Other Sheep in
CHINA 2010
  • CHINA 2010:  Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Hainan, Beijing
  • INDIA 2010:  Bangalore, Trivandrum, Alleppey, Cochin
Felix Liew on the train
from Shenzhen to
Guangzhou, China.
July 12, 2010.
This report
was  written by
Felix Liew,
photo
at right.

As Other Sheep’s correspondent for
Asia, I
took another trip to Beijing in August
2010. This time I traveled with Other Sheep
director Rev. Steve Parelli and OS coordinator
for Asia Jose Ortiz. We arrived in the Chinese
capital on August 19, 2010. Initially we were
apprehensive about the sensitivity of our work
and the possible unwanted attention from the
Chinese authorities. But our fears proved
completely unwarranted. Our two-week stay in
Beijing was amazingly fruitful and surprisingly
free of harassment.


The highlights of our
ministry
in Beijing were our visits to an
LGBT Christian fellowship group and the
Beijing LGBT Center.

We met with the LGBT
Christian fellowship on the
first and last Friday evenings

we were there. The meeting took place in a
private apartment with a dozen gay Christian
men ranging from the age of 21 to 50. This
group has been running for a year since the
summer of 2009 when Rev. Boon (Oyoung)
spoke at the LGBT center in Beijing. On that
occasion, several LGBTs with a Christian
background came together to form a discreet
group that would provide a safe space for gay
Christians to gather together and share their
journey. Like any other Christian fellowship that
fosters spiritual growth, they read the Bible and
pray. The support and encouragement they
receive means that they would be empowered
to deal with the challenges from living out their
spirituality and sexuality simultaneously. At our
first meeting, Rev. Parelli shared the story of his
life while giving an overview of his eight
observations of the myths of the ex-gay ministry.
At the second meeting, Rev. Parelli shared a
powerpoint presentation of the Bible and
Homosexuality, explaining how the church has
misinterpreted and mistranslated the few
clobber passages on homosexuality.
Simultaneous interpretation into Mandarin was
done on each of these occasions. Handouts
were given away.

The leader of the group explained that the
majority of gay men in China come under the
social pressure to marry the opposite sex to
produce offspring, and so they could not have
steady gay partners. Instead, most of them were
driven to the gay bath houses for anonymous
encounters. Some young gay men even go into
fake marriages with lesbians to please their
parents while maintaining a gay lifestyle. A gay
couple in the fellowship is seriously thinking
about such a marriage. The family pressure
could be overwhelming for some of these young
men and women. While the authorities allow the
gay community a certain amount of freedom of
expression away from the public eye, there
have been occasional raids and crack downs
on cruising parks and restrooms in an attempt
to improve the city image. In spite of its position
as the seat of the Chinese government, Beijing
is still in my opinion the gay capital of China
with gay organizations and businesses
flourishing all across the city. On the other hand,
LGBT Christians in China continually
experience stress from the Orthodox Church.
They are subjected to Bible abuse from the
pulpit. Yet there is no support for these
Christians in the closet. So it is important that
such a fellowship group exists to support gay
Christians in their struggle to accept their own
sexuality while answering God’s call to rise to a
higher level of spirituality in their life.



The second highlight of our
ministry
was the publicized
seminar by Rev. Parelli at the
Beijing LGBT Center.
Months
before, the then director of the center, Bin,
invited Other Sheep to come to the center and
make a presentation. Just a month before, Bin
stepped down to allow Popo to head the center
while she took over the leadership of the
lesbian group Common Language. Let me
introduce these two remarkably courageous
and talented activists.

Meet Bin. Bin’s involvement in
activism started when
she met Wan
Yanhai in 1995. Wan was the founder of
Aizhixing, an NGO working on HIV prevention
and intervention. When gay men’s groups were
mushrooming around China in 2004 with HIV
work acting as the catalyst, lesbian groups were
almost non-existent. In 2007 however, the
Chinese Lesbian Alliance was set up to
connect activists from the Mainland, Taiwan and
Hong Kong. Bin participated in the training
workshops. She has started street outreach
events since 2007 advocating for LGBT rights.
In 2008, Bin headed the Beijing LGBT center
from its inception. In 2009 she started
promoting the International Day Against
Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) which
falls on May 17. Since July 2010, she has been
called to serve as the director of Common
Language, one of more than 20 lesbian groups
nationwide that do advocacy work for LGBT
rights through forums and dialogues.

