Don’t let story of David Kato’s murder die

HARDY HABERMAN  |  Flagging Left

A few months ago when I wrote about the draconian anti-homosexual laws being passed in Uganda, I had an ominous feeling that it would be the beginning of a very real nightmare for LGBT people in that African country.

Unfortunately, that is coming to pass.

LGBT activist David Kato was murdered, not by a sniper from a distance, but by an individual who brutally beat him to death with a hammer.

A Ugandan publication had published his photo and that of other LGBT activists on the front page; above the picture were the words “Hang Them.”

Already, the authorities in Uganda are trying to cloud the issue with talk of “thieves and gangs.” But to call his death anything but the hate crime it was is ludicrous.

Beating someone to death with a hammer is up close and personal and comes from a hate-filled rage.

Much of that rage has been fueled by clergy in Uganda. One man in particular — Martin Ssempa, a man with the dubious title of “reverend.”

If you don’t think you know him, you most likely do. Ssempa was the speaker in the YouTube video that went viral last year. In that clip he is describing how gay men “eat the pooh-pooh.”

Though to us it might have seemed comical and worthy of ridicule, in Uganda, Ssempa’s words are taken seriously.

Ssempa is a well-known preacher in Uganda, and he has a lot of well-funded U.S. ties. You see, anti-gay evangelists who can’t find an audience for their hate here in this country have fanned out to proselytize in countries where their message might have more traction.

Rick Warren, the author of “A Purpose Driven Life,” was one of Ssempa’s supporters. Though he now distances himself from the Uganda situation, funds from Warren’s church helped fuel this mess. U.S. evangelicals and the ex-gay movement are big players in Ssempa’s push.

Ssempa has wrapped his hate in the banner of AIDS activism. But don’t be fooled. His brand of activism led him to burn cases of condoms “in Jesus’ name” and to sponsor gatherings with U.S. speakers like Scott Lively, who blames homosexuals for the Nazi Holocaust.

Other U.S. interlopers include Don Schmierer, who is on the board of Exodus International and who spoke at a conference in Kampala in March, 2009, where he endorsed the anti-homosexual laws that caused such an international stir.

Now as David Kato is being laid to rest the controversy continues.

A pastor speaking at his funeral lashed out at homosexuality, prompting a strong reaction from Kato’s friends. Scuffles broke out before the event was over.

Things turned so ugly that villagers refused to bury his body, and it was up to his friends to carry the coffin to the grave and complete the burial themselves.
And all this just adds fuel to the fires in Uganda.

It is unfortunate that those fires have been stoked by citizens of the U.S. who traveled to Uganda to inflame passions there. Worse, this crime is going to fall from the front pages as events in Egypt take center stage in news from Africa. Besides, the story is somewhat old news, and falls well outside the attention span of U.S. news audiences.

That’s why it is up to the LGBT media to keep this urgent human rights story alive.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. His blog is at http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 4, 2011.

—  John Wright

WATCH: GetEQUAL Texas calls out Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison for vote against DADT repeal

Transgender woman Chris Tina Foxx Bruce holds a sign conveying the message of today’s rally outside Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s Dallas office.

About 10 people gathered outside Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s Dallas office this afternoon to protest her vote on Saturday against the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

The protest was organized by GetEQUAL Texas, the state chapter of the national LGBT direct action group, and similar rallies were scheduled today outside Hutchison’s offices in Austin, Houston and San Antonio.

Wielding signs, bullhorns and a Rainbow-colored American flag, the Dallas protesters chanted “Shame on Kay!” and “Retire, Kay Bailey!” as they stood on a grassy median along the service road outside her 11th floor office in the Hotels.com building at 10440 N. Central Expressway.

Despite Hutchison’s vote against DADT repeal, the bill passed and is expected to be signed by President Barack Obama on Wednesday. However, the protesters  didn’t appear to be in a celebratory mood.

“This is just the beginning,” said protester Marlin Bynum, a 47-year-old former preacher who came out as gay five years ago. “We still need ENDA. We’ve still got to repeal DOMA. This is just the beginning. In fact, I don’t know if the fight will ever end.”

Another protester, Chris Tina Foxx Bruce, said she attended the rally because she wanted to make sure the transgender community was represented.

“We have to put on a united front,” she said.

Foxx Bruce added that she’s toying with the idea running for Hutchison’s Senate seat in 2012. Foxx Bruce said Hutchison voted against DADT repeal even though everyone knew it had enough votes to pass.

“She was making a statement, and her statement was, she doesn’t believe in equality,” Foxx Bruce said.

Jade Rea, who traveled to the rally from Fort Worth and said she was representing the bisexual community, acknowledged that Hutchison is unlikely to ever support the LGBT community.

“Probably not, but it’s better for her to see something going on in support than nothing at all,” Rea said. “If you’re not vocal, you’re not heard, you’re not seen, it’s like you’re invisible.”

