Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Pearl Harbor kissing photo op, and a Honolulu Marriage Equality march, on the first day of the Supreme Court's Prop 8 hearings.

by Rev. Steve Parelli
March 27, 2031
Aqua Aloha Surf & Spa Hotel
Kanekapolei Street
Honolulu, Hawaii

Steve Parelli, right and Joe Ortiz, MO Battleship,
Pearl Harbor, March 26, 2013,
first day of Supreme Court hearing
on Prop 8.  Steve and Jose were married in
Sacramento, California, on March 25, 2008.
This is our first time to Hawaii, and yesterday was our first full day in the 50th state. 

Jose and I are here celebrating a milestone in my life. I turned 60 years old in January, and this week-long vacation in Hawaii is Jose's birthday gift to me.

We planned two activities for our first day:  Pearl Harbor in the morning and a tour of the Mission House in the late afternoon, a National Historic Site, the site where New England missionaries, in the early 1800s, lived and worked to introduce Christianity to the islands.

What we didn't plan was our participation in the Honolulu Inter-faith Equality March.  We stumbled onto that event.  Following our Mission House tour, we made our way to the huge grounds of the close-by historic Palace.

While walking the Palace grounds, a young man at quite a distance away, kept waving to us to come over. We could make out that he was with a small group with signs of some kind.

"Maybe," I said to Jose, "its a Marriage Equality march." After all, today was the first day of the Supreme Court hearing of Proposition 8, the California ballot box decision that repealed marriage equality in California. Jose and I were married in Sacramento, California, on August 25, 2008.

Honolulu Inter-faith Marriage Equality March,
March 26, 2013.
Throughout the day we had kept ourselves abreast of whatever news we could get on the Washington, DC, events around this historic day, reading articles on our cell phones, while coming and going on the public buses.

At Pearl Harbor, after touring the Missouri Battleship, we posed for a picture, kissing one another, alongside a famous statue of that WW II sailor spontaneously kissing a woman, also in uniform. We made the picture to celebrate, on this first day of the Supreme Court's Proposition 8 hearings, our August 25, 2008, California marriage. It was our way of connecting Hawaii (where the first Marriage Equality battle took place in state courts), with Sacramento (where we were married) with the Supremem Court initial hearings on Proposition 8.  It was our small symbolic way of support.

Honolulu Interfaith Marriage Equaility March,
Rev. Dr. Jonipher Kupono Kwong (center) of
First Unitarian Church of Honolulu,
with Rev. Steve Parelli (left) and Jose Ortiz
March 26, 2013
Little did we know, upon the taking of our symbolic photo of support at the Missouri Battleship, that before the day was over we would be marching in an Iner-faith Honolulu Marriage Equality march in support of overturning Proposition 8.

I wondered what our 1800 New England missionaries to Hawaii would think about Marrige Equality.  After all, our tour-guide said the missionaries did not approve of the Hawaiian hula and were instrumental in legally removing its practice from the islands. 

I felt I knew, however, what Eleanor Roosevelt would think about Marriage Equality.  Overlooking Pearl Harbor there is a quote in stone by the First Lady.  She said something like this that she must now, in view of all who give their lives for our freedom, ask herself if her life is worth dying for.  To live the Golden Rule, wherever we are, is a worthy life.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

SUNY Benefit Concert for Other Sheep in Uganda

SUNY (State University of New York) student Sam Colbert:  "You can’t affect change politically if you can’t affect change socially and vice versa."

