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Steve and Jose
NEPAL 2011
August 17 - Sept. 2, 2011
Steve & Jose: Asia 2011: INDIA - SINGAPORE - NEPAL
Our impressions of the current situation and the potential
possibilities of the Christian church in Nepal becoming,
in part, welcoming and affirming of LGBT people
Setting aside whatever variables** may have to be figured into our data and thus alter our report one way
or another, here is what we believe we have found for the present:

1.        Our observations with regards to Christian pastors and religious leaders, and Christians
in general, as per the topic of homosexuality and the church

    a.        Summary Statement:  Some Christian pastors, religious leaders and lay people are
    genuinely open and interested in knowing more about homosexuality (LGBT) in terms of what it is
    and what it is about and in terms of Bible-related questions (what does the Bible say about it?).  The
    following first-hand experiences substantiated this for us:

    i.        In one of the three regions/areas we visited:  

    1.        In a private meeting, a Christian religious leader of a given Christian society and
    fellow co-staff member stated their sympathy and interest in awareness and welcoming
    of LGBT people

    2.        Another pastor, in a private one-on-one meeting, naming his denominational
    theological school training (higher education) and giving its location, told us that he had
    a professor who clearly taught that the church must be affirming and welcoming of LGBT
    people

    ii.        In another of the three regions/areas we visited:

    1.        One pastor (having higher education) met with us privately; gave strong verbal
    indication of his full support in the Other Sheep mission; gave us his full blessing (twice)

    2.        Another pastor made the request for a future pastor-training workshop on the
    topic of homosexuality and faith

    3.        One young Christian man in his twenties spoke to us about his desire (ideally) to
    ask his pastor to talk with him about what the Bible does and does not say about
    homosexuality but that he does not (realistically) believe his pastor will give the question
    any kind of honest, thorough treatment

    iii.        Four pastors and one church staff member attended a (public) luncheon to hear three
    gay Christian Nepali people speak; two pastors indicated (initial) strong support in the mission
    of Other Sheep.

    b.        Summary Statement:  Christian pastors and leaders are not exposed to gay Christians on
    any kind of a personal one-to-one basis.

    i.        In one of the regions we visited, one pastor and his wife surmised that one of their
    church leaders is gay, but never had a real personal, frank one-on-one conversation with
    him/her about his/her sexual orientation

    ii.        In another one of the regions we visited, every pastor and religious leader with whom we
    met told us that we were the first gay (Christian or non-Christian) person (couple) they met;
    they seemed to find it a remarkable experience and without reservation listened to our story
    and took the paper (in Nepali) on the evangelical “ex-gay” movement in the USA.  

    c.        Summary Statement:  Some Christian pastors’ responses, of course, are not all positive

    i.        In one of the three regions we visited:

    1.        A leading pastor threatened a Christian Nepali associated with Other Sheep with
    possible church discipline

    2.        A female co-pastor, though cordial, was obviously uncomfortable and adamantly
    opposed to homosexuality when brought into conversation on the topic of equality
    marriage by one man who on occasion attends her church after he was baptized there.

    ii.        In another of the three regions we visited:

    1.        After speaking in a church on the topic of welcoming and affirming, the pastor
    added concluding remarks to the congregation in which he said LGBT people are
    welcome but must change

    d.        Note:  The luncheon in Kathmandu to which pastors and lay Christians were invited:

    i.        No pastor who had attended the 2009 Other Sheep seminar in Kathmandu had
    responded in any form to the invitation that was emailed and texted to them (assuming contact
    information had not changed and that people received their messages)

2.        Our observations with regards to over-all human rights activism/organizations in Nepal
specifically in terms of its impact and/or support for LGBT Christians

    a.        Summary Statement:  LGBT organizations in Nepal are generally already supporting LGBT
    Christians where they can and especially where the Christian is already an activist him/herself;

    i.        Blue Diamond Society (reportedly the largest LGBT organization in Asia) met with Other
    Sheep in 2009 and again in 2011 and has shown support in translation work, publication and
    distribution (2009/11); in conducting general meetings (2009); in staff-briefing meetings for on-
    field orientation (2011); and media coverage.

