Where We're Coming From: History of the NRJ-API-LGBT
Documented and Compiled by Sharon Hwang Colligan and Elizabeth Leung
April 25, 2004
An anti-marriage equality demonstration in San Francisco's Sunset district organized by a few Chinese-American churches garners significant media coverage. (San Francisco Chronicle article here.)
August 8, 2004
A community coalition coming together under the name APACE (now API Equality) organizes an Asian Pacific Islander (API) pro-marriage equality rally in response; Pacific School of Religion (PSR) and the Institue for Leadership Development and Study of Pacific and Asian North American Religion (PANA Institute) scholars Jeffrey Kuan and Patricia Lin participate as speakers.
In support, PANA Institute at Pacific School of Religion a number of events in Fall 2004.
September 30, 2004
PANA Public Lecture
In Support of the Lesbian and Gay Freedom to Marry:
Asian American and African American Religious Leaders Speak Out for Civil Marriage and Civil Rights
PSR Badè Museum, 1798 Scenic Ave, Berkeley, CA
Presentations by the Rev. Michael Yoshii, Senior Pastor of Buena Vista United Methodist Church, Alameda, CA, and the Rev. Phil Lawson, retired Senior Pastor of Easter Hill United Methodist Church, Richmond, CA; followed by roundtable discussion with Rev. Dr. D. Mark Wilson, former Senior Pastor of McGee Avenue Baptist Church, Berkeley, CA and Assistant Professor of Ministry and Congregational Leadership at Pacific School of Religion; Rev. Lynice Pinkard, assistant pastor of First Congregational Church in Oakland, and co-founder of City of Refuge UCC in San Francisco; Rev. Nobuaki Hanaoka, Director of the San Francisco United Methodist Mission, and pastor of Calvary United Methodist Church in San Francisco; Rev. Sarah Reyes, pastor of Bethel Presbyterian Church in San Leandro; and Rev. Rodney Yee, pastor of Berkeley Chinese Community Church. Moderated by Dr. Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan, Associate Professor of Old Testament at Pacific School of Religion, and ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. Co-sponsored by Institute for Leadership Development and Study of Pacific and Asian North American Religion (pana.psr.edu) and Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry (www.clgs.org).
November 10, 2004
PANA Theology Lab: Pastoral and Spiritual Care of LGBT Persons in API Communities
at PANA offices, 2357 LeConte Ave, Berkeley, CA
PANA Theology Labs seek to create a space for experiments, dialogue and depth in API religion and spirituality. Today's topic: a forum on the spiritual needs of Asian and Pacific Islander lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community members: issues that arise in the context of counseling and pastoral care, and implications for our theological and spiritual practices.
PANA, moved by the energy of the 2004 events and in dialogue with the CLGS Ethnic Roundtable Project and API Family Pride, planned an afternoon religion-focused workshop, in combination with the API FP Honor Roll Dinner in the evening of July 23, 2005.
July 23, 2005
Coming Out, Coming Home: Family, Faith & Religion in Asian & Pacific Islander Communities
(Buena Vista United Methodist Church, 2311 Buena Vista Ave, Alameda, CA) API parents of lesbian and gay children, LGBT-affirming API pastors, church members, and an API seminary professor speak about their journeys in coming out, love and justice. Dialogue and conversation follow. Interested persons are invited to participate in a group forming to work toward respect and justice for API LGBT persons in our religious communities. Event co-sponsors: GRACE, PANA, CLGS, API Family Pride
- "One Japanese American Church's Public Stance of Welcome" - Sachi Ishida, Toyoko Doi and Rev. John Oda of Pine United Methodist Church in San Francisco
- "A Progressive API Reading of the Bible and Homosexuality" - Professor Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan
- "A young woman's journey negotiating culture, sexuality and faith" - Oneida Chi
- "A father and pastor's story of love and courage." - Rev. Nobu Hanaoka
- "API parents share stories of how they came to acceptance and respect." - Belinda & John Dronkers-Laureta, Harold Kameya, and others
2nd Annual API Family Pride Presentation Banquet
Celebrating and honoring individual API families who proudly support their LGBT children, relatives, or friends in spite of the prejudice they encounter. Keynote Speakers: Alexander & Jane Nakatani of Honor Thy Children; firstname.lastname@example.org.
September 20, 2005
Following the success of the July 23 event at Buena Vista UMC, PANA convenes the first of what will be monthly meetings of a proposed new Network. Jay Johnson of CLGS offers training. Leadership from GAPA and AsianEquality add their energy to the list of organizations involved. The distinctiveness of API religious communities is discussed.
October 8, 2005
The NRJ-API-LGBT@yahoogroups.com mailing list is created.
October 11, 2005
Second NRJ-API-LGBT meeting. A list of projects is brainstormed.
November 8, 2005
NRJ-API-LGBT members Rev. Deborah Lee, Rev. Michael Yoshii, and Rev. John Oda convene a meeting of professional clergy to share concerns, experiences and insights as pastoral leaders in supporting LGBT acceptance and dignity, to discover ways to strengthen connections to one another and their congregations in this work for justice, to understand how to support clergy and their educational efforts in their congregations. The group decides to meet quarterly, forming the NJR-API-LGBT Clergy Caucus.
November 12, 2005
The emerging Network hosts a workshop at the Creating Change conference.
"API Religious Support for Marriage Equality"
presented by the Network on Religion and Justice for Asian American & Pacific Islander Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Persons
"Contrary to media portrayals, not all Asian American Christians are opposed to same-sex marriage. A Network on Religion and Justice for Asian-American and Pacific Islander Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Persons (API-LGBT-NRJ) has formed to lift up API religious voices in support of LGBT civil rights, spiritual integrity and human dignity. The panel will include Asian American ministers speaking in support of marriage equality, and discussion of experiences in building support for this issue in local API congregations. It will also include a scholar-journalist’s theological and sociological analysis on the political involvement of conservative Asian American religious communities in numerous anti-gay marriage events in Northern and Southern California. Staff of the PANA Institute will share the strategies and future plans of the API-LGBT-NRJ network for promoting greater API religious support for LGBT civil and religious justice.Attendees will be invited to ask questions, join the network and share ideas on particular needs and strategies from their own contexts."
Panelists: Rev. Deborah Chu-Lan Lee, Program Director at the PANA Institute at Pacific School of Religion. Rev. Michael Yoshii, pastor of Buena Vista United Methodist Church in Alameda, CA. Yun Cho, freelance writer, originally from South Korea, currently living in Northern California. Oneida Chi, lay leader in the GRACE community.
December 6, 2005
Third meeting. Plans for support of the GAPA Marriage Equality float in the San Francisco Chinese New Year parade are discussed. The need to focus on lay education in the congregations is emphasized. Lenten Education seems a good place to start.
January 10, 2006
February 11, 2006
NRJ organizes a contingent of 60 religious marchers, including 10 pastors, in support of the GAPA Marriage Equality float in the San Francisco Chinese New Year parade. (Total GAPA contingent is over 200; float wins prize.) This is the first time ever for API religious people to march in the parade with our faith-based contingent in support of API LGBT people. The Gay Asian Pacific Alliance (GAPA) organizes a float for the 2006 Parade on the theme of "Celebrating ALL API Families" to promote and educate the public about Marriage and Family Equality for LBGT people and their families. It is a giant bonsai "Family Tree" showing a diversity of families and extended families. They make a strong and urgent appeal for religious people (an important part of extended families) to be a part of the marching contingent of their float (approx. 200 people). This year's float is building on the powerful and award-winning "Wedding Cake" float which was featured on the evening news of all the major San Francisco TV stations as well as included in the AP newswire of the Parade. We march with a banner that reads "God loves ALL families". Groups and churches are strongly encouraged to bring their own banners as well. Pine UMC of San Francisco brings their banner. It is important to remember that many API LGBT people do not yet feel safe enough to march for themselves, so the participation of API heterosexual supporters and friends who are willing to march is extremely meaningful. This is a very important opportunity to make an impact on the wider API community and public perception - showing that there are Asian American and Pacific Islander religious people who love, accept and support LGBT folks.
Feb 14, 2006
Second NRJ-API-LGBT Clergy Caucus meeting, at BVUMC. (Decision to hold all future meetings at BVUMC.)
Feb 15, 2006
Fifth meeting. Filmmaker Lina Hoshino meets with NRJ-API-LGBT to plan a short video project.
March 1 - April 16, 2006
Lenten Education at Buena Vista United Methodist Church in Alameda, CA (Rev. Michael Yoshii, pastor) focuses on LGBTQ issues. Speakers from the NRJ-API-LGBT community are invited.
