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African LGBTs Speak For Themselves in June 13-15 Pride Month Activities

African countries passing harsh laws against LGBTs and our allies have been much in the gay press over the past year. But all too often African LGBTs have appeared as mute objects of repression, rather than people organizing to win their own freedom.
A consortium of Chicago area groups is working to change that by featuring African LGBT activists speaking out in a long weekend of activities about issues facing LGBTs on the continent, and how allies elsewhere can help improve conditions.  The Friday, June 13th through Sunday, June 15th activities include forums, a film showing, a television program, a wine and cheese reception with activists, and a worship service:
Friday, June 13 – Free symposium on “Theological Resources for LGBTI Liberation,” 2 PM to 4 PM at the Broadway United Methodist Church, 3338 N. Broadway Avenue, Chicago with South African activists Judith Kotzé and Ingrid Schoonraad from Inclusive & Affirming Ministries.  Participants will explore the intersections of North American liberation theology and South African post-apartheid theology as they relate to the liberation for LGBTI people.Friday, June 13 – “LGBTI Solidarity in Africa”  Rev. Judith Kotzé joins the Gay Liberation Network‘s Brent Holman-Gomez to discuss issues of LGBTI solidarity in Africa, and preview the Saturday and Sunday events in Chicago.  6:30 PM to 6:55 PM, cable channel 21 in Chicago.

Saturday, June 14 – Free “Chicago Forum on LGBTI Solidarity in Africa” featuring a panel of African LGBTI activists from Inclusive & Affirming Ministries and CLASP (Chicago LGBT Asylum Support Program) discussing how to provide advocacy and support.  Breakout roundtables will allow everyone to get involved in discussing U.S. policy, worldwide/church advocacy, pathways to safe haven, and Chicago re-settlement.  2 PM to 5 PM at the Episcopal Church Center, 65 E. Huron Street, Chicago.
Reception Fundraiser and Film Screening of “Call Me Kuchu” – Join African LGBTI activists for a wine and cheese reception and the screening of the acclaimed film, “Call Me Kuchu,” about martyred Ugandan activist David Kato.  Reception at 5 PM, film screening at 6 PM, also at the Episcopal Church Center, 65 E. Huron Street, Chicago.  Suggested donation: $25.
Sunday, June 15 – Worship Service of Solidarity and Welcome for LGBTI Activists from Africa – 10:30 AM to 12 Noon at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church Logan Square, 2649 N. Francisco, Chicago.
The Global Interfaith Network for People of all Sexes, Sexual Orientations, Gender Identities and Expressions.  Representatives from Inclusive & Affirming Ministries will introduce the new interfaith network which was inaugurated this past January with an international conference in South Africa.  2 PM to 3:30 PM, also at St. Luke’s Luther Church Logan Square, 2649 N. Francisco, Chicago.
Featured participants in the weekend’s activities include:
Victor Charles Aweke, a 31-year-old Nigerian who worked openly as a volunteer HIV and human rights advocate in his home country until recent threats of violence forced him to flee.  Mr. Aweke previously worked with Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights as an Outreach Coordinator, Center for the Right to Health as the diversity program officer, on HIV Prevention Intervention Program for most-at-risk persons, Institute of Human Virology as the liaison officer on the trust research for most at-risk persons within the Abuja metropolis in Nigeria.  An experienced public speaker in Nigeria, the United Kingdom and the United States, Mr. Aweke currently working with the Center for Integration and Courageous Living and the Chicago LGBT Asylum support program (CLASP).
Rev. Judith Kotzé, is a lesbian from South Africa who in 1995 qualified as one of the first woman ministers in the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC). She served the DRC from 1996 to 2000 in the multi-disciplinary ministry regarding prostitution. She has a Master’s degree in Missiology, working on Interreligious Dialogue as a model for the Intra-faith Dialogue around sexual orientation. Rev. Kotzé became Director of the Inclusive & Affirming Ministries in 2011, having served in IAM in various capacities since 1997, and has traveled widely in southern Africa as part of her activism.
John Adewoye is a Nigerian/American gay man resident in Riverdale, IL. He came to the United States in 1999 as a Catholic priest with a secret agenda of pursuing anti-gay “conversion therapy” but discovered it to be false. This discovery and the U.S. environment emboldened him to accept himself and come out as a gay man, but at the cost of his homeland and by choice, the priesthood.  He is the founder of Courage Nigeria and the Center for Integration and Courageous Living, and a co-founder of CLASP. Despite his exile, Mr. Adewoye is an active member of two coalitions working hard to overturn the “Same-sex Prohibition Act  2013” signed to law in Nigeria January 2014. He is a Chaplain at the University of Chicago Medicine, a member of Chicago Gay Men Chorus, the Arch-diocesan Gay and Lesbian Outreach and Adodi National. He became a US citizen on April 7 of this year.

The Chicago “LGBTI Solidarity in Africa Weekend” is a joint effort of several organizations, including the Chicago Coalition of Welcoming ChurchesCLASP – Chicago LGBT Asylum Support Program, the Gay Liberation NetworkInclusive and Affirming Ministries – South Africa, St. Luke’s Lutheran Church Logan Square, and Truth Wins Out. Endorsed by World Can’t Wait-Chicago.


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