Back in 2011, Alan Bounville walked 6,000 miles to raise awareness for gender identity and sexual orientation equality. But what happened early on in his walk, at a small grocery store in a rural town, is what led him to one of his most memorable experiences.
Alan recalls how it began:
It was actually the customer who asked first. … As I’m pulling up to the register, he’s like, “‘Full Equality Now’? What’s that mean?”
I said, “I’m walking for gender identity and gender expression and sexual orientation equality.”
One of them said, “Well, you came to the right place.”
The customer was referring to Joey Harris, a young queer teen who had recently died by suicide after being bullied in school and in the community. Alan was told where the father works, and after they met, a special relationship began between Alan and Joey’s family, including a vigil at the teen’s grave:
Right towards the end of the vigil, after I said a few words, all of a sudden this flurry of fireworks goes off, and you just hear, “Boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-boom!” in the background. And we all just kind of looked at each other, and we were all kind of crying a little bit, and Joey’s mom Sabina says something like, “That couldn’t have been more perfect timing, because Fourth of July was Joey’s favorite holiday.”
Joey’s parents ended up giving Alan a necklace that belonged to Joey. After saying goodbye, Alan continued on his walk, set up his tent a few miles down the road, and reflected.
This is Alan’s true LGBTQ story:
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