Gay and Christian in

On the evening of July 18th, 15 plus members of Ishtar MSM, an HIV-AIDS education and prevention
organization for gay men, met with a leading religious leader of the Christian community of Nairobi,
Kenya.  The two parties came together by the invitation of Other Sheep, an international ecumenical
Christian mission organization that affirms LGBTs in their faith.  Other Sheep is in Kenya for July and
August by the invitation of Ishtar MSM.  Peter Njoroge is acting director of Ishtar MSM.  The meeting
took place at Blackrose Apartments, a gated community,  Apt A7, Kilimani, Nairobi.

Other Sheep executive director, Steve Parelli, acted as moderator of the meeting.  His opening
remarks set the parameters for the meeting.  Calling the process an “active-listening-dialogue,” the
moderator explained that the religious leader of the Christian community, who was termed the guest of
honor, had come to listen to the stories of Kenya’s gay Christians, and that their stories were to focus
on their experiences and feelings as a gay person especially within the Christian community but also
with family, friends and society.  The procedure was simple:  individuals would volunteer to tell their
story; the guest of honor would listen without comment; upon the completion of the individual’s story
the guest of honor would be permitted to ask two questions of the individual; upon completion of the
telling of all stories the guest of honor would be able to ask questions in general either to the group at
large or by addressing an individual; the moderator would moderate.  At this point of the meeting the
moderator asked the guest of honor to introduce himself to the group.

Our guest of honor, in his opening remarks, let us know his extent of involvement with and general
knowledge of LGBTs; informed us that he had read the book The Children Are Free in preparation for
an initial, prior meeting with Steve Parelli and Jose Ortiz of Other Sheep; that he had the direct ear and
interest of the leading religious leader within his denomination, that the leader had approved of the
meeting but could not himself attend the meeting because of the nature of the meeting, and that a full
report by the guest of honor would be made to the denominational leader; that our guest of honor’s
identity had to be kept secret because the constituency of his denomination would not be sympathetic
with the meeting.

Some general observations and high points of the meeting:  
    (1) Everyone gave their story while the guest of honor made careful notes and almost always
    followed up each individual’s story with questions;
    (2) A lesbian couple was present, one partner a transgender; they told their story;
    (3) Four gay men identified themselves as coming from the same local church as the guest of
    honor (which insight literally blew away our guest of honor who commented that when reporting
    back to the leader he will be completely surprised);
    (4) the content of the individual stories had the effect of humanizing and dignifying the LGBT
    community before the guest of honor in that the stories related the same feelings as those of
    heterosexuals (romantic love, need for physical intimacy, desire for lasting and loving
    relationships, a love and devotion for God and the religious community, consideration for and
    the care of their parents, the universal emotion of hurt and alienation that is experienced by the
    individual when rejected and misunderstood by family, church and society).

The guest of honor asked three questions (lumping them together) for general discussion for
the last segment of the meeting (15-20 min).  He wanted to know
    (1) do they think they could change;
    (2) what would they want the church to know; and
    (3) how do they respond to the church’s position that they are welcomed as LGBTs as long as
    they do not act upon their feelings (remain sexually inactive).

The group (individuals) responded that

    (1) they could not change; they would have changed if they could because who would choose to
    remain oppressed and rejected by family, church and society; and they don’t want to change
    because they are happy and excited about who and what they are; that when seeking
    counseling from a professional they want a counselor who will affirm their sexual identity, and are
    looking for professional help in the area of the expressed need (“for my needs within my gay
    relationship”) and not to be viewed as a client who needs to change his sexual identity;

    (2) besides the obvious (the church’s anti-gay rhetoric coached in Bible quotations and general
    teachings); that the church fails to handle gays correctly within the church in that whenever it
    may become known that a gay is in their presence attitudes change towards that individual and
    even a mishandling of the individual will occur from case to case (unloving, un-Christian actions)
    which often results in the individual quietly leaving the church or in the direct expulsion of the
    individual; and finally

    (3) to live out their gay lives celibate as a condition of being excepted by the Christian
    community, the group responded that the church is wrong to call heterosexuality natural and
    homosexuality unnatural; that the church is wrong to ask all LGBTs to live celibate lives when
    celibacy is a gift that only a few may have (that the church would not ask heterosexuals to
    remain a life-long celibate); that God created man (generic) to live within a relationship with
    another human being - that Adam and Eve instead of Adam and Steve misrepresents that
    emphasis of the creation story.

The guest of honor, having heard the individual stories, made the following observation that no one
pattern could be identified from the stories given that would explain the phenomenon of homosexuality.

The group showed their appreciation at the end of the meeting by giving a hand (applauding) to the
guest of honor.

After the guest left, Peter Njoroge summarized the meeting as a very positive experience stating that
he believed the guest of honor’s level of LGBT awareness had been raised significantly.

                                     -- Steve Parelli reporting, Nairobi, Kenya, July 19, 2007.

    VISIT Steve and Jose!
    Visit the Other Sheep web site of  the Executive
    Director, Steve Parelli (at right in photo), and his
    partner Jose Ortiz.
Meet us
under the
acacia tree
This website was constructed in July of 2007
Visits made to this web page since August 2007
This page was archived March 2011 and is part of the Other Sheep East Africa archived pages.  
This page serves as part of
an historical record of Other Sheep in Africa from July 2007 - February 2011
For current information regarding Other Sheep in Africa,
go to
Other Sheep in Africa.