Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Biola Queer Underground shakes up Christian college

Source:  Zionica electrionic news service

On the same day President Obama became the first U.S. president to come out in support of same-sex marriage, a group of students announced the presence of the “Biola Queer Underground” at this small evangelical university, touching off a highly-charged debate about Christianity and homosexuality.

The group launched a website and posted flyers around the Biola University campus May 9 with the following message: “We want to bring to light the presence of the LGBTQ community at Biola. Despite what some may assume, there are Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender, and Queers at Biola. We are Biola’s students, alumni, employees, and fellow followers of Christ. We want to be treated with equality and respected as another facet of Biola’s diversity.”

The emergence of the group, whose members remain anonymous, has shaken this 104-year-old Christian college in Southern California. Like many schools rooted in evangelical Christianity, Biola has a code of standards that includes prohibitions on sex outside of marriage and same-sex relationships: Sex is “designed by God to be expressed solely within a marriage between a husband and wife,” according to Biola’s student handbook, which goes on to say that “sexual misconduct, depending on the facts and circumstances of each case will result in disciplinary action.”

With debate raging over the group and its aims, Biola President Barry Corey told students that the school has no intention of changing its policy to “fit increasingly accepted ethical or moral norms. In particular, we don’t need to modernize or bend our biblically based position on sexual ethics.”

Monday, May 28, 2012

Three Christian Funerals and Three Closeted Sons in Eight Months

by Rev. Stephen Parelli, written Monday, May 28, 2012, Bronx, NY

(The three characters depicted in this writing are real and their stories are true; names have been changed, places are left unidentified, and some descriptions have been altered.)

On a Wednesday morning while traveling out of the city, my husband and I received an unusual text from a gay friend: “My mother is dying right in front of my eyes.” Four hours later: “She’s gone.” It was sudden and totally unexpected. Burt is in his thirties. He has never come out to his parents or siblings, or virtually anyone . . . [For the full article, click here.]

Several months back, a second gay man we personally know lost his father. The son, Craig, in his forty’s, was living in one country in Asia with his lover of four years when it became known that his father was dying in another country in Asia, his parents’ mother-land. With his lover at his side, he went to be with his mother and his dying father, and for many days nursed his father until he died. He introduced his lover as a very close friend who was with him for support and comfort. On the day of the burial, as the guests and family left the site of the internment, the son and lover had to separate.  The family was to have a time of remembrance alone as a family. . .[For the full article, click here.]  

The same week that Burt’s mother died, a gay friend, Antonio, from Latin America, now living in the United States with his European lover of four years, visited in our home while his lover was away to Europe to bury his Christian father.

“I don’t have any friends,” he told us, which is not the Antonio we know. We met Antonio in South America, always at the center of any gathering. Antonio is somewhat quiet, but as a gay man he was open to the world and flowed with the party. But now, he was telling us, that here in America with a closeted professional as his partner, he was all alone. His partner comes out to no one. . . . [For the full article, click here.]

I’ve heard it said: It is better to be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not. Men who step out of the closet know this.

A gay man’s closet is his own closed casket – he is dead and no one sees him (his parents above all), and those who do see him, like Antonio, are dead with him in the closed casket.

And similarly, a mother’s open casket cannot love a closeted gay son – only in his mind. Whatever Burt told his mother as she lay in her casket (so that he could say, “OK, I’m ready now”) will not radically reduce his fear of rejection. Only a loving, understanding living mother gives ac
ceptance.  Why didn't he take the risk when she was alive, to say who he is. Isn't relationship worth the risk, even the risk of running up against the wrath of the church?  [For the full article, click here.]

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The NAACP returns to relevance with a vote on same-sex marriage

By , Published: May 21

With its support for gay marriage, the NAACP (The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) has done more than strike a blow for fairness and equality. The nation’s most venerable civil rights organization has made itself relevant again.