March 6, 2006
CLGS hosts Coalition of Welcoming Congregations day. Includes an API-focused workshop.
March 14, 2006
Sixth meeting. A mission statement is approved:
The Network on Religion and Justice for Asian American and Pacific Islander Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people (NRJ-API-LGBT) is a coalition of organizations and individuals affirming the dignity and spiritual wholeness of API LGBT people of faith. We work to create visibility and connection, to educate and advocate, and to transform both our faith communities and our larger world.
April 4, 2006
NRJ-API-LGBT members attend a media training by Andy Marra of GLAAD.
The Spotlight on Good Speaking: How to Become an Effective Spokesperson
Chinese for Affirmative Action, 17 Walter U. Lum Place, San Francisco, CA 94108 Co-sponsored by Asian Equality, GAPA, APIQWTC, GRACE, API Family Pride, Trikone, Network on Religion & Justice for the API LGBT Community
May 9, 2006
Third Clergy Caucus meeting.
May 23, 2006
NRJ marches in the San Francisco Pride Parade and has a booth in the API Pavillion. Here are some reflections from NRJizers:
"San Francisco Pride was wonderful! It was deeply moving for me to watch so many API people shouting support and reaching eagerly to get a copy of our sticker message as they walked along the side of the parade route holding it up for people to read. We could easily have kept ten hander-outers busy, and distributed thousands of stickers rather than the mere hundreds we brought with us. Our booth was in a prominent "corner" location, and really put us on the API map at Pride, making an API religious voice an integral part of the API LGBT community space. Hooray!
"Many many thanks to all the NRJ volunteers who formed a very hardworking "skeleton crew" to make our presence possible: Oneida, Sunshine, Lauren, Marybeth, Jeff, Clarence, Peter, Rev. Debbie, Rev. Lloyd, Rev. John, Elizabeth, Harry, Daniel, Andre. Also to Grand Marshall Robert for inviting us to march with his car; to Congregation Sha'ar Zahav for surrounding us with a sea of rainbow yarmulkes, great songs, and defiant shofar blasts as we marched; to Tita Aida for doing all the logistics on a free booth for us in the API Pavilion; and to Belinda and John for marching as API Mom and API Dad with our stickers on their shirts."
"I am so thankful and grateful for all the booth volunteers. Lloyd, Debbie, and John were spirited and wonderfully blessing all the people who visited the booth. People were thrilled and moved to receive blessings and prizes.
Thank you Lauren, Mary Beth, Elizabeth, Harry, Daniel, Debbie and Andre who tirelessly encouraged people to come to the booth and play the dart board game - they chased after the little velcro balls and some of you were fortunate targets of the balls that flew outside of the target - yet you kept smiling and encouraging...
Thank you SO much to ALL who came out on Pride Sunday to share your love, fun, and faith with the gay community. The enthusiasm and love was contagious-people saw us and walked away smiling. For those who weren't able to make it, thank you for being there in spirit and prayer.
I echo the thanks to everyone! It was so important to get the positive message out there. We passed out 800 "God Loves API LGBT" stickers, 350 "You are Blessed By God and Wonderfully Made" fortune cookies, and gave hundreds of individual hand-on-the head- blessings. I think we were able to make a spiritually and psychically healing impact! See below an email message that I received today:
"I was glad to run into you yesterday at SF Pride. My boyfriend (the guy with me) told me today he was touched by the booth. Though he's not Christian, he appreciated the outreach, the message, and the blessing that was offered."
And here's one more comment, from someone who joined our YahooGroup the week after Pride: "People ask me why I believe a religion that hates me. I know that's not true. I'm just grateful to know that there are people other than myself who do believe."
January 9, 2007
Bill McKinney, president of Pacific School of Religion, tells compelling stories of his experiences showing the In God's House film at three Taiwanese seminaries, and expressed his gladness for the work we are doing to defy the "schism" between LGBT rights organizing and anti-racism organizing. The Japanese newspaper Nichi Bei published a great article about NRJ's In God's House. The article has been scanned and posted to www.ingodshouse.com. Rev. John Oda is bringing 22 copies of In God’s House to the national United Methodist Reconciling Ministries (pro-LGBT) board meeting — one for each board member.
February 20, 2007
NRJ learns about LGBTs in the Catholic church as Mike C. and Antonio S. talk about their lived experience and how being Catholic is an ethnicity. There is actually more space at the "ground level" of church life, in terms of support and nurture, than that circumscribed by intuitional/clerical stance against homosexuality. Discussions follow as to what it means to be received and being gay and out in the church, and how NRJ can strategize support and translating resources for API catholics.
Debbie Lee shares her visit with United Church of Christ in the Philippines Bishop Eli Pascua and North East South Tagalog Conference Minister Rev. Teresita Vertucio, with whom the discussion of LGBT issues/ministries, referred to as the Third Sex in the Philippines and located in a human rights context, was a kind of international consultation for NRJ.
Elizabeth Leung begins leading the GRACE/PineUMC LGBTQ bible study. It will meet biweekly and study alternately the "Clobber passages" and selections from "Bad Boys/Girls of the Bible".
March 3, 2007
NRJ teams with GAPA once again to march in the Chinese New Year Parade. Our group this year is about 35-40 strong, including, children and youth, Asian and Pacific Islander LGBT people, pastors, and other allies. We wear rainbow stoles to demonstrate our religious support for LGBT people ... and dance in the streets to the tune of "Seasons of Love" and other favorites. The theme of the GAPA float is "Love Without Boundaries"! The float features six Asian and Asian American gay and lesbian couples and a huge glittering globe with blinking hearts highlighting countries that have equal rights for same-sex couples and their families. We make it on the 11 o'clock news on Channel 7!
March 17, 2007
NRJizers Lina Hoshino, Mike Campos and Lauren Quock present a workshop using In God's House as an educational tool at the National Association of Multicultural Educators conference on multiculturalism and social justice in education, held at the Sonoma State University. About 60 people are present at the conference and about 20 people, including Sonoma State Education Department students, teachers-in-training, 5th grade teachers, parochial school teachers, music teachers, Caucasians, Latino/as, and Asian American activists, come to our workshop!
"Video is a good media in dealing with sensitive issues and addressing difference in the context of classroom." We screen the film and then talk about how the film addressed a social justice issue, the importance of having space to talk about sexuality in school and at church, storytelling as a way to address silence around sensitive issues, and video as a way for people to tell their own stories.
During the question and answer period, participants ask a number of interesting questions:
- How do I address the hostility that comes up when I bring up heated issues like LGBT sexuality and immigration in the classroom?
- How can I be sensitive to students, especially students of color, who have been raised to be silent about these issues and not talk about them publicly?
We model our teaching method (pedagogy) by inviting participants to share their knowledge, experiences, and practices with each other. Participants are curious about resources on LGBTs and storytelling. A number of participants purchase the film and planned to start dialogues in their own classrooms and education circles.
After the workshop, one participant comments, "Thank you for such a gentle and informative time! I cannot express my gratitude for the ingenious and compassionate manner through which you bring up such important issues! I've truly benefited from this experience."
April 2, 2007
Rev. Elizabeth Leung is hired as NRJ coordinator.
Elizabeth earned her Ph.D. from the Graduate Theological Union and was ordained in the United Church of Christ. Her dissertation, titled Body, Self and Culture in the Study of Christian Spirituality, focuses on how embodiment in religious experience operates within the culture matrices of language and practices. Rev. Leung coordinates programs and events of the Network, facilitates community building among API-LGBT persons active in various faith traditions, convenes an API clergy caucus and supports strategies for education, outreach and social change. She was one of the original members of GRACE in 2000. Her experience and gifts provide very valuable theological, programmatic and ministerial support to positively impact the lives of Asian and Pacific Islander LGBT people.
April 16, 2007
NRJizers brainstorm LGBT topics for community courses - suggested curriculum: Bible, marriage equality, "keep secrets ain't hurt nobody," coming-out process. Some reflection piece set in the larger spiritual frame. Some kind of API public witness. Forum at churches. Very animated "Bible Snappy FAQ discussion" on "natural order", positive representation of LGBTs.
April 17, 2007
NRJizers Rev. Elizabeth Leung and Mike Campos facilitate a "small" group of 40-50, mostly Cantonese-speaking students, at the San Francisco Balboa High School "Queer Surge" assembly.
