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Indignation: United We Fall, Divided We Stand
Articles - Events
Written by sayoni   
Monday, 24 August 2009 00:00

Date: Saturday, August 29, 2009
Time: 2:00pm – 5:00pm
Location: 72-13 Theatreworks, Muhamad Sultan Road.

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LGBTQ � an umbrella term that seemingly unites us, in our diversity. We automatically assume that our non-heterosexuality means we are one community, with common goals and a common space. But are we really? Can men and women really work together in the gay rights movement? Are our differences too great, or are our common goals sufficient to keep us united?

A panel of men and women experienced in working with the community take on this question in a debate format, exploring the questions from different angles and perspectives. Expect a night where we confront the dust bunnies under our carpet, and hopefully emerge with a better understanding of where we can head.

Twittereport: “Are We There Yet?”
Articles - Events
Written by sayoni   
Sunday, 23 August 2009 00:00

Yesterday Sayoni organised a forum titled “Are We There Yet?” for Indignation. For those who could not make it, the event was covered live on our twitter. We reproduce the report here for you. We also would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people who made this event possible – photo/videographers, ushers, receptionists, logistics, voluntweers (ie the volunteer tweeters), and just anyone who helped out.



Sat Aug 22 19:32:54

Things are being set up for “Are We There
Yet”. This event is going to be reported live on twitter! #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 19:40:40

People are filing into the room rapidly #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 19:54:24

We haven’t started yet, but the crowd is 60 people
and counting! There look to be more coming. #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:00:55

The panellists are taking their seats. We are about
to start “Are we there yet?” Kelly is welcoming everyone to the
Sayoni forum. #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:03:07

The speakers are Alexandra Serrenti, Raqvind, Hui
Yee, Swee Jean, and Jean. #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:04:32

Kelly: The first issue for the night is about the
AWARE saga. Many queer women voted against the new exco and rallied others.

Sat Aug 22 20:06:44

Alex is speaking on her concerns with the ex-new
exco. It only began an issue on sexuality later, after TSM appeared. #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:08:02

Alex: Would like to thank TSM for getting her
involved in the community again. We as queer women need to speak up for
ourselves #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:08:52

Would like to encourage everyone to think abt their role
as gay people and their involvement in the community. #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:10:01

Someone from the floor is saying that she identifies
as a woman first and then as a lesbian, therefore wld speak up #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:11:05

Jean: First impression was familiar names in AWARE
from letter-writing #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:11:51

Raqvind: The EGM was important in bringing up the
gay issue, in everyday life as well. #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:14:30

Kelly has changed to a new PPT slide. New Exco’s
stand vs Old Guard.CSE,SpiderLilies/Old Guard included queer women direct
svcs etc #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:15:53

Floor: AWARE is neutral, simply tries to include all
aspects of ‘woman’. #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:16:37

Kelly: Have your expectations shifted after the EGM?
Several hands raised.#indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:17:24

Hui Yee: More about people, not just gay people, in
Singapore making their voices heard. AWARE not explicitly gay-friendly. #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:18:33

Swee Jean (SJ): Should not downplay it; there were
in fact many gay women in grp, played a significant part in the reaction
& votes #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:19:29

SJ: Standing up for self as lesbian and as women. Deeply
disturbed that grp of unknowns wld do this. #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:21:21

Jean (JC): How many were here at Constance Singam’s
talk? (Many hands raised) angry crowd of gay women etc. #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:21:34

About 70 people in the room, including the speakers.