The NAACP’s 64-member board approved a resolution Saturday supporting “marriage equality” not as a matter of empathy or compassion but as a right guaranteed by the 14th Amendment. In citing this rationale, the 103-year-old organization founded by W.E.B. Du Bois firmly linked the campaign for gay rights to the epic African American struggle for freedom and justice.

Read more . . .

Below is the text of the resolution passed by the NAACP board of directors:
Released on May 19, 2012, by the NAACP

The NAACP Constitution affirmatively states our objective to ensure the “political, educational, social and economic equality” of all people. Therefore, the NAACP has opposed and will continue to oppose any national, state, local policy or legislative initiative that seeks to codify discrimination or hatred into the law or to remove the Constitutional rights of LGBT citizens. We support marriage equality consistent with equal protection under the law provided under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Further, we strongly affirm the religious freedoms of all people as protected by the First Amendment.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Introducing St.Paul’s Reconciliation and Equality Centre of Uganda

Posted by Rev. Steve Parelli, May 21, 2012

by The Rt. Rev. Dr. D. C. Senyonjo.
Executive Director /Founder and Head of Mission

Bishop Senyonjo, Uganda
On May 14th, 2001, after counseling couples and people with human sexuality concerns since 1998, I wrote a document entitled MINISRTY OF RECONCILIATION. My church to which I belong , the CHURCH OF UGANDA ,missed out on my call to the marginalized people: What was demanded of me was to condemn them , But I believed my call was to help the oppressed (LUKE;4:18) and to include and be hospitable to the Marginalized (GAL;3:28).
To this day as a bishop who was diocesan for 24 years (1974-1998), I believe that am called to bring Straight and GAY people together in alliance. What is needed , is to talk and understand each other in the spirit of compassion. Any draconian laws are destructive and against humanity itself, when they target to eliminate the marginalized people who would need protection by the law.
Therefore, St. Paul’s Reconciliation and Equality Centre is to foster programs and activities to alleviate the suffering women, the poor, and the marginalized and discriminated people in our country Uganda.

Malawi to overturn homosexual ban, Joyce Banda says

Posted by Rev. Steve Parelli, May 21, 2012

BBC NEWS Africa, 18 May 2012

President Joyce Banda has said she wants Malawi to overturn its ban on homosexual acts - the first African country to do so since 1994.

Two Malawian men were sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2010 after saying they were getting married.

Several Western leaders have recently said they would cut aid to countries which did not recognise gay rights.

Mrs Banda took power last month after her predecessor, Bingu wa Mutharika, died of a heart attack.

She has since reversed several of his policies, including devaluing the currency, in a bid to get donor funding restored.

Many donors cut aid under Mr Mutharika, accusing him of economic mismanagement and political repression.

In her first state of the nation address to parliament, Mrs Banda said: "Some laws which were duly passed by the august house... will be repealed as a matter of urgency... these include the provisions regarding indecent practices and unnatural acts."

Read the full article here . . .

"Therapies" to change sexual orientation lack medical justification and threaten health

Posted by Rev. Steve Parelli, May 21, 2012

Washington, D.C., 17 May 2012 (PAHO/WHO) -- Services that purport to "cure" people with non-heterosexual sexual orientation lack medical justification and represent a serious threat to the health and well-being of affected people, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said in a position statement launched on 17 May, the International Day against Homophobia. The statement calls on governments, academic institutions, professional associations and the media to expose these practices and to promote respect for diversity.

Twenty two years ago, on May 17, the World Health Assembly removed homosexuality from the list of mental disorders when it approved a new version of the World Health Organization's International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10)."Since homosexuality is not a disorder or a disease, it does not require a cure. There is no medical indication for changing sexual orientation," said PAHO Director Dr. Mirta Roses Periago. Practices known as "reparative therapy" or "conversion therapy" represent "a serious threat to the health and well-being -- even the lives -- of affected people."The PAHO statement notes that there is a professional consensus that homosexuality is a natural variation of human sexuality and cannot be regarded as a pathological condition. However, several United Nations bodies have confirmed the existence of "therapists" and "clinics" that promote treatment intended to change the sexual orientation of non-heterosexual people.The document notes that no rigorous scientific studies demonstrate any efficacy of efforts to change sexual orientation. However, there are many testimonies about the severe harm to mental and physical health that such "services" can cause. Repression of sexual orientation has been associated with feelings of guilt and shame, depression, anxiety, and even suicide.As an aggravating factor, there have been a growing number of reports about degrading treatments, and physical and sexual harassment under the guise of such "therapies," which are often provided illicitly. In some cases, adolescents have been subjected to such interventions involuntarily and even deprived of their liberty, sometimes kept in isolation for several months.

