“Maybe you just needed a little dick”, said a catholic mother to her youngest child, a lesbian, after it had been revealed this particular 16 year old had been raped for the second time. As a youth worker in the LGBTQ community, I have had to bear witness to many awful and disgusting forms of abuse from parents that kick their kids out on the streets, medical organizations that refuse to treat transgender clients, educators that call their students faggots, dykes and worse…What is hard for many people to hear when I retell these stories of abuse, is that often the abusers acting in these situations are doing so out of love- often in the name of God. I heard a poet ask once, what the world would look like with more love. Well, this is what the world looks like when faith and love are used as weapons.

From government sanctioned discrimination to the internalized force that drives many in our community to drugs and alcohol, it has become my belief that the number one way to create a society that is safe for all folks regardless of their sexuality/gender identity is to address religious based oppression. We cannot sit idly by and avoid the religious debate. We must welcome it. Face it head on. We must create a worldwide dialogue in which we reach beyond people’s intellectual selves and touch them where their morality and compassion lies. For many, this is the function of their faith.

The organization I work for, Soulforce (www.soulforce.org), is a national agency that targets religious-based oppression impacting LGBTQ people. Every 2 years or so, we organize a two- month bus ride around the country for folks 18-30. On this social justice excursion we stop at various religious universities and organizations that have anti-LGBTQ policies. From there, we
hold dialogues, trainings and information sessions with members of those organizations and surrounding community members on creating safer and more affirming spaces. This being our biggest program, the Equality Ride was started in 2006 and has helped to change policies and anti-LGBTQ practices at institutions all over the country.

Currently, we have an open application process for the 2012 ride that closes the 1st week of August. I would like to challenge each and every one of you that seeks to create lasting tangible change for LGBTQ people to consider getting on that bus. As a Black/Trans activist and educator, I know the impact I have seen in my community when we are able to walk people through these very important discussions. Whether you claim Christian like my mother, Muslim as my father, Atheist as my sister or simply aren’t sure where you fall on the spectrum yet- you are welcomed here. We want folks of all kinds, colors, ablenesses and backgrounds. This is
where change happens. Do you have what it takes to get on the bus?

Highest Regards,


J. Mason
Program Coordinator
Soulforce Inc.