At the end of the rally, a representative from Hutchison’s office, Byron Campbell, came down to meet the protesters, who handed him two signs on which they’d written personal messages.

“Eighty percent of this country supported the bill,” GetEQUAL board member Mark Reed-Walkup told Campbell as he handed him the signs. “We e-mailed, we called her, she asked for a study, the study came back positive, and then she still voted no. We’re extremely disappointed, and we’ll be back.”

“I appreciate this. Thank you very much, and thank you for your time,” Campbell said before quickly going back inside.

Reed said GetEQUAL, which formed this year, is just beginning to organize chapters in all 50 states and likely will become more active in Texas in 2011.

“We’ll continue to hold our elected leaders accountable,” Reed said.

More photos from the rally after the jump.

—  John Wright

‘Hating the sin but loving the sinner’ preacher to step down?

Surprise! What have we been saying about homophobia? Most of those Elmer Gantry preachers “who hate the sin but love the sinner” and have so influenced our political leaders with their piety to keep homophobic policies in place end up getting caught in their own web of “Do as I say, not as I do!” hypocrisy. Oh, what a terrible shock (snark…). Actually, it has been noted Bishop Eddie hated the sinner, as well, and mark my words that Long’s homophobic hateful message still resonates with many of his followers and politicians willing to utilize it to rationalize the, decidely un-Christian, continued oppression of our LGBT community:

“The problem today and the reason why society is like it is, is because men are being feminized and women are becoming masculine,” Long says. He then rejects the notion that homosexual orientation can’t be changed. “You can not say, ‘I was born this way’… I don’t care what scientists say, If you say you were born this way, then you’re saying, ‘God, you’re a liar! And I see this thing down here but I’m going to ignore it!’ ”

Much of Long’s sermon is devoted to the theme of proper gender roles. “It is the most unattractive thing I have ever seen, when I see women wearing uniforms that men would wear, and women fighting to get in the military!”

Long later mocks lesbians and female self-gratification. “So the woman gets converted, or perverted, to turn towards woman. Why would she turn toward woman? Because, she’ll turn toward woman because woman is acting like man.”

Oh, and his quote that “everyone knows it is dangerous to enter an exit!” just brings the house down.

It is now being reported Bishop Eddie Long has another accuser the plaintiff’s attorney has added to the list. Only four, Bishop?

Please check out Pam’s House Blend for more hilarity regarding the media allowing fellow arrogant hypocrite Ted Haggard to weigh in on this scandal. I’m still amazed Haggard is paid by the media to provide his two cents! What does that man have to offer except empty platitudes and possibly moaning about the horrible mistreatment he has suffered by the truth being exposed?

Oh, and this is another one of those “Teachable Moments” for Team Obama and their willingness to place the advice and profound spiritual guidance of intolerant Talibangelicals above our civil rights. Did the Obama Admin ever stop to question what truly motivates their Evangelical friends to continue to oppress us? It most certainly adds new meaning to “hating the sin and loving the sinner” on so MANY levels.

How many accusers does it take for the homophobic Bishop Eddie Long to finally step down?




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

Another homophobic preacher in gay scandal

Eddie Long is famous for being virulently homophobic, so this just adds more fuel to the fire of what many of us have said for a long time. The more homophobic a preacher is, the more likely that preacher is struggling mightily hard to hide something. The media really does need to start digging harder when preachers and politicians are perniciously homophobic and determine whether it is faith or their own struggle with their sexual orientation that is driving them to preach homophobia.

So many times, whether it be preachers like Ted Haggard, or homophobic political officials like Senator Larry Craig, Ed Schrock, Charlie Crist, Ed Koch, Jim McCrery, David Drier, and Ken Mehlman, as detailed in the movie, “Outrage,” the homophobia serves as a mechanism to allow them to compartmentalize what they consider their unacceptable side of themselves. They end up being these horrendous “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” caricatures until they are forced to integrate their personalities. Unfortunately, for them, it usually takes some horrible publicized example of acting out or the public humiliation of being outed for them to finally come to terms with themselves. Then, surprise, many times they become big advocates for equality and civil rights for LGBT Americans. In the meantime, the damage done to both themselves and our community is immense.

ATLANTA — The prominent pastor of a 25,000-member megachurch outside Atlanta denies allegations in a lawsuit that he coerced two young men from the congregation into a sexual relationship, his attorney said.

Lawyers for the men, now 20 and 21, say they filed the lawsuit Tuesday in DeKalb County Court against Bishop Eddie Long. The Associated Press generally does not identify people who say they were victims of sexual impropriety.

The men were 17- and 18-year-old members of Long’s New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, when they say Long abused his spiritual authority to seduce them with cars, money, clothes, jewelry, international trips and access to celebrities.

