This is an Other Sheep web page
The Rev. Dr. Kenneth Dobson
|An Article by Rev. Dr. Kenneth Dobson
|"Here I am on the cusp of seventy
years of age . . . a Presbyterian
pastor and missionary" ministering to
fifty or sixty "queers and queens" in
"this northern Thai village context."
The Rev. Dr. Kenneth Dobson
with Pramote, his Thai partner.
|2011 ANNUAL REPORT FROM
Thursday, October 27, 2011
It has been a quiet year here in Northern Thailand, which is mostly good. It may be that ferment
produces change in some cultures in the world, but in Thailand confrontation produces
recalcitrance and slows things down. Still, the strategy is shifting toward more activism.
(1) World AIDS Day 2010 was marked by the LGBT NGOs with a week of activities in Bangkok
designed to raise consciousness and increase pressure for legal recognition and human rights
for people of sexual diversity. I was asked to represent the religious sector in a panel discussion
to report on the prospects for recognition of same-sex marriages. The rest of the week included
more speeches, films, and public activities.
(2) World AIDS Day 2011 will include another week of activities in Bangkok, but the actual nature
will depend on the conditions in Bangkok following the historic flooding being experienced right
now (as I write this on Halloween week-end). I will again be invited to speak in behalf of religious
sectors. We will have a similar set of programs here in Chiang Mai in February.
(3) I have written several articles for the gay press, not of a religious nature, but more to re-
position the focus onto such things as how LGBT people should legitimately be viewed. An
article coming out this week involves “The B in LGBT”, for example.
(4) We had a “Walk for the Right to Safety” on the anniversary of a near-riot the year before
when a gay pride parade was viciously attacked. This walk involved speeches at the start, and
then a walk through the tourist area of Chiang Mai. A Buddhist abbot and I were supposed to
lead the walk, but he didn’t show up, and as the march began, all the Buddhist novices and
priests were pulled out of the parade. They went on without us. But that led to me “addressing”
the Buddhists on the subject, “If we religious leaders are not going to lead in this society, who
will lead? If we are not advocates for safety for our most vulnerable brothers and sisters, what
are we for?” The walk, however, was otherwise uneventful. It was a painful lesson that here in
Thailand LGBT people should not count on the religious establishments to help.
(5) On 11/11/11 at 11:11 a.m. I will conduct Thailand’s first Christian wedding of a lesbian
couple. There have been other weddings of an indigenous nature (sometimes with a nominal
Buddhist element), but there are no Christian pastors who are willing to break with tradition and
(6) In mid-October I attended the “soft launch” of Volunteer Plus, an international NGO,
apparently the first, organized for the purpose of providing equal opportunities for people
impacted by HIV-AIDS to participate in international voluntary service. The emphasis will be on
HIV survivors to share their experiences and perspectives in some creative and helpful way with
people here in Chiang Mai who are being impacted. The NGO is being organized by Carlton
Rounds, recently of Poughkeepsie, NY now living and working in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Vol+
will set up their first two-week project here in Chiang Mai in January (two months from now).
(7) Pramote and I still operate an ad-hoc guest house, gay center and safe-house for gay and
transgender people. “Our Group” is breaking up as several of the guys/girls have moved away
into businesses and careers. So our gatherings, which used to be frequent, now have the
nature of reunions. We still have occasional guests from around the world, and are waiting for
Steve and Jose to return.
(8) Although my role at Presbyterian-founded Payap University has nothing to do with my having
an unofficial ministry with LGBTQ people, I find that my well-known orientation opens doors. We
are still looking for a way to gain access to young people struggling with their identities to
provide them with accurate information and caring. But those doors are still shut as long as the
churches, other religious groups and educational institutions are scared.
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