"These practices are unjustifiable and should be denounced and subject to sanctions and penalties under national legislation," said Dr. Roses. "These supposed conversion therapies constitute a violation of the ethical principles of health care and violate human rights that are protected by
international and regional agreements."To address the problem, PAHO makes a series of recommendations for governments, academic institutions, professional associations, the media,
and civil society, including:

* "Conversion" or "reparative" therapies and the clinics offering them should be denounced and subject to adequate sanctions.

* Public institutions responsible for training health professionals should include courses on human sexuality and sexual health in their curricula, with a focus on respect for diversity and the elimination of attitudes of pathologization, rejection, and hate toward non-heterosexual persons.

* Professional associations should disseminate documents and resolutions by national and international institutions and agencies that call for the de-psychopathologization of sexual diversity and the prevention of interventions aimed at changing sexual orientation.

* In the media, homophobia in any of its manifestations and expressed by any person should be exposed as a public health problem and a threat to human dignity and human rights.

* Civil society organizations can develop mechanisms of civil vigilance to detect violations of the human rights of non-heterosexual persons and report them to the relevant authorities. They can also help to identify and report people and institutions involved in the administration of
"reparative" or "conversion therapies."

PAHO, which celebrates its 110th anniversary this year, is the oldest public health organization in the world. It works with its member countries to improve the health and the quality of life of the people of the Americas. It also serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of WHO.

Media Contacts:
Leticia Linn, linnl@paho.org, Tel. + 202 974 3440, Mobile +1 202 701 4005,
Donna Eberwine-Villagran, eberwind@paho.org, Tel. +1 202 974 3122, Mobile +1 202 316 5469,
Sonia Mey-Schmidt, maysonia@paho.org, Tel. + 1 202 974 3036, Mobile +1 202 251 2646,
Knowledge Management and Communications,
PAHO/WHO www.paho.org Last Updated ( Friday, 18 May 2012 )

Hillary Clinton says some countries deny having gays at all, and 'If we did, we would want to get rid of them as quickly as possible.'

Clinton Gets Laughs Recounting 'Difficult' Talks on Human Rights
Updated: Monday, 23 Apr 2012, 7:51 PM EDT

... "I mean, the first response [I get on gay rights in some countries] is, 'We don't have any of those here,'" she said, to laughter. "Second response is, 'If we did, we would not want to have them and would want to get rid of them as quickly as possible. And it's your problem, United States of America, that you have so many of those people. So don't come here and tell us to protect the rights of people we don't have or that we don't want.'" ...



Thursday, May 17, 2012

International Day Against HOMOPHOBIA &TRANSPHOBIA

Dear Other Sheep Friend,

Today is International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia.

On May 15, Other Sheep publishd "the brutal murder of transgender Anil Sadanandan of Kerala." Anil had helped in the
preparations of the Other Sheep Kerala University students' presentation on July 18, 2011, pictured at right.

Anil is the second activist with whom we (Steve and Jose) have personally worked who has been murdered. In 2007, David Kato invited Other Sheep to come to Uganda from Kenya. We accepted his invitation and joined him in Uganda for a few days. David was murdered in January of 2011 (see Other Sheep web page “In Memory of David Kato").
It is unfathomable for us (Streve and Jose) to think that we have personally worked with two LGBT individuals who have been murdered. We have traveled only two months out of the year - July and August - since 2005. It is unthinkable that in a span of so few days of travel abroad we would meet two LGBT individuals who would be murdered.

