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Crosscountry hiker promotes gay rights amendments

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From page A1 | April 14, 2011 | 34 Comments

RICHARD NOBLE enters City Hall to ask the city of Placerville to sign a proclamation. He is walking across America to raise awareness for civil rights for gays and lesbians. Democrat photo by Shelly Thorene

Richard Noble enters City Hall with the intention of asking the city of Placerville to sign a proclamation. He is walking across America to raise awareness for civil rights with an emphasis on gay and lesbian rights. Democrat photo by Shelly Thorene

Richard Noble was bullied as a kid in Danville. “Kids in school spit on me, pushed me, called me names, kicked my books.”

Thirty years ago being gay meant harassment in high school, risking the disapproval of family and being cautious about who to trust. Things have changed, but maybe not enough. After the suicides of seven students in a year, Noble, 45, reached what he called his Cairo boiling point.

“With all the famine, pollution, economic challenges, earthquakes and other problems this planet is suffering, we are moving into a record number of species extinction. We have no time to tolerate discrimination of any kind because we can’t afford to lose anyone. We need every person who can contribute and work together as a human family to survive. Discrimination will be the end of us,” said Noble as he drank coffee in Centro prior to walking a copy of the American Equality Bill over to Placerville City Hall.

Noble is doing a lot of walking. Starting from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco on March 12, he’s walked through rain and fog, through Oakland and cities in the Bay Area, Fairfield, Vacaville, Dixon, Sacramento, Folsom, El Dorado Hills, Rescue and Placerville, on his way across America, carrying the Rainbow flag and an amendment to the American Civil Rights Act, the American Equality Bill.

The staff that bears the Rainbow flag, symbol of gay pride, and two eagle feathers that represent Two Spirits, a Native American reference to gays and lesbians, also carries the names of two boys, Sam Catron and Seth Walsh. At 13, Catron was disowned by his family when he told them he was gay. Walsh was bullied by his fellow middle school students, bullying that escalated when he came out as being gay. Both boys committed suicide.

“This solo walk is my act of defiance. I want to give young people the courage to stand up against bullies and family abuse; to let them know they are not alone and to show the ones in towns where there are no rainbow flags or gay newspapers where they can reach out and get support,” said Noble.

Another very important piece of his walk is to gain support from city councils, state legislators and Congress for an amendment to the Civil Rights Act to add sexual orientation and gender identity to gender, race, religion and ethnicity for non-discrimination and to make bullying a federal crime.

His route took him through Placerville on Wednesday on his way to the Walker Indian Reservation in Schurz, Nev., to pay tribute to Wovoka, the Ghost Dance prophet who is buried there.

“Harry Hay, who started the first gay activist society in 1950, the Mattachine Society, met Wovoka when Hay was a boy in 1927. Wovoka predicted that he would become a great friend of the People,” explained Noble. “Native Americans value the Two Spirits and their contributions and that’s what I’d like to see the history books show students in addition to the contributions of women and blacks that are being introduced.”

Activist and founder of Queer Nation Los Angeles, Noble, who has been featured in the Huffington Post and the Advocate, put his house in Palm Springs in storage for 18 months and started his journey armed with a 55-pound backpack, a tent and a staff with the Rainbow Flag. “It will be the first time the Rainbow Flag has been walked solo across America.”

Each day he dedicates his walk to a different person or organization who has touched his heart or furthered the cause in some way. Wednesday’s walk from Placerville to Pollock Pines was dedicated to the city of Placerville and its residents. Other walks have been dedicated to young people who have died, celebrities who have supported AIDS research and gay rights issues like Elton John, Elizabeth Taylor and Ellen Degeneres or to cities who have supported the anti-discrimination message.

He delivers a copy of the American Equality Bill to each city he walks through, asking for a city resolution in support. Sometimes he speaks at schools, letting students know about supportive resources like the Trevor Project, which provides 24-hour crisis support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth and the It Gets Better Project, a project to eliminate hate and discrimination. California state Sen. Mark Leno and Congresswoman Barbara Lee have issued statements of support as well as the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

Noble uses couchsurfers.com for friendly places to stay when he isn’t tenting out and stays in touch with supporters, friends, and family via Skype: richardnoble and Twitter: richardnoble. Supporters can check his blog at walk.usfreedomring.com or send a friend request on Facebook to Richard Noble to keep track of his daily progress. He welcomes friends to walk with him.

