by Angel Collie
Finally a day to actually sleep in! It was time to move on from the maze-like hotel in Tulsa and venture on to Oklahoma City– a stop I had been excited about for quite a while. We left around noon and arrived at our new hotel around 2:00. We were welcomed with the hotel billboard reading "Welcome Equality Riders."
Our hotel was the Habana Inn, a very interesting hotel to say the least. It was in the gay part of OKC and the hotel seemed quite gay itself. It housed three gay bars including Finishline (a country and western bar), The Copa (a dance club), and a restaurant called Gushers made famous by its karaoke night. Among all of that, it also included a pride shop where many of us re-upped on rainbow stickers and pride gear.
We didn’t have much time to spare that night because we had to get ready for our dinner and service at Church of the Open Arms. For the first time, the History of Violence team and the Bible team gave our presentations. It was positive and affirming to be able to present in front of a gay affirming audience.
The bible team went first and each of us got up and gave our stories. Jarrett spoke of how his grandfather had kicked him out when he came out in response to coming out to family. Next up was Kate who spoke of coming out to herself and the internal struggles she had been through. Oh No! It was my turn, so I spoke on coming out to the church and how I had been told I was making a mockery of the church by praying on the altar with my body piercings and homosexual colors. Jonathan spoke on coming out to his friends, most of whom already knew before he did. The last spot was saved for Kayla as she spoke on coming out to God. It really tied it all together for us and was a wonderful ending. Together we made up coming out to Self, Family, Friends, Church, and God. It is through our stories that people are moved and I believe it showed that night.
Next up was the History of Violence. I must say it is a quite tear-jerking presentation. It is a timeline of events in history when the bible has been used to promote hate and violence. It began with the Crusades, the Inquisitions, and quickly moved on to modern day. For example, in America, the Bible has been used to justify slavery and racism. It has also been used as a tool to suppress women, taking away their voice in the church and in the world.
Now, as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender people, we are the "other" in the church. We are in the same position that African Americans and women have been in the past, and we must continue to fight for our rights just as they did. The team also took time to give examples, photos, bios, and even letters from our GLBT brothers and sisters whose lives had been taken away too soon. They showed murder and suicide resulting from hate and fear that comes from taking a few Bible verses out of context and turning it into a weapon.
To conclude, Pam shared a very personal story about the effects of hate and homophobia. She told how she had just moved to Hawaii and was attacked because she looked like a dyke and refused to lie about who she was. I was brought to tears along with many others in the room. The pictures are horrific and it blows my mind to believe people, especially the church, can sit back and continue to teach a theology that lets this violence happen to God’s rainbow children. Once that ended, we headed back to the hotel for a little rest and relaxation. There was a drag show at the Copa that night, so a few of the riders enjoyed a little late night entertainment before heading to bed. To the surprise of many, it was snowing out. Over an inch was predicted. It was beautiful waking up to a snow covered ground as we prepared to head to Oklahoma Baptist University.