Friday, January 28, 2011

Photos of David Kato: In Loving Memory

Photos by Steve Parelli upon his Other Sheep visit to Uganda with Jose Ortiz, August 2007. 
See the Report on their 2007 visit by clicking here
To see the following photos on Steve Parelli's Facebook, click here.

David Kato at SMUG (Sexual Minorities Uganda). 
August 20, 2007. 
Photos taken by Steve.  Jose and Steve in Uganda, 2007

David Kato (with Steve Parelli) working on an editorial on
homosexuality and tolerance, August 19, 2007, Red Chili, Kampala, Uganda.
Click here to see the editorial.

David Kato at SMUG (Sexual Minorities Uganda). 
August 20, 2007. 
Photos taken by Steve.  Jose and Steve in Uganda, 2007

David Kato (with Steve Parelli) working on an editorial on
 homosexuality and tolerance, August 19, 2007,
Red Chili, Kampala, Uganda.
You can see the editorial by cicking here

David Kato at SMUG (Sexual Minorities Uganda). 
August 20, 2007. 
Photos taken by Steve.  Jose and Steve in Uganda, 2007. 
Jose Ortiz is standing far right.

David Kato (with Steve Parelli) working on an editorial on
homosexuality and tolerance, August 19, 2007,
Red Chili, Kampala, Uganda.
Click here to see the editorial.

David Kato (right) and Jose Ortiz (left) after coming
 from a meeting at SMUG (Sexual Minorities Uganda).
August 20, 2007.
Jose and David are eating chicken that we bought on the street.
Photos taken by Steve. Jose and Steve in Uganda, 2007

David Kato with Steve Parelli working on an editorial on
homosexuality and tolerance, August 19, 2007,
Red Chili, Kampala, Uganda.
Click here to see the editorial.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

On knowing David Kato as a human rights activist; On the editorial on homosexuality and intolerance that was never published

By Steve Parelli, Bronx, NY.  January 27, 2011.  All photos by Steve Parelli

David Kato, August 19, 2007,
on the Red Chili editorial
Today I learned the tragic news that David Kato, Ugandan activist for LGBT human rights, was brutally murdered in his home yesterday.  I had just finished reading Rev. Michael Kimindu's letter of condolence to SMUG (via email), when a friend from Uganda phoned to tell us the sad news.

It was David who had invited Other Sheep to come to Uganda while Jose and I were in Nairobi during the summer of 2007.  He had heard we were in Kenya and he wanted us to please come and meet Integrity in Uganda.   

It was through him that the book The Children Are Free was first introduced to Uganda.  Knowing of his interest that we should visit - and yet not knowing for sure if we would be able to make the trip, Jose and I sent 20 copies of The Children Are Free to David a couple weeks prior to our actual arrival in Uganda.  While we were in Uganda, and because of the anti-religious sentiment publicly happening just then, David invited us, on the spot, to give a crash course to the staff of SMUG on the Bible and homosexuality.  Which we did.  We never saw such eager learners!

David Kator discussing the wording and ideas of
the Red Chili editorial, August 19, 2007
 David asked me to write a news release in response to the Pentecostals who were making a public demonstration against SMUG and homosexuals.  I used a recent writing I had written while in Nairobi a couple weeks earlier and together David and I customized it as a possible news release from Integrity Uganda (it was never published).

What follows is an excerpt from the unpublished editorial by David Kato and me, written August 19, 2007, at the Red Chili Hideaway cottages, in Kampala, Uganda.

"It must be said again and again in any society where religious teachings on homosexuality dominate, that the view of the religious majority is not to be legislated onto the views and practices of the sexual minority. As long as a gay man or woman does not infringe upon the rights of other individuals, the homosexual (who is often Christian) has the same right as his heterosexual counterpart, to interpret the Bible according to his or her understanding and to answer only before God (and not to the government or to the church)."  

