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Ugandan documentary screens at church
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times by Lauren E. Childers
2014-09-16

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Renowned documentary Call Me Kuchu was screened at Broadway United Methodist Church and hosted by partner organization CLASP ( Chicago LGBT Asylum Support Program ) on Sept. 12.

The documentary was shown to the congregation to talk about how in many parts of the world new anti-gay laws have been passed, provoking violence, and highlighting the need for community organizations like CLASP. The screening, which the Gay Liberation Network sponsored, was the beginning of a series of fundraisers to encourage the growth of CLASP and its accompanying Program CICLiv, which place and assist asylum seekers in new Chicago homes.

Call Me Kuchu is a documentary that explores the struggles of the LGBT community in Uganda while focusing on lead acitivist David Kato and his assassination in 2011. "Kuchu," of Swahili origin, is a synonym for "queer." The film walks through the lives of LGBT Ugandan activists and their struggles in Uganda's political environment, showing everything from religious support to religious language used by pastors and lawmakers to condemn.

Some of the activists in the film express their desire to leave to country but decide to stay due to lack of funds, the dangers in traveling alone, or the desire to reform laws and minds in Uganda. For those in Uganda and other nations who do wish to seek asylum, CLASP aims to cater to their needs.

CLASP was recently founded in 2014 in partnership with Broadway United Methodist. According to LGBT-FAN Asylum Network, CLASP's mission is to "provide direct living support and welcoming environments to asylum seekers" and works with CICLiv to achieve this mission. LGBT-FAN is a "national coalition dedicated to helping people who are seeking safety in the U.S. because of persecution based on sexual orientation or gender identity in their home countries."

CICLiv is a community group LGBTI asylees formed to provide aliens and immigrants a welcoming home in Chicago. The founder and current leader, John Ademola Adewoye, spoke after the showing to expand on the importance of Call Me Kuchu and its relevance to the lives of his current tenants. CICLiv provides referrals and direct services including: housing, basic amenities, education and career development support, and psychosocial care. Both CICLiv and Broadway United Methodist operate together under the cause of CLASP.

Adewoye expressed his gratitude to the congregation for helping CLASP become what it is today. Also, he explained the limitations the organization is facing monetarily and described his wishes for the future of CLASP. He called on the congregation to help with the growing needs of LGBT friends abroad in the evermore present hostility.

Gay Liberation Network's Andy Thayer was present and asserted in the discussion that in addition to recent anti-gay legislation passed in Uganda, Nigeria ( the home nation of many CLASP asylees ), Russia, and India that many U.S. policies are exacerbating issues, especially in Honduras. He raised issues such as the mass deportations during Obama's presidency as well as the U.S. free trade treaty with Honduras which has hurt the Honduran economy and forced people of their land. He cited this upheaval in Honduras to the wave of violence against LGBT people, among other groups, and the prevalence of similar situations in other nations.

Lois McCullen Parr, co-founder of CLASP, announced that Broadway United Methodist plans to have its next fundraiser for CLASP Saturday, Oct. 11, to coincide with National Coming Out Day. "Taste of Africa" will be held at a private residence in which CLASP asylees will cook food from their home countries. For more information to attend, search www.broadwaychurchchicago.com/.


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