by Rev. Stephen Parelli
Executive Director of Other Sheep
March 6, 2013
Bronx, New York
Sam Colbert, perfroming
at the  March 2, 2013
benefit concert.
Photo by Steve Parelli
On March 2, 2013, Rev. Steve Parelli and Jose Ortiz of Other Sheep were the honored guests of a benefit concert put on by the SUNY (State University of New York) Geneseo faculty and students, and guest artists Rochester Gay Men’s Chorus.
Sam Colbert, the SUNY student who led in organizing the event, in an interview with Geneseo’s student newspaper The Lamron, reported that the proceeds of the benefit concert will go towards Other Sheep’s book distribution in Uganda.  Other Sheep distributes The Children Are Free, a scholarly lay-person’s guide to what the Bible does and does not say about homosexuality.
Colbert told The Lamron, “I think it’s a really interesting project because it’s targeting a social root of the issues. “  He added, “You can’t affect change politically if you can’t affect change socially and vice versa. I think it’s really important to change people’s minds on a social level.”
From the event poster, by
artwork designer Raymond Ferreira,
SUNY student
"We've made a lot of progress in the gay rights movement [in the United States]," Colbert told The Lamron.  "We don't really focus on international issues as much and I think it's still important . . . especially in countries where it's illegal to be gay . . . to focus our attention there."
Assistant professor of music Pamela Kurau, who performed at the concert, help Colbert with organizing the Saturday eveing 8 p.m. benefit concert.
Held in the Wadsworth Auditorium of the Geneseo SUNY (State University of New York) campus, the benfit concert was preceded by a 4:30 p.m. lecture, also held in the Wadsorth Auditorium, delivered by Luzau Balowa, chairperson of African Rights Activists Group, a Nevada/Washington DC based organization.  Balowa, according to The Lamron, was incarcerated in the Congo and in Uganda for his pro-LGBT activism.  
Equality Uganda at Geneseo SUNY.  Left to right:  Rev. Steve Parelli of
Other Sheep, assistant professor of music Pamela Kurau,
organizer of the event Sam Colbert, Jose Ortiz of Other Sheep,
and Luzau Balowa of African Rigts Activists Group
The two events, the Balowa lecture and the benefit concert for Other Sheep, were billed “Equality Uganda” and was sponsored by the Provost’s Office, Music Department, Women’s Studies Department, Office of International Programs, Black Student Union Pride, and Pride Alliance.
The SUNY Geneseo campus is situated in western New York state, south of Rochester.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Parelli tells SUNY students about his Reparative Therapy experience with Joseph Nicolosi

Rev. Stephen Parelli, in a discussion group centered around 8 The Play, tells SUNY students he, too, was in Reparative Therapy with Joseph Nicolosi

by Rev. Stephen Parelli
Executive Director, Other Sheep
Bronx, NY
March 4, 2013

Click here for Parelli's paper on the fallacies of the "ex-gay" movement

8 The Play, March 1, 2013, perfomred by SUNY at Geneso students
In a discussion group following the March 1 presentation of 8 The Play, a staged reading dramatization of the May 4, 2010, ruling that overturned Proposition 8 in California, performed by The Women’s Studies and English Departments of SUNY (State University of New York) of Geneseo and directed by Rachel Tamarin, Rev. Stephen Parelli, a special guest for the weekend and who saw the performance, remarked that the actors who portrayed the defense – the conservative right in favor of Proposition 8, the amendment that limited marriage to same-sex couples – may have appeared “over the top” in portraying their respective conservative characters, but were in fact, in their portrayals, truly representative of the vehement, aggressive anti-gay spirit that so often characterizes those activists who oppose marriage equality.
Steve Parelli, left, with
Hunter Kane who played the
character in 8 The Play who, like
Steve, was in Reparative Therapy
withJoseph Nicolosi
Parelli, having noted that the play had a gay character who testified to his counseling experience with Joseph Nicolosi of NARTH (National Association for Research & therapy of homosexuality), shared with the SUNY students his own personal experiences as a former client of Joseph Nicolosi in 1996-1997.  Parelli offered to email his “ex-gay” paper, which discusses the fallacies of the “ex-gay” movement, to interested students.  

8 The Play, March 1, 2013,
perfomred by SUNY at Geneso students
In his discussion of Nicolosi, while he said he did not agree with the presuppositions of reparative therapy nor with the supposed possible outcome of reversing his homosexuality, Parelli did give a balanced view of Nicolosi’s overall ability to relate to his clients, citing specifics where Parelli felt the counseling sessions did help him in general.  Parelli related how Nicolosi’s permission to hold and be held, for days at a time, in the arms of another male, did in fact set the stage for the marriage he now enjoys with his husband Jose.  Parelli said he had asked Jose to hold him, telling Jose that his therapist had granted permission, and that holding would be part of the healing.  He said Jose asked him how much holding is enough holding. 