    ii.        Other human rights activist organizations in Kathmandu in 2009 and in all three regions
    visited in 2011, welcomed Other Sheep and expressed interest and general support for the
    mission of Other Sheep

    1.        In all three regions visited in 2011, Other Sheep had the visual and physical
    (hands-on, personnel) on-the-ground support of a human rights activist organization,
    working side-by-side, together with us.

    b.        Summary Statement: In addition to non-religious organizations, there are Nepali Christian
    activists working on behalf of LGBT Christians

    i.        Other Sheep contact person since 2009 (name withheld) is an activist for human rights
    in general and is a central figure in helping, networking and supporting LGBT Christians in
    Nepal; this person connected us with significant, necessary, ground people in the three areas
    we visited who, in turn, conducted us to pastors and individuals whose contact information we
    took from the Internet, or who initiated further contacts for us, or who assisted in other ways, in
    order for us to present Other Sheep to individuals and groups

    ii.        In one of the three regions visited, we met a remarkable Christian activist who (among other
    activism) works for the welfare of LGBT Christians

3.        Our observations with regards to the general public and its views on marriage-equality
and homosexuality

    a.        General conditions around which our “data” was collected

    i.        The general public (Nepalis) with whom we interacted on a day-to-day basis

    1.        People in sales and services:  hotel; restaurant; Internet cafes; copying; travel
    sales – local and distant travel; general stores for items such as books, maps, and food.

    a.        While certainly these people in sales and services have a vested interest
    in us as the customer, there often was, it appeared to us, a very innocent, first
    time interaction with a “husband and husband” couple for which they obviously
    had not been prepared.

    2.        People in general with whom our paths crossed: on the bus, in the street and
    public square, eating next to us, etc.

    3.        Age would vary from around 20-35; education would vary, however all spoke
    English

    ii.        How the topic of marriage equality and homosexuality was introduced to individuals:

    1.        This was always natural and generally in the early stages of conversing with a
    new individual:  When introducing ourselves we always said we were “husband and
    husband.”

    b.        Summary Statement:  Young Nepalese (late teens to late thirties; most of them Hindu – we
    usually asked their religious affiliation) are very open to the idea of marriage equality and sexual
    orientation; the following substantiated this for us – i.e., some responses when introduced to the
    general public as husband and husband:

    i.        At the very outset, usually a huge roar of laughter, as if the foreigner was trying to make
    a joke (only once do we recall an individual who was totally in sync with us at the very outset,
    fully aware that we were NOT joking)

    ii.        Most of the time, sincere words of agreement and /or congratulations once it was
    established that we were not joking

    iii.        At times, lengthy conversations about homosexuality in Nepal and abroad (this was
    often the experience with waiters in restaurants and fellow travelers on buses; waiters at times
    would tell other waiters and waiters would gather at our table)

    iv.        In the public square to a group of five or more men:  One man, noticeably upset – a bit
    angry, challenged us that it was not natural, to which Steve replied that he was correct that it
    was not natural for him but that it was natural for us; general agreement followed even from the
    man who was upset

    v.        Individuals were more than happy to converse in front of their watching and listening
    associates about their feelings on homosexuality; this happened twice in Thamel (Kathmandu)
    and three times in Sauraha (Chitwan) – including one time with a father and son

    vi.        At times, individuals would want to exchange email and Facebook addresses because
    of their interest in us (in us generally or as a gay couple)

    vii.        At times, we would introduce Blue Diamond Society and Sunil Pant (first openly gay
    member of Nepal parliament) into the conversation to learn what Nepalese knew about human
    rights activism in Nepal for LGBT people; some Nepalese demonstrate, to a certain degree, a
    general awareness of LGBT human rights in Nepal

    viii.        Only one individual stated marriage equality would never come to Nepal

    ix.        Some stated they had never met a gay couple (or gay individual) before, and were glad
    to be doing so by meeting us

    x.        Most indicated that they knew there was gay marriage in some countries – that they
    were abreast of the news on this topic

    xi.        On one occasion – at a hotel – we were sought out and asked for more information on
    LGBT concerns by an individual

    xii.        On one occasion we spent a full evening in the home of an upper class family,
    celebrating with them the birthday of a family member; literally all ages were present (like a
    family reunion); a transgender danced as part of the entertainment; we were introduced and
    accepted (being invited to reside in their home upon our next visit to Nepal) as husband and
    husband

