Op-ed: Sleeping, Praying, and Walking Across America for Equality
I was approaching nine days without eating, sitting next to a candle and the photograph of a 13-year-old boy who had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, just weeks before. His name was Asher Brown. He was a victim of homophobia, and I knew the pain all too well. I was extremely angry and decided to fast. Then came Tyler Clementi, Seth Walsh, and too many others.
Finally, I went home and slept. I woke up, prayed, and ate for two months. I came upon the American Equality Bill, a proposed addendum to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I looked around to the pictures of holy people in my house. I meditated, prayed, volunteered, and kept receiving news about more LGBT youth suicides, murders of transgender women, and hate crimes against young gay men. I read emails about bills around the globe that would give LGBT people the death sentence, about our own federal representatives' misunderstanding of Christianity, and about people campaigning against us due to their own ignorance. The injuries visited upon us LGBT people, currently and historically, were overwhelming.
I simply asked God for help. At first I wasn't sure the answer was clear: "Walk the rainbow flag across America." When the answer wouldn't go away I found myself in a heap of conflict. How would I pay for it? Will people come with me? How will I do it? Where do I begin?
I was shushed and criticized by other activists when I announced my plan to walk across America with a rainbow flag. The lame-duck session in Congress had presented the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," and I watched in tears as the president signed it. I was so affected by it all that I felt as though I were experiencing "post-traumatic discrimination disorder." But every morning I woke up and sent emails trying to organize something, to no avail.