Sat Aug 22 20:23:22

Floor: Question abt whether it is a problem to
conflate sexuality and women’s issues #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:24:46

Floor: Abortion is never a lesbian issue? Sorry, but
we are a subgroup within women. There are still lesbians who are dealg
w/issue #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:25:26

Kelly (KT): In Constance’s talk, she felt that Aware
was doing enough by includg queer women. Not identity-based advocacy #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:26:03

KT: …but issues-based advocacy. Don’t queer women
have it pretty good already? some people ask. Will introduce the survey 2008

Sat Aug 22 20:28:07

KT: … also doing a report related to CEDAW. Survey
findgs: (1) Education. Women experience attraction mostly in teenage yrs

Sat Aug 22 20:29:45

KT: How did you relate to that (i.e. lesbianism
excluded from official sex education) in growing yrs? #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:31:07

JC: No role models in youth-seen as deviance. Coping
w/shame,religion. Had wished for female role models. Instead, she had Alex Au

Sat Aug 22 20:32:32

JC: Constance’s book abt history of women in Sg, did
not mention queer women. Does not blame her… Cannot wait for pple to do
this #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:33:35

Alex Au: First met her in Sept 1997 (around there),
when he was invited to give a talk at Substation. Constance was present.

Sat Aug 22 20:34:11

AA: …talk on basic sexual orientation. After the
talk, she approached him and said she didn’t know who to ask abt these
things. #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:35:46

SJ: Comments on CSE – heartened to hear abt CSE,
difficult to hear that it has been withdrawn. Wld hv been wonderful in sec
sch. #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:36:54

SJ: … to have been treated normally at that age if
u talked to a teacher/dressed tomboyishly. Hope tt it’ll become more
inclusive #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:39:00

HY: Had a qn once abt how 2 women have sex. We shld
forgive them for not knowing. #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:40:36

HY: At Women’s Night, we focus on learning fr each
other. Focus on sharing. Be brave enough to share that bit of us. #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:42:20

Floor: Heard a talk once where it was said that it
was immoral & unnatural.


Sat Aug 22 20:42:40

Floor: Tried to take a neutral stand in health edn.
Saddened for young pple in Sg. #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:44:11

Floor: As someone who’s bisexual, told mother she
was attracted 2 women, was told it was a phase. At 22 realised cld not be
phase #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:44:30

Floor: …impt to teach women how to identify if the
attraction is real #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:44:54

Floor: Heterosexuals have support grps while gay
people do not. She got to know Sayoni by chance on FB. #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:45:31

AA: (desperately needs to respond) The problem of knowing
when puppy love is phase or the real thing. But why is that impt? #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:46:20

AA: …so what if it is a phase? Trying to
distinguish btw phasic love and non-phasic love (laughter)… #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:46:43

AA: …it means that if it is a phase, we will get
told it can’t be real & we need to change! So what if it is a phase?

Sat Aug 22 20:48:05

Floor: They say it is a phase because no one wants
their kids to be gay! Even in
countries where gay rights r advanced, same prob #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:48:39

Floor: …Long way to go. Shld be positive and say
it’s okay. Not the most impt thing #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:49:34

AA: Why do we talk down experimentation? #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:50:37

Floor: People can’t accept it now, need to push
people slowly along. We’re not there yet. #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:51:39

KT: Topic (2) Identity and Media Representation.
Respondents thought sexuality was most impt aspect of identity, followed by gender

Sat Aug 22 20:52:38

[Slide: fines and censorship by MDA for portrayal of
same-sex activity or rships as normal] #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:53:26

Alex (AS): Within any self, there are multiple
identities. At some time, diff identities come to the fore due to
circumstances. #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:56:09

AS: Impt we don’t lose sight of multiple
id–multiple racial id was similar to being gay, developd rsources fr being
racially mixed #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:57:04

AS: Many people have never seen a gay relationship.
Would be gd for more people to know #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 20:57:42

JC: Karen has just published an autobiography about
her life #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 21:00:00

KT: Maybe we can start by asking broadcasters to
stop censorship. #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 21:02:05

Floor: Normal to have two mummies in certain parts.
Can’t censor whole world. I see
an earthquake buildg. At what pt will Sg stop? #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 21:04:28

SJ: Mediacorp has limitations, limited budgets. Hard
to say when it will stop, but there are many more channels now. #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 21:05:32

SJ: Just boycott any media outlets that seem
homophobic. #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 21:06:26

[Slide: Workplace: 96% perceive some amt of
discrimination at work. Lack of recourse in event of discr. Only MNCs.]

