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8 Aug 2011

Rev. Steve Parelli and Jose Ortiz: Is there such a thing as ‘ex-gay’?

Rev. Steve Parelli and Jose Ortiz, a gay married couple, will be in Singapore on 14 August to share their personal journey of reconciling their Christian faith and sexual orientation, and discuss the false claims of the ex-gay movement.

They are a gay married couple on a mission. Every year since 2005, Rev. Steve Parelli, a former evangelical Baptist pastor, and his partner Jose Ortiz – who are Executive Director and Coordinator for Asia respectively of Other Sheep – spend July and August away from their home in New York City to travel in Africa and Asia. Founded in 1992 by Rev. Dr. Thomas Hanks, an American Presbyterian missionary who was and is currently still serving in Buenos Aries, Other Sheep is an ecumenical, Christian ministry that works worldwide for the full inclusion of LGBT people of faith within their respective faith traditions.

Currently over a month into their two-month tour to India and Nepal, Steve and Jose will be making a stop in Singapore on 14 August at Free Community Church to conduct a forum to discuss the methods and claims of “change” of the ex-gay movement and their experiences within the movement as participants seeking change.

The couple, who legally married in California in 2008, met in 1997 while attending Hope Ministries of Calvary Baptist Church, New York City, a support group for Christians wanting to “overcome” their same-sex attractions. At the time of their meeting, Jose was attending various self-help groups based on AA principles, and Steve was in “reparative therapy” with Joe Nicolosi, author and co-founder of NARTH (National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality).

Ordained in 2008 with the Metropolitan Community Church, Steve has a Master of Divinity (Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary) and an MA in Applied Linguistics (City University of New York) while Jose has an MA in Applied Psychology (New York University). Steve also has four children from a previous marriage.

Fridae catches up with Steve and Jose who were in Goa, India via email and finds out why they have made it their life’s mission to share their journey of reconciling their faith and sexual orientation with gay Christians, and Christian religious leaders around the world.

æ: Yourself and Jose have travelled the world for years to share your personal stories. Why do you do this and what motivates you?

Jose: I want to spare others the suffering that I went through… the years of confusion, self loathing, depression, and thinking I cannot be used of God to help others spiritually.

Steve: What motivates me personally, in part, is the sad knowledge that Christianity, in the area of sexual minorities and human rights, is more often than not, a force for discrimination, exclusion, ostracism, and criminalisation. Uganda – largely an evangelical Christian country – is a case in point. God’s love is universal, inclusive, and non-discriminatory. Unfortunately, religion can be a force for ill-will, division, separation and violence.

Also, what motivates me personally is what I’ve experienced within my own circle of family, friends and life-long associates: complete ostracism from all who have loved me (before I came out as a gay man in my mid-40s). It is my hope that the church will someday put an end to its spiritual persecution of LGBT people so that families and friends will not have to choose between being faithful to their significant others versus their faith. No mother should have to have to deny her faith in order to love her gay son. No young person should have to deny his or her gay father in order to be accepted by the church. The church should unify family members – including LGBT people – not divide, separate and inspire feelings of doubt, rejection and even hate. Unfortunately, the Church’s motto “to love the sinner but hate the sin” does not equate acceptance in the slightest degree for the homosexual: his or her sexual orientation as homosexual is as much a part of his or her personhood as heterosexuality is for the straight person: You cannot “love the heterosexual but hate his/her heterosexuality.” The church is obviously awash and totally without any practical compass, having embraced a traditional so-called Biblical approach, setting the sciences aside along with the clear testimonies of their own LGBT members.

æ: Were yourself and/or Jose involved in the ex-gay ministries? If so, tell us more.

Steve: Only as members of groups; not as leaders. [Steve attended a group in NJ (New Jersey) and in NYC (New York City) over a period of time for more than a year.]

æ: The debate about conversion therapy/ reparative therapy has been going on for decades despite increasing social acceptance around the world and psychological associations condemning such therapy as harmful. What is driving the ex-gay industry and why can't it be put to rest?

Steve: The evangelical Christian church, which is to a degree an isolated community, is the driving force of the ex-gay industry. Young people who grow up in the evangelical church become a new crop for harvesting by the ex-gay movement; these evangelical young people are “trapped” within an exclusive community that talks about being “born again” and have a “victorious Christian life” over sin. Young evangelical gays (before they even know they are gay) are indoctrinated with a theology of sin, victorious Christian living, and anti-homosexuality, so that by the time they experience their own sexual orientation as homosexual they are already conditioned to believe that it is sinful and that “Christ is the answer.” Couple this with the total ostracism that comes from being openly gay as an evangelical Christian – ostracised by family, friends, the church, status, position, career – and you have the powerful making of the hope that one can, should change. The ex-gay movement, for the above reasons, has the force it has because of the evangelical Christian theological mindset and its mode of exclusivism (belonging via correct doctrine and right practice). Wherever evangelicalism has gone (worldwide), the ex-gay movement has followed.

Jose: As long as society and its religions continue to propagate the idea that to be homosexual is somehow less than ideal, there will be a market for these therapies that offer change. The fact is that it is that is very stressful to have to justify one’s own existence and assert one’s dignity. Who would “choose” to be different when that difference can result in disdain, ostracism, condemnation or even abuse from the greater society and in many cases one’s own place of worship?

