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Going Home for the Chinese New Year
Articles - Coming Out
Written by Ebelle ( guest writer )   
Thursday, 19 February 2009 03:49

This article is written by our guest writer, Ebelle.

This Chinese New Year was an interesting experience for me and my girlfriend. Having dated for close to a year, it was about time that we had that 'meet the extended family' session with her family.

On my side, she has already met my aunties, uncles and much of my extended family including my grandma when I brought her to Jakarta for a visit. My grandma even lived with us for a month when she came to Singapore. So it was no surprise when my uncle assumed she would be joining us for reunion lunch by sending me a SMS with the details of the lunch and ending it with "Irene is coming right?" The only reason why she hasn't met my parents is because they both live on the other side of the world. If we are to visit, I am sure my mother will welcome Irene and ask her when we are going to give her grandchildren. As for my father, even though I'm not out to him, I will not hesitate to bring Irene to meet him if he comes to town.

Her family though, is another story.

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 19:30
 
A Chat With My Uncle
Articles - Coming Out
Thursday, 08 May 2008 03:51

Image Copyright of Sayoni

 

One Sunday I had lunch with my uncle. We get along fairly well and I am out to him, but we are not at the stage where we have copious open free conversations about my relationship status or my partner. Anyhow, during lunch, it was just the two of us because my aunt was out of town. We were having a routine, run-of-the-mill conversation as usual (What are you ordering; how was your trip to Bangkok, how much did you pay for a massage; did you know that iceberg lettuce lowers blood sugar; the car is due for servicing etc)

 

We were talking about my job and how much I have been traveling around the region, and he asked me “So with you flying so much, what does Jean think?” That caught me off guard. I replied, “Yeah, she is OK with my traveling” while my brain processed my myriad feelings. I hadn’t expected that question, and least of all from one of my relatives. I felt happy, optimistic, touched / warmed, grateful…

 

For me, that simple question spoke volumes. Maybe I set my expectations too low but remembering Jean’s name would already score him points in my book. I would have been happy enough had he merely asked “How is Jean?” But his question was an acknowledgement of our relationship. And the recognition that our relationship, just like any other relationship, would also be subject to the demands and stresses of life. It was an abbreviated form of “How does your partner deal with your frequent traveling? How has it impacted your relationship?”

 

That really touched me. Since I started my current job about 6 months ago, various friends have asked “How’s Jean taking it?”, and bless their dear concerned hearts. But none of my family have asked, and I didn’t expect them to either. I have resigned myself to the fact that, save one or two sane individuals, the clan wouldn’t be able to accept my orientation, and I say that because the small percentage who are in on the secret don’t even talk about it. Now my uncle has (in my book) joined the ranks of the “one or two sane individuals”.

 

This little conversation was a paradigm shift for me. It made me realise that there is yet hope; that people’s minds can be changed; and that just because change happens so slowly as to be unnoticeable, doesn’t mean that it is not happening. I am the type who subscribes to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. And When Tell, Tell Subtly and Indirectly. So from this incident I am cheered, encouraged and inspired. Cliched as it sounds, sometimes we just have to do our best, and let God do the rest.

 
Acceptance- Multi-layers; multi-levels
Articles - Coming Out
Written by AnJ   
Wednesday, 19 March 2008 03:53

“Anj, have you experienced acceptance with respect to your sexuality?”

Before i answer that question, i have to explain what i understand of the term “acceptance”. To me, acceptance is multi-leveled and multi-layered- proximity and depth.

The levels:
1. Society
2. Work Sphere [E.g. Colleagues]
3. Extended Social Sphere [E.g. Acquaintances]
4. Immediate Social Sphere [E.g. Close friends]
5. External Family
6. Immediate Family

The layers, with respect to proximity:
1. Accepting the existence of gay persons in society
2. Accepting the existence of gay persons in one’s interaction circle
3. Accepting the existence of gay persons as friends [genuine respect for the person comes in]
4. Accepting the existence of gay persons as family [e.g. sister's partner is now your sis-in-law]
5. Accepting a gay child

The layers, with respect to depth:
1. Superficial acceptance [Pretending it's fine]
2. Greater acceptance [It's fine but some bits ain't so fine]
3. Complete acceptance

When we talk about acceptance, it means different things at different levels. At the societal level, acceptance is showed through policies and laws e.g. the right to wed. At work, it comes from work benefits e.g. health benefits for partners. As it gets closer, acceptance means that your partner is treated just like everybody’s partner at a social function. When it comes to the immediate family, acceptance can mean weekly family dinners.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 20:19
 
Getting through the lunar new year
Articles - Coming Out
Written by Kelly   
Thursday, 06 March 2008 03:54

On the eve of Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year, I wandered on the way home through last-minute sales of dried seafoods, flowering-on-demand plants, mandarin oranges and tidbits. I inhaled the salty, pungent smells. I navigated through frenetic calculations. I cast heavy-lidded eyes over the scene, half-heartedly pondering the wisdom of $2 per box.

