently any longer, I had to act. I also learned that gay people were not the only ones discriminated against. I began to learn about people who are transgender, and found that they too wanted allies. I was inspired and encouraged by the Riders. I felt empowered to do something.
As the bus pulled away from Calvin I stood there with a handful of other students who also wanted to do more. We met and continued the conversation that had been started by the Equality Riders. This group of students, along with a few others, formed a GSA on our campus. This was the start of my education and journey in supporting all queer people. The 2007 riders changed my life and ever since I have been passionate about working for queer rights. I began dreaming of the day that I would be done with school so I could go on the Equality Ride. I worked everyday for justice while dreaming of going on the Ride. I hope that by going on this Ride I will be able to give students across the country a sense of empowerment, and give hope to religious LGBT students that they can reconcile their queer identities with their faiths. I also hope that the conversations that are started at these schools will continue after we leave, as they did at my school. Finally, I hope that some of the people I meet will find their new best friends, as I did mine.
The past Equality Rides have brought about great change already and I am so excited to be a part of this movement. I am reminded of what Nelson Mandela once said: "As we are liberated from our fear our presence automatically liberates others." I am so excited that I will be able to help liberate others from fear through this Equality Ride.
Kimmy has been sponsored a total amount of $.