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Go West Young Man

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On March 1, 56 activists for gay rights will gather in Minneapolis and board two buses, one destined for the East Coast and the other for the West. In the bus traveling toward the Pacific will be Delfin Bautista, a 25-year-old social worker born and raised in Miami .

Inspired by the Freedom Rides of the Civil Rights Movement, the Equality Riders (as Bautista and friends will be known) will spend two months confronting 17 historically hostile campuses that do not admit openly gay students, including Brigham Young University and University of Notre Dame. The plan is to offer seminars on topics such as transgender issues and progressive theology (a religious counter to the homosexuality-is-sin school of thought) as well as organize rallies for gay equality.

Bautista is a graduate of MAST Academy who went on to study social work at FIU and University of Pennsylvania. It was a Penn professor's complaint about his generation's apathy that inspired him to take on the mantle of political unrest. Although a number of riders were arrested on last year's Equality Ride, Bautista hopes that this year's will be peaceful. "Personally, if we're able to make a difference in the lives of one student or one professor I'll consider it a success," he says.

-- Emily Witt

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