Certainly, the world's level of consciousness about hate-crimes needs to be raised, and where there is already awareness, to be maintained.

This forward to the IDAHO article below serves to remind us all that real LGBT people, with real caring/productive lives, are violently abused and at times even the unthinkable happens – their life is taken from them. 
In loving memory of Anil and David,

Steve and Jose
Other Sheep
Bronx, NY

Friday, May 11, 2012

The brutal murder of transgender Anil Sadanandan of Kerala, India

by Rev. Steve Parelli, Bronx, NY, May 11, 2012

Yesterday afternoon (on May 10, 2012) I received the following disturbing email: 

Anil Sadanandan, transgender
of Kerala, India, recently
I am very upset, sad and shocked…. about the brutal murder of Sweet Maria / Anil Sadanandan (Facebook profile) my friend and queer activist, at his quarters, Kollam. He/She was a vibrant, pleasant, very active and visible person, spreading a lot of positive energy around, approachable to community members of all strata. He was courage enough to express and establish his/her marginalized and stigmatized identity in every walk of life and in every space he traversed. He dared to face the challenges posed by the intolerant society which normally pushes gays, lesbians or any body, who even slightly differs from the main stream, to the limit of committing suicide. He faced such a society holding his head high, living his life fully standing out for the rights of the fellow queer. And he fell victim to that….very shocking. We will miss you dear in all our future fights……

          CHILLA, House No.16/238, Mundakkal,                                           
                Web: www.anannia.org
                Blog: www.chillaindia.weebly.com
                Email: chillaindia@yahoo.com

Anil Sadanandan, transgender,
looking at Jose Ortiz (on
My husband Jose Ortiz and I (Rev. Steve Parelli) met Anil Sadanandan last summer in Trivundrum, Kerala, India, briefly at a seminar we conducted for Kerala University students.  Anil was at the hall early, before the event. He was smiling, up-beat and talkative.  He offered me his help in organizing the handouts on a table and then  placing them on the the individual chairs in the room.  He talked about himself and the activism in which he was involved.  He was very friendly and easily likable.  The pictures that follow clearly express how winsome he was. 

The individual above (Chilla), who emailed us this sad news, worked with Trivantrum Theological Forum in the translation of the book The Children Are Free.  We met him in 2010 upon our first trip to Kerala.  We sympathize with him upon the loss of his dear transgender friend.   We grieve that there are those in this world who out of whatever fear, misunderstanding, and hate would take the life of an LGBT person.

The three pictures that follow (as well as the above two pictures) - all of Anil Sadanandan, were taken by Steve Parelli on July 18, 2011, Kerala, India:

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The demise of the "ex-gay" movement --

and, That Calvary Baptist Church of Manhattan totally misrepresented "success" within their "ex-gay" support group

by Rev. Steve Parelli, Bronx, NY.  May 5, 2012

I just read a blog (from On Being Jewish, Christian and Gay) in which it was reported:  "Exodus Cancels Next ‘Love Won Out’ Conference Due to Lack of Interest."

Exodus is an international organization that sponsors support groups to help gay Christians become, in some sense of the word, straight.

I linked the blog to my Facebook and wrote the following commentary:

It is my experience, personally, that Hope, the Exodus group I attended in 1997 at Calvary Baptist Church in Manhattan (a church-sponsored and church-led the group), did not do anything for any of the members that attended while I was there.  In fact, Hope could not point to one person in its history preceding my attending who was a "success" in any sense of the word.  Irresponsibly, the Hope website made claims of "miracles" happening within their very own ex-gay support group.  This, of course, was a total misrepresentation.  

Calvary Baptist Church, NYC,
where I met my husband in 1997
while attending Hope, the
church's "ex-gay" ministry
The "ex-gay" movement, now that it is more and more in the public eye, can not hide anymore among its own unknowing, unaware, captive hurting Christian gays who have sought out the help of Exodus, coming from within the confines of an evangelical, Bible-only mindset.  These gays were already in jeopardy, living within the confines of an evangelical-church-family setting.