æ: What is the potential for harm with reparative therapy?

Jose: The APA American Psychiatic Association, which opposes “reparative” therapies submitted a statement which says, in part: “The potential risks of ‘reparative therapy’ are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behaviour, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred …” I believe there is also potential harm in the sadness, disappointment and intense frustration that arise when the expected success never comes. These negative feelings can lead to depression, hopelessness and suicidal ideation. The abusive and harmful aspect of such therapy is also manifest when they refer to studies that show that the client’s cooperation and motivation are the determining factors to the degree of “change” experienced. Therefore, when one is not experiencing change, one can begin to think “I am not sufficiently compliant, cooperative, invested, or committed to the “therapeutic” process. I am really messed up’’. What needs to be questioned is the “therapy” not the client. A client should not be subjected to such unnecessary and anguishing self-doubt due the selective use of psychological research. I believe the rate of “success” – which could be the most minimal shift in sexual thought or expression- to be too low and the potential for harm to high to justify reparative therapy.

æ: Some people argue that it is the right of people to undergo reparative therapy should they want to "stop" being gay. What would you say to that? And if it were up to you, do you think ex-gay organisations should not be allowed to operate?

Jose: There are certain practices in the medical profession that are unethical and therefore are not allowed. Similarly, in the area of mental health there are practices that are counterproductive and/or potentially harmful and therefore should be prohibited. In my opinion, reparative has such potential for detrimental effects that it should be banned.

Developing high self-esteem and exploring what it means to live out one’s sexuality responsibly should be the focus of counseling for gays instead of wasting time, energy and resources on changing that which is a natural part of one’s humanity.

Whether ex-gay groups should be allowed to operate depends on how they publicise, I believe. If they claim to be based on solid social science research and psychological practice, then they should not be allowed to operate. If they clearly say that they are intended on changing outward manifestations so that one can appear to fit in, or pass as one of the heterosexual majority, then I think they should be allowed to exist. They just not be allowed to make false claims of change of sexual orientation.

Steve: This is not an easy question. Since the ex-gay movement operates under the auspices of local churches and is primarily a religious movement/ of religious sentiment, it is my view that government agencies do not have jurisdiction to regulate their practices. On the other hand, at some point the government does regulate in matters of health and well being.

Just recently, in June, the New York State legislature legalised same-sex marriage; the bill they passed included church-right protections so that churches, in the case of same-sex marriage, could still teach and practice their same-sex marriage discrimination without penalty under law. Of course, marriage equality and reparative therapy is not the same is – but I’m trying to illustrate that government has to be careful how it may or may not regulate religion or religious organisations.

æ: Have you received hate mail or threats by those who consider you and your ministry to be against the "proper" Christian teachings and how do you handle it?

Steve: Christians from Africa and Asia have emailed us using religious jargon to warn or attack us saying we are “an abomination,” that we “need to repent,” that they “are praying for us” to change. We respond with kindness, telling them we view scriptures differently, that the Bible does not condemn homosexuals, and that we’d be happy to discuss a particular passage of scripture if they wish to continue the conversation. No one who writes to us in this manner responds to our request for further study. It is a sad commentary on the Bible literacy of Christians, and is, a believe, bibliolatry (the worship of the Bible above God).

æ: Tell us more about the forum and if it would be useful to those who aren't Christian or who have fully accepted their sexual orientation and have no intention of "changing"? Who should come to the seminar?

Steve: Every ex-gay Christian should be there; he or she needs a different perspective; unfortunately, ex-gay Christians, in general, stay within the ex-gay movement out of fear (and not out of love) of rejection and complete ostracism.

Those who aren’t Christian and who have fully accepted their sexual orientation should attend from the standpoint of what influence they may have in organisations (or with individuals) that address reparative therapy. What this seminar offers that may be someone unique is the story from the inside: two evangelical Christians seriously attempting ex-gay therapy, and from that vantage point, evaluating it. Also, I feel the non-Christian activist and the Christian activist need to work together for the human rights of LGBT people.

æ: What's your advice for someone who is gay but does not want to be, or who is gay and Christian?

Jose: Not everyone in Christianity believes that homosexuality is wrong. There is a “minority report” within Christianity that argues that the Bible has been misused by religious leaders in the Church to condemn that which they do not understand. The majority opinion in the Church has been mistaken before thinking the earth was the center of the universe, that the earth was flat, and slavery was acceptable, to name a few matters. We know through the social sciences and our personal experience that there is nothing inherently evil or flawed in being gay. The Church just needs to catch up. We must patiently, persistently, and graciously tell the Church she is wrong about us. Also, remember that our religious institutions are NOT God. Our Creator loves, blesses and cares for gays as much as the rest of humankind. The rulers of our institutions through their bias, attempt to block the rays of God’s love for the LGBT community but they can no more erase God’s love for us as a person can blot out the fiery sun by blocking it from sight with his hand.

