LGBT Rights Beyond the US

LGBT Rights Beyond the US

I was asked by a friend to help publicize the upcoming local events of Rev. Mark Kiyimba, a Unitarian Universalist who is fighting for LGBT rights in Uganda. There are a number of events happening in the next couple of weeks – a bar reception, film screenings, a legal lecture at Hamline Law, small group conversations, and he is preaching at a few congregations as well! Read on for something that may be of interest to you.

Wingspan Ministry of St. Paul-Reformation Lutheran Church 100 N. Oxford, St. Paul, MN 55104 is pleased to host Rev. Mark Kiyimba from Uganda for a series of presentations about our LGBT brothers and sisters in Uganda:

Mark Kiyimba is a Unitarian Universalist (UU) pastor based in Kampala, Uganda. Mark is also an outspoken faith Ally for LGBT persons in Uganda. His visible and vocal support for LGBT rights has put him in personal danger at times; he spent much of 2011 out of the country because of death threats. Currently Mark is pastor to two Unitarian churches, one just outside of Kampala, the other in Masaka, about 150 miles to the west in his home region. Each church has a school connected to it. The larger school, in Masaka, serves about 600 children, including a large number of AIDS orphans and abandoned children. Besides his role as a parish pastor, Mark works tirelessly as an advocate for greater understanding toward LGBT persons and for their civil rights, as well as for interfaith respect in a country where conservative religiosity is the norm across all traditions. Additionally, Mark offers his office in Kampala as a gathering place for many LGBT activists, providing safe space for them to network with each other. In 2012 Mark received the National Education Association’s Virginia Uribe Award for Creative Leadership in Human Rights, for his work in human rights and its significant impact on education and equal opportunity for those facing discrimination due to their sexual orientation.

Contact for more information: David Weiss – drw59@comcast.net.

Download flier with all Kiyimba Events

Large Events

Friday, November 1

Film: “God Loves Uganda,” a powerful new documentary on the role of American Christianity in fomenting (and sometimes fighting) homophobia in Uganda. Screening co-sponsored with OUT Twin Cities Film Festival and hosted by All God’s Children Metropolitan Community Church (3100 Park Ave. S., Minneapolis). Fri., Nov. 1, 7:30-10pm. NO CHARGE; freewill offering received. Discussion afterwards with Rev. Mark Kiyimba.

Download Film Poster

Saturday, November 2

Fundraiser reception for Rev. Mark Kiyimba hosted by The Saloon (830 Hennepin Ave., Mpls). Come meet Mark, enjoy a drink and some appetizers, and support his work on behalf of LGBT persons on Uganda. Sat., Nov. 2, 7-10pm, in the Fire Bar. NO COVER CHARGE; donations appreciated.

Download Event Poster

Tuesday, November 5

Presentation: “Human Rights Conditions of LGBTI Persons in Africa: Toward International Solutions” at Hamline University (1536 Hewitt Ave., St. Paul). Rev. Mark Kiyimba, along with Amy Bergquist from Advocates for Human Rights, sponsored by Stonewall Alliance of the Hamline University Law School. Tues., Nov. 5, 4-5pm. in Law School Building, Room 105.

Download Stonewall Flier

Other events

(These events are aimed primarily at their respective communities, but all are open to the public.)

Sunday, October 27

Rev. Mark Kiyimba preaches at St. Paul-Reformation Lutheran Church (100 N. Oxford St., St. Paul), 8:00am & 10:30am. followed by light luncheon in Lower Auditorium at noon.

Tuesday, October 29

“Conviction & Courage in Uganda: An Ally’s Journey” at Hamline University (1536 Hewitt Ave., St. Paul), 11:20am-12:40pm, in Drew Science, Room 118.

“The Struggle for LGBT Rights in Uganda: An Inside Perspective” at Augsburg College (2211 Riverside Ave., Mpls), 7pm, in the Christensen Center, East Commons.

Wednesday, October 30

“Ministry to LGBT Persons in a Time of Peril,” at Luther Seminary (2481 Como Ave., St. Paul), 11:30am-12:30pm in the Olson Campus Center, Dining Room C (lunch available for purchase in cafeteria).

Thursday, October 31

“The Struggle for LGBT Rights in Uganda: An Inside Perspective” at Macalester College (1600 Grand Ave., St. Paul), noon-1pm, Weyerhaeuser Memorial Chapel. Refreshments 11:30am-noon in the Chapel basement.

Sunday, November 3

Rev. Mark Kiyimba preaches at Minnesota Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (10715 Zenith Avenue South Bloomington, MN 55431), 10:30am.

Tuesday, November 5

Preaching in Bigelow Chapel at United Theological Seminary (3000 5th Street Northwest, New Brighton)11:35am-12:05pm, followed by lunch with members of the seminary community.