Sat Aug 22 21:07:30

Floor: Reveals to interviewer that she is gay. Your own
perception becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Depends on yr own ability.

Sat Aug 22 21:08:15

Floor: Can bring it up to MOM #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 21:08:30

KT: No dispute mechanism here #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 21:09:02

Floor: Over $1500, not covered by Employment Act

Sat Aug 22 21:09:32

[Slide: 38% in monogamous rship, 10% dating, 44%
single] #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 21:10:17

KT: How many of you would want to get married?
[About 50% raises hands.]

Sat Aug 22 21:12:12

[Slide: Marriage privileges -- Right to share family
name, property ownership. HDB subsidy. Medical rights, next of kin rights.]

Sat Aug 22 21:14:39

[Slide: Employment benefits. Spousal or family violence.
Divorce or death of spouse. Travel. Parenting and adoption. Income tax.]

Sat Aug 22 21:15:41

[Slide: Worrying signs from survey. Almost 1 in 4
had income < $20 000] #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 21:16:08

KT: What is to be done? #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 21:17:41

Raqvind (RK): The more you normalise it, the less
fearful they are. #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 21:20:01

HY: Don’t be limited by yr imagination 2 wat exists presently.
Many types feminism out there. Only 1 feminist org, can form more. #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 21:20:31

Floor: Form sexual minorities org? #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 21:21:57

HY: Find it within yourself to start new movements,
causes. New feminist orgs don’t even hv to be formerly affliated w/AWARE

Sat Aug 22 21:24:22

Floor: Been with AWARE 4 many years. Never felt
discriminated against. EGM brought out +ve things. Totally for forming new
grps #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 21:25:58

Floor: …No real conflict between AWARE and
lesbians. Was amazed by EGM, J and K. Act of doing somethg is itself
empowering. #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 21:26:52

Floor: …Many new women have come forward.
Sometimes more strategic to form a separate grp. Keep EGM spirit alive.

Sat Aug 22 21:29:10

AA: Once every 10 years, government sets censorship
guidelines. Censorship Review Committee has been set up. Media rep impt.

Sat Aug 22 21:30:32

Floor: Started 1st gay org in India. They never
thought change wld happen. July 2nd, verdict validated hard work 4 past 15
yrs. #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 21:31:41

Floor: Stem cell technology — tech will become
mainstream. Once gay pple can reproduce, it becomes normative. Use economy,
etc. #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 21:33:04

AS: One other type of censorship we don’t normally
talk abt–shld we tell our colleagues, parents? Diff when someone u know…

Sat Aug 22 21:33:47

AS: …tells you. Not little perverts who are
sexually broken, diff in a fundamental way. Esp in Sg. “Conservative
Asian society”. #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 21:34:07

AS: …need to show that homosexuality is at least
as much a part of our conservative Asian society #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 21:34:29

KT: Coming out had single largest impact on whether
they wld agree to same sex marriage. #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 21:37:24

Floor: Visibility, period. Don’t hv to join grps for
that. Be visible as individuals. #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 21:39:11

SJ: In answering qn what’s next, need 2 look at qn on diff lvls. Grassroots
lvl can’t be emphasised enough, comes bk 2 comng out. #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 21:39:37

SJ: need to work on every front. All need to take more
resp. Participate in something you believe in. As simple as that. #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 21:41:44

One thing gay pple shld always rem. Be very gd in what you do. Work v
hard, be the boss if yr boss discriminates against u. #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 21:42:48

Floor: …have to work on financial side. Coming
out, hv to take one more step. Don’t forget the burden u place on parents…

Sat Aug 22 21:43:15

Floor: …when coming out to them. Work with
parents. #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 21:44:39

AS: Other forms of coming out. Not event but
process. Sometimes took chances on cming out to ppl where they were
distraught… #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 21:45:20

AS: …slow consistent work.Extending the
hospitality of our rship to these people as well. Act of resp to the people u
come out to #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 21:45:32

AS: …take a chance on the hard cases. #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 21:48:28

Floor: Very important to show people that we are out
there. When we forge ahead, we have to leave some history behind, next gen.