Steve: If you are gay and don’t want to be: Accept yourself as gay; love yourself as God loves you as gay; place your energies and resources not in repressing yourself as gay but in creating the person you want to be as gay (education, career, associates, etc); find the spouse/significant other that completes you as a gay person and build a life with him or her; live life to the fullest as a gay person; live in step with yourself and those who really love you will congratulate you, those who will not accept you as you are you do not need in your life anyway. If you are gay and Christian: For my part, as an evangelical gay man (and theologian), I have had the wonderful experience of re-thinking just about everything that I’ve been taught theologically – not just the gay-part. If you are gay and Christian, don’t just adjust yourself theologically on the mere six passages of scripture that are used to abuse you; but re-think the whole evangelical (Americanised) western, male, heterosexual, Reformation faith. Religion is the story we tell ourselves again and again; perhaps you need a whole different story. For the gay Christian – don’t just tweak your theology around the question of sexual orientation; re-do theology from top to bottom; it is a journey once you start you will find is, perhaps, the spiritual life worth living.

Is There Such a Thing as ‘Ex-gay’?
- A Talk by Rev. Steve Parelli & Mr. Jose Ortiz from Other Sheep -
A Free Community Church Event
Sunday, 14 August 2011, 2 – 4 pm
Free Community Church
56 Lorong 23 Geylang, Level 3, Century Technology Building, Singapore 388381
Admission is free and all are welcome

An announcement from Free Community Church:

An Afternoon Dialogue with O.Young (in Mandarin) on 13 August

Rev. O.Young, an openly gay Christian minister, will be in Singapore to share his learnings and experiences, as to encourage us to think and reflect critically. His visits also been a means of encouragement and helping to empower the LGBTQ community.

Rev. Boon Lin Ngeo or O.Young is Chinese-Malaysian born, and currently lives in New York City. He is well-known in Chinese speaking communities in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and his home country, Malaysia. O.Young was an award-winning journalist in Malaysia, and in 2006, was the first public figure to come out publicly in his country. He is an ordained Christian minister at the Metropolitan Community Church in New York (MCCNY), and also a co-founder of MCC in Malaysia. O Young is also a best selling author and has published 24 books in sociology, theology and sexuality. He is a columnist for the Sinchew Daily, the leading Chinese newspaper in Malaysia.

O.Young holds two Master’s degrees in sociology and theology. He teaches sociology at St. Peter’s College in New Jersey and Gender studies at Hunter College. In Fall 2009, he was invited to teach LGBTQ Studies and Sociology, the first course of its kind offered at the Jesuit college. He is currently finishing his doctoral degrees in sociology and theology.

Date: Saturday, 13 August 2011
Time: 3-5 pm
Venue: Free Community Church
Free Community Church
56 Lorong 23 Geylang, Level 3, Century Technology Building, Singapore 388381

*Do join us for our Sunday Service on 14 August, 10.30 am where Rev. O Young will be delivering the sermon, available in both English and Mandarin. Admission is free and all are welcome.

Reader's Comments

1. 2011-08-09 15:22  
i am a strong atheist and i don't see the point of being gay and at the same time, being religious....
2. 2011-08-09 15:24  
Be under no illusions: Christianity hates us. Anyone telling you that Jesus is about forgiveness, and that Christianity is about love is either lying, or really deluded.

Seriously, we've had lots of article on Fridae recently about Christianity, or from various churches and church leaders. ENOUGH ALREADY!
3. 2011-08-09 17:31  
To God, human is nothing, just like ant to human.

Do human give a shit what ants are fighting among themselves, if we find it annoying, just squash it or spray insecticide for mass killing

But ant seem smarter, this insect don't give a shit how human think abt them, well at least so far we never heard ant pray/offering human anything for that matter. Yeah, why border abt someone / something that don't give a damn abt you.
Comment edited on 2011-08-09 17:36:06
4. 2011-08-09 17:57  
Interesting article from an unusual perspective. Enlightening as to how people get trapped in the ex-gay mentality through the isolation of the evangelical movement and the fear of loss, just like people in a cult. But just going to FCC is a bit like preaching to the choir, they need to address the people at places like the "choices" ministry too.

People from the Christian community are more likely to listen to someone who believes in the same paradigm and had the experiences these two men have had, rather than the people commenting above with knee-jerk anti religious sentiment.
Comment #5 was deleted by its author on 2011-08-13 17:05
6. 2011-08-09 22:28  
To NO extent do I agree with posts 1, 2, 3....I believe the reports on religion here on Fridae are productive and interesting. I never was a "Jesus freak". just a mainstreamer who sees more in faith than something that constantly condemns, but encourages. Fridae seems to entertain the spiritual side and is just as at to talk about Buddhism or Islam as it is Christianity, as any of these relate to being gay. If you think those pracicing Buddhism are always "gay friendly", think again. Ask anyone you know from a Buddhist family what it is like coming out. T'aint easy. Most Buddhist parents want grandchildren and expansion of the family name. A gay son or daughter won't bring that. I once dated a Buddhist, who went to extraordinary means of ensuring his folks did not know about us, and that his mom in particular thought people like me were smooth talking nefarious ne'er-do-wells. I could not expect any different of atheist nor agnostic families, one of whom I work with, and I GUARANTEE you he isn't "gay friendly".
Comment #7 was deleted by its author on 2011-08-09 22:34
8. 2011-08-09 22:34  
By the way, hurling insults at the Christian faith as a "whopping-big 2000 year old fairy tale" in no way will make a case with the true faithful. If anything it will make us wonder about your upbringing. Besides I doubt you would have the guts to hurl the same insult at Islam.
Comment #9 was deleted by an administrator on 2011-08-13 08:29
10. 2011-08-09 23:19  

Buhauyise must be a wow at dinner parties, with such a sensitive, culturally-aware and accepting outlook. What a charmer...