April 27-29, 2007
Rev. Elizabeth Leung attends a conference for United Church of Christ LGBT clergy and meets one other closeted API clergy among the 70+ participants. Elizabeth contributes to the discussion on being a multicultural church.
May 6, 2007
In God's House screenings in Los Angeles. Thanks to NRJizers Harold and Ellen Kameya who attend both screenings at First Congregational Church of Long Beach and VC Filmfest (attendance: 35). Both discussions are good.
Feedback from FCC Long Beach: local churches would be more effective than individuals or out of town agency in recommending the DVD to cable channel as public service material; straight allies found resistance from closeted gays when pushing issues of acceptance; informing congregation of resources is a good start; introducing the DVD to local groups or association of ministers, with at least one open-minded minister within the group to help promote intelligent discussion of the film, voice support and encourage others to think of effective ways of introducing the topic/video, since individual ministers may be hesitant.
May 18, 2007
NRJizers Rev. Elizabeth Leung and Rev. Debbie Lee present a workshop "Being a Multicultural Multiracial Church: the Asian American experience of engaging LGBTQ issues" at NorCal United Church of Christ Annual Meeting.
"Through watching the film In God's House: Asian American Lesbian and Gay Christian in the Church in this workshop, you will participate in a way of being in conversation as a multicultural multiracial church. You will gain a concrete understanding of why dialogue concerning sexuality issue needs to happen in specific cultural framework, how this discussion happens at the intersection of race and sexuality. You will also gain a better appreciation of how people of different cultures negotiate differences differently, and how the gifts and strengths of Asian Americans have contributed to acceptance and diversity in a multicultural multiracial church."
May 31, 2007
Retired United Methodist minister Rev. Lloyd Wake, a pioneer and a prophet who was the first Asian American minister to conduct commitment ceremonies for same-gender couples beginning back in 1975, Rev. Cal Chinn, Rev. Jeffrey Kuan, Rev. John Oda, Rev. Deborah Lee, Rev. Elizabeth Leung, Rev. Michael Yoshii, Rev. Rodney Yee - API clergy representing collectively over 100 years of service and ministry in the church, speak in support of lesbian and gay families and equality at a press conference in San Francisco's Chinatown.
The event is held at Chinese for Affirmative Action and marks the first time a coalition of Asian American faith leaders is speaking out in support of lesbian and gay families and equality in San Francisco. The press conference comes three years after Mayor Gavin Newsom issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples in San Francisco. Since then, many Asian American faith leaders and congregations have affirmed the dignity and spiritual wholeness of lesbian and gay people and have recognized the importance of equal marriage rights for their families.
The press conference is covered by KTSF Channel 26 in San Francisco, four Chinese newspapers in the Bay Area (Sing Tao, Ming Po, World Journal, Chiao Po), AsianWeek and Nichibei Times; though it is not covered by Korean newspapers. Speaking on different aspects (culture, bible & religion, family, civic rights) of LGBT issues is very good, so is the mentioning of NetRJ website as resources. Debbie’s line "We are all part of the LGBT families" drives home the point that there is a LGBT person in any API extended (and church) family.
June 1, 2007
NRJ and API Equality host a public screening of In God's House: Asian American Lesbian and Gay Christian in the Church in San Francisco Chinatown, at Chinese for Affirmative Action. People share stories of friends and families, of lives of oppression.
June 3, 2007
NRJ coordinator, Rev. Elizabeth Leung, preaches on Pride Sunday at Pine United Methodist Church (pastor: Rev. John Oda); another NRJizer, a gay Filipino United Methodist minister gives testimony. Rev. Oda, Rev. Leung and the Filipino minister celebrates communion. Many find the worship very meaningful.
June 9, 2007
NRJizers Rev. Debbie Lee and Lauren Quock facilitate a private screening and half-day event at Presbyterian Church in Chinatown. Attendance ~ 30. Very good experience. Discussion begins with "Why are you here today?" People are ready to talk - a number of people come out as LGBT or as family members of LGBTs. One big group instead of breaking up into small groups so that everyone can hear about the experience of others. It seems that as long as there is a group of people in the church committed to providing a space for people to come, there would be a pastoral context to show the film, share the experience and begin a conversation.
June 17, 2007
NRJizer Mike Campos coordinates the screening of In God's House: Asian American Lesbian and Gay Christians in the Church in Honolulu. Through the hospitality of Rev. Dr. Jonipher Kwong of the Ohana Metropolitan Community Church and Rev. Sky St. John of the Unity Church of Hawai'i who offer both worship and gathering space for the event, the premiere draws nearly 20 people from various faith communities. The film is received positively and encourages discussion around gender and the role that churches bear in providing places of welcome. Rev. Nobuko Miyake-Stoner of Harris United Methodist Church offers an inspiring and articulate testimony about the tenuous spaces occupied by LGBT faithful within churches that have yet to openly affirm their presence and full inclusion to these communities' ministerial life. Mrs. Susan Roth of the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries echoes Rev. Miyake-Stoner's efforts by sharing her own initiative to encourage churches to be reconciling towards LGBT people of faith.
At the conversations that followed, several attendees observe how the tensions that define the intersection of gender, faith, and ethnicity among API communities in the Bay Area did not easily translate to their own experience in Hawai'i. Indeed, many remark how the "lived diversity" of the islands fosters a different engagement among LGBT API Christians. Thus, while LGBT people of faith have had to assert spaces of inclusion in church, these spaces are not necessarily tied to explicitly ethnic spaces as well. As one attendee claims, the prevailing hapa —or "mixed"—cultures that constitute Hawai'i's ethnic life are embedded deeply within the islands' church life. Difference serves therefore as a necessary ingredient to authentically life-giving encounters. Indeed, Rev. Kwong ennobles the very eloquence of these divergent voices in the evening's liturgy: incorporating traditional Hawaiian, Buddhist and Christian rituals, the faithful generously shared familiar and new spaces of worship. It is a surprisingly consoling embrace of dissonance, blurring the artificial boundaries that determined who and who did not belong in community.
June 21-22, 2007
NRJizers, API Family Pride, APIQWTC, GAPA are interviewed for APA Heritage Month in "Outspoken" on the local COMCAST cable channel.
June 23, 2007
In God's House: Asian American Lesbian and Gay Christians in the Church is shown at the Frameline San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival (Roxie Film Center ~ 80% full), together with another film Born Again, which has a completely different approach to religion. NRJizers Oneida Chi and Rev. Elizabeth Leung are there for Q&A. Response is good, though not many APIs in the audience.
June 24, 2007
NRJizers come out in full force for San Francisco Pride - API style, of course! We get a booth in the API Pavillion and 30,000 people stream through the API Pavillion at Pride this year! We sport and sell two different NetRJ t-shirts to increase visibility of LGBT-positive Christian messages. We also offer blessings, stickers, lollipops, and resources, including LGBT-affirming API churches in the area, LGBT-affirming pastors, and our In God's House film!
July 21, 2007
NRJizer and film maker Lina Hoshino receives a post-screening survey of In God's House: Asian American Lesbian and Gay Christians in the Church at the Aomori International LGBT Film Festival in Japan. Translated comments include:
"It is terrible to hear that churches discriminate people."
"As a Catholic, I felt encouraged watching IGH."
"It was the first time I learned that there was a link between LGBT and religion."
"I thought all homophobic people, regardless of whether they are christian or not, should watch this film. I was especially struck by what Rev. Hanaoka said."
"I thought the story of the struggle that the parents and the lgbt daughter went through was well-portrayed. Those who climb out of "hell" are the ones who are gentle and caring towards others. I was moved by the parents who openly say they are ‘proud of their lesbian daughter.’"
"The intersection of religion, race, and sexuality is something we can connect to in Japan as well [referring to the Chinese New Year segment)."
"It was nice to see so many people speaking up for LGBT rights."
"It was really easy to understand."
"The theme "diverse family" was really memorable."
"It was interesting to see that churches are not all oppressive - that some are struggling for justice for LGBT people."
"I thought an event that many people can participate in was really great."
"It's important to respect many forms of families."
August 2-5, 2007
NRJizers Rev. John Oda, Oneida Chi and Rev. Elizabeth Leung present a workshop "Asian, Christian, Gay or Lesbian?" with the documentary In God's House: Asian American Lesbian and Gay Christians in the Church at the 9th Annual Convocation Reconciling Ministries Network (United Methodist) in Nashville, TN. In God's House is awarded 1st runner-up for the "Cup of Justice" award at the Convocation. ~800 people attend the conference.