A quiet, hobbling figure was contemplating the same. Thin and bent, she wore a flower print, silky samfoo top, cotton pants and pushed a relatively new yellow plastic cart. It was devoid of the usual cardboard stacks. She shuffled quietly from one stack of dried squid cans to another. I got the sense that Chinese New Year would be a special occasion for her and she wanted everything to be the best that she could make it. My personal interest in buying was gone. A heaviness rose in my throat and I could no longer watch.

Just before reunion dinner, the streets seemed deserted by all except those of ethnic minorities and tourists. For that matter, most shops were closed. Those without family would find it the occasion only a time of greater solitude and inconvenience.

As on other festive occasions, the new year magnifies the best and worst of every family. Mothers and grandmothers put enormous efforts into preparing the house and meals to make it special. Every expectation, neglect and wound becomes more acutely felt.

Many of my friends hate the nosy questions from their relatives, unsolicited narrow opinions and undue comparisons of personal achievements. “Dear uncle or auntie,” they might say if courtesy permitted, “Stop asking these questions and comparing me with your children every year please. Both your children and I don’t appreciate that. By the way, I’m gay.” Whether or not the last bit is true, you must admit it has shock and stop value.

My strategy is to avoid the small talk and fortunately, my closer relatives don’t ask the usual questions. I talk with my cousins; generally eat too much and too long. This year, I got to play with my energetic nephew and niece. If given unwelcome advice, I simply nod and smile, the words slide off my ears. So the worst that happens is that I get a little fatter.

 
Gaydar- we are highly skilled!
Articles - Coming Out
Written by AnJ   
Tuesday, 26 February 2008 03:56

This article got me laughing at various points. It gives a scientific edge to a phenomenon that was previously confined largely to pop culture.

For starters, the term “gaydar” is generally defined as the ability to identify members of the gay community. It is perceived as innate, not learned. Sentences like “my gaydar sucks” or “she has a fantastic gaydar; she can identify straight-acting gay men!” are often heard. The more normative a correctly identified gay person looks and dresses, the more skilled you are perceived to be. Now to the article…

Woolery (2007) wrote of gaydar as a cognitive high skill. Because sexual orientation is not something you know by simply looking at someone. And lesbians were found to be best at identifying gay folks when presented with only a photograph [compared to straight women and men, as well as gay men] according to Ambady, Hallahan and Conner (1999) and Berger, Hank, Rauzi and Simkins (1987). Gay men run second in line. Across all participants, the more information one was given, the greater the likelihood of “getting it right”. This edge over heterosexuals is only apparent when information is sparse e.g. a photograph without additional details. And this, argues Woolery, shows a “keener, more finely developed skill” among gay women and men.

The article goes on to suggest that gaydar is a form of impression formation, with several factors like experience, stereotypes, contextual factors etc coming into play. Since first impressions are categorical and heavily dependent on apparent physical cues, Ambady, Hallahan and Conner (1999) proposed that our superior gaydar is due to a better developed schema. [A schema is like a network of related ideas in your mind, such that thinking of one thing will spark out thoughts of related stuff.] I assume categories are like sex [female/male] and the like. So when we see someone with boobs [physical attribute], we think “female”.

So, those with wonderful gaydars are considered experts. And experts operate differently from novices: they know the most relevant features to look out for and they make quick judgements based on these to-the-point observations.

How do we develop a novice-gaydar into an expert-gaydar?
By apprenticeship! Apprenticeship can be formal or informal. Since no school has ever incorporated a module entitled “gaydar” into its syllabus, it’s fair to say that our apprenticeship occurs in our everyday life [informal learning process]. Social activities with lesbians and gays help develop one’s understanding of the gay culture, which has an impact on our ability to recognize gay individuals. Woolery supports this with the observation that gay folks who travel to countries with different cultures and those who come out later in life tend to have poorer gaydars.

When will gaydar cease to exist?
Woolery wrote that gaydar exists because of the need to solve a problem: we need to identify fellow gay members especially in oppressive environments. So she argues that in the best scenario i.e. no discrimination, the gaydar will cease to exist. [I don't know about that. Because it's not just discrimination that brings salience to a certain identity. There are other factors too. For example, if you are proud of your partner and your relationship, for example, your gay identity might remain salient, resulting in a desire to set yourself apart. Hmm... i guess it might come true if the whole world is gay. Then gay signals will no longer be useful as markers of differences.]

So hurray ladies, we are highly skilled experts!

Main article:
Woolery, L. M. (2007). Gaydar: a social-cognitive analysis. Journal of homosexuality, 53(3), 9-17.
[All references in this post come from this article.]