Moving Swiftly on, and away from something like THAT -

Back on topic, and consider this - Why Shouldn't someone be 'ex-gay'? Isn't that completely, perfectly possible and natural? You'll excuse me for pointing out that 'we' seem to have absolutely no problem whatsoever if a Heterosexual person decides that, actually... they've been trying to accept it... but yes, they are really Homosexual instead, and have been living a lie. Hurray! High-fives all round! One more in the club, and I'm on my way to earning a free toaster!


Wait a second. Wait a goddamn second here. Why is it 'okay' for a Straight guy to come out as Gay, BUT the second a Gay guy decides he's Straight, we all start chucking rotten eggs and cabbages at him, and call him a liar, traitor, blah blah blah?

Anyone ever hear of the words "double" and "standards"? (Also popssibly of "hypocrisy" and "prejudiced" as well.)

Make no mistake - I am completely against all manner of nonsensical religious/psychological/medical 'cures' for gay men and women, which is a nice little earner for those with the 'cures', yet has a habit of creating broken people in the process. However, to put the shoe on the other foot, if someone Gay 'decides' that, ah, sorry lads - they think they're really Straight instead - Fine. I am Totally cool with that, as 'we' can't have one rule for 'Them', and one rule for 'us'.

So, you know, I want more clarity on this subject, and on a story like this. People with 'cures' for homosexuality are total idiots. But, on the other hand, Homosexuals who feel that they're actually Heterosexuals are a-okay by me. And You, too. Right?
11. 2011-08-10 00:15    
Buhauyise's comment (No 9. 2011-08-09 22:54) has been flagged for being potentially offensive. Readers are reminded to keep on topic and be respectful of other's faiths/beliefs. While the editor prefers that offensive comments are left for all to see and judge, we would like this to be a respectful space for all readers to partake in a civil discussion.
12. 2011-08-10 00:21  
Hmmm....base on news alone and about homosexual. here do fair bit. I don't think Fridae being bias or anything bad.

In any news gay or not, u always hear bad news spread faster, like it or not.

In life, we want to learn from a teacher to teach us one day I too can as good as him/her or even better, then u have another teaching that said no matter how good or how strictly u follow those "rules", u will NEVER be like him/her, u can see the contradiction? Contradict become hypocrite, to overcome this uneasy feeling, we "cherry picking" so sooth us.

Foolishness is not by how much u being cheated but how well u cheat yourselves...hehe off and on I do cheat myself ;p
13. 2011-08-10 01:13  
@11. "potentially" offensive? Gosh, what does it take to be really offensive ?!
14. 2011-08-10 01:21  
@10, vercoda, you are correct in theory, but what are the odds of some one being raised believing they are gay, and then realising they are straight? This is a red herring and has nothing to do with the article whatsoever. With your journalistic expertise surely you can think of something more intelligent to say that is actually related to the article?
15. 2011-08-10 01:26  
@6 penstate, I agree, and it also helps us understand people who have been raised differently to ourselves and have different issues to deal with when they realise they are gay, because of their religious upbringing.
16. 2011-08-10 09:20  
I was provoked by the stupidity of the comments 6 and 8.

I do think there is rather too much religion happening on Fridae recently. Sylvia Tan, the author of the piece, can I ask you why you think Fridae members would/should care about the Rev and his boyfriend?

Everywhere on the internet now there is religion, religion religion. It's very divisive. It would be really nice if we could keep Fridae clean of religion. All the religions of the world are extremely hostile to gay people, so why are we giving them space on our website? And to add insult to injury, there is now an advertisement for Bible classes embedded in the article. This is highly offensive to me.

I think it's good to have a discussion of the ex-gay phenomena, but can't we do it separately from religion?

I don't want to log into Fridae and see advertisements for churches and religious groups, and listen to religious nutters proselytising at me. If I want that, I'll go Michel Bachmann's site.

any one else feel the same about this? please speak up so we can let Fridae webmasters know that they have misjudged what content we are interested in reading about.

thank you and apologies for offending.
17. 2011-08-10 10:04  
#6, perhaps the one u dated must have had cultural/societal baggages or skewed interpretations attached to their version of 'Buddhism' which is quite common in some families, and then again, some people attach the term 'Buddhism' to a particular ethnicity or society or simply because they do not know what to fill up in a legal form or anything else they fancy.

Because for the life of me, as far as I have known in the Teaching of the Buddha all these years, it has nothing to do with the excess baggages or hung up 'isms' that some humans so love to create for themselves and then go around either with a superiority complex or with a 'pity me' attitude.

From one lay Buddhist perspective, one's sexuality is a non issue, like everything else which is subject to condition in life, sexuality is impermanent, has the quality of unsatisfactoriness and devoid of a 'self'. It is merely a stepping stone or a training tool for one's mind and body to benefit others and oneself.

Sure we have those who choose to make sexuality a cultural / societal issue to flex patriarchal muscles on others but are Buddhists not humans with flaws as well? But as far as the Buddha Dharma is concerned, it is about the way out of conditioned unsatisfactoriness, the Unconditioned, and a celebration of life's precious opportunities to be the best that one can be in all aspects of body, speech and mind.

