Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sunil Pant of Blue Diamond Society reports, "Your [Other Sheep] visit [to Nepal] got things going"

The Other Sheep Pastors' Seminar of 2009 in Nepal opens doors of opportunity for Sunil Pant to obtain four speaking opportunities within Christian circles in Nepal over the past 12 months
by Jose Ortiz, writing July 4, 2010, in Acapulco, Mexico, Fiesta Inn

A small window of opportunity to visit with Sunil Pant in New York City
Last week on Gay Pride Sunday, June 27, 2010, I was home and Steve was flying to Mexico to attend the MCC General Conference. I would join him there on Tuesday. It was around 3:30 PM and I was watching the World Cup game of Mexico vs. Argentina. I was rooting for Mexico and, unfortunately, Argentina was ahead by 3 goals. Suddenly, the phone rang and on the other end of the line I heard a familiar voice saying, "Guess who this is?" I immediately recognized the voice of Nraj, a dear gay friend from India who lives in New York City. He was calling to invite Steve and me to grab a bite to eat with him and none other than Sunil Pant, first openly gay member of the parliament of Nepal and founder of Blue Diamond Society (the LGBT activist group in that country).

Sunil Pant and SALGA (the South Asian Lesbian and Gay Association) in the NYC Gay Pride Parade
Sunil had just finished marching with Nraj and other members of SALGA (the South Asian Lesbian and Gay Association) in the New York City gay pride parade. For a second I was torn between rooting for Mexico and meeting with my South Asian friends --- it was just a second's hesitation. Mexico was losing miserably and it was close to the end of the first half of the game.

Remembering our visit to Nepal in the summer of 2009 – and the Pastors' Seminar
When Nraj told me where they were in Manhattan and that Sunil had to leave at 5PM for another engagement, I thought I wouldn't make it from the Bronx in time to have any quality time with Sunil so I sadly declined. I continued to watch the game and could find no peace. My team was losing AND I had lost the opportunity to meet up again with Sunil whom I had last seen in July of last year when Steve and I visited his country, met him for dinner to learn more about his organization and discuss our collaboration. It would have been great to have seen him once again and see how things had progressed in Nepal since that summer where Other Sheep hosted 25 Christian pastors at a seminar we gave on the Bible and homosexuality. Some members of Blue Diamond Society had participated by telling their stories to the pastors of how they experienced being gay and attending some of the churches these pastors represented.

Making a run for it – to visit Sunil Pant in Manhattan
After a few more minutes of watching my team flounder, I said to myself, "Well, better a few minutes with Sunil than to watch my team get thrashed. So, I called Nraj back telling him to stay put at the restaurant and that I would reach them by a quarter to 5PM. I took off like a rocket to my local subway station.

Learning that the Other Sheep Pastors' Seminar had opened doors of opportunity for Sunil Pant to subsequently speak in four churches in Nepal
I am so glad I decided to take the few minutes with Sunil because, during our visit, Sunil discovered that the engagement he was heading to next was an hour later than they had thought. We were able to visit for over an hour. In our conversation I was to discover that Other Sheep's visit to Nepal had aroused a real interest on the part of many pastors and Sunil and his society had been invited to give seminars on topics relating to homosexuality. Sunil reported that he had four speaking opportunities within Christian circles in Nepal thanks to Other Sheep's visit to his country last year.

What a great Gay Pride Sunday for Other Sheep, Blue Diamond Society and Nepal
So the day was not a complete loss. Although "my team" Mexico had lost, the team that I play for every day had scored a decisive goal. The presence of those pastors last year at the Other Sheep seminar in Nepal and subsequent seminars they asked for are an indication that there are possibilities for some churches to not only open their doors of welcome to gays but also the doors of full and active membership to our Nepali sisters and brothers. All the more reason for us to translate the book "The Children are Free" into Nepali.

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