4.        Our observations with regards to the existence of closeted gays in Nepal

    a.        Closeted gay Nepali Christians (though openly gay among themselves):

    i.        There exists in Nepal a significant number of gay Christians who are closeted to the
    church but not to one another as gay and Christian (we met ten gay Christians, total from two
    of the three areas we visited, who are openly gay among themselves but apparently closeted
    to the church)

    ii.        The pastors who we met had no idea that there are gay Christians among them (when
    we cited the law of average as indicative of gay Christians among them), and some expressed
    surprise in meeting us to see and learn that we are gay (because we do not fit their stereotype
    of what a gay person should look like and act)

    b.        Closeted Nepali gays (whatever their religion or status):  Nepal, like all countries of the world,
    has closeted gays; in all three areas of Nepal where we visited we met closeted gays who look like
    every day Nepali men; they came out to us as either gay or as intensely interested in same-sex sex;
    Note: wherever we went we were constantly introducing ourselves as “husband and husband” – we
    became an easy target for anyone to seek us out for whatever reason; in some cases we were a
    magnet for gay men who perhaps had little to no exposure with other gay men

    c.        We distinguish here “closeted gay” Nepali men from what we experienced as “sex for pay”
    offers which may or may not indicate an individual’s sexual preference/orientation;  Note: in the night
    life of the streets of Thamel, sexual offers (as well as drug deals) by third party pushers are common
    enough (especially when two men are returning to their hotel late at night); generally we most always
    identified ourselves to pushers as men interested in men and just as often, without any show of
    surprise in our same-sex taste on the part of the pusher, we were given the response that male
    sexual entertainment could be arranged (“sex for pay”)

5.        Summary of the Foregoing: The current situation in Nepal presents an opportunity for the
Christian church in Nepal to become, in part, welcoming and affirming of LGBT people; this is
substantiated by:

    a.        At least three pastors and one religious leader/director (of a Christian society) have
    expressed substantial sympathy with the mission of Other Sheep and/or the desire/need to have
    more in depth knowledge on the topic of homosexuality and the church, while other pastors, who
    remain non-committal have cordially received the “ex-gay” paper (in Nepali) with a somewhat open
    mind we surmise.

    b.        There exists the structure and support of the vital, vast human rights organizations network in
    Nepal; these human rights organizations have and do cooperate with faith-based human rights
    activism in Nepal in which there is a focus on homophobia within religious communities

    c.        Nepal is a country where pluralism or tolerance exists (by necessity if not in spirit) by virtue of
    the three religions present (Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity; casts is another story which sadly
    seems to counter this point of pluralism and/or acceptance); Nepal has legalized third/other gender
    identification; other positive political action/ bills/laws for the human rights of LGBT people appear to
    be in the making in Nepal in some of the minds of its political leaders; and people, on the street, often
    openly before their friends and family members, verbally support  marriage equality and the
    legitimate expression of one’s sexual orientation

    d.        There is, at the very least, two committed Christians (who we met and know personally) who
    currently work with human rights activism full time and who are already plugged into the existing
    human rights network in Nepal, who have a passion and commitment for reaching the LGBT Christian
    individual and community, as well as making inroads with pastors and the Christian community at
    large.

    e.        Gay Christians are present and out to one another within the safe circles of sympathetic
    activist organizations while remaining closeted to their churches; other young Christians (gay or not,
    as represented by the one contact as reported in part 1.a.ii.3 above) are asking themselves
    questions about homosexuality and the Bible but are not willing to ask their pastor out of the
    assumption that a serious consideration of the topic will not be given/presented/studied