 
Women’s sexuality- is it really fluid for most?
Articles - Coming Out
Written by AnJ   
Thursday, 17 January 2008 03:57

Engine search:

Can you change your sexual identity?

Sure.

- if you are schizophrenic

- self-delusional

- or you don't know what sexual orientation is.

Sexual orientation is something inherent for many people. That’s not something you change; that’s something you come to be aware of when you experience physical attractions. So if you want to change your sexuality identity with integrity, your sexual orientation has to be re-wired. And that, i believe, is 99.99% impossible for the person who has derived her sexual identity through thorough consideration of all her physical preferences.

It has been argued that sexuality for men is stable and sexuality for women is fluid over a life time. But these studies define sexuality at specific times according to self-reports.
Here’s a problem-
Your participants may not know how sexual orientation is defined [and hence discrepant definitions].
For most people, they make the error of defining it according to the gender of the partners they have been with i.e. the person whom they have romantic attraction towards. But being with a guy doesn’t make you a straight; just as being a woman doesn’t make you gay. And having been with members of both genders doesn’t automatically qualify you for the title “bisexual”.

Another thing to note is this- emotional attraction is a far cry from physical attraction and physical attraction is really the foundation of sexual orientation. [And your sexual orientation is only part of your sexual identity. You can read about it here.]

Sometimes i wonder if gender differences in relational dynamics are the culprit.
For example: Even if there are “Towel clubs” for gay women [i have yet to hear of one successful "towel club" for gay women here], i am guessing there won’t be many. And even through there are agency-managed male escorts and prostitutes [for straight women], there are not many.

If romantic attraction for women is determined by emotional attraction for a much larger part than physical attraction (as compared to men), is there little wonder that they found most women to be “bisexual” over a lifetime?

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 20:20
 
Coming out – Step 1: To myself
Articles - Coming Out
Written by (Guest Writers)   
Wednesday, 05 December 2007 04:00

Coming out – Step 1: To myself.

Ok, that was the easiest step.
As easy as rain falling from the sky. Didn’t have an umbrella, and even if I had one, I’m not sure I would have pulled it out.

Tomboy from 2 to say.. 17. Two older brothers, a sister who’s 4 years younger. A kid’s got to play, and I didn’t want to be left apart, so I was the goalkeeper of all the improvised football (soccer) games in the backyard. Loved being with boys. Girls annoyed me: I always looked hyper-energetic with girls around, when I could easily blend in with boys – well at least as long as my body didn’t get his feminine bells ringing yet. Boys were fun, athletic, I had a blast being with boys when I was a kid, loved to argue with them, sometimes fight, play, run around, or just sit around reading or doing nothing. Pretty hard to hang out with boys in a Muslim country, when you have 2 older brothers. But well, when I was a kid, I guess they believed it was cool, and innocent. Matter of fact, it was, so everybody was happy about it.

High school, still tomboy-ish. Felt in love with hip-hop, that certainly didn’t help my girly side to come out, but love doesn’t care about what people say, my wardrobe was packed with baggy jeans, Timberland boots, Nike Air Force Ones and hoodies, while my eardrums couldn't find enough time to listen to all the records I was piling up in my room. Wearing large clothes does help with the entering into the boys club. I was dressed like a boy, almost talked like one, and beside my “BFF”, avoided as much as possible the girls in my class, in the school yard, during gym classes… If I had to pick a gym mate or a physics class mate, it had to be a boy. No boring giggling about boys, no boring never ending talks about make up or clothes, but instead, music, action movies, how girls can be stupid and of course my favorite of all time talks with boys back then: football.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 20:21
 
My experience with internalized homophobia
Articles - Coming Out
Written by (Guest Writers)   
Thursday, 30 August 2007 04:05
Images from jupiterimages.co.uk

Hello I am sitting here at my computer at 6:23 am. Another night I couldn’t sleep well and feeling more alone than any soul on earth should feel. I turn to the presence of my cats for company and my new found shamanism beliefs in nature as I slowly look at the devastaing effect traditional religion has had on my brain in not accepting myself.

I once was a lesbian as if I once was a child, but I grew up and went back to being the kind of woman society accepts, that men find attractive, and that my son would admire. Sad thing is I didn’t admire me. Not only did I not admire me, I chose men who would hit me, use me, cheat on me, and worst of all not make me feel a thing in bed. I always thought if I could just find the right man, my body will respond like theirs does to mine. But no no no, year after year after year I defaced my own emotions with endless numbness offering my body to a man as if it was my only ticket to being straight. I had to pick despicable men for the cruel and endless punishment for really being a lesbian!

54 years later, 5 years of being unattached to anybody or anything, I realize the lie I have been living has cost me my life.