August 7, 2007
Planning begins for a Spring/Summer 2008 weekend gathering of renewal and training for API people of faith (parents, lay leaders, activists, pastors, LGBT people and allies) to share best practices and be better equipped in areas of bible interpretation, religion, API cultures, sexuality and spirituality, in order to approach and educate their local congregations and communities about LGBT concerns.
August 12, 2007
NRJizers Rev. Nobuaki Hanaoka, Rev. Lloyd Wake, Rev. Jeffrey Kuan, Oneida Chi, Rev. Elizabeth Leung speak after a screening of In God's House: Asian American Lesbian and Gay Families in the Church, organized by Wesley United Methodist Church, Rev. Motoe Yamada, and Nihomachi Outreach Committee in San Jose, CA. Attendance: 140. A month later, Rev. Nobu mentions that there are at least 2 other Japanese American churches in the Bay Area interested in using the film to initiate conversations.
August 26, 2007
NRJizer Rev. Nobuaki Hanaoka, the pastor featured in In God's House, is nominated by NRJ to be honored at the Annual Asian Pacific Islander Family Pride Banquet. This is an event for API LGBT people to publicly recognize family, friends, and community members who have proudly loved and supported them.
September 22, 2007
NRJ organizes a conversation among API Catholics in support of LGBT concerns, facilitated by NRJizers Mike Campos (GTU), Rev. Elizabeth Leung (CLGS), and Rev. Jim Schexnayder (NACDLGM), to share experiences concerning lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) issues in the classroom, various ethnic communities and at home, to find resources within and beyond the institution to support LGBT Catholics, to explore the role of Asian and Pacific Islander ethnicities in the integration of one's sexual orientation, and to brainstorm concrete ideas for outreach to Asian and Pacific Islander communities. Participants are interested in further gatherings and workshops.
September 27, 2007
NRJizers Lina Hoshino and Israel Alvaran present "Religious and Gay?" at the 4th Annual Race Equality Week Festival in Sonoma, CA. "In God's House: Asian American Lesbian and Gay Families in the Church" - a short film that has been presented to various international and local festivals, captures the tensions between institutionalized religion's notions of sexual norms and contemporary expressions of sexuality that finds solace in radical re-imagination of the holy and the spiritual. Add to that explosive brew the intricacies of Asian racial and cultural dynamics and you get a sense of what this controversial film seeks to present. The audience is challenged to face the personal dilemmas of individuals and families, and consider fresh alternative views of the intersections of faith and sexuality.
October 11, 2007
Happy 2nd Anniversary NRJ! On National Coming Out Day 2007, NRJ celebrates two years as the Network on Religion and Justice for API LGBTs with a house party which draws about 40 people. We take the opportunity to renew our activist spirits with a slideshow highlighting the work of the past 2 years, some hot drag (there were prizes for the best costumes), music, and cake with a big frosting rainbow! Thanks to everyone for all your passionate work in the last 2 years - giving testimony at churches and conferences, marching in the Lunar New Year Parade, helping to make the documentary we've been dreaming of for years, organizing and speaking at press conferences, designing t-shirts, and tabling at Pride for justice for all in our churches and in our world!
November 8, 2007
Discussion of NRJ direction in 2008 and beyond.
December 15, 2007
Pine United Methodist Church in San Francisco hosts a screening of For the Bible Tells Me So – a provocative, entertaining documentary that brilliantly reconciles homosexuality and Biblical scripture, and in the process reveals that Church-sanctioned anti-gay bias is based almost solely upon a significant (and often malicious) misinterpretation of the Bible, winner of the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Seattle International Film Festival, directed by Dan Karslake. Revs. John Oda and Elizabeth Leung are on the panel for discussion following the screening.
January 26, 2008
NRJizers Rev. Elizabeth Leung and Lauren Q complete the facilitation of three monthly workshops on the bible, heterosexism, and church ministry for the English-speaking congregation of the Presbyterian Church in San Francisco Chinatown. Attendance: 18-20
January 29, 2008
Planning continues for May 30-June 1 training retreat. Our goals are to celebrate/worship together, to share best practices and be better equipped in areas of bible interpretation, religion, API cultures, sexuality and spirituality, in order to approach and educate their local congregations and communities about LGBT concerns. Tentative workshops: Understanding Asian Christian Conservative Voices, How Different API Cultures View Homosexuality, Transgender Travelogue, Queering the Bible, Let’s Talk about Sex, Resource for Congregational Education
February 23, 2008
NRJizers march as a religious contingent with the Gay Asian Pacific Alliance (GAPA) float at 2008 San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade. Our float features a giant rainbow and picture frame setting the scene for a portrait of three generations of LGBT family love and acceptance.
"Neither rain nor wind could stop our float from rolling along the Parade route! Thnx to the creativity of [GAPA's], our float looked magnificent. The energy and spirit of our float family and marchers could not be quelled by a few raindrops."
"NRJisers! Thank you for coming out amidst rain and wind with such great SPIRIT !
About 38+ marchers (or more) turned out for the fabulous GAPA float at the parade !"
"Just wanted to drop a line to let you know what an honor it was to march with you tonight with the GAPA float. This was my first march ever and it meant a lot to me to have such a strong vibrant community to march along with. I hope we cross paths again. Take the love and positive energy from tonight and spread it around far and wide!"
"Thank you so much for another incredible experience … I think the cloud and rain only made the rainbow stand out much brighter, which it certainly did."
February 26, 2008
NRJ monthly meeting. Planning continues for May 30-June 1 training retreat. Suggested topics for further dialogue and discussion: (1) Transgender and API culture (2) Marriage equality – complexities, models, various voices (3) What LGBT-affirming activities do we want churches to do? Resourcing needs: pastoral letter from NRJ clergy, sexuality education for API faith communities.
March 6, 2008
NRJizers Rev. Elizabeth Leung, Lauren Q, Sharon H. Colligan are invited to join an event God, Sex, and Chinese Food, presented by the Office for Religious Life, LGBT-CRC, A3C, CSRE, and Asian American Studies at Stanford University. The event includes the screening of In God's House and Rev. Leung was part of a panel on what it means to be Asian, Queer and Christian, which was moderated by the Rev. Joanne Sanders, Associate Dean for Religious Life. It is also co-sponsored by the Asian American Students' Association (AASA), Okada House, Pilipino American Student Union (PASU), Promoting Women's Health and Human Rights (PWHHR), and Queer & Asian (Q&A). Attendance: 35-40.
March 25, 2008
NRJ monthly meeting. Planning continues for May 30-June 1 training retreat.
March 28, 2008
NRJizers Oneida Chi and Rev. Elizabeth Leung speak about Asian American LGBT experience of "coming out" within the cultural framework of home and faith communities to the Board of Directors of Lutherans Concerned/North America meeting in preparation for their 2008 National Assembly in San Francisco.
April 1, 2008
NRJizers Rev. Elizabeth Leung and Lauren Q began the (pilot) facilitation of three monthly workshops on Sexuality and Spirituality at the GRACE/Pine United Methodist Church LGBTQ bible study in San Francisco.
April 5, 2008
NRJizer Rev. Elizabeth Leung organizes a plenary session on LGBT religious concerns at the Annual Conference of PANAAWTM (Pacific Asian North American Asian Women in Theology and Ministry). The panel segment includes activists/educator Dr. Trinity Ordoña and NRJizers Alice Cabotaje and Elizabeth Leung, who spoke about API family acceptance, internalized homophobia and congregational education respectively.
April 7, 2008
NRJizers Rev. Debbie Lee and Elizabeth Leung facilitate a screening of In God's House and discussion for the staff of Cameron House, a Chinatown-based multi-service agency serving Asian individuals, immigrant families and youth in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1874.
April 12, 2008
NRJizers Lauren Q, Elena L., Oneida Chi, Elizabeth Leung attend the Lunar New Year banquet hosted by Asian Pacific Islander Queer Women and Transgender Community (APIQWTC).
April 15, 2008
NRJ monthly meeting. Planning continues for May 30 – June 1 training retreat.
April 27, 2008
NRJizer Rev. Israel Alvaran appears in a panel discussion following the screening of In God's House: Asian American Lesbian and Gay Families in the Church (directed by Lina Hoshino), at the DisOrient Asian American Film Festival in Eugene, OR.
May 3, 2008
NRJizers Mike Campos, Lauren Q facilitate a workshop on what it means to be Asian, queer and Christian at the first ever Queer & Asian Conference at University of California, Berkeley, CA.