It's great that some Christian leaders have come out to speak and share on the matter at hand especially for those within their religious fold who need support and assurance. And unlike no.2's statement, it would be only fair to say that the Christian world is divided in opinion and interpretation over this matter, so a blanket approach may be inappropriate. As an ex Christian myself, I can attest to that as I have met and debated with both sides of the coin. Just because Mao was a Red, it does not make all Chinese one anymore than all Americans are war mongers just because Bush was one.
18. 2011-08-10 12:28  
Religion is a growth industry in Malaysia/Singapore. I used to think that was because asians are so fatalistic in their outlook, ie they cant make up their own minds so need someone to tell them what to do/to blame. But I'm coming around to thinking that its the other way around. Religion is the Great Asian Cop Out. Why do anything when you can pass the buck to god ( take your pick which one)... god will fix it, god will provide, god will deal with the evil men in society on the day of judgement, its god's will... bla bla bla. So I think you are gonna be stuck with the god v gay syndrome till asians wake up to themselves and realise its OK for them to be their own men and women... ie to be individuals
19. 2011-08-10 13:49  
This is in response to Buhauyise's comment (No. 16. 2011-08-10 09:20):

I'm Sylvia, the author of this article. I've met Steve and Jose several years ago and I was struck by their strength and courage to not only live openly as gay men but have made it their mission in life to reach out to other gay men and women who are struggling to come to terms with being gay and Christian. Through their lives and work, the pair not only provide an important counterpoint to the anti-gay rhetoric of religious conservatives and the likes of Michele Bachmann but are role models for their dedication and persistence in the face of haters and critics. To decide to not give people like Steve and Jose any airtime on Fridae (or anywhere else) because some (not all) Christians have been hostile to gay men and women would probably serve the anti-gay camp more than anyone else. Thank you for your feedback and I can be contacted via sylvia@fridae.asia if any clarification is needed.
Comment #20 was deleted by its author on 2011-08-13 17:06
21. 2011-08-10 15:05  
19>Suede thanks for your comment and for responding to me. You voice your opinion about Steve and Jose, which is great, but I still don't see why that means you have to inflict your opinion on the rest of us who haven't met them, and who really don't care about their 'open and caring attitude' and all that hypocrisy.

There can be no reconciliation between being gay and Christianity, and stupid boring articles like yours only perpetuate the myth that there is. This does not help confused youngsters to come to terms with being gay. Christianity is hostile to gays. Get it?

Please stop writing about religion on Fridae. It's offensive to many many people here. Take your silly views somewhere else. Please.
22. 2011-08-10 15:18  
>20 Caeser2003
Thanks for your comment too, and good point about religious advertisers. I notice that Sylvia Tan's story about Steve and Jose, although billed under 'news' is not really news, is it? It's a plug for an event from which presumably Steve, Jose (and Sylvia?) will benefit in some way.

Again great, but I don't want to know about it, and I don't want to read about it as if it was NEWS on a forum dedicated to the gay community.

Throughout history gays and lesbians have been victimised by religions, victimisation which continues in some parts of the world today (Iran anybody?). Now we have to put up with it on our own forum as well.


Someone hold me down. I am beginning to rant.
Comment #23 was deleted by its author on 2011-08-10 18:02
24. 2011-08-10 18:05  
However, there Is a fair point there - Although religion, and its use to target, insult and mock gay people - is still an ongoing problem, Fridae DOES seem to have a few too many God Squad stories of late.

Aren't there any Other stories you can think of? Isn't Fridae interested in all gay stories, where sexuality is relevant to the story itself?

Okay. Why not run a story on Ireland's most famous gay politician, and senior senator, David Norris - who WAS in the lead in the public polls in the presidential race to be elected Ireland's next President at the end of the year (indicating that Irish people aren't very bothered about sexuality) - until a sudden scandal just forced him to drop out of the race, after it was revealed he used his political power, many years ago, to appeal to Israeli authorities for clemency for his then Palestinian lover, who'd been charged with the statutory rape of a 15-y-o boy?

Adding further intrigue to the mix, it's widely believed in Ireland that Israel was/is behind that leak, as Senator Norris is a leading critic of their shameful enslavement of an entire people, and most Irish people think that, yes, he abused his power - but that the Israelis are behind this. (The Irish have not forgotten that forged Irish passports were used to execute/murder Palestinian officials in That incident, a few years ago.)

And all That's only part of the story, as Ireland's first likely gay president was felled not by the public, as he was the leading candidate, but by his own understandable yet inappropriate behavior...

I don't know about You, but I'd rather read a story about high-powered politics with a relevant gay angle than Yet Another Article about God/Religion - while noting ads at the side of this page inviting me to "learn Hebrew".

What funding does Fridae get from religious groups, or religious advertising? How much power does income from such ads/advocates create? These are also topics that, perhaps, other members - and readers of This very comments thread - may suddenly also be interested in...
25. 2011-08-10 18:06  
@21,22...So what you are saying is that you want Fridae to be a secular space with no discussion of religion. I wonder where we've heard that before. Some gay people are religious, get over it. For them it's useful to know there are alternatives to homophobic interpretations and venues. And this IS news for Singaporeans, who don't get to hear about it otherwise, and like you, many are misinformed and think all religion is homophobic....As for ads, these are usually generated by your own computer in response to the subject matter you are taking an interest in. Obviously as you have read and commented on the article, you are interested in it. No one is forcing you to read such articles. Others do find them interesting, so take your censorious attitude elsewhere.

