March 22, 2012 | by Phil Reese
National news in brief: March 23
Soulforce, gay news, gay politics dc

SoulForce plans to hit new locations on this year’s fifth ‘Equality Ride.’

SoulForce embarks on fifth Equality Ride

PHILADELPHIA — The national LGBT non-violence advocacy group, SoulForce, is embarking on its fifth national bus tour since 2006, dubbed the “Equality Ride,” crossing the nation from Philadelphia to San Francisco.

The Equality Ride has, since its inception in 2006, visited college campuses known for anti-gay policies with the hopes of affecting change and empowering LGBT students on those campuses, sometimes leading to civil disobedience and arrests in the past. This year’s ride leaders say that the effort has evolved over the years.

“As more and more universities let us on campus, while civil disobedience isn’t necessarily off the table, [the need to do so] has definitely gone down,” 2012 Equality Ride co-organizer J. Mason told the Blade this week. “There are about seven schools that have shifted or done away with anti-gay policies [including Belmont in Nashville, Tenn.], and there are about 30 [gay-straight alliance organizations] and alumni organizations that have formed on campuses as a result of the work.”

Riders are spending more time at each campus this year to help LGBT students build coalitions of allies on campus.

“There are about 200 schools that have anti-LGBT policies, and so far we’ve visited about 70-plus,” Mason says, saying SoulForce hopes to eventually visit all 200. “Each region of the country that we’ve been in … has these discriminatory policies. No one region has a monopoly.”

Clementi family responds to Ravi verdict

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — After a jury found the late Tyler Clementi’s roommate Dharun Ravi guilty of bias and invasion of privacy, Clementi’s father Joe released a plea to the nation to prevent similar incidents.

“The trial was painful for us, as it would be for any parent who must sit and listen to people talk about bad and inappropriate things that were done to their child,” Clementi told reporters after the verdict, issuing a plea for civility for all. “When you see somebody doing something wrong, tell them, ‘That’s not right. Stop it.’”

Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi committed suicide in September 2010 by jumping off the George Washington Bridge after learning Ravi had spied on his encounter with another man.

George Michael to resume tour

LONDON — Pop star George Michael has made a swift recovery and will resume his concert tour after rescheduling canceled dates, following a bout with life-threatening pneumonia in November, according to the AP.

Michael was rushed to the hospital in critical condition over Thanksgiving weekend in Vienna, remaining hospitalized for several weeks.

A statement released by Michael’s publicist said the singer was “back in good health and fighting fit.”

Apes show evidence of fluid sexuality

WASHINGTON — While several species of apes continue to show evidence of fluid sexual orientation, no evidence exists that homosexual behavior is socially punished, according to Slate.

Rather than a trigger for punishment, gay sex is in some cases rewarded.

“Two female Japanese macaques might have playful sex with each other on Tuesday, then mate with males on Wednesday,” according to the Slate article, which summarizes findings from several studies on apes, elephants and other species. “For these and many other species, sexual preferences seem to be fluid rather than binary: Gay sex doesn’t make them gay, and straight sex doesn’t make them straight. In these cases, the concept of homophobia simply doesn’t apply.”

 

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