David Kato, left, with Steve Parelli, right, working
on the Red Chile editorial on homosexuality and
intolerance/tolerance, August 19, 2007.
There are two things I've never forgotten about David around this editorial which I had written in Nairobi and which we customized together in Kampala for Uganda -- (1) David was very good at making/using certain key phrases and words that articulated well the ideas of freedom and human rights for all people -- I was very impressed by this; and secondly (2) He was amazed at the idea of the separation of church and government and the idea of liberty of conscience (that no institution, secular or religious, had the right to dictate beliefs in matters pertaining to God and faith), and he asked me very directly and with a sense of urgency how he could learn more on this topic.

Today, Jose and I cried.  

We cannot imagine what David must have suffered.  We cannot imagine the hate that would shed blood.  We pray, and we believe, that David's death will not have been in vain.  He lived knowing he might die - so that others, some day, might live in freedom without the slightest fear of death or rejection because of their sexual orientation.

David Kato, working on the Red Chili
editorial, August 19, 2007.
There was Another who died that we might live.  David gave his life for us.  No greater love is there than this that a man should lay down his live for his friends.  David laid down his life for us all . . . his friends.

Thank you, God, thank you, Jesus, for the privilege of knowing David.

Brutal Murder of Gay Ugandan Human Rights Defender, David Kato

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, 26 January 2011
Press Release by Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG)

Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and the entire Ugandan Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex Community stands together to condemn the killing of David Kato and call for the Ugandan Government, Civil Society, and Local Communities to protect sexual minorities across Uganda.

David was brutally beaten to death in his home today, 26 January 2011, around 2pm. Across the entire country, straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex Ugandans mourn the loss of David, a dear friend, colleague, teacher, family member, and human rights defender.

David has been receiving death threats since his face was put on the front page of Rolling Stone Magazine, which called for his death and the death of all homosexuals. David's death comes directly after the Supreme Court of Uganda ruled that people must stop inciting violence against homosexuals and must respect the right to privacy and human dignity.

Sexual Minorities Uganda and the Ugandan Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex Community call on the Police and the Government of Uganda to seriously investigate the circumstances surrounding David's death. We also call on religious leaders, political leaders and media houses to stop demonizing sexual minorities in Uganda since doing so creates a climate of violence against gay persons. Val Kalende, the Chair of the Board at Freedom and Roam Uganda stated that "David's death is a result of the hatred planted in Uganda by U.S Evangelicals in 2009. The Ugandan Government and the so-called U.S Evangelicals must take responsibility for David's blood!"

As United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently declared, "I understand that sexual orientation and gender identity raise sensitive cultural issues. But cultural practices cannot justify any violation of human rights. . . . When our fellow humans are persecuted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, we must speak out. . . . States bear the primary responsibility to protect human rights advocates. I call on all States to ensure the freedom of expression and the freedom of assembly that make their work possible. When the lives of human rights advocates are endangered, we are all less secure. When the voices of human rights advocates are silenced, justice itself is drowned out."

David's life was cut short in a brutal manner. David will be deeply missed by his family and friends, his students, and Human Rights organizations throughout Uganda and around the world. Speaking about what the death of David means in the struggle for equality, Frank Mugisha, the Executive Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda said, "No form of intimidation will stop our cause. The death of David will only be honored when the struggle for justice and equality is won. David is gone and many of us will follow, but the struggle will be won. David wanted to see a Uganda where all people will be treated equally despite their sexual orientation."

Burial arrangements are underway for Friday 28, 2011 at 2PM at his ancestral home in Namataba, Mukono District.