Friday, November 8

Film: “God Loves Uganda,” a powerful new documentary on the role of American Christianity in fomenting (and sometimes fighting) homophobia in Uganda. Hosted by UUCM Social Justice Ministry of Unitarian Universalist Church of Minnetonka. (605 Rice Street Wayzata, MN 55391) Fri., Nov. 8, 7-9pm. Discussion afterwards with Rev. Mark Kiyimba.

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Humanism at the National Level

Presenters:

  • Introductions: Kristin Wintermute, Executive Director of the Humanist Institute
  • The Story of the Humanist Institute: Carol Wintermute, Co-Dean & Class 1 Alumna of the Humanist Institute
  • The Impact of the Humanist Institute: Kevin Watson, Class 17 of the Humanist Institute

Location:

First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis, www.firstunitarian.org

April 29, 2012

Slides & Resources:

Description:

Carol Wintermute, past Director of Religious Education at FUS shares the history of Humanist Institute began, how the Humanist Movement has changed over time, and where it is going today. Kevin Watson, FUS member shares from his experiences as a current student and the work this program has inspired him to do. The goal of this Sunday was to connect the work of the Society to the foundations it has laid and the work happening today at the national level. Our community helps sustain the work of the Humanist Institute and directly benefits from the Humanist Leaders it helps to shape. The Humanist Institute exists to equip humanists to become effective leaders, spokespersons, and advocates in a variety of organizational settings, including within the humanist movement itself. Come learn more about the Humanist Institute and First Unitarian Society’s unique place in its history, as well as its future. Find out more at www.HumanistInstitute.org.

What Humanism ISN’T, and why the F-Word is needed

Note: I wrote this Friday, March 23 but wasn’t able to post until today so while much has changed in the Trayvon Martin story, the key pieces remain still shocking and upsetting. 

Some days you get double slapped with awful human behavior, the wonder that is the internet keeps a steady stream of information flying across the various screens in our lives. Well within moments I saw two stories in my Facebook Newsfeed that were shocking, rage-inducing, and dumbfounding all at once.

I’ve often been asked about definitions of what Humanism is; had discussions about why someone would be a moral or ethical person without a belief in any god(s); or even about what drives someone to do good work if there isn’t a supernatural force guiding them to do so. All good questions, but today I’m struck simultaneously by examples of what Humanism ISN’T and proof that the F-Word is still a part of my vocabulary after years of fighting to never use it again.

First there was the Belvedere Vodka Rape Ad:

And no, it isn’t a meme or something like the Onion, it is actually an ad to sell expensive vodka: http://jezebel.com/5895931/the-rapey-belvedere-vodka-ad-that-just-got-pulled

Followed closely by “journalist”-extraordinaire Geraldo saying that the way Trayvon Martin was dressed had just as much to do with his being murdered as George Zimmerman. What?!

I am urging the parents of black and Latino youngsters particularly to not let their children go out wearing hoodies. I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was.

— Geraldo Rivera on Fox News

See the clip here: http://gawker.com/5895867/minorities-who-wear-hoodies-just-asking-to-be-shot-says-geraldo-rivera

So what do these examples of awfulness have to do with Humanism? Nothing and everything. So often Humanists, Atheists, and Secular folks get labelled as immoral or are questioned on why someone would do anything good in the world if they lacked faith. Well I feel that examples like these highlight something important. When a core part of how you view the world is: human beings are capable of doing good without any supernatural being intervening, and then you see examples of how awful people are to each other you actually need to use the F-Word. Faith of course.

I go out into the world each day and interact with my fellow humans believing that there is no special creator looking out for me or there to help me in a time of crisis. If I need help or assistance I need to turn inward to myself or outward to other people but there is no referee in the sky to help me. People make thousands of choices each day some of them are helpful or creative others are harmful or destructive. Yet at the end of the day I believe that the human mind has — through a stroke of evolutionary luck — developed the ability to aspire toward ideals. That is something pretty close to unique and why I feel people, though flawed and capable of horrendous acts and stupendous statements, are still worthy of faith. Given this belief my forehead may hurt from self-inflicted face palms from time to time. And now to reference my favorite Humanist quote:

Faith in god means believing absolutely in something with no proof whatsoever. Faith in humanity means believing absolutely in something with a huge amount of proof to the contrary. We are the true believers.

— Joss Whedon (source: http://bit.ly/GJNoEK)

Why I <3 Daniel Radcliffe

NOTE: This is a post was originally posted February 23, 2012 on the Humanist Community Project —HarvardHumanist.org

No, I’m not a crazed Harry Potter fan. In fact I’ve only made it through one and a half of the books (I got bored honestly). I do plan on going back at some point because I’ve heard bits and pieces of some of the material that didn’t make it into the movies and I find some of the class politics of the magical world interesting. The movies were really fun fantasy epics that I appreciate and that is as far as my Potter-fandom goes.