May 4, 2008
Buena Vista United Methodist Church, Alameda, CA holds a screening of In God's House in a mini-film fest at their annual bazaar.
May 13, 2008
NRJ monthly meeting. Final planning for training retreat.
May 30 - June 1, 2008
The first ever NRJ-API-LGBT training retreat: "Creating LGBT-affirming API Ministries" - A Training Retreat for Asian Pacific Islander Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender People and supporters
Sponsored by the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry (www.CLGS.org) and jointly coordinated by CLGS and the PANA Institute (www.PANAinstitute.org), at Mercy Center, 2300 Adeline, Burlingame, CA 94010.
Goals include ritual and celebration, deepening of community and strengthen regional connections, hearing visions, strategies, and learnings from different regions; training in bible/religion, cultural issues and resources, gender and sexuality.
Attendance: 37. Participants are Asian and Pacific Islander LGBTs and their supporters from San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Hawaii and Ohio. More than half are LGBT-identified. Ethnicities include Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Filipino, Samoan, Anglo, Hapa (mixed race). Religious identities include: United Methodist, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Jewish, Lutheran, Unitarian Universalist, United Church of Christ, Metropolitan Community Church, Disciples, American Baptist, Buddhist, agnostic. Age range is estimated as following: age 18-35 y.o. (33%), 35-50 y.o. (50%), 50-60+ (17%).
The 3-day/2-night training includes: a opening ritual, a plenary session "Understanding Asian Christian Conservative Voices" that surveys the current landscape of conservative Asian Christianity, a panel "Asian & Pacific Islander Cultural Viewpoints on Homosexuality (Filipino, Korean, Samoan, Indonesian)", workshops on sexuality education ("Let's Talk About Sex") and "Queering the Bible", a facilitated conversation on transgender concerns ("Transgender Travelogue"), morning Buddhist meditations, talk-stories in small groups, a "Theater of the Oppressed", singing and celebration of stories of ministries, activism and projects, discussion of "Next Step" for LGBT-affirming work in API communities, and a closing circle with ritual.
Evaluative comments include:
[What would you say was the most helpful for you about this retreat?]
"Just meeting other API LGBTQ Christians."
"Unusual gift [safe space] to articulate the intersection of race, gender and faith."
"Gathering with others, community building, sharing stories and celebration."
[Name at least one thing you learned at this retreat.]
"That you can have community as API, queering, religious person."
"It is possible to do this kind of work [LGBT-affirming ministries in API community] but [it] require[s] hard work. There have been living examples."
"Differences in the way homosexuality is accepted or not in different parts of the world."
[How will this retreat change or affect your work/ministry/activism in the world?]
"Motivates and inspires me to be more active in the API-LGBT faith activism."
"I have more options and opportunities to work with the issue of race, sexuality and religions."
"I am reminded of the need for API-LGBT community everywhere in the U.S."
"Feel more confident that nothing is impossible."
"The retreat has given me much-needed insights about API-LGBT issue in our community."
"Coalesces a closer network of API-LGBT Christians."
June 10, 2008
NRJ monthly meeting. Retreat debrief. Pride booth planning.
June 22, 2008
NRJizer Rev. Elizabeth Leung preaches "Daring Discipleship" in celebration of Pride Month at the Pine United Methodist Church in San Francisco
June 29, 2008
San Francisco Pride Festival - The staffing of NRJ booth from 10 am – 5 pm is shared by 11 volunteers from the Presbyterian Church in Chinatown, Pine UMC, and Buena Vista UMC. A new banner was made with the "blessed" sticker image. People appreciate receiving blessings (see below) with a colorful lei and a "blessed" sticker. The slipper-toss game drew crowds. Flip-flops were labeled with "racism," "homophobia," "religious oppression," "sexism," "colonialism" for people to toss them into a laundry hamper. Prizes were green tea candy, coconut candy, rice crackers, chopsticks. Donations were given for our famous t-shirts "Holy Homo Sexy" and "blessed" as well as the In God's House DVD.
May God rain on you with blessings;
May God shine in you with mercies;
May God breath onto you winds of life;
May God protect you with love unending;
May the Holy One open the way before you and journey with you.
July 15, 2008
NRJ monthly meeting, including an interesting 40 min. discussion on bisexuality
July 16, 2008
GRACE and Pine United Methodist Church LGBTQ bible study start a series of ten biweekly sessions on Sexuality in the Bible, facilitated by NRJizer Rev. Elizabeth Leung. Topics include: God's sexuality, Falling in/out of love, Celebrating Sex, Making Babies, Sin and seduction, OT Sex Laws, Adultery: Sex and marriage, Monogamy and Polygamy, Homosexuality Revisited, Bad Sex, Love and Shalom.
August 9, 2008
NRJizers Sharon Hwang Colligan, Rev. Debbie Lee, Rev. Elizabeth Leung attend the academic conference APARRI (Asian Pacific American Religions Research Initiative). Elizabeth speaks about the emphases of intergenerational and extended family, as well as creative rituals, in approaching LGBTs concerns from a religious perspective within API communities on the panel "Queering APARRI – Voices and Visibilities of API-LGBTs", which is co-sponsored by the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry (CLGS).
August 12, 2008
NRJ monthly meeting. Discussion includes possible contribution to defeat CA Proposition 8, including: an op-ed written by API clergy caucus, signing onto the Asian Christian Marriage Equality (ACME) statement from SoCal, hosting an API interfaith event on National Coming Out Day in October (circle of blessing, distinctive rituals, light reception). Suggestions for November one-day conference: spiritual capacity building, activity-oriented; format: three 2-hour workshops, youth-friendly, intentional lunch table caucuses, evening talent show, spoken word performance, skit; workshops: Bisexuality, Marriage and beyond, Bible FAQ "Ask John," Gender variance, Queering Christian worship (childhood hymns etc.), Let's talk about API Sex II, LGBTQ movement in Asia.
August 23, 2008
NRJ honors Rev. Michael Yoshii at the 5th Asian Pacific Islander Family Pride (APIFP) Presentation Banquet.
"In 2004, Rev. Michael Yoshii of Buena VistaUnitedMethodistChurch in Alameda, CA, was among the first API pastors who spoke publicly in support of the civil rights of lesbians and gays to marry. In that same year, the NEA awarded him the Ellison S. Onizuka Memorial Award for his work on behalf of "Out On The Island," Alameda's LGBT Network. In 2005, his church was the first API congregation to host an LGBT concerns workshop on family, faith and religion. Buena Vista became a Welcoming and AffirmingChurch in 2006. He was among a group of API clergy who convened a caucus of LGBT-affirming pastoral leaders to share concerns, experiences and insights in affirming LGBT dignity and spiritual wholeness in faith communities."
September 4, 2008
The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry (CLGS) hosts a film screening of the documentary film, "Anyone and Everyone", at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA. The film offers portraits of diverse families from various religious background and their responses to family members who come out as lesbian or gay. NRJizers Harold and Ellen Kameya from In God's House are in this film.
September 23, 2008
NRJ monthly meeting, including a sharing of LGBT movements in Singapore by NRJizer Miak Siew.
September 25, 2008
NRJizer Rev. Elizabeth Leung is part of a panel on marriage equality, talking about why same-sex marriage might been an important step forward for LGBT people in some Asian traditions, showing both the complications and the joys of same-sex marriage, at the Lavender Lunch hosted by the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry at the Pacific School of Religion.
October 11, 2008
API Clergy Caucus of the Network on Religion and Justice for API LGBTs write and sign a statement in support of same-sex marriage, API families, and love. They include ministers from Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Filipino, Samoan faith communities and from diverse denominations:
Rev. Lloyd Wake, Rev. Nobuaki Hanaoka, Rev. Hidemi Ito, Rev. Harry Chuck, Kahu Ronald Fujiyoshi, Rev. Norma Nomura Desaegher, Rev. Joan Ishibashi, Rev. Cal Chinn, Rev. Dr. Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan, Rev. John Oda, Rev. Michael Yoshii, Rev. Dr. Naomi Southard, Rev. Dr. Jonipher Kwong, Rev. Deborah Lee, Rev. Rodney Yee, Rev. Israel Alvaran, Rev. Elizabeth Leung, Rev. Alice Cabotaje, Rev. Boon Lin Ngeo, Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow, Rev. Dr. Boyung Lee, Rev. Dr. Fumitaka Matsuoka, Rev. Dr. Tat-Siong Benny Liew, Rev. John Song, Rev. Jennifer Ryu, Rev. Noel Bordador, Rev. Bo Young Belko, Rev. Tautua Amosa, Rev. H. Wilson P. de Ocera, Rev. Dr. Nobuko Miyake-Stoner, Rev. Roger Morimoto, Rev. Dr. Russell Moy, Rev. Jay Sapaen Watan, Rev. Dr. Warren Lee, Rev. Dr. Eleazar S. Fernandez
October 11, 2008
NRJ organizes a Blessing of LGBT/Queer Families on National Coming Out Day 2008. It is an API interfaith community celebration event at the chapel of Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, CA.