Next, meet Popo, the 25 year
old current director of the
LGBT center
in Beijing. Popo graduated
from the prestigious Beijing Film Academy. He
authored a book on gay films titled Happy
Together: 100 Queer Films All Included, and co-
edited the Gayspot magazine. On a trip to Los
Angeles, Popo met Milk’s film director and
script writer. Since then he was inspired to do
filming. Films on homosexual themes were
banned on public cinemas by China’s State
Administration of Radio, Film and Television.
Because of this, Popo saw the need to produce
homosexual films to communicate positive
messages to the public about gay people, as
he understood the power of films to alter public
opinions. The films he made include such titles
as Taipei: City of Rainbow, New Beijing New
Marriage, the Chinese Closet, and Only Love.
Popo founded the China Queer Independent
Films and launched the China Queer Film
Festival Tour in February 2008. Through this
road show, queer films have been brought to
nearly twenty major cities across China and
attitudes are changing. The China Daily
reported that “gay movies helped change the
taboo.” When we met Popo, he gave each of us
a copy of his films—The Chinese Closet, and
New Beijing New Marriage. The Chinese
Closet documents the lives of gays and
lesbians in China, how they came out to their
parents and how parents came to accept their
gay son or lesbian daughter. It is very touching
film that opens the eyes of the audience, thanks
to Popo and his team.
For the full story of Popo,
click here.


At the Beijing LGBT center,
some 50 people were in
attendance on the afternoon
of August 28, 2010
. Jose started off
with a short testimony of his life, followed by
Rev. Parelli’s presentation which touched on the
work of Other Sheep in various parts of the
world, the challenges that LGBT people of faith
encounter in Africa, South America and Asia,
and how Other Sheep is making a difference in
their lives. Parelli also touched on the failure of
the ex-gay ministry in trying to change the
sexual orientation of gay people. The audience
was largely non-religious, but there was one
particular man in the audience, Kyle, who had
been searching for answers. I will mention Kyle
again at the end of this report. We handed out
50 sets of the paper written by Rev. Parelli that
was translated into Chinese,
Is there such a
thing as ex-gay?
We also handed out ten sets
of the study on the Bible and Homosexuality to
those who were interested. After the seminar,
the staff of the center presented each of us with
a black T-shirt printed with nine Chinese
characters in white that reads: “We want to
watch homosexual movies.”

20 copies of Rev. Boon (Oyoung)’s book
God
Loves Gay People
in Chinese were handed
out free of charge:  to all the members of the
Christian fellowship, individuals we met, and the
LGBT center library.



Apart from these meetings,
we had private appointments
with individuals who
needed
counseling. Of these, three men stood out—
Walter, Val and Karl.

We spent time alone with each of these
individuals.  With Karl and his boyfriend (they
both spoke English), Rev. Parelli and Jose Ortiz
spent two days, traveling with them to a village,
56 miles NW of Beijing, dating from the Ming
and Qing dynasty.  On two separate occasions
we met with Val, and I translated for Rev. Parelli
and Ortiz.  With Walter (who spoke English),
Parelli and Ortiz had met alone.

Then, three days before our departure from
Beijing, we arranged a special meeting with
these three men, together with the three of us,
and Karl’s boyfriend Kenny, too. The objective
was to introduce each individual to the others
and to mutually share each of their stories, and
to voice what each person learned from this
session and took away from it.

The following is a brief account of what each of
the three shared with the others.



Walter was a 21 year old
young man struggling to
come to terms with his
sexuality.
Not too long ago, he was in
denial while being actively involved in his church
and Campus Crusade for Christ. He was
socializing with a gay couple from Israel when
he came out to his pastor. The pastor told him
to cut off all his ties with gay people and he did.
But soon he found himself estranged from the
church. Later he met his current boyfriend at the
LGBT center, and he dropped out of church
attendance completely. As a result of Other
Sheep’s visit with Walter, he learned about
God's love for gay people, and that made him
want to go back to church. We advised him to
start with a clean slate, which means he should
reexamine the Bible and read it with a new
perspective.





