Lisa Dazols and Jenni Chang traveled to East Africa in 2011 in search of inspirational gay men and women, and among the folks they met was a straight reverend in Kenya who felt it was wrong for a church to discriminate against gays.
The man’s beliefs led to him being labeled gay, and he lost his position with his church. Yet he still works with Christian and Muslim leaders to challenge their stances and ways of thinking.
“He lost his livelihood,” Chang said. “This is an ally who doesn’t have a personal vested interest, but he’s standing up because he believes it’s wrong.”
San Francisco residents Chang and Dazols, who are engaged, set off on a journey from June 2011 to June 2012 in hopes of finding lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender men and women who are breaking stereotypes and inspiring those around them — whom they term “super gays.”
The couple traveled through Asia, Africa and South America and interviewed more than 50 people, many of whom will be featured in a film that is currently in production. It is intended to show that there are gays who are thriving even in areas where homosexuality is not widely accepted. The film is expected to be released in fall.
Chang and Dazols got engaged on their trip and plan to have a ceremony in June. Their nuptials, though, might come around the time the U.S. Supreme Court issues a ruling on the constitutionality of California’s same-sex marriage ban. The couple said they will postpone their honeymoon to be at City Hall if Proposition 8 is overturned.
Same-sex marriage continues to gain support across the country; President Barack Obama filed a brief with the Supreme Court stating his support for overturning California’s ban, and dozens of national Republican leaders signed similar statements.
Chang and Dazols said they picked a good time for their trip.
“It’s exciting that the timing worked out,” Chang said.
During their travels, the couple visited Cambodia during that country’s first pride parade. In India, Dazols and Chang met one of the first members of royalty to come out as gay. He was disowned by his family and ended up in a psychiatric ward to deal with all the rejection. When he came back, though, he started his own HIV organization.
Dazols said that story, and many others, were very inspiring.
“The people we interviewed changed our lives forever,” Dazols said. “It felt like we traveled in such an exciting time because so much is happening globally.”