26. 2011-08-10 18:16  
@24, another Luddite comment from someone who doesn't understand how ads are generated on his computer.
27. 2011-08-10 18:29  
"And this IS news for Singaporeans, who don't get to hear about it otherwise, and like you, many are misinformed and think all religion is homophobic..."

Now now kumanbro_oz, don't drag Singaporeans into this. Those people making a lot of noise and wanting certain topics to be censored aren't Singaporeans.

Also, doesn't it make sense for LGBTs to become allies with gay-friendly religious leaders or people so they can help sort out any disinformation especially with regards to LGBT-related issues instead of shutting everyone out?
Comment edited on 2011-08-10 18:33:50
28. 2011-08-10 20:00  
@27, exactly, these apparently non Singaporeans are trying to censor information about an event for gay Singaporeans who are into religion and who otherwise are given a totally extreme conservative message from the churches there.

Your third paragraph is right on.
Comment #29 was deleted by its author on 2011-08-13 17:06
30. 2011-08-10 20:27  
@29.Well, you probably have read such stories if you took an interest in South Africa, the drafting of it's post apartheid constitution (which specifically includes protection for gays), and the part in that and in fighting homophobia there and other African countries by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
31. 2011-08-10 21:05  
@29: Here you are then, try reading this article, " Archbishop Desmond Tutu's Five Best Quotes for Full LGBT Equality ". ...


...By the way, he won the Nobel peace prize in 1985.

Comment #32 was deleted by its author on 2011-08-13 17:06
33. 2011-08-10 21:29  
And here are leading Hindus supporting us, they arrive at a similar conclusion via a different route :

In 2009, The United Kingdom Hindu Council issued a statement that 'Hinduism does not condemn homosexuality', subsequent to the decision of the Delhi High Court to legalise homosexuality in India.

Comment edited on 2011-08-10 21:31:21
34. 2011-08-10 23:12  
>24 interesting. That's exactly the kind of article I want to read, not another boring stupid extended lie about how wonderful Christians are with gays.

>25 It's on the front page of Fridae I cannot help but see it every time I log in. It's offensive to me. I don't want to see it. I don't want other people imposing their religious beliefs on me, especially in a forum where I expect a secular attitude.

if gay Christians want to talk about their nonsense, let them do it someplace else. Start a gay Christian forum. but please keep your shit off fridae.
35. 2011-08-10 23:47  
Theology professor supports repeal of anti-gay law in Singapore

I'm not a Christian but I think it's perfectly ok for Fridae to discuss Christianity or any other religion with regards to LGBT issues. While it's important to call them out for any bias, unequal treatment and such, it's also important to highlight any support and reconciliation efforts especially when such news are often ignored by mainstream media which results in people thinking that all religions and religious leaders treat LGBTS badly (see posts above).
36. 2011-08-11 00:38  
I agree that is is important to call out any religious group that starts some crap like "God hates gays," "Christians hate gays", and this or that group are pig f***ers", etc.

However I doubt anyone can reason with the intellectual fascism that is written mainly through one or two bloggers, who, if you are not in TOTAL agreement with them, will pronounce you guilty of stupidity. Talk about INTOLERANCE! I am glad virtually all bloggers here are not like this one individual, and feel happy and comfortable discussing these issues, regardless of their positions on them. And best of all, it is good that we here DO have a spiritual life, to which Fridae gives due homage, and can understand that real LOVE goes far beyond one's next trick.
37. 2011-08-11 00:52  
The Five Best Quotes by Archbishop Tutu for Full LGBT Equality, from the article above:

1. "I am deeply, deeply distressed that in the face of the most horrendous problems — we’ve got poverty, we’ve got conflict and war, we’ve got HIV/AIDS — and what do we concentrate on? We concentrate on what you are doing in bed." - Archbishop Tutu , Kenya 2008.

2. "We struggled against apartheid in South Africa, supported by people the world over, because black people were being blamed and made to suffer for something we could do nothing about; our very skins. It is the same with sexual orientation. It is a given." - Archbishop Tutu 2007

3. "When will we learn that human beings are of infinite value because they have been created in the image of God, and that it is a blasphemy to treat them as if they were less than this and to do so ultimately recoils on those who do this? In dehumanizing others, they are themselves dehumanized. Perhaps oppression dehumanizes the oppressor as much as, if not more than, the oppressed. They need each other to become truly free, to become human." - Archbishop Tutu's Nobel Peace Prize address 1984. Ties in well with sexual minorities.

4. "If God, as they say, is homophobic, I wouldn't worship that God." - Archbishop Tutu, 2007. At the time, the Church of England had a seemingly endless focus on questions of sexuality, instead of world social issues.