My Radcliffe-fandom however has only increased since the last movie wrapped.

Over the past year or so, articles have been flying about the interwebs about quotes and interviews where Radcliffe has been open about his atheism, this has been especially useful when I speak to people about humanism and can now add to my famous non-theists a younger person who almost everyone can recognize. Sorry to the many great intellectuals and famous folks that are non-theists, but while Sam Harris is quite dashing, people don’t look at his photo and recognize him as one of their favorite characters of their childhood (or adulthood for the older fans).

So Radcliff is an atheist and that is neat (and useful for talks) but what REALLY has me using less-than-three emoticons around his name is his charity work, specifically the Trevor Project but the broader story here is that atheists, humanists, and non-theists do good work. We are motivated to help those in need not based on heavenly reward but from an deep impulse to help fellow human beings, or as I like to say, we are motivated not from without, but from within.

 

And if you ❤ Daniel as much as I do, you will probably ❤ ❤ ❤ the Humanist Graduate Community at Harvard (HGCH), which, for its third annual Spring Break Service Trip, will travel to LA to work with the Trevor Project (http://www.thetrevorproject.org/) and other groups that support LGBT youth in crisis.

Humanism 101: What Non-Theists DO Believe

Presenters:

  • Casey Magnuson, Hamline University Multifaith Alliance
  • Kevin Watson, staff member, Hamline University

Location:

Interfaith Youth Day of Service – A Diverse Day of Service Learning and Sharing
Great Expectations: Our Communities, Our Future

by Interfaith Youth Leadership Coalition
February 20, 2012

Slides & Resources:

Description:

Learn about people who don’t hold supernatural beliefs. Learn more about words like Atheist, Humanist, Agnostic, Unitarian Universalist, & Naturalist. Find out what these individuals do believe and the communities they create and participate in. You might be surprised to learn how many names you know are in fact Humanists!

E-mail EQ: Tips to Tap the Emotional Brain

Presenters:

  • Cary Lenore Walski, Technology Education and Outreach Coordinator, MAP for Nonprofits
  • Kevin Watson, Communications Coordinator, Alumni Relations, Hamline University

Location:

MCN’s 25th Annual Conference
Great Expectations: Our Communities, Our Future

by Minnesota Council of Nonprofits
October 6, 2011

Slides & Resources:

Press & Reviews:

Description:

Just in time for the holiday campaign season, we will examine how to craft donation appeals that tap into the “emotional” brain of donors. Recently published psychological research has yielded surprising results about what does, and does not motivate people to give when they receive an e-mail from a nonprofit. Attendees will learn simple strategies to optimize both the look and language of e-campaigns to leverage the unintuitive insights yielded by research on how people think and behave online. There will also be time for Q&A to discuss more technical questions and concerns the audience has about e-mail marketing.

It Matters How We Communicate: Choosing Between Paper, Electronic and Social Media to Connect with Congregants

Presenters:

  • Kathy Brutinel — First UU Church, Rochester, Minnesota
  • Kevin Watson — First Unitarian Society, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Chris White — UU Fellowship, Ames, Iowa
  • Ben Stallings — Prairie Star District staff

Location:

It Matters What We Believe
Annual Conference 2011

Des Moines, Iowa
by Prairie Star District

April 8-10, 2011

Resources:

Description:

This workshop will be a panel discussion about how churches have engaged their congregations through newsletters, orders of service, websites, electronic mailings, Twitter and Facebook. What options did they consider? What works and what is problematic? How much volunteer and staff time is involved? Come and hear how other churches are dealing with how to communicate cheaply and effectively.

It Matters How We Communicate

Post 22 of 40 of the Humanist Lent Writing Project

This weekend is the Prairie Star District of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Annual Conference in Ames, IA. I will be part of a panel called It Matters How We Communicate and speaking about my experience as a Communications Coordinator for a large UU church.

I’m excited to hear the questions and have some conversations about how to do communications in a rapidly changing environment. The information I plan to share goes beyond churches, I tend to focus on nonprofit organizations in my freelance life through www.AidanWebServices.com and I feel these tips work well for smaller organizations or businesses.

Website Advice:

  • Make it easily updated and don’t invest in a design for a lifetime, invest with a plan that it will need to be done again in 3-5 years (closer to 3 if you want to stay current).
  • I strongly recommend using WordPress.com or WordPress.org. This platform allows you to get a site up quickly, has a professional look and feel, and is easily updated by people without knowledge of html or programming languages. WordPress.com is easier to do, WordPress.org gives you more options and control.
  • Use Google Analytics (more on this below).

Social Media:

  • Facebook first, then the rest. If you are going to do social media and don’t know where to start, Facebook has the largest audience and the most functionality. It will change at the whim of Facebook but it will change for everyone.
  • Make a Page, not a Group.
  • Get a short URL for your Page (i.e. facebook.com/yourorgname). You can’t change it, so think about it first.
  • Once you start it, keep content going up there at least weekly.

