Activist Alan Bounville walks 6,000 miles for LGBT equality

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Alan Bounville walked through Chapel Hill Wednesday on his 6,000 mile trek across the country to protest gender discrimination.

Alan Bounville left Seattle, Wash., in February 2011 on a quest to achieve full equality for LGBT people.

And when Bounville arrives at his destination — the White House — on Feb. 23, he will have walked 6,000 miles and spoken with hundreds of people about his cause.

“Maybe they’ll walk away inspired, and that might awaken something in them,” he said.

Bounville, who carries nothing but a cart of his belongings and a sign that says “full equality now,” said the goal of his “Into the Light” walk is to humanize LGBT rights.

During his journey, Bounville has organized workshops, teach-ins and performances.

He also holds vigils to honor LGBT teens that have committed suicide or been killed.

“Their stories are everywhere,” he said. “This opened my eyes to how prevalent these events are.”

In 2011, 30 LGBT Americans were murdered due to anti-gay bias, more than any other year according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.

Once Bounville reaches Washington, D.C., he will hold a vigil and demonstration at the White House.

Bounville said he was surprised by people’s kindness, but has also faced discrimination and threats.

“I’ve been called ‘homo’ a couple of times. Someone threw a coat hanger at me,” he said.

“I realize what I’m walking for is not popular with half the population of America.”

Bounville said parts of the state are less friendly to the LGBT community than others.

“Back in May, when Amendment One passed, I was like, ‘Oh great, I have to walk through that state,’” he said.

Phillip Ramautar, co-president of UNC’s Sexuality and Gender Alliance, said he was inspired by Bounville.

“It makes me feel good that there are still people working to spread awareness about LGBT issues,” he said.

Ramautar said there are still issues at UNC, such as implementing gender-neutral housing on campus.

In addition, Ramautar said UNC’s student health care provider does not cover hormonal treatments for transgender students, which the alliance advocates for.

Ramautar said marriage equality and partner benefits are also issues in N.C.

But he said he’s noticed progress on a national level, such as President Obama reaffirming his commitment to LGBT rights in his inauguration speech.

Bounville urged proponents of LGBT causes to get involved in order to bring about full equality.

“People need to agitate — sit in, get arrested, go to jail,” he said.

“Everyone has tremendous power. We all have a super power: it’s our voice.”

Contact the desk editor at state@dailytarheel.com.

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