Why You Should Watch this Video
This video is an example by activists to bring an under-represented “voice” to the discussion of human sexuality to a group of leaders charged with making decisions on a global scale. The under-represented voice is that of LGBT Christians from Africa sharing in their own words their experience of homophobia and transphobia, especially from leaders within the Anglican Church in various African countries. The leaders charged with making decisions are the Bishops and Primates of the Worldwide Anglican Communion, a loose federation of provincial Christian Churches with ties to the Church of England. Every ten years, this group meets in Kent, England at the Lambeth Conference.
• Title of Video: Voices of Witness Africa Trailer
• Date Created/Posted: 2009
• Length: 3 minute
• Who made it: Claiming the Blessing, Cynthia Black & Katie Sherrod, et al
• Location: Africa
• Human Rights Issue: Human Sexuality and Transgender Awareness and Equality
Goal: The goal of this video was to bring voices of LGBT Anglicans in Africa to the table of discussion around human sexuality in the Anglican Communion. A little background: the meeting of the leaders of the Anglican Communion takes place every 10 years in Kent and is called the Lambeth Conference. In 1978, a resolution was passed calling the Church to engage in a listening process on issues of human sexuality. This was reiterated in subsequent Lambeth Conferences, and in some regions of the world this “listening” process was engaged. In 2001, the American province, the Episcopal Church, confirmed and consecrated Gene Robinson, an openly gay man living in a committed relationship as a Bishop. More conservative provinces around the world reacted calling for sanctions on the Americans. The culmination of this review process was the Windsor Report, a non-binding document which offered recommendations on how to move forward as a world-wide group. The significance of Africa is because the majority of the leadership who are hostile towards the acceptance and affirmation of LGBT people oversee provinces Africa. This video attempts to show the people who are under these leaders whose voices are not represented.
The goal is to use this video as an education tool for all parts of the Church, helping to facilitate the listening process on human sexuality. The long term goal is to remove barriers for LGBT Christians from being fully affirmed and present in all levels of the Church. The “listening process” refers to a mandate by the Windsor Report, an unbinding report commissioned by the Archbishop of Canterbury to address controversies arising from progressive actions by some provinces of the Anglican Communion. Unfortunately, this process is ongoing, especially in Africa where the majority of the provincial Churches are not tolerant of LGBT members. As the so-called “Kill Gays” bill and its revised versions are debated in Uganda, this video is still being used to call the Ugandan Anglican Church to stand up for LGBT rights.
Primary Audience: Church leaders, mainly bishops at the 2008 Lambeth Conference.
Message: The homophobia of the Church is harming its members, and this needs to change. In a context of the Anglican Communion, the message is that in more conservative provinces, the “listening process” has not effectively been implemented.
Content/Style/Voice: This is a trailer for a larger video. Both employ interviews with actual self-identified LGBT Anglicans as well as specialists on human sexuality and the Anglican Church in Africa. The soundtrack is one of the striking features that sets the tone for the interviews.
Did you know?
Not shown in this trailer is Bishop Christopher Senyanjo, a retired bishop from the Anglican Church in Uganda. He is featured in the full length video as a leader who has not only had a change in heart about LGBT Christians, but now is an outspoken advocate. His advocacy work with LGBT Christians and victims of gender-based violence in Uganda has made him a target for more conservative people.
The front cover of the Sept 2, 2010 edition of the Uganda tabloid Rolling Stone (no relation to the U.S. publication by the same name) under the headline tagged with “Hang Them!” featured a photo of David Kato (an LGBT activist who later was murdered in Jan 2011) and Bishop Senyonjo.
A similar video was created in 2006 by some of the same producers, with a focus on Los Angeles, California, also titled Voices of Witness.
- The Voices of Witness Africa website has many resources, with geographic emphasis.
- IntegrityUSA has many resources regarding LGBT issues in the Episcopal and Anglican Church
- Amnesty International has a program on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity well worth a review.
- Human Rights Watch has an extensive section on LGBT Rights around the world
- Changing Attitude is an Anglican LGBT movement with many resources including targeted areas in Africa
- To follow the developments in Uganda, I recommend St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation.
Join the Conversation
This video attempts to bring voice to a population believed to be under represented in the dialogue on Human Sexuality; what other populations are missing from this discussion?
I leave you with the renowned voice of Africa, Human Rights Activist, Nobel Prize Recipient, retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu with a quotation from his book, “God Is Not A Christian: And Other Provocations.”
“It is also a matter of love. Every human being is precious. We are all — all of us — part of God’s family. We all must be allowed to love each other with honor. Yet all over the world, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are persecuted. We treat them as pariahs and push them outside our communities. We make them doubt that they too are children of God. This must be nearly the ultimate blasphemy. We blame them for what they are.”
Do you have a Video Advocacy Example to share? Please email blog editor Matisse Bustos Hawkes with a link to the video and a short summary (max 150 words) about why you think it should be shared on the Video For Change blog. Thanks!