“It will take nearly a year of my life to complete this walk. I am walking especially for the youth. I am walking for those who feel they have no hope. I am walking to wake people up and do what is right. This coast-to-coast walk is a call to action against discrimination, bullies, and injustice.”

Find out more about the Trevor Project at thetrevorproject.org and the It Gets Better Project at itgetsbetter.org.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 34 comments

  • EDC1April 14, 2011 - 7:34 pm

    How about walking for something more pressing. Like hunger. Perhaps Richard could pick up some hotdogs at Weinershnitzel and feed the homeless in the Moutain Democrat parking lot.

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  • Paul SmithJanuary 17, 2012 - 9:32 am

    Why not just applaud his cause, which is important to many. About 10% of people are gay, and kids still get teased for it because their peers are ignorant. Besides, I wouldn't feed Der Weinerschnitzel to my dog. If you want to fight hunger, you need a much better plan.

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  • James E.January 17, 2012 - 9:35 am

    Hey, don't knock hot dogs (100% beef, of course). America's food.

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  • Kathleen NewellApril 14, 2011 - 8:30 pm

    Richard-- you are amazing! What a wonderful journey to embark on for the good of all. Best wishes to you and your cause : )

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  • CarolApril 14, 2011 - 8:47 pm

    Interesting.......I am amazed by your courage to brave the elements to share your cause! Young children should not have to resort to suicide based on their sexual orientation.......Thank you....keep up the great work and stay safe....All children should feel accepted. :)

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  • JanetApril 14, 2011 - 8:50 pm

    Shut up EDC1. Why don't You DO something, and walk for hunger.

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  • Robert ZippyApril 14, 2011 - 9:29 pm

    There is accepting and there is tolerating. If you find you are gay well fine. I never really took the time in HS to bully guys who were obviously gay. As well I found it idiotic and had stepped in when some did so . What I don't like however is being toldthat I have to accept being gay as normal. I also do not like my granchildren leaning that it's ok to be gay when they are in 4th grade. THe Gay/Lesbian Lobby is rahter large true. But many get tired of being told we have to accept something we do not agree with as 'normal' The Gay Pride Parade in SF and othe rcities is not normal. It seems to focus on a sexual theme. Is that all it's about??? I don;t care what you do in your bedroom. I don;t want to see it paraded though as 'Normal' Now, you may all go ahead and call me a gay basher or a homophobe which I expect you to do.

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  • Paul SmithJanuary 17, 2012 - 9:38 am

    Sorry, Robert, you have to accept people who prefer to love people of their own gender, because it is completely normal, and it's not just about sex. If you're that mattress guy, you probably even sell them mattresses.

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  • AndrewFebruary 14, 2014 - 5:03 pm

    I fully support this guy's cause. In the late 90's, I was heavily involved with my local high school's student body. I took on the role of Co-President and Founder of one of the nation's first Gay Straight Alliances. By doing this, I was able to draw the attention and hate/ire of most if not all of the school's bullies. This allowed for a lot of kids who were still "questioning" (perfectly acceptable term I'd say) or just exploring their sexuality to be protected by my high level of visibility. It wasn't easy, but most good things in life aren't. Now, nearly 16 years later, I'm so happy to have recently married the man of my dreams :) Keep fighting the good fight because evil can only exist when good people stand by and do nothing. Never give up. Never surrender. I'm also living proof that it *does* get better!

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  • Nicholas SchieslerApril 15, 2011 - 6:04 am

    Bravo Richard...I am so proud of you and what you are doing for our cause. You are a beacon of light to untold numbers of young and old alike who have suffered the scurge of descrimination. Keep up the good work and don't give up. This is a historic walk many of us intend to follow you on and I am very proud to call you a friend. Best Wishes.

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  • Jack MartinApril 15, 2011 - 7:31 am

    Ditto, Zippy. People in America may live as you want, but expect every decision to have good and bad consequences. You may decide to be a polygamist, you may decide to be celibate, you may decide to never attach yourself to one person and be a "serial" dater. Each decision has ramifications, and the more that decision takes you outside the "mainstream", the more negatives you are likely to face. In this particular case, only 4% of Americans self-report to be homosexual. Where I object to the decision made by homosexuals is that they expect, even demand, that I treat them as completely mainstream and are working in the schools and the state houses to actually promote the lifestyle. Personally, I find the lifestyle repugnant and disgusting (religion has nothing to do with it) and statistics from the CDC verify that it is physically destructive to the human body. So I choose not to endorse it. Period. I wish Noble well on his walk but just like I cannot convince everyone to ride a motorcycle, so too should he expect to meet indifference with many people about his message.