5. "Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people are part of so many families. They are part of the human family. They are part of God's family. And of course they are part of the African family." - Archbishop Tutu March 2010, possibly referencing Uganda.
38. 2011-08-11 03:30  
Editor's note: This post has been deleted for being a personal attack and completely off-topic.
Comment edited on 2011-08-11 08:30:56
39. 2011-08-11 17:52  
Common, comrades! Let Fridae share stories related to LGBT issues..you can still give your personal opinion but do not attack other users' views! It's not a religious issue here, no preaching or indoctrination, it's just about sharing a story of two wonderfully blessed comrades!
40. 2011-08-11 20:47  
Personally, I'm not too sure I'm into religion, particularly Christianity. Christians would always quote the Bible to prove their point that that's what God says. And in cases like homosexuality, stark differences between themselves occur, ironically still pointing to the same Bible that "cannot be wrong", and "doesn't require self-interpretating".

No offense to Christians. I think it's more important that everyone just believe what they will and take full responsibility for their decisions.

Still, I think what the couple are doing is still commendable. Not on religious ground, but more as member of the LGBT community.
41. 2011-08-11 21:42  
@40, there is truth in what you say, however the extreme conservatives have cornered the market in Singapore, so what people are told in churches and megachurches there is extremely one-sided and out of kilter with an enormous body of theology that is more accepting of gay people and their relationships...
I wonder if any of them know that the current world leader of the Anglicans, before he became Archbishop of Canterbury and when he was more of an academic, wrote a long treatise on why gay relationships are not sinful. Sadly he has to take a harder line now to appease the Asian and African archbishops who are extremely conservative and take a more literalist and simplistic view...
I agree, what these two are doing is commendable, it's a pity they won't be reaching a wider audience by going into the megachurches. It'd also be cool if Archbishop Tutu invited himself to Singapore and gave a sermon in the Cathedral, but I supposed he'd be unwelcome despite the nobel peace prize.

42. 2011-08-11 22:04  
Continuing post 41, here is one para from the Anglican world leader's talk, The Body's Grace (1989):

"...in a church which accepts the legitimacy of contraception, the absolute condemnation of same-sex relations of intimacy must rely either on an abstract fundamentalist deployment of a number of very ambiguous texts, or on a problematic and non-scriptural theory about natural complementarity, applied narrowly and crudely to physical differentiation without regard to psychological structures. "

Translation: anti gay Christians are taking already very ambiguous texts totally out of context, or relying simplistically on basic physical differences between the sexes to say what is "natural" without taking into account the brain.
Comment #43 was deleted by its author on 2011-08-11 23:22
44. 2011-08-11 23:21  
I got a personal attack in a message about my posts from another member, so I am going to withdraw awhile and let it settle down a bit lest there be a war started here.
45. 2011-08-12 10:36  
responding to comment number 21 (previously I typed wrongly as 20)

quote: "You voice your opinion about Steve and Jose, which is great, but I still don't see why that means you have to inflict your opinion on the rest of us who haven't met them, and who really don't care about their 'open and caring attitude' and all that hypocrisy."

How do you know Steve & Jose's actions & attitudes are hypocrisy?

You have written many comments strongly demanding Fridae not to feature any article related to religions or gay activism done by religious people. Since you yourself said others should not inflict their opinion on you, then why are you trying so hard to inflict your opinion on the rest of us here?

Hypocrisy is when one demands others not to do one thing while one does that very thing. So here we have a person preaching that one should not inflict one's views onto others while this person does that very thing by inflicting his views onto others.

We have no problem with Fridae posting articles about gay-related topics or events or activism done by religious people or people of various worldviews, regardless of them being Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Taoists, Atheists etc.

So STOP INFLICTING YOUR OPINIONS IN SUCH HARSH TONES onto the majority of Fridae users here. You can submit your opinion gently, but it is totally uncalled for in the manner you have done it.

Quote: "There can be no reconciliation between being gay and Christianity, and stupid boring articles like yours only perpetuate the myth that there is. This does not help confused youngsters to come to terms with being gay. Christianity is hostile to gays. Get it?"

I have studied deeply into Buddhism and Christianity's reconciliation of gay sex and I therefore can tell you that you are plainly wrong. Your ignorance of the reconciliation does not mean that those reconciliation do not exist. My academic research into them revealed that reconciliation is highly possible between being a Christian and being gay.

Quote: "Please stop writing about religion on Fridae. It's offensive to many many people here. Take your silly views somewhere else. Please."

Fridae should not shy away from featuring articles related to gay issues in religious groups. It is your hardline approach that is really offensive to the majority here. Take your silly hardline views somewhere else. Please.

Comment edited on 2011-08-13 17:39:08
Comment #46 was deleted by its author on 2011-08-13 17:07
47. 2011-08-12 22:20  
Caesar2003@45, I believe " friend" was addressing his remarks to #21, not you.
48. 2011-08-12 23:39  
Indeed that is the case. Calm down folks.
Comment #49 was deleted by its author on 2011-08-13 17:07
50. 2011-08-13 04:23  
A referee monitors sport or debate to ensure the set rules are followed. This is an appeal for calm, so I cannot be refereeing anything. I did not set any rules, "Friend" merely screwed up and didn't look at whose posts (s)he was addressing. I hope "Friend" comes on and admits the mistake, and apologizes to you personally. Nonetheless, I merely appealed for calm, and still do.
Comment #51 was deleted by its author on 2011-08-13 04:24
52. 2011-08-13 04:24  
Sorry I deleted one as it was a duplicate...:)
53. 2011-08-13 08:45    
Hey people, please keep to the discussion and keep it free of personal attacks. Any comments containing personal attacks even if they contain material relevant to the topic will be deleted from now.
54. 2011-08-14 17:11  
>45 absotule bullshit and ignorance

I have studied deeply into Buddhism and Christianity's reconciliation of gay sex and I therefore can tell you that you are plainly wrong.

bibliography please.