The ritual event is probably the first of its kind for API LGBTQ persons and their extended family in the United States, if not the world. It takes place in an election season when there was a Californian state proposition on the ballot to eliminate the right of same-sex couple. The liturgy of the ritual can be found on our website www.NetRJ.org under resources.
Attendance is 70+, including API LGBTQ person and their extended family of siblings, cousins, partners, parents, children; newly-wed same-sex couples, their friends at work and friends at church, allies; as well as 10 religious leaders from Jewish, Buddhist, Christian faith traditions. It was a kid-friendly event.
Through music, spoken word, ritual, testimonies, remembrance, blessing and prayer, the event connects LGBT concerns and API inclusive and intergenerational family values affirmatively, in an explicitly religious context. It was a meaningful, intimate and healing event for many. It is also covered by local TV media.
"Well done! The service and sense of community were both beautiful and memorable. Special thanks to all the clergy for sharing their insights and blessings... a good job on press interviews and well-representing our faith community... Thanks again for everyone's commitment, passion and tireless efforts. I'm so proud to be a part of our faith community... You all inspire me." (Robert Bernardo, Gay Asian Pacific Alliance)
October 12, 2008
NRJizers including Oneida Chi, Rev. Israel Alvaran, Lauren Q, Rev. Michael Yoshii, Amos Lim, Pine United Methodist Church, Buena Vista United Methodist Church, the English-speaking congregation of Presbyterian Church in Chinatown join API Equality in a counter protest in San Francisco Chinatown to voice out against the misinformation put out by anti-marriage equality CA Proposition 8 proponents.
"While we may have been outnumbered, over 50 supporters of marriage equality come out to make signs, speak with the press, and share their personal stories... we were able to speak with every press outlet present at the event and ensure that the coverage was fair, balanced, and truthful!" (Amos Lim, API Equality)
October 23, 2008
NRJizers from the English-speaking congregation of Presbyterian Church in Chinatown, including Laurene Chan, Rev. Rodney Yee of the United Church of Christ and Rev. Elizabeth Leung stood with Rev. Norman Fong of the Chinatown Community Development Center, when he spoke as one of the community leaders in an API against CA Proposition 8 press conference.
November 1, 2008
NRJizers Jeanelle, Jeffrey Acido, Elizabeth Leung attend the 7th Annual Queer Pin@y Conference: Illuminating the Queer Diaspora, at UC Berkeley.
November 15, 2008
A new NRJ program and practice: NRJ Talking Circles that will take place on the 4th Tuesday of each month from 7:00 - 9:00 pm at PANA Institute
As the Network on Religion and Justice has grown and become more established, our meeting agendas have become full with the business of decision making, event planning, and reports on past events. In recent months, it has become apparent that there is not sufficient time in our monthly "business" meetings to check-in with each other, discuss how we feel about current issues, and provide spiritual support and community for each other.
We believe that spiritual reflection and community support are important for API LGBTQ people of faith. We also believe that spiritual reflection is important for us as community activists, in order that we might discern how to best bring about justice for our community and in order that we might be able to sustain our spirits in this struggle.
The NRJ Talking Circle provides a sacred time and space for API LGBTQ people of faith to share feelings and thoughts about important issues in and affecting our lives with other API LGBTQ people of faith in a safe and structured way. The purpose is to sit in circle together and meditate, talk, listen, and reflect with each other.
All are welcome to come to reflect, deepen conversation, and get to know other NRJizers better. Click here to see the liturgy.
November 15, 2008
NRJ organizes a one-day conference retreat at the Pacific School of Religion, titled "Renew, Reflect, Reconnect". Retreat is designed as a post-election gathering with leadership gateway potential. Attendance ~20.
Most are LGBTQ-identified Asian and Pacific Islanders interested in the connection between spirituality, activism and leadership. Our goals are community building, deepening of conversations, being present and reflective, and building vision and confidence in LGBT work. The 1-day conference consists of two 2-hour talking circles on topics of activism, spirituality and leadership.
Evaluative comments include:
[in terms of goals]
"Great calling forth of experience, intelligence, wisdom"
"Group offers an encouraging space for honest, sometimes difficult, always hopeful dialogue."
"Since it is not task-oriented, it creates more space for deeper conversations."
"Rare space to address and talk about being queer, API, religious and activist all together."
[What would you say was most helpful for you about this retreat?]
"How to tell personal stories and relate [to the bigger picture]"
"Contemplative space, space for sharing stories ... Dialogue, ideas about outreach"
[Name at least one thing you learned at this retreat. ]
"The complexities of campaigning [concerning CA Proposition 8]"
"A different way to make an impact as LGBT people: convene a group of lgbt people and go out into the world and be visible doing something positive for the community"
"That there are ways we can try to think about becoming more visible with our Asian communities without betraying our deepest cultural values."
"Listen and understand more deeper thoughts and struggles under the surface of everyone"
"Importance of narratives to Asian contexts; need to own "Asian sensibilities" to guide our activism work and spiritual practice"
December 2, 2008
NRJ 2008 Holiday Potluck: API style! Welcoming community, jook, peking duck, curry, persimmon cookies, & pumpkin pie, and queer holiday crafts.
Spirited API-LGBTs and friends! Come join us for an evening of food and fun. Bring your friends & family, your favorite corny holiday music, colorful snacks, and we will make some queer holiday crafts to give away. Rumor from the North Pole has it that representatives of the Alternatively Gendered Elves Union will take time from their busy holiday schedule join our festivities and tell us of current plans to bring cheer to little LGBT children everywhere.
December 23, 2008
NRJ Talking Circle: The Community-Wide Call to Come Out, at PANA
Topic: During the No on Proposition 8 campaign, organizations urged LGBTs to call and email our friends, family, and co-workers to ask them to vote No on Prop 8. After the passage of the Proposition 8 Ban of Same-Sex Marriage in California in the November 2008 election, community leaders have called for LGBT people to come out to their families, friends, neighbors, and co-workers.
The theory is that if we LGBT people come out to our families, friends, neighbors, and co-workers, they will personally know us and they will think of us (and not the negative stereotypes of LGBTs) the next time same-sex marriage and other LGBT rights are up for a vote. The theory is that through the act of coming out, we can win the next election.
This community-wide call to come out has put pressure on LGBT people to come out. In doing so, this call to come out has also raised anxieties in LGBTs who have not come out for a number of reasons -- many of us do not come out for fear of losing important relationships or because the risk to their careers is too high. At this NRJ Talking Circle, we'll talk about it:
- Do we have to be out to be good API LGBT activists? Or is coming out just a White thing?
- Is coming out to homophobes and having dialogue with them about marriage equality what we need to do for our community right now?
- What do we need as API LGBT communities right now?
- What API cultural strengths do we have to contribute to the LGBT movement at this particular point in history?
Come. Be present. Deepen the conversation.
January 13, 2009
NRJ 2009 Directions
Our first meeting in 2009 discusses the future direction of NRJ in the areas of relationships with, documenting about, and resourcing for welcoming and potential congregations, visibility, space for queer API, annual retreat, outreach to Intervarsity, the sequel to In God's House, marriage equality.
February 3, 2009
NRJ Talking Circle: What would you do with the $45 million that was spent on the No on Prop 8 Campaign? (or What does the API LGBT people of faith community need right now?)
"Many national and statewide LGBT organizations are focused on winning same-sex marriage rights and marriage equality. Forty-five million dollars went into the No on Prop 8 campaign and because we lost, people are still trying to figure out how we're going to win the next campaign and the campaign in the next state. So from the outside, it looks like this is the most important thing for LGBT people right now... but is it really what's most important to us or the only thing that's important to us? What do you think are the things the LGBT movement today needs to be about? How would you use that $45 million dollars? What's really important to us and going on in our lives as Asian American and Pacific Islander LGBT people?"