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  • cynthiaApril 15, 2011 - 6:10 pm

    wow, only 4% of Americans "self-report" to be homosexual? That's interesting. Maybe that number would be higher if we hadn't created such a screwed-up "mainstream".

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  • Robert ZippyApril 15, 2011 - 10:27 pm

    Screwed up Main Stream? Thats funny! Actually th eMainstream seems to be promoting the abnormal as normal Hey anything goes in a progressive state of mind right? Seriously, Ther ewill come a time when one will have to question what is an alternative lifestyle and what is normal. When that time comes and it is near then we know we have slipped into an abyss....Just ask Gladd or Nambla or check any Kensey report. In a society now that finds a sympton for every infliction. and subscribes a blame to it...anything is game. Sadly per chance homosexuality is but a slip of th egenese, but that does not mean I have to accept it as normal. I will tolerate an abnomalityu, I will respct a difficulty but don't ram it down my through or beat me with it and tell me it's mainstream I hav eseen a gay pride parade.. It' is a disrespect to those I know who are gay and wihs to lead a simple life. The bedroom is not in the living room

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  • WowApril 16, 2011 - 2:45 pm

    I agree with Mr. Zippy. I am a young adult with children in school. It is not okay to force opinions upon people and tell them what they must believe as right and wrong. That is a parents job to teach their children and an individuals right and freedom. All because someone has a different opinion doesn't mean that they are 'bashing' them or mean you are not open minded. Our country was founded on many ideas. Now we are forced to have a narrowed 'politically correct' opinion and we are not being allowed to have our own which says all Americans should think and act the same. What ever happened to culture? All because someone doesn't agree with your opinion doesn't mean they don't respect you or hate you. I'm tired of people telling me how I should feel, act, and raise my children.

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  • Paul SmithJanuary 17, 2012 - 10:14 am

    Culture has always included many talented gay people. Lots of 'em. Look it up.

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  • ARNOLD LANGEJanuary 17, 2012 - 1:33 pm

    WOW and mr zippy....how would you feel if everyday at school your kids were taunted and bullied, punched and kicked, because they are stupid or ugly? Would you at some point, realizing your kids are depressed, stressed, and receiving bad grades because every day at school is a traumatic event, get a bit angry and DEMAND something be done about it? Would you only get angry after your child takes his/her own life? Would you condone your own children taunting and bullying a schoolmate until that child's life is destroyed? Would that bring you satisfaction knowing your children's actions led to another child's death?

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  • Robert ZippyJanuary 17, 2012 - 4:18 pm

    Mr. Arnold, I have two sons the younger one is gay. The older one is not. It was obvious to me when he was about 11 years old.( I was aware of this earlier but was in denial...) It was a very difficult thing for me to deal with. I love him no less than my older son. Yes he has endured some bullying He also fought back. I have raised my boys to stand up for themselves. Jack perhaps kept his sexuality more to himself than others. He is not flambouyent and has no desire to be. His partner not so much but a good kid nonetheless.Funny too.(That was his defense, his humor) Both of them met in the Army. Where belive it or not there is a good deal of tolerance. Jack had some rough times in his youth on his 12th birthday he 'came out' to his mother and I. His mother knew for sometime of course.. He has also talked other kids out of suicide by working with groups SO yes I have had him come home with bruises or had calls form parents and school teachers. He's not a big kid, but he stood up for himself. and I have stood up for him as well. There are parents who are ignorant, who teach ignorance to their kids. There are parents who are in denial fully. It's not an easy situation to deal with. But...there are elements of the gay rights movement that give it a bad name and my son and others will concur. The zealots are harmful to those who chose to live their life simply.

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  • Paul SmithJanuary 17, 2012 - 4:45 pm

    "Sadly per chance homosexuality is but a slip of the genes, but that does not mean I have to accept it as normal." Would th father of a gay son really write this? How sad for that kid.

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  • Ken SteersApril 16, 2011 - 6:11 pm

    Living in Californa might have desensitized my prospective but frankly I don't care. it's none of my business who, what or how many things someone falls In love with. What I would be concerned is when the government tells my church that they have to marry somebody, even though that religion doesn't want to. Probably worth fighting for. Also I consider myself to be hip and groovy. I just don't want to hike anywhere to get laid.

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  • Linton BrooksJanuary 17, 2012 - 11:09 am

    Ken- If a (heterosexual) Catholic couple demands to be married in a synagogue by a rabbi, does the law make him perform the ceremony? No. Just because you have a right to marry, this does not compel any specific clergy to perform the ceremony. By the same token, if gays are given the right to marry, your church will not have to perform the ceremony. Don't worry. There will be other open minded churches willing to do this. Or, they can just go downtown to city hall.