I'm so sick and tired of Johnny-come-lately Asian Christians who are completely ignorant of the basic tenets of Christianity and its history (and of how many people have been tortured and murdered in the name of Jesus- not a few of them gay and lesbian brothers and sisters), and who have been completely brainwashed by American imperialist Christian missionaries, like penstate79, and their lies.

you ask me how I know Steve and Jose actions are hypocrisy? Because all religious people on one level are hypocrites.
55. 2011-08-14 23:06  
I am trying SO HARD to abide by the rules here...
56. 2011-08-14 23:09  
"An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind."

Mahatma Gandhi
57. 2011-08-15 00:44  
No 54 wrote: "I'm so sick and tired of Johnny-come-lately Asian Christians who are completely ignorant of the basic tenets of Christianity and its history..."

Who are these "Johnny-come-lately Asian Christians"? Can I assume you've done a survey or research to come to this conclusion? If so, can you provide some citations so I can study them myself?

No 54 also wrote: "all religious people on one level are hypocrites."

Are you sure they are only hypocritical on one level? Are they ok on other levels? I'm not fond of some religious people myself but I find some self-professed non-religious people extremely hypocritical through and through (i.e. on every level if I may call it that).
Comment edited on 2011-08-15 00:47:59
Comment #58 was deleted by its author on 2011-08-15 04:48
59. 2011-08-15 04:48  
I agree that people have been tortured and murdered in the name of Jesus, but where does that leave Jesus Christ Himself? There are plenty of skeletons in various religions' closets of history, including that of the atheist Marxist revolutions, in which the state is a "god".

That brings to minf this fascinating expression, "American imperialist (anything)". Haven't heard that since the Soviet Union days, until the Communists folded their tent and shut down their show due to lack of interest.

Oh wait...we still have Kim Jong-Ill, Castro, and Chavez...perhaps they keep their theaters open so they can use that parlance.

I confess to the sin of lying due to my personal weakness, but what I profess here is no lie. God loves each of us, otherwise we would not be here. I cannot see any truth to this existence, this life as being a random collision of quarks, neutrinos, baryons, space dust particles, etc.

There, I said it.
60. 2011-08-15 09:13  
Hey, 'friend', 45 where is your bibliography?

I'm ignoring kellen in 57, this comment is simply too stupid to engage with.
Comment #61 was deleted by its author on 2011-08-27 00:51
62. 2011-08-15 16:03  
As requested by Buhauyise in his post #60, below are some books by respectable Christian scholars and/or Pastors that contains info on why gay sex can be compatible with Christianity.

Homosexuality and Christian Community, edited by Choon-Leong Seow

Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views, by Dan O. Via and Robert A. J. Gagnon

Caught in the Crossfire, edited by Sally B. Geis & Donald E. Messer

Stranger at the Gate: To be Gay and Christian in America

Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality by Jack Rogers

Biblical Ethics and Homosexuality: Listening to Scripture ed.
Robert L. Brawley

Homosexuality in the Church: Both Sides of the Debate, ed. Jeffrey S. Siker

Comment #63 was deleted by its author on 2011-08-16 02:12
64. 2011-08-16 01:48  
Thanks for your efforts, Friend
Comment #65 was deleted by its author on 2011-08-16 23:19
66. 2011-08-16 16:28  
Hi "Friend" thanks. Can't send personal messages, so I want to say here, I got your message and again, thanks.
67. 2011-08-16 23:18  
Hi kellen thanks, sister. The Fridae machine says I cost too much message-wise in the free world, so I want to say here, I got your message dear and thanks, for explaining it all. "I see, says the blind man."
68. 2011-08-17 08:35  

69. 2011-08-17 22:44  
70. 2011-08-17 22:46  
Oh and by the way, folks, I looked back into the News and Features, saw more than a hundred writings, of which only about 4 or 5 were about any religious or theological matter.
71. 2011-08-17 23:31  
Don't feed the trolls -- it's obvious who they are.
72. 2011-08-18 00:24  
@71, yes even the pic used appears to be of a famous socialite.
73. 2011-08-18 01:22  
Sorry I don't know what famous socialite this would be...
74. 2011-08-18 01:24  
Evidently >68 wants a bibliography, yet he apparently will not read any of it...hence, the "hahaha"
Comment #75 was deleted by an administrator on 2011-08-19 19:17
Comment #76 was deleted by its author on 2011-09-07 01:28
77. 2011-09-07 01:31  
Quote: "Steve: Christians from Africa and Asia have emailed us using religious jargon to warn or attack us saying we are “an abomination,” that we “need to repent,” that they “are praying for us” to change."

That's the reason why I've written some not-so-flattering things about Asian Christians in a previous forum...only to get sneered at & bitched by certain posters....hmm...perhaps there are some closet Evangelist spies lurking amongst us???

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