Six graduate students from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts will cross the country on foot to bring attention to same-sex marriage and gay rights beginning Feb. 1, according to the University’s newspaper, the Daily Trojan.

The group’s goal is to engage in open dialogue about gay marriage and gay civil rights with people along the route as they film their entire journey.

“Probably a lot of people who are out there in the [United States] in rural communities, for example, haven’t met a lot of gay people. Just coming face to face I think would give them an opportunity to level with someone on a human, basic level,” said A.J. Goodrich, the third-year graduate student who developed the idea for the march and will direct the film.  

Goodrich’s faculty supervisor, Jed Dannenbaum, applauds the students decision to walk, remarking on the historic significance of marching for a cause. “It’s an interesting, compelling combination of personal journey and exploration of America and at the same time reminiscent of the great civil rights marches of the past,” Dannenbaum said.

Goodrich has said that the group intends to highlight gay marriage as one of the talking points along their route, but, in the interest of gaining equal civil rights for gays and lesbians, they will address other issues that plague homosexuals.

“The greater acceptance and more awareness we have of the real damaging effects that [things like] bullying can have, or not having equal rights can have—if people were aware of that, I think we could make strides towards achieving equality,” Goodrich said.

The students will begin their seven-month, 4,000 mile journey in San Francisco on Feb. 1 and finish in Boston in early September.