The Equality Ride came to my school in March 2006. The Equality Ride is a group of lgbt and affirming people who drive across the country to non-affirming collegiate institutions in hopes of starting a conversation about discriminatory policies.
I remember praying for wisdom. That God would grant me the perfectly formulated words. That they would come to know the redeeming power of God’s plan for their lives. I remember going to training seminar after training seminar, meeting as a Resident Assistant to formulate plans-of-action, helping the residents on my hall to formulate plans-of-action. Going to on-campus panels and chapels about homosexuality.
I remember the Equality Riders asking us to take communion with them and when it came time to partake of the body, an Administrator standing next to me quietly slipped the bread in her pocket so she wouldn’t be seen sharing the sacrament with these most unholy and unwelcome persons.
I did the same thing.
Because I was afraid to participate. Because I imagined the bread to be an admission of guilt. Because my fears about who I actually was were raw from all the exposure and I wanted the campus to stop talking about homosexuality so that I could recover and reassure myself that I was not one of them.
Ironically, that week was also the first time that I ever told anyone I might be gay. I had been holding it in and it was starting to feel explosive. With every conversation, I could feel it pushing against the walls of my stomach, making my heart beat too fast. I thought if I didn’t tell someone I might accidentally stand up and scream it out in a crowded room. So I told a person who was (and still is) a trusted friend.
And then we didn’t speak of it again until almost six years later.
At the time, Equality Ride scared the shit out of me for many reasons. But now I am incredibly grateful they came. What happened before and during their time on our small Christian campus was a catalyst in my life that moved me forward- even though it took many years.
A friend of mine recently mentioned a particular experience of Equality Ride’s time on our campus in his blog. A couple of community members not affiliated with our school, spray painted their bus in the middle of the night with the phrase “FAGS-MOBILE.”
When I heard that a group of student leaders from our school were going to clean the bus I remember knowing that I had to help. I didn’t really know why then, but I just really wanted to be a part of it. The stuff they gave us to clean off the bus was strong-smelling and after scrubbing for only a few minutes, we were able to get the markings off of the plastic surface. A local TV crew filmed us and at the end of it, I embraced members of the Equality Ride.
The implications of that ten minute period were huge for me- helping to move me towards an acceptance of the lgbt community and eventually of myself. It took a lot of time and a lot of work, but I am thankful for a little seed planted over 7 years ago that struggled through some pretty impossible conditions to take root and grow.
And for the piece of bread that I removed from my pocket when I was alone in my dorm room, eating it with a silent prayer.
“And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19