6.        Ideas/actions to consider in moving the Nepal Christian community towards welcoming
and affirming LGBT people;  
Note: all of the following suggestions come from gay and straight, Christian
and non-Christian Nepali individuals with whom we spoke in either 2009 or 2011 and who are interested in
helping LGBT Christians obtain full acceptance within the community of churches

    a.        Translate into Nepali, publish and distribute the book The Children Are Free: Reexamining the
    Biblical Evidence on Same-sex Relationships (2009)

    b.        Train a small number of interested pastors with teaching materials in Nepali (one Christian/
    theologian translator volunteered his/her services for this project) on what the Bible says about
    homosexuality (2011)

    c.        Have an underground association of gay Christians throughout Nepal for the purpose of
    fellowship and bringing awareness (2011)

    d.        Have media coverage from journalists who are sympathetic (one journalist volunteered his/her
    on-going services for the future) (2011)

    e.        Stay officially connected (Other Sheep Nepal) with the non-religious human rights
    organizations of Nepal through official association with their federation of organizations (2011)

    f.        Invite foundations (which are grant givers) existent in Nepal to observe first hand any open,
    public meetings where gay Christians are reaching out to the Christian community (2011)

    g.        Strategize in the distribution of the newly released “ex-gay” paper in Nepali, using the existent
    human rights organizations as distributers and targeting the Christian community (2011)
Our impressions of the current situation and the potential possibilities of the
Christian church in Nepal becoming, in part, welcoming and affirming of
LGBT people

A report by Rev. Steve Parelli and Mr. Jose Ortiz
on their visit to Nepal, August 17 – September 1, 2001
Written September 6, 2011 -- Bronx, New York
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**Our remarks as stated in this report are our (limited) impressions.  We make no claim, in presenting
here, a studied analytical report on our topic.  Therefore, our remarks, depending on what further
light may be brought to the topic, could appear with time as understated or overstated.  What we
present here are our interpretations and evaluations based upon the comments and actions of the
people with whom we spoke in three different areas of Nepal:  Kathmandu, Chitwan (specifically
Sauraha and Narayanghat), and Pokhara.  

We have regarded the varied kinds of people with whom we spoke (Christian, non-Christian, gay and
straight, male and female, educated and non-educated, mostly young, some the age of parents,
often invested in us as tourists, and all Nepali) as all truthfully sharing their thoughts and feelings on
the topic of homosexuality.  However, we fully understand that motivation (personal interest) and
prevailing circumstantial forces (society, religion, family, and associates) can color the information a
Nepali might share about him/herself and thereby skew the conclusions we make.  A Nepali may
fabricate or mask, to some degree, his or her thoughts and feelings in order to please rather than
disappoint the (male, American, openly gay) foreigner.  On the other hand, it can be argued, in some
cases, that a Nepali might feel more at liberty to speak honestly about his or her thoughts on the
topic of homosexuality with a stranger who lives half way around the world and who is only spending
a few days in Nepal; he or she may feel safe enough to speak with complete honesty.  
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This web page was created in and published from the
Bronx, New York, on September 7, 2011,

Visits to this web page since September 7, 2011:
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Steve & Jose's Other Sheep
Asia 2011 Ministry
with
India, Singapore and Nepal

Table of Index

India (Index Page)
July 2 - August 12, 2011

Daily Logs:

Major Events:
  • Young Lay Leaders Conference
  • Day 2 - Jose presents
    psychological dynamics of
    church bias towards
    sexual minorities
  • Day 3 - Future projects
    considered

Narratives:

Singapore (Index Page)
August 13 -16, 2011

Daily Log:

Major Events:
  • Steve & Jose present "Is There
    Such a Thing as 'Ex-gay'?"
  • Steve & Jose present a
    Powerpoint on their India 2011
    ministry

Narrative:

Analysis:

Interview:

Rev. Oyoung:

Nepal (Index Page)
August 17 - September 1, 2011

Daily Logs:

Major Events:
  • "Putting a Face on
    Homosexuality" - Meeting with
    area pastors

Narratives:

Nepal Evaluation Report:

Recources:
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