February 7, 2009
San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade
When California's Proposition 8: Ban on Same-Sex Marriage passed in the November 2008 election, a number of news articles cited Asian Americans, Latinos, African Americans, and Christians as the main proponents. As the battle for same-sex marriage equality continues, we made sure Asians and Pacific Islanders for marriage equality were visible in this year's Chinese New Year Parade. This year, we were in the vanguard section of the parade. We had a snazzy silver convertible complete with a fabulous driver donning a tux and top hat and a queer API couple in the white wedding gowns lovingly made by their mothers. Seventy-five strong, we marching behind the convertible, donning Chinese lion masks, bright red robes, and rainbow stoles and celebrated the love of all families, ringing cow bells and wishing the crowd a "Happy New Year!"
February 13, 2009
NRJ 2009 Directions (cont'd)
We identify three areas of our future work: NURTURING spiritual space for queer API, NUDGING congregations and communities, developing and disseminating kNOWLEDGE about API queer religious organizing and history.
February 24, 2009
NRJ Talking Circle: What's your API coming out story?
Though coming out is a common bond that most people in the LGBTQ community share, everybody has different coming out stories. The mainstream White coming out story is that an LGBTQ person comes out to their parents and their parents disown them and throw them out of the house. Is coming out different for APIs?
March 3, 2009
NRJ has a representative on the API Equality Steering Committee.
March 20, 2009
NRJ presents at Buena Vista United Methodist Church
Three NRJ leaders (Deborah Lee, Lauren Q, Sharon Hwang Colligan) meet with the Reconciling Committee of Buena Vista UMC, a prominent historically-Japanese American congregation in our network. NRJ encourages the committee by providing a sense of BVUMC's importance to the larger API LGBT movement and to NRJ, by orienting newer committee members to of BVUMC's historic role in NRJ's successes, and by helping remind non-API committee members of the essential role that ethnic churches can play in nurturing or transforming ethnic communities.
March 24, 2009
NRJ Talking Circle: Why are ethnic churches important to ethnic people?
Some people question why API LGBT Christians who have felt excluded by their API churches don't just go to a Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) or another church that is reconciling or open & affirming. It is important for many API LGBTs that their church is an API church. Why is this? Why don't API LGBT folks just go to White MCCs or other reconciling or open & affirming churches? Why is it important for us to create LGBT-affirming API churches?
April 10, 2009
NRJ member Sharon Hwang Colligan presents as the bisexual respresentative on a four-person panel on LGBT experience at the Institute of Buddhist Studies.
April 28, 2009
NRJ Talking Circle: The Heteronormative Path Versus Our Queer API Realities
Before you came out to yourself...Who did you think you would partner with?
Who did you think would be your support system? What were your life goals? What did you see as your vocation or role in society? After coming out to yourself, did these things change? What is prescribed by our heteronormative society? What our our actual lived realities?
May 2, 2009
NRJizers Miak Siew and Elizabeth Leung conduct a workshop, "Unfolding the Sacred in Our Stories" at 2009 Queer & Asian Conference at UC Berkeley. The workshop is part of the cultural work of combating religious homophobia in the Asian Pacific Islander contexts. Participants are invited to explore the spiritual or religious aspect of the collective autobiography of being queer and Asian, by engaging each other in a space of communal story-telling and story-listening of experiences of alienation, resistance, survival and transformation. The goal is to become conscious of the sense of sacred and/or spiritual significance of our everyday queer and Asian lives. Attendance: 20.
May 3, 2009
One Big Family Photo Solidarity Project
At the 50th annual Buena Vista United Methodist Church Bazaar in Alameda, CA, the Network on Religion and Justice for API LGBTs (NRJ) launches the One Big Family photo solidarity project. In partnership with Buena Vista UMC's Reconciling Ministry, NRJ hosts a booth at the Bazaar. Nestled between the hot tea tent and the chicken teriyaki ticket booth, we invite attendees to stand in solidarity with LGBTQ people by taking their picture holding a sign that read, "I am Christian and I stand in solidarity with LGBTQ people" or another solidarity message of their choice. Buena Vista United Methodist Church voted to be a reconciling church in 2006. The BVUMC community was excited about the opportunity to show solidarity for LGBTQ people.
May 4, 2009
NRJ coordinator, Rev. Elizabeth Leung, presents on the panel "Building Coalitions for Justice: The Intersections of Race, Class, Ethnicity and Religious Diversity," at the Human Rights Campaign Clery Call for Justice and Equality 2009 in Washington, D.C. She talks about the work of the Network on Religion and Justice for API-LGBTs, how a faith-based movement for equality can better address the needs for diverse populations, and what others outside these communities need to know to help create a truly diverse justice movement.
May 22, 2009
NRJizer Rev. Debbie Lee interviews Rev. Roger Morimoto of Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Palo Alto, about the church's journey to become a reconciling congregation that works for full participation of all people in the life of the United Methodist Church.
May 26, 2009
NRJ clergy, Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Kuan and Rev. Debbie Lee, are among those arrested near City Hall in San Francisco in acts of civil disobedience following the California Supreme Court's decision to uphold a constitutional amendment that denies the full equality of same-sex couples under the law. They had marched with other clergy behind a banner stating "Faith demands justice! Marriage Equality Now!" at a rally held in advance of the court ruling.
May 26, 2009
NRJ Talking Circle: Prop 8, Marriage, and Critiques of Marriage
The CA Supreme Court makes a ruling about Prop 8 that bans same-sex marriage. We use this opportunity to be in community with one another after the ruling, and share our feelings about marriage and our critiques of the institution of marriage, in general.
- How do you feel about the ruling? What does the ruling mean for you and your relationship(s), future plans, and dreams?
- Do you want to get married? Are you theoretically against marriage, but in a monogamous long-term relationship?
- Do you see same-sex marriage as symbolic of gays and lesbians assimilating into straight society? Or do you see same-sex marriage as revolutionizing and totally flipping the script on marriage?
- What purpose does marriage serve/what purpose has marriage served in your life? What alternatives to marriage/other sustainable family structures have historically existed in our API cultures? What alternatives to marriage currently exist in our communities?
May 30, 2009
NRJ honors Rev. Dr. Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan at the Annual Family Presentation Banquet of API Family Pride (www.apifamilypride.org) at Hotel Whitcomb, San Francisco, CA.
"Reverend Dr. Jeffrey Kuan, a respected pastor and biblical scholar, has long been a visible advocate for LGBT equality in churches and society. Beginning in the early 1990s, Dr. Kuan has been teaching against the misuse of biblical texts towards lesbian and gay Christians. He served as an expert witness both in the investigation of the Sacramento 68, a group of United Methodist clergy, who co-officiated the holy union of a lesbian couple, and in the church trial of a lesbian clergy in Seattle. Rev. Kuan has marched and spoken out publicly in rallies and press conferences, as an Asian Pacific Islander clergy in support of LGBT equality and marriage."
Also honored at the banquet is one of NRJ clergy, Rev. John Oda, by members of the API-LGBTQ Bible Study group of Pine United Methodist Church of San Francisco.
"We honor Rev. John Oda, senior pastor at Pine United Methodist Church in San Francisco, for his leadership and support. When GRACE (an API LGBT and allies group) needed a place to host Bible studies, he graciously opened Pine's doors. Through his works in various organizations and molding the church to be inclusive and welcoming, a number of LGBT folks have come to reconcile their faith with their sexuality and found a safe place to worship. John also co-chairs United Methodists of Color for a Fully Inclusive Church (UMOC), part of the Reconciling Ministries Network, and is a board member of the San Francisco Interfaith Council."
June 21, 2009
NRJ coordinator, Rev. Elizabeth Leung, preaches "The Substance of Pride" in celebration of Pride Sunday at the Pine United Methodist Church in San Francisco, CA.
October 11, 2009
NRJ joined Buena Vista United Methodist Church (BVUMC) as a contingent in an Interfaith Celebration "Faith Communities: Coming Out ! Coming Together" in Alameda, CA. It was a great opportunity to be a visible religious witness to LGBTQ justices as API.
January 22-24, 2010
NRJ organized a spiritual retreat "Queer Spirit, API Roots" to celebrate, affirm, sustain and renew those living and working at the intersections of Asian & Pacific Islanders ethnicities, sexuality, faith and activism. Rev. Patrick Cheng was the plenary speaker. Opening celebration produced by Roke Noir. Prayer corners, praise songs, talking circles, closing ritual and communion. Workshops include: Biblical Self-Defense, Let’s Talk About Sex, Believe Out Loud, Video Slam, Bakla as Cultural Resource for Queer spirituality and activism, Queer Chinese mythology. Attendance: 28. Ethnicities include Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Indian, Tongan, Samoan, Ilocano, Filipino.