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  • Supersized Trans Equality? McDonald’s Hate Crime Underscores Importance of Public Accomodations; Madness: Right Wingers Are Serious About Trying to Undermine Child Labor Laws; New Black Panthers Issue Warning to Truth Wins Out Over Kimberly Daniels April 24, 2011 - 2:05 am

    [...] Crosscountry Hiker Promotes Gay Rights Amendments. Read more [...]

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  • Richard NobleJanuary 17, 2012 - 9:11 am

    You're kids are born gay. They can develope the character you help to mild. Denying or changing who they are is child abuse. Probably because you learned to tolerate the abuse yourself and bought into all the lies and from fear and intimidation started brelieving those lies as self protection. I suggest getting therapy.

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  • ARNOLD LANGEJanuary 17, 2012 - 1:17 pm

    C'mon Mr. Noble. you know as well as anybody that gays aren't born gay, they are recruited by other gays. Why just last year I was at the Rainbow Festival in Sacramento and there was a gay recruitment booth offering free toaster ovens and hats to anybody switching over.

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  • JoJanuary 17, 2012 - 7:04 pm

    I disagree. There is not a homosexual gene. I'm speaking from an educated perspective. It's interesting how you mention child abuse. I know many homosexuals. Everyone of them has come from an abusive background. Homosexuality seems to be a defense mechanism the mind develops that manifests as an attraction. We all choose our paths in life. All because a person may not agree with this, it doesn't mean you don't love and accept them.

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  • Paul SmithJanuary 17, 2012 - 7:39 pm

    "...a defense mechanism the mind develops that manifests as an attraction" What?? Many, many gay people come from loving homes. Your concept is demeaning. Richard Noble is walking to raise awareness. I didn't think that was so necessary until seeing the MD reader comments.

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  • ARNOLD LANGEJanuary 17, 2012 - 8:08 pm

    As an educated person, could you please provide the data that supports the assertion that "Homosexuality seems to be a defense mechanism the mind develops that manifests as an attraction." I never cared whether I had a gay/straight gene or not, doesn't really matter. For what it's worth, not one of my gay friends was abused as a child. They mostly come from what society has defined as, 'normal' all American families with two parents. If there was any child abuse, it came after the parents found out they had produced a gay child. That whole homosexuality is a choice arguement is jjust plain stupid. The News story was about Mr. Nobler treking across the country to raise awareness, There is much work to be done, obviously.

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  • Underserved TaxpayerJanuary 17, 2012 - 10:29 am

    I saw the "Old men for acceptance of being a Pedophile" just down the street by the Bell Tower. They were getting ready to march to Sacramento and demand acceptance of their sexual deviancy as well. If they did not get their way they said they would burn cars, damage peoples property and put their demands on the ballot. Soon the Polygamists, will be marching as well.

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  • Paul SmithJanuary 17, 2012 - 10:33 am

    You are ridiculous.

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  • Richard NobleJanuary 17, 2012 - 12:24 pm

    What a looser.

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  • ARNOLD LANGEJanuary 17, 2012 - 12:38 pm

    Underserved taxpayer: was that the same day the "Idiot's for Dumbing Down America" marched? I think I saw you leading that parade.

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  • CatherineJanuary 17, 2012 - 2:01 pm

    Why is it that the guys who most want to be perceived as macho are the biggest homophobes?

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  • Robert ZippyJanuary 17, 2012 - 5:06 pm

    . It was not a "lifestyle choice" like getting tattoos or piercings... That Kid knows he is always welcome in this house. regardless of what I think. Unless, Mr. Smith you have experienced the range of emotions I or my son have then how can you judge? I am not perfect and I won't make excuses for my opinions. Perhaps I had to much of a Catholic upringing for your liking?

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  • Paul SmithJanuary 17, 2012 - 5:23 pm

    It has nothing to do with preferences or perfection. If you have a son who is gay, That Kid needs your full acceptance. My heart goes out to him.

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  • SMMApril 21, 2012 - 5:19 am

    I may be delayed in seeing this newsreport, however, I am touched. Good Job! I grew up in Danville, as well. I graduated SRVHS in 1988. I remember well how those who were "different" in anyway, especially gay, were tortured. So proud of you stand and the effort you have taken. Continue your awesome journey to spread awareness.t

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