Val is 50 years old. He
discovered his homosexual
feelings when he was 12 but
had since denied it.
Thinking that
marriage and career were the essentials to a
successful life, he married a woman at the age
of 35. His education and career took him away
from home for a number of years. During this
time, he joined a small church that helped him
through difficult times and counseled him to
move his family to Beijing. Against the advice of
his gay friends, he transferred his wife and
daughter to be with him. He wanted to be a
good husband and father. However, his wife
soon discovered clues of his homosexuality and
confronted him. As much as he denied it in a
desperate attempt to save the marriage, she
would not believe him. So when home life
became unbearable, Val divorced her in a fit of
rage two years ago. His colleagues at work still
ask about the divorce to embarrass him. He
has to live with constant disapproval as a
divorcee. Church members still try to talk to him
about reconciling with his ex-wife or remarrying.
Singlehood is just not acceptable in Chinese
society. He had to give up his aspirations for
higher positions in his career, forego the
acceptance of mainstream society, his former
schoolmates, colleagues and a happy family
life. His daughter just turned 15. She lives with
her mother but visits her father regularly. At the
time of our visit, Val still did not believe that he
was gay despite his homosexual activities.
After some careful analysis with him, he finally
accepted the fact that he was indeed gay, and
would live the rest of his life accordingly.
However, he did not think coming out was an
option under the circumstances. The divorce
was bad enough for his reputation without the
added stigma of homosexuality. It would
jeopardize everything he had worked so hard
for. The direction of his life is clear as a result of
his conversations with us. He could be free to
live a quiet life of study, writing, traveling,
socialization and involvement in social activism.
He would no longer hate his ex-wife, but would
love her and his daughter more. He would
continue to attend his church and be a good
example to his daughter. He would live a life
that he could claim as his own. For him, life
begins at 50. Above all, Other Sheep has
inspired him to want to reach out to other gay
people in the community with the love of Jesus
Christ. One day when the time is right, he plans
to write his autobiography and share his story
with the world.




Karl is in his mid-40s. He is an
Asian American living in
Beijing.
All his family members and
relatives are evangelical Christians in the U.S,
but he has refused to be persuaded by them.
He grew up with gays and straights alike and so
homosexuality was never an issue with him. In
fact, he was so comfortable with his sexuality
that he refused to join a church that nurtures
homophobia. However, he really wanted to
believe in God to have the peace of mind that
some of his Christian friends seem to have
found. The frustration of getting stuck at a “red
light” continued to grow in his restless mind,
until by some miracle, his boyfriend Kenny
came across an ad on the LGBT website about
a seminar for LGBT Christians by Rev. Parelli,
on the very night before the event was to take
place. They decided to attend the following day.
In his subsequent conversation with Parelli, Karl
saw the green light. It was a huge relief for him
to be able to ask God into his life without having
to worry about joining any church. Today Karl is
rejoicing daily in his newfound faith, and Kenny
is happy for him. Kenny is not yet a Christian but
seeing what a difference it has made on his
boyfriend, he said he was on his way to
becoming one as well.



Rev. Steve Parelli, Jose Ortiz
and I came away from this trip
with a new appreciation for
LGBT people in China who
have to deal with family, social
and religious pressure to
conform.
We were completely amazed at
what God had done through Other Sheep on
this trip. We have connected Val and Karl with
the LGBT Christian fellowship. It is our prayer
that they will continue to grow in their spirituality
and find support and encouragement with other
gay people of faith on the same journey.

God does love gay people! We are a minority
who are so blessed as a collective witness to
God’s indiscriminate and inclusive love for all of
humanity!
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Above Photo:  Materials Other Sheep
distributed at their meetings in Beijing, August
19 - September 4, 2011
Photo at left:  Bin Xu
(right), former director
of the Beijing LGBT
center, with Jose Ortiz
(left), Other Sheep
Coordinator for Asia.
August 22, Beijing,
China
Above Photo, left to right: Steve Parelli, Jose Ortiz,  Bin Xu - former director
of the Beijing LGBT center, and Felix Liew Other Sheep correspondent in Asia.
Other Sheep descended on the Gay Capital of China
by Felix Liew
Steve Parelli and Jose Ortiz
Forbidden City, Beijing, China
August 23, 2010
Jose Ortiz,

                                                          Bin
Other Sheep met on two different occasions with The
Beijing Gay Christian Fellowship:  Friday, August 20
and Friday, September 3, 2010.  The
above two
photos
show Steve's presentation on the Bible and
homosexuality which was given September 3.
Between meetings . . . seeing Beijing.  For a complete
log of how Steve and Jose spent their time - both bussness and
pleasure -
click here.
At left:  Jose Ortiz,
Summer Palace
near the Temple of
Wisdom.  
September 1, 2010
Theater in
Beijing, China,
September 2,
2010
Meeting two significant LGBT
leaders of Beijing, China . . .
Other Sheep first met Bin
Xu at the ILGA 2006 World
Conference in Geneva,
Switzerlant
Click here for Other
Sheep's first meeting
with Bin Xu at ILGA
2006 in Geneva.
Above, left and
below:  
Popo,
executive director
of the Beijing
LGBT Center.

