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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 4, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 22
Activist's 6,000-mile walk to end discrimination begins in Seattle
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Activist's 6,000-mile walk to end discrimination begins in Seattle

by Nick Ardizzone - SGN Staff Writer

On May 31, Alan Bounville began his 6,000-mile journey to Washington, D.C. After a brief candlelight sendoff in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood, Bounville set out for the nation's capital - on foot.

Bounville stopped by the SGN offices on his way out of town to share the beliefs he hopes to spread across the nation during his journey.

'I want to inspire an open conversation about full civil rights,' Bounville said. During his walk, he will be focusing on raising the issue of LGBTQ equality and tackling society's fear of those who don't fit neatly into the male/female gender binary. 'We need a dream. That builds energy in a movement.'

Bounville hopes to bring attention to gender inequality by taking the issue out of insular Pride parades and bringing it into the streets. 'In an insulated environment, we're not tapping into the populace. & Walk down the street with a rainbow flag and talk about your issues. We're out, but we need to be out more. We talk about Pride parades and marches & but the media gets to manipulate that by just showing a guy in a thong or a drag queen,' he said.

'Which is great,' he laughed, 'but the point is the media gets to portray it however they like.'

'We all have equal power to create our own action,' he said. 'We don't need to wait for other people to tell us what to do.'

Bounville encourages people to visit the website Connecting Rainbows (connectingrainbows.ning.com) to join the fight for full civil rights for LGBTQ people in America. His walk is detailed at his website, Into the Light (www.intothelightwalk.com).

'A person's gender identity and gender expression should be decided not predetermined by expectations, but by each of us as individuals,' Bounville writes on his website. 'Until that is the accepted norm, we will continue to live in an imbalanced world where people who are transgender are beaten, murdered and refused jobs, where women are paid less than men for the same amount of work, where men aggress against each other, where Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and all people are judged not on the quality of who they are as people, but on how 'masculine' or 'feminine' they are perceived to be - and that's just the beginning.'

The Into the Light walk will coordinate with people and organizations along the route to hold numerous candlelight vigils at sites where people have been murdered or have taken their own lives due to gender discrimination.

During his walk - which Bounville speculates will last from 9-18 months - he will offer free workshops on gender expression/identity, social movement, and civil disobedience. 'It is vital that people have the proper tools to recognize injustice and create their own actions that demand the changes they seek,' said Bounville.

As his proposed route will take him deep into the South, SGN asked if Bounville is prepared for any possible confrontations he will face.

'Obviously, yeah,' he said. 'You're walking across the country with a rainbow banner. But people have done [walks like] this before, for many different reasons, and been just fine. However&.'

He paused. 'Well, people are mostly good,' he said with a confident smile.

Ten percent of donations to Bounville's walk will go to the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (www.transgenderlegal.org), an organization that shares the goal of ending gender discrimination. Tax-deductible donations can be made on the Into the Light website.

'It's gonna take a long time,' Bounville said, 'but I'll keep putting one foot in front of the other.'

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