Steve Parelli and
Jose Ortiz on their
wedding day,
August 25, 2008
Sacramento, CA
Parelli, who has lived in New York City with his partner since 1997, told the SUNY students he and his partner Jose were married in Sacramento, California, in August of 2008.  He said Jose and he married for the legal protection and benefits that marriage would bring.  But, he said, upon leaving Sacramento City Hall as husband and husband, he was overcome with the sensation that, at last, he was now fully “American,” one with society, equal in citizenship.  He said it was a feeling he had not expected, that completely overtook him.


Monday, March 4, 2013

SUNY (State University of New York) Students Hear Other Sheep Presentation

At an Other Sheep presentation on LGBT Christians in Kenya and Uganda, SUNY (Statue University of New York) students of Geneseo hear an activist lawyer comment on how “human rights” is not grasped in developing countries where the Bible is believed to be the final authority in all things

by Rev. Stephen Parelli
Executive Director, Other Sheep
Bronx, NY
March 4, 2013

Rev. Parelli speaks on why "religion" is so important to the work of human rights for LGBT people in countries like Uganda
Rev. Stephen Parelli,  Executive Director of Other Sheep, speaking on the topic of religion and homosexuality in Uganda, told a group of thirty plus students attending the Pride Alliance February 28 meeting at State University of New York (SUNY) at Geneseo in western New York, that the rational for Other Sheep could be found in a quote taken from Religion, Conflict and Democracy in Modern Africa (2012):  “. . . what you fellows don’t understand is that you must get at a man through his religion and not yours” (emphasis is Parelli’s from his PowerPoint presentation).

Parelli, quoting from Gerrie ter Haar’s How God Became African (2009), said “The extreme attention to the Bible as the authoritative and infallible word of God is another notable point of distinction between African Christians and most of their Western counterparts.”   Parelli was quick to note, however, that according to Mark Noll, The New Shape of World Christianity, a “key mark of evangelicalism,” whether in the United States or Africa, is “the Bible as ultimate religious authority.”  Parelli remarked that the book The Children Are Free, the book that Other Sheep distributes which is on what the Bible does and does not say about homosexuality, addresses the topic of homosexuality from the evangelical perspective, that is, that the Bible is the final authority in all that it addresses, and therefore speaks to the African through his religion.

Following Parelli’s presentation, a local activist lawyer from Rochester, who presented briefly about a film he is making on a developing country and homophobia, commented that “human rights” is not a principle that developing countries recognize when talking about equality for gays.  Instead, he said, you must talk to them about what God is or is not saying, referencing the Bible.  What God may or may not say about homosexuality trumps any idea of human rights, according the lawyer.  The activist lawyer went on to say that the ministry of Other Sheep, in countries like Uganda, is exactly what is needed.

David Kato (left) with Steve Parelli, Uganda, 2007.
Parelli commented that “liberty of conscience” addresses the idea of human rights in the specific context of religion, that is, that each person is at liberty to follow the dictates of his or her own heart in the matter of what the Bible does or does not say about homosexuality without the interference of the state or church.  Parelli commented that David Kato, when learning about “liberty of conscience” for the first time in a discussion with Parelli, asked Parelli, “Where can I get more information about liberty of conscience.”

Parelli’s presentation focused on Other Sheep’s work in Uganda and Kenya since 2007.  Other Sheep, which began in 1992 in Latin America, is an ecumenical Christian organization that empowers LGBT people of faith worldwide.  Parelli became Executive Director of Other Sheep in 2005 and since then, with his husband Jose Ortiz, has visited countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Jill McPherson and Sam Colbert of SUNY Geneseo Pride Alliance invited Parelli to speak to the SUNY students in conjunction with his being on campus as the honored guest of the March 2nd benefit concert for Other Sheep.