The Christian Science Monitor asks a good question, and that is will this case finally alter the black church’s view of gays? Will Obama take note and evolve, as well, since this is another one of those issues where, supposedly, “God is in the mix?”




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

Renee O’Connor film looks to add Facebook fans

Renee O'Connor in Beyond the Farthest Star
Actress Renee O’Connor and producer Benjamin Dane on location in Leonard, Texas, filming “Beyond the Farthest Star.”

Back in April, we published this interview with Renee O’Connor, the straight actor who earned herself an army of devoted lesbian fans with her role as the sweet and sexy Gabrielle on the TV series “Xena: Warrior Princess.”

O’Connor was, at the time of the interview, on location in Leonard, Texas — just northeast of Dallas — filming a movie called “Beyond the Farthest Star,” about a preacher, his wife, their daughter and the secrets they have been keeping. It’s not the kind of movie we would usually cover in Dallas Voice; there’s nothing LGBT-related in the storyline. But hey, I was a “Xena” fan, too, and I couldn’t pass up the chance to interview O’Connor. Plus, I know there are plenty of lesbians out there who still follow O’Connor’s career and would be interested in her latest venture.

This week, I got an e-mail from Benjamin Dane, a local actor who not only has a role in “Beyond the Farthest Star,” but is also one of the film’s producers. And he is once again reaching out to O’Connor’s lesbians fans to help get the word out about the movie:

“The new film, ‘Beyond the Farthest Star,’ starring Renee O’Connor is up to 3,400 fans on Facebook. In the last week, fan numbers have increased over 1,500. In an effort to spread the word about the film as it is in post production, we are setting a goal for 5,000 Facebook fans by Aug. 31. We need another 1,600 fans in nine days. I know Renee has a powerful fan base and I am hoping it can be rallied to help us reach our goal.”

He also noted that the movie’s website includes a “fan-driven demand/release” program called “Bring It,” where fans can, basically, vote to have the film screened in their area. He explained:

“This innovative system gives us more ammunition with our distributors. We have three distributors interested, but if we have numbers to prove interest from fans, it gives us more bargaining power. The fans literally can bring the film to a cinema near them if there are enough votes! As of right now, there are 202 American cities and 7 different countries that want ‘Beyond’ to screen in a theater in their community! And this is without a trailer! We are working on a trailer and it will be presented, however numbers are starting to grow on buzz alone!”

And, Dane said, the “Bring It” button is also on the film’s Facebook page. He also had a special message to O’Connor’s fans:

“I know Renee and Xena fans. I have spoken to a lot of you and understand your passion and love for Renee. I cannot wait for you to see her in this powerful performance. I have seen rough edits of the film and it is very dynamic. It is emotional, intense and compelling. I look forward to sharing with you all!”

The film also stars Todd Terry, Cheramie Leigh, Barry Corbin, Lou Beatty Jr. and more. It was written and is directed by Andrew Librizzi, and is co-produced by Dane and Sally Helppie.

And by the way, the Dallas Metro area is leading, by a big margin, in the “Bring It” vote count.

—  admin

Haggard claims he over-repented, but evangelist has never apologized for the harm he caused

Ted Haggard

The Wall Street Journal reports that disgraced minister Ted Haggard says he over-repented.

And apparently 200 people have over-forgiven him.

Haggard was the head of the National Association of Evangelicals who got caught over-using meth with a Denver rentboy four years ago. He’s returned to Colorado Springs (after being run out of town by his former organization) and started a new church. The WSJ reports that the church’s band of losers have outgrown Haggard’s barn and are looking for a new, bigger church where they can pray together, but hopefully not over-pray.

How Haggard “over-repented” is not explained by the Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper. The preacher has not over-apologized — or ever apologized — for his years of gay-bashing or for the harm he caused children growing up in evangelical homes who may have listened to his hate speech or had parents who took his message seriously.

He’s renamed his years of hiring prostitutes and doing drugs his “crisis.” He refers to his encounter with former prostitute Mike Jones as a “massage gone awry.”

Why would anyone go to a church and give money to a meth addict who cheats on his wife?

Members of his new congregation told the newspaper they can relax and be themselves with the imperfect pastor. Maybe the members of his church just like knowing that he’s an even bigger loser than they are.

—  David Taffet

Attacks on Gainesville's gay mayoral candidate

Openly gay man Craig Lowe has advanced to a runoff in the race for mayor of Gainesville, Fla., and the righteous people of Dove Ministries in Gainesville are furious about it.

They’ve put a sign up in front of the church that says “No Homo Mayor,” and their pastor, Wayne Sapp, has posted a video online in which he rants against Lowe’s efforts to turn Gainesville into “Homoville” and against the other churches in town that refused to participate with Dove Ministries in a protest against any homos being elected to office in their fair city.

You can watch the video below (be prepared to get riled up), and then go here and read Waymon Hudson’s post on Bilerico.com.

—  admin