Press Release

Press Release - Unicycling and Equal Rights

Articles by
Lars Clausen
PO Box 74
Chelan, WA 98816

Book Announcement:  53 Words

Equal Rights advocacy by unicycle?  Straight ally Lars Clausen's 1,000 mile tour searched for everyday life in Gay America.  Discover Clausen's passion for the power of stories to change our world in his new book; Straight Into Gay America: My Unicycle Journey for Equal Rights.  Foreword by Jody Huckaby, Executive Director of PFLAG.

More about Lars Clausen and his Straight Into Gay America Journey can be found at Interested readers can sign up to receive Clausen's entire book for free, delivered by email, one page per day.

Press Release: 618 Words
Vulnerable Unicyclist Comes Out for LGBT Equal Rights:

"If your goal is equal rights, why do you tour by unicycle?"  When people hear I've unicycled 1,000 miles for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) equal rights, they wonder why?
While great exercise (eat everything you want while riding) and adventure (I love to travel) play a part, the core reason for my Straight Into Gay America tour is vulnerability, or openness.  My vulnerability at the edge of the road somehow encourages people to respond with hospitality and kindness.  Most people are curious when they see me. Some offer a place to stay overnight, or a cold can of soda for my ride.
Unicycles don't allow for fast escapes.  My ten mile-per-hour pace means I see details of the land as I pedal through. I meet the people along my route. I depend on convenience stores and restaurants for food and air-conditioned space to cool my body on hot summer days.  People give directions and tell me safest roads to travel. Unlike a car where I can roll up windows, turn on the cruise control, and isolate myself from my environment, on a unicycle there's nowhere to hide.
Our individualistic culture of the United States often judges vulnerability as weakness.  I have learned to value vulnerability. It leads me to connections with others. 
Independence and self-sufficiency are oft-preached virtues, but isolation is the result.  Isolation makes us aspire to live in gated communities and exclusive neighborhoods.  I remember my surprise in rural Virginia when I asked a convenience store attendant her thoughts about gay rights. Assuming she'd frown and call it a sin, she answered instead, "They need some rights."  It turns out she was one of just four non-lesbian women on her local softball team.  The vulnerability of my trip helped me to discover LGBT people and allies in surprising places.
 One of my interviews during the tour was with Mark Shields, director of the Human Rights Campaign's National Coming Out Project.  "If everyone came out," he told me, "we'd quickly achieve equal rights."
 I'm thankful I feel safe enough to unicycle our roads and ask people's thoughts on gay rights. Sadly, many LGBT people don't know this safety for their own lives.  For some, telling parents has led to abandonment.  For others, coming out has meant the loss of jobs, or losing positions as pastors in their churches.  For these people, vulnerability often means danger instead of connection.
 I subtitled my book, "My Unicycle Journey for Equal Rights."  One part of equal rights is the legal struggle for just laws.  More importantly, real equal rights will be present when we all feel safe to be vulnerable in our culture. Equal rights will be present when the distinctions between us and them break down, and when we live in inclusive neighborhoods instead of exclusive enclaves. 
When we celebrate the honesty of our journeys and the gift of coming out to share our true selves, then we'll have equal rights.  I saw glimmers of this world while I unicycled Straight Into Gay America, of the barriers between us and them breaking down. Taking the risk of vulnerability returned so much hospitality and kindness to me. 
My friend Keith Cash has also crossed the United States by unicycle. He wishes everyone could experience the kindness that accompanies touring by unicycle.  Vulnerability works on a unicycle.  I want the time to come when vulnerability works for all of us as humans, when we can open up enough to honor the experiences of one another.  I want the time to come when our society honors the experience of LGBT as much as anyone else.  I want the time to arrive when LGBT people feel as much kindness as unicyclists do.

More about Lars Clausen and his Straight Into Gay America Journey can be found at Interested readers can sign up to receive Clausen's entire book for free, delivered by email, one page per day.