I survived the "ex-gay" movement (as did Jose who is now my legal husband).  You can read about my story with Hope here (it is where I met my husband); and you can read my evaluation of the "ex-gay" movement here.  This paper (Is There Really Such a Thing as "Ex-gay"?) has been translated into Spanish, Chinese, and Nepali, and is presently being translated into French.  The paper was published by Gay and Lesbian Review.  In addition, you can read what "ex-gay" proponents say in their own words -- while on this web page, check out the left column for addition related links.

From my personal observations, and from my reading of "ex-gay" material, I have concluded that:  For the ex-gay movement, "change," "healing," "coming out of homosexuality," and being "ex-gay"  is about behavior modification. There is no change in sexual orientation, only lifestyle.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Dr. Robert Spitzer Apologizes to Gay Community for Infamous 'Ex-Gay' Study

Posted April 25th, 2012 by John M. Becker on Truth Wins Out blog titled:  EXCLUSIVE: Dr. Robert Spitzer Apologizes to Gay Community for Infamous ‘Ex-Gay’ Study

Today, in a letter to Dr. Ken Zucker obtained exclusively by Truth Wins Out, Dr. Robert Spitzer made an unprecedented apology to the gay community — and victims of reparative therapy in particular — for his infamous, now-repudiated 2001 study that claimed some “highly motivated” homosexuals could go from gay to straight:
Several months ago I told you that because of my revised view of my 2001 study of reparative therapy changing sexual orientation, I was considering writing something that would acknowledge that I now judged the major critiques of the study as largely correct. After discussing my revised view of the study with Gabriel Arana, a reporter for American Prospect, and with Malcolm Ritter, an Associated Press science writer, I decided that I had to make public my current thinking about the study. Here it is.
Basic Research Question. From the beginning it was: “can some version of reparative therapy enable individuals to change their sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual?” Realizing that the study design made it impossible to answer this question, I suggested that the study could be viewed as answering the question, “how do individuals undergoing reparative therapy describe changes in sexual orientation?” – a not very interesting question.

The Fatal Flaw in the Study – There was no way to judge the credibility of subject reports of change in sexual orientation. I offered several (unconvincing) reasons why it was reasonable to assume that the subject’s reports of change were credible and not self-deception or outright lying. But the simple fact is that there was no way to determine if the subject’s accounts of change were valid.

I believe I owe the gay community an apology for my study making unproven claims of the efficacy of reparative therapy. I also apologize to any gay person who wasted time and energy undergoing some form of reparative therapy because they believed that I had proven that reparative therapy works with some “highly motivated” individuals.

Robert Spitzer. M.D.
Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry,
Columbia University

Zucker, to whom Spitzer’s letter is addressed, is the editor of the Archives of Sexual Behavior, the journal in which Spitzer’s study was originally published in 2001. At that time, the study was a surprise that created a media firestorm which captured the nation’s attention. Dr. Spitzer was the last person in America one would have expected to produce a study bolstering the claims of ‘ex-gay’ activists — after all, he had previously led the charge in 1972-73 to remove homosexuality from the list of mental disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association. Earlier this month, Dr. Spitzer dealt “ex-gay” programs a fatal blow by officially renouncing his study in the American Prospect article he mentions in his letter above. That renunciation kicked out the final leg from the stool on which the proponents of ‘ex-gay’ therapy based their already shaky claims of success, or as Arana put it, removed from the ex-gay “fringe movement. . . its only shred of scientific support.”

Dr. Spitzer’s apology to the victims of “pray away the gay” therapy and the greater LGBT community marks a watershed moment in the fight against the “ex-gay” myth. We commend him for it, because not only will it solidify his legacy as a respected doctor and significant historical figure, but it will help to greatly hasten the day when the scourge that is reparative therapy is eradicated forever and LGBT people can live openly, honestly, and true to themselves.