Above:  Popo
with Felix Liew
(center) and Jose
Ortiz.

Left:  Popo with
Steve Parelli
At left:  Popo,
bottom row,
center, with
friends and Other
Sheep.
Steve Parelli             Jose Ortiz                     Bin Xu                Felix Liew
Popo                                   Felix                    Jose
Steve Parelli      PoPo
Above:  Standing at left, Felix Liew, interpreting
Standing at right, Rev. Steve Parelli, presenting
Above, above right and
left:

In these three photos, we
see (1) Karl and his
boyfriend walking with Jose
Ortiz (left); (2) the overview
of the city from a mountain
path (above right); and (3)
one of the villiage dwellings
(above).
Two days in Chuandixiia, 56 miles (90 km) NW
of Beijing):  
An overnight spiritual retreat - we
talked about matters of the heart and God
Above left:  Dinner in the home
of Val, college professor and
member of the gay Christian
fellowship.  
Above:  Back at the
hostel.  In both pictures:  Jose
Ortiz, left; Felix Liew, right.  
August 23, 2010.
Rev. Steve Parelli presenting . . .
Realizing that our evening with Val was
just the beginning of his sharing and
thinking out loud, on the following day,
we asked him to meet us for lunch and
then to spend the day and evening
with us.  He did.  Together we visited
Tian'an Men Square.  August 24, 2010
Tian'an Men Square,
Monument to the
People's Heroes,
August 24, 2010
Tian'an Men Square,
August 24, 2010
From this Ming dynasty gate (under the the picture), on October 1, 1949, Mao
proclaimed the founding of the People's Republic of China. Tian'an Men
Square,  August 24, 2010
1
2
3
Two days in
Chuandixiia
, 56 miles (90 km)
NW of Beijing):  
An overnight get-
away that turned into a spiritual
retreat - we talked about matters
of the heart and God.
Chuandixiia, China:  "A living museum of
Ming and Qing dynasty architecture"
-  a
quote from
Eyewitness Travel: Beijing &
Shanghai,
p. 95.
Chuandixiia, China
We talked about
matters of the heart
and God.
Other Sheep in Chuandixiia, China:
. . . it became a spiritual retreat; a cell-group of
just four.
 August 29 & 30, 2010
Jose Ortiz       
                      Felix Liew
Jose Ortiz
                  Felix Liew
Chuandixiia, China
I remember how moved Felix was at the end
of Other Sheep's time in Beijing.  He
remarked something to the effect that
helping gay Christians on this day-to-day
basis had been a very, powerful, even life
changing, experience for him.  
         
                              - Steve Parelli
Jose Ortiz (left)
and Felix Liew
(right).  
Returning on
the subway after
an evening with
the LGBT
English class.
August 26, 2010
On Sunday, August 22, while attending an LGBT Beijing
Center event, a gay Christian - Walter - approached
Jose and exchanged phone numbers with him. Walter
had become a Christian some time prior to going off to
college.  At college he became involved with Campus
Crusade.  He came out to them as a gay man, naturally,
not knowing that he would be rejected by this new
Christian fellowship which he had eagerly joined. His
Christian friends told him he needed to change.  

Walter is an interesting case within evangelicalism. He
didn't grow up learning that God doesn't accept gays.  
His love for God and himself as a gay man were totally
compatible to him.  He had to be taught to hate himself.

At the time we met him, he was completely destroyed -
or, at best, very few shreds of his faith were left -
because of Campus Crusade and its ministry that told
him how wrong he was in his relationship with Christ.

We met with Walter on three occasions
.

               - Steve Parelli
Above:  Jose Ortiz taking
down Walter's phone number
upon their first meeting.  
August 22, 2010
Above: Typical steps and posts. Here,
in the Confucius Temple compound,
Beijing, China.  August 26, 2010
真的有 “前同志”这回事吗?
本文乃一则针对美国基督教福音派前同志运动的评估,
内容取自作者作为一名 “前同志”  的亲身经历和一些前同运领导之著作.
作者: Stephen Parelli (神学硕士, Other Sheep"其他羊群”执行总监)
网站: www.othersheepexecsite.com, www.othersheep.org
2006年6月