Evaluative comments include:
[What would you say was the most helpful for you about this retreat?]
"Spiritual bonding and bonding of commonality among API queer spirits."
"Opportunity/time for spiritual reflection, communion, hearing different experiences."
"Loved meeting other queer folks of faith and hearing about their work, helped me to strategize."
"Inspiration to do work in LGBT ministries. Small group sharing, workshop, history-writing."
[Name at least one thing you learned at this retreat.]
"Learn to work with scripture in many ways."
"Real hunger for spirituality in queer API community."
"The existing lifeline of supportive lay ministers to API lgbt people of faith."
"Ours is a living history - our stories interweave within a timeline with each other. The queer API cultural heritage can empower us."
"Coming out to family shouldn’t be an argument. We are the salt, spice, light of the world through God. To be myself is a witness to truth."
[How will this retreat change or affect your work/ministry/activism in the world?]
"I see how I can contribute to the larger movement and that there’s still a need for more queer API spiritual folks."
"Renews, better organized, strengthens, more strategic, deepens why this is critical and life-giving ministry to me."
"Helped empower me and to connect me with others doing the same work; connect with amazing mentors."
"It nourishes me and renews my hope for continual ministry with the intersection of API-Queer-Religious."
"Help me feel affirmed in my work; learn some possible strategies."
January 24, 2010
NRJ convened its first-ever stakeholders meeting. Out of the 20 people invited from around the country (New York, L.A., SF Bay area), 15 gathered to discuss the organizational future of NRJ.
February 25, 2010
A second API-LGBTQ bible study started in Berkeley/Oakland, CA.
April 24, 2010
NRJizers Patrick Cheng (Queer Asian Spirit), Sung Wong Park (Believe Out Loud), Elizabeth Leung (API Roundtable Project, CLGS) organized the first East Coast gathering of API-LGBTQ people of faith "Being in Wholeness: A Queer API Spirituality Retreat". Through discussion, small-groups, creative meditation, art, music and blessing circle, participants from New York and Philadelphia share and hear stories of living and working at the intersections of spirituality, ethnicity and activism. Attendance: 25. Ethnicities include Chinese, Korean, Japanese, South Asian, Indonesian, Singaporean, Malaysian, Filipino. Traditions include: Episcopal, Catholic, Old Catholic, MCC, pagan, Muslim, Buddhist, Adventist, Taoist, Presbyterian, Unitarian, Methodist, agnostic.
Evaluative comments include:
[What would you say was the most helpful for you about this retreat?]
"This is the first time of gathering LGBTQ A&PI individuals in a religious/spiritual setting – that in itself was most powerful."
"Coming together to discuss the benefits of working my queer spirituality and cultural background."
[Name at least one thing you learned at this retreat.]
"That there is a need to build a community and support on LGBTQ API spiritual people."
"There is a WIDE variation of where people are at all levels/facets of identifying API, queer, spiritual."
[How will this retreat change or affect your work/ministry/activism in the world?]
"My work [for queer API people of faith] means something. It can change everything."
"Thinking more about how my cultural background has affected the way I relate my spiritual and queer life."
"[Be m]ore visible as “spiritual” LGBT-APIs."
"It helped me network with other people of faith."
"It was great to connect with queer APIs this way! I want to emphasize spirituality in all my relationships with queer APIs."
May 1, 2010
NRJisers Oneida Chi, Miak Siew, Lai-Shan Yip and API Equality jointly facilitated a workshop "Faith, Justice and OUR Movement" at the 2010 Queer and Asian Conference at UC Berkeley, CA. Description: "How many of you have faced homophobia because of someone’s religion and/or culture? Even though many use religion and culture to justify hatred and discrimination, several social justice movements are in fact rooted in faith and spirituality. This workshop will explore the various ways in which different religions and cultures support and empower queer folks. Through the lens and perspectives of various religions, we aim to reclaim our LGBTIQQ movement as a movement inextricably tied and supported by our faith. Attendance: 30.
May 2, 2010
NRJ continues the One Big Family Photo Solidarity Project with Buena Vista United Methodist Church, Alameda, CA - co-hosting a booth at their Annual Bazaar to invite people to stand in solidarity with LGBTQ people by taking their picture holding a sign that read, "I am Christian and I stand in solidarity with LGBTQ people" or another solidarity message of their choice.
May 4, 2010
API Clergy Luncheon
June 20, 2010
NRJizer Pine United Methodist Church celebrates Pride Sunday.
July 30, 2010
NRJ presents the “Justice and Vitality: The Experiences of Reconciling Congregations” workshop at the annual convocation of National Federation of Asian American United Methodist San Jose, CA. A panel of representatives from 3 congregations share their experiences of the process, its significance for church vitality and the emergence of young adult leadership. Panelists: Wendy Ng, Aldersgate UMC, Palo Alto; Lois Mark, Buena Vista UMC, Alameda; Oneida Chi, Pine UMC, San Francisco.
August 7, 2010
NRJ coordinator, Rev. Elizabeth Leung, presents Nurture, Nudge, kNowledge for Queer API Culture, History, Religion at the annual conference of Asian Pacific American Religions Research Initiative (APARRI) held at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, IL. Abstract - Generational memory for queer API religious people involves a triple retrieval and assertion: (1) asserting our LGBTQ selves as subjects of contemporary API history and culture in diaspora, (2) asserting our API selves as subjects in mainstream LGBTQ history and culture, and (3) asserting our religious selves as subjects in both API and LGBTQ history and culture. In terms of pedagogy, an integrated approach that resists the separation of sexualities, ethnicities and religion into distinct areas of practice and knowledge is necessary for this triple retrieval. Engaging at the intersection of LGBTQ sexualities, API ethnicities and religious identities, the Network on Religion and Justice (NRJ) has developed a community-based, culturally respectful and multifaceted curricular approach called “Nurture, Nudge, kNowledge.” The presentation is about this unique curriculum, with a focus on a curricular activity that creates a communal space to bring forth personal experience, generational memory, and organically develop into a transformative ritual.
August 14, 2010
NRJ coordinator, Rev. Elizabeth Leung, presents "We are welcoming ... but we just don't talk about it" workshop at the convocation of Pacific Asian American Ministries (PAAM) United Church of Christ in Dallas, TX. Description: 43% of Asian American & Pacific Islander (API) population in this country has identified themselves as Christians. Many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) APIs have Christian backgrounds. API family sensibilities include extended family and church family. Therefore, "all API families, and churches, are LGBT." However, many API-LGBT and their parents suffer from the silent treatment and the heterosexual superiority of their church family. LGBT-affirming anti-homophobia work needs to happen in API churches, so that LGBTs are not torn from their families.
September 18, 2010
NRJ honors Rev. Deborah Lee at the API Family Pride’s 7th Annual Family Presentation Banquet in San Francisco, CA. "As program director of PACTS and then of the PANA Institute, Rev. Deborah Lee convened the groundbreaking religious Gay/Lesbian API Working Group in 1998, and the Network on Religion and Justice for Asian Pacific Islander Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender in 2005. She stood up and put out the call for our API church communities to honor their family ties and celebrate their LGBT members; her call changed our dialogues and changed the world. In press conferences, public marches, and civil disobedience arrests; in spiritual ceremonies, crises, and celebrations, she has been an unfailing ally, an inspirational leader, and a creative voice for justice.”
November 7, 2010
where did we go wrong? how can we do right? an evening of brokenness & wholeness: remembering Tyler and others lost to homophobic abuse with reflections from members of Aldersgate, Buena Vista, and Pine United Methodist Churches. This event brings together the three NRJ Reconciling Asian Pacific Islander United Methodist churches in the San Franciso Bay area for the first time to reflect, confess, and look towards next steps. How can we, as Asian Pacific Islanders of faith, be unique and crucial allies to our LGBTQ family, friends and neighbors?
November 13, 2010
NRJizers Mike Campos and Elizabeth Leung speak on the Theology and Sexuality panel at the Queer Pin@y Conference held at University of California, Santa Cruz. Panel description: The largest fear in coming out as LGBT for individuals is a fear of separation from religious community, family, and individual identity. It is this sense of public shame that keeps LGBT individuals wrestling with coming out and their relationship with God and their spiritual practice. Participants will gain a basic understanding of what are the challenges around specific religious theologies and glbt identities. The question and answer section of the workshop will discuss how to contend with these "doctrines/rules" to gain a sense of acceptance and full authentic living.