No I didn’t killl myself like so many gay and lesbians have from the 1950’s in the small town where I grew up. But I slowly have been committing suicide by trying to be something I am not. I even have found religious counselors telling me when I heal over the hurt my 2 fathers put me through, that I will naturally want to be with a man once more. As they flaunted their “straightness” in my face like their lifestyle was the only one worth living, I fought countless vain attempts to fit in with their image of me instead of being the person I really am to myself.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 20:21
 
Thank you for breaking my heart
Articles - Coming Out
Written by moonflower ( Guest Writer )   
Tuesday, 17 July 2007 04:06

This is a guest article by moonflower.

broken heart
Image from Relationshiptalk.net

We met almost purely by chance, I think. What were the odds you would stumble on my Fridae profile when we weren't remotely connected, and actually take time to read through it? Or that you would message me and tell me how you found me interesting.You know, I didn't even think you were pretty. I was already thinking of how to say no to you.

And then I heard your voice, your words. I felt the chemistry, the connection forming between two people over the phone. It was instant, precipitating out of everything we said to each other, and more importantly, what we didn't say.

I thought I was finally getting my turn, finally meeting someone I could love, after years of solitude. What did it matter, that you were plumper than I would have liked, or had a fashion sense I would otherwise bitch like hell about? We had a chemistry I never had with anyone else, man or woman. You were beautiful to me.

You were child-like, often immature. Your arguments didn't make sense, for someone who was an ex-debater. You were not remotely interested in activism, the gay community or anything related to it. You were everything that I said I didn't want in a woman, and everything my past loves and dates were not.

And yet, I fell for you.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 20:22
 
Mum & Homophobia (Ignorance)
Articles - Coming Out
Written by AnJ   
Tuesday, 03 July 2007 04:08
I was off cycling with Mum at the beach because she wanted my company. The weather was wonderful- neither sunny nor rainy. So we went on two separate bikes, much to my consternation. For she’s a slow cyclist. And i had to keep going at her snail pace. [Which i did. Mums get away with almost everything- in my case.]

The pleasant trip was tainted somewhat when she made a remark about how lesbians won t last in relationships  and cited how some of the tomboys she knew in her teenage years were later married to men. I happily told her that some of the lesbians i now know were married to men. It goes both ways. And they come with children from the straight marriage they had.

This whole conversation started when i told her of my secondary school good friend, Clarise. She s from China but brought up in Singapore. As a result, she had to contend with parents of a passe mentality. Her parents were stubbornly against her current boyfriend because she hadn t asked for their approval before falling for him. [Please don t tell me how dumb that is  i feel it in my little toes.] So, Mum was going, ‘I don t understand Clarise’s parents. At least her daughter isnt lesbian!...’

‘Ya Ma, i am the worst daughter.’

And she lapsed into this verbal fit. ‘You don’t cherish your family like you should.’
To which i retorted immediately, ‘Mum, we are at the beach cycling! I have other things i can do.’ That did it. Because i am the only one that would go to the beach without complaints with her in the family. My sister hated bugs of all sorts. I have an intense disdain for mosquito bites but that risk is worth taking for Mum’s happiness. [I was bitten by vicious mosquitoes four times during the trip and i am still scratching!] And i certainly ain t into slow cycling. I speed.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 20:27
 
My aunt was at Sydney Mardi Gras ‘07
Articles - Coming Out
Written by Jin   
Friday, 22 June 2007 04:09

I had lunch with my aunt and uncle on Good Friday. This was different from the usual family lunch because there were only the three of us. After we ate, my uncle left first to go play golf, so my aunt and I continued chatting. Soon, and without warning, she turned the conversation to my Lesbianism. I breathed slowly and wondered where it was going. This uncle and aunt (my mother’s brother, and his wife) are the ones I am closest to because my sister and I used to live with them for a period of time. I came out to them just over a year ago. The way that they have reacted is that they still love me and treat me no different than they did before, but only now they pray for me more. They still think that being gay is a sin, but they continue to “Love the Sinner”. So, with this background, I was wondering how the conversation would go.

She began by relating her experience at the Mardi Gras parade in Sydney this year. She and my uncle had gone to Sydney to visit my cousin who is in university there. Their visit had coincided with the Mardi Gras weekend, and because my uncle and another friend of theirs had never seen such a parade, they decided to watch it. My aunt then told me that she had once watched the Mardi Gras parade in Perth. At this point I was thinking “Wow, my aunt has been to more Mardi Gras parades than I have!” A few years ago, she was on holiday with her mother, visiting my sister who was then studying in Perth, and coincidentally their trip had been on the Mardi Gras weekend too. The three of them were having dinner in a restaurant which happened to be along the parade route and when it started they thought “Hey, let’s go see what it’s all about.” My aunt and my sister soon figured out it was a gay parade, but anyway they enjoyed the bright colours and decorated floats and lively atmosphere. Even my aunt’s mother had a good time, now and then she would ask my aunt in Cantonese why 'the people were dressed so oddly'.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 20:27
 
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