Digital Communications:

  • Less is more. In  both design and content, I tend towards as simple as possible. If you need to have lots of text in a digital newsletter, try having a lead sentence or two and a link to the whole story on your website or blog.
  • Email Newsletters: www.constantcontact.com or www.mailchimp.com. They are simple to use, affordable, and you get a nice end product with the ability to track open rates and clicks.
  • DON’T BCC your email list to send out your newsletter. This leads to your organization being labeled as spammers and is difficult to fix (I know, it happened to an org I worked with once).

Print Communications:

  • Less is more, less is more, less is more. Sunday Bulletins, Print Newsletters, Brochures. All of these should be a concise as possible. Just a bit about a select few programs happening, stories of success, and then how to find out more online. Or better yet, how to get in touch with a real person to have a conversation.

Office IT:

  • Google Apps (www.google.com/apps). You can have email set up to @yoursite.org, along with google’s powerful suite of tools (docs, calendar, chat, and more) for free. Your whole organization can be running them anywhere they have an internet connect.
  • Cloud File Storage. If at all possible ditch the office file server for www.dropbox.com or www.box.net. This is an easy way to keep your files backed up, shareable with colleagues, AND accessible form multiple and computer with internet access. Also copies of the files stay on your computer as well so if you don’t have internet access you can make changes and they will sync when you get online again.
  • Analytics. Track what is happening with your communications. With your email newsletters and facebook page you can easily track how many people open, click, or “like” your organization.
  • Google Analytics. Also free, a GREAT product for accurately tracking visits and activity on your website.

These are my starting points, I also plan to talk about Branding and why I think it is important even for small nonprofits and I’m sure individual questions will take me in other directions as well.

Other ideas? Feel free to add on in the comments!

No More Glenn Beck: Will Young People Even Notice?

Post 21 of 40 of the Humanist Lent Writing Project

Glenn Beck is done? No Way! Now I don’t think it is a surprise that as a very Liberal person I’m not a Glenn Beck fan, but then I was never meant to be part of his fan base. The interesting thing here is I’ve long ago let his brand of craziness and attention getting fade into the background, like a child throwing a tantrum. The thing I didn’t consider was that his viewers would as well. Joanna Brooks offers a really great post about this.

As a Millennial and someone who lives and works online none of the major news networks can count me as a loyal viewer. I get my news through Minnesota Public Radio, twitter, blog feeds, facebook links, podcasts, emails from friends, and email newsletters. My home television is used to watch BluRays, Hulu Plus, and Netflix. We don’t pay for cable television but do pay for cable internet. I wonder how many of my peers and those younger than me are in a similar place?While I understand that the major news networks still hold incredible sway and have millions of viewers, for how much longer can will that be true?

I’m happy that my parent’s and grandparent’s generation won’t be bombarded with rants involving tear-streaked chalk boards. After I read of Beck’s potential departure I was surprised but elated, then I googled to see if other news sources were saying the same thing (here is a MSNBC article about his leaving and a hilarious Huffington Post piece with possible Beck replacements), finally I thought to myself: wait a minute… when was the last time I saw Glenn Beck that wasn’t on The Colbert Report or The Daily Show?

So at the end of the day my real take away from this news is how little it really impacts my daily life and how wonderful it is that those people in the world I disagree with on so much and I have a new commonality: neither of us cares what Glenn Beck has to say.

Half Way To…?

Post 20 of 40 of the Humanist Lent Writing Project

I started this blog a month ago today. Here is my first post, which seems so much longer than a month ago. It was shortly before Lent and I thought this would be a way to combine part of my final project for the Humanist Institute with a way to reflect on what I am doing locally in the humanist community and also provide a resource to the very active Minnesota/Midwest Freethought Community.

It has been a wonderful experience. I find that I am reading what other organizations are doing and reaching out to make connections as a result of this blog. I also find the time to reflect more and have begun to create an online community of folks that I see as great resources nationally.

I’ve also hit a wall with the coming of April and see how time consuming blogging can be. My main goal with the Humanist Lent Writing Project was to take a time of year that I haven’t really participated in before and make something personal out of it. The other big goal was to get into a habit of writing regularly. I’ve tried to blog or do reflective writing multiple times but find myself getting hung up on what to write and when to write, ending in simply not writing. So while I am a little behind schedule the experience of this project has been overwhelmingly positive. I don’t plan on posting as often after Easter but I think I will have an easier time maintaining what I’ve begun and a greater level of comfort in simply putting words on the screen. I didn’t ever imagine this first writing project as an end but really as a jump start to a much larger project of creating another place for humanist thought and hopefully another place for people to find out about our long and vibrate tradition of freethought, skepticism, and faith in our fellow human beings.