Press contacts:
Frank Mugisha: +1 646 436 1858

Val Kalende: +1 857-247-1184

Pepe Julian: +256 772 370 674

Friday, January 21, 2011

In this film documentary: "Reverend Mark Miklos, who is one of the people who writes a letter to the editor decrying gay marriage, eventually accepts and embraces Joe Wilson"

Submitted by Rev. Steve Parelli, January 21, 2011.  Bronx, NY

A personal friend, who is currently making a documentary film on LGBT and religion in another region of the world, connected me just this week, by email, with Joe Wilson who heads up Out in the Silence, A Campaign for Justice & Equality. You may already know of him. If not, I’d like to introduce you to him here, and to his film Out in the Silence. His website is

The following is a review by Nicole Pasini, San Mateo County Library
When Joe Wilson decided to place an announcement of his wedding to his partner, Dean Hamer, in the newspaper of the small town in which he grew up (Oil City, Pennsylvania), he inadvertently set off a storm of angry letters to the editor. He also got a very different letter from Kathy Springer, the mother of an out gay teen. In response, Wilson decided to return to Oil City and make the documentary Out in the Silence, which, like Small Town Gay Bar, highlights a poignant picture of gay life in small town America.
Out in the Silence focuses on the struggles of a gay high school student who is living with homophobia and daily harassment, and a lesbian couple who are working to open a theater in Oil City, and facing resistance because of their relationship. However, what makes Out in the Silence most moving are the stories of heterosexuals who transform because of their relationships with GLBT people. Wilson chronicles the development of his friendship with Reverend Mark Miklos, who was one of the people who wrote a letter to the editor decrying gay marriage, and who eventually accepts and embraces Wilson.
Kathy Springer’s story is also powerful, as she is politicized by the treatment of her son and the lack of support from school administrators, and decides to take the issue to the school district and then to state representatives.
Out in the Silence is recommended for all viewers and deserves a place in all library collections, particularly those libraries serving small and rural communities.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Our "Mystical" Visit to Thailand this New Year's Day 2011

by Rev. Stephen Parelli, Bronx, NY.  January 6, 2011

Rev. Dr. Kenneth Dobson (right)
and spouse Pramote, Summer 2009
Jose and I visited Thailand in the summer of 2009.  We met many wonderful people in Chiang Mai, Mae Sot, and Bangkok.  In Chiang Mai we met Rev. Dr. Kenneth Dobson and his spouse Pramote (legally married in Iowa, USA, fall of 2009) and had the privilege of staying in their home and meeting many of the young LGBT people to whom they minister.  Since then, Ken has been a contributing writer to the Other Sheep website.

Where Jose and I were slept as
guests in the home of Ken
and Pramote, Summer 2009
On New Year's Day 2011, we received an interesting email from Ken.  He wrote:  "Thanks to a visit from [a Beijing contact you made this past summer], I feel mystically in touch with you two."  While in Beijing this past summer (2010), Jose and I met a gay Christian who was moving to Bangkok for work.  We told him we would put him in touch with Ken.  Ken was able to put our gay Christian  friend from Beijing in touch with a gay Thai Christian living in Bangkok.  Turns out the two young men have formed a meaningful friendship --- and for New Year's Day they made the trip to Chiang Mai to visit Ken and Pramote and celebrate New Year's Day with the LGBT Thais.  Hence, Ken was "feel[ing] mystically in touch" with Jose and me. 

Some of the LGBT Thais that Ken
and Pramote minister to, Summer 2009
While we were in Chiang Mai in 2009, one of the LGBT young people had invited us to come back for their annual New Year's LGBT celebration.  It sounded wonderful but it was a bit out of reach for us (to have to travel from New York City) and, to say the obvious, we didn't make it for New Year's Day 2010.

Steve (left) and Jose
at the Forbidden City,
Beijing, China, Summer 2010
However, this New Year's Day (2011) celebration was a bit different.  Even though we weren't there in person, the contact that we had made in Beijing this past summer was there in Ken's home along with his new Thai friend from Bangkok.  For Ken, in some kind of "mystical sense" Jose and I were there.  Ken said the Beijing friend and he swapped stories of how their meeting Other Sheep came about. 

For Jose and me -- well, we still haven't made it to the Chiang Mai LGBT's celebration of their New Year's Day, but this year we were there is some kind of special way!  What a thrill, what a blessing, networking on behalf of LGBT people worldwide.