Sat Aug 22 21:54:45

New youth grp for gay teens! Between ages of 16 and
21 — Young Out Here. #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 21:55:29

Sayoni will be conducting another event on 29th Aug.
United We Fall, Divided We Stand.

Common grd between gay men and women? #indigsg

Sat Aug 22 21:55:51

KT is thanking the panellists. Thank you for
reading! #indigsg

Indignation 09: Are We There Yet?
Articles - Events
Written by sayoni   
Saturday, 08 August 2009 00:00

Date: Saturday, August 22, 2009
Time: 7:45pm – 10:30pm
Location: 72-13 (View Map)

RSVP on Facebook.

The AWARE saga and proposed Penal Code amendments provoked discussion about gender, sexuality and equality. Where were queer women in the discussions? What is our agenda and how should we represent ourselves?

Findings from Sayoni’s bi-ennial national survey of queer women in Singapore are presented and a panel of eminent queer women start the discussion.

Sayoni’s annual Indignation forum is a much-anticipated highlight of the queer woman’s calendar and this year is no different. All are welcome. You wouldn’t want to miss this.

Launch: Coming Out Guide
Articles - Events
Written by sayoni   
Thursday, 30 July 2009 00:00

It can be difficult, risky and yet rewarding for us to communicate honestly and openly about our attraction or relationship with someone of the same sex – to ‘come out�. This Coming Out guide by Sayoni seeks to provide basic information and support to persons who are considering coming out.

It describes commonly used terms about sexuality, often propagated myths and how to spot them. It covers frequent concerns of a person coming out to themselves, to parents, friends and peers, preparing them for possible scenarios and suggesting approaches. Real-life stories and a list of local resources are included to support readers in their individual journeys.

Sayoni will be launching a preview version of the booklet publicly at the Indignation Opening Reception on 1 August 2009.

PLU: Indignation 2009!
Articles - Events
Written by sayoni   
Sunday, 26 July 2009 00:00

From PLU

Indignation is the LGBT Pride season in Singapore, reaffirming our participation in the intellectual and cultural life of this country, reminding all that we are as much a part of Singapore as anyone else. The organisers are motivated by a belief that however difficult, progress is possible. We are not passive victims of ignorance and prejudice in an unchanging landscape. We are active citizens playing our part in making Singapore a better place.

The first season was in 2005. This year, 2009, will be our fifth annual season.

Each event is separately organised by by different people, who as a gesture of solidarity, are contributing their events to the joint calendar.

It is never easy organising gay-related events in Singapore. Many kinds of events require licences from various government departments, which tend to react with suspicion towards anything that is gay-themed. Even when licences are given, past experience has shown that intimidatory tactics from the police can still be expected.

Outdoor events such as parades, a common feature of pride festivals in other countries, are virtually impossible since the authorities have a habit of refusing to issue licences.

Funding is another area affected by the political climate; hence the organisers are particularly grateful to those who have bravely stepped forward with sponsorships.

Join us this August 2009 in our annual celebration of Pride. Support our fundraising events that make it all possible.

Click here for the calendar.

Sayoni is an active supporter of Indignation. Look forward to our events on the 22nd August and 29th August!

Last Updated on Sunday, 31 January 2010 19:28
AWARE EOGM: An Account and Commentary
Articles - Events
Written by Indu   
Wednesday, 06 May 2009 00:00

Most of the bloggosphere has been buzzing with the happenings of the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) Extraordinary General Meeting (EOGM) on 2nd May. The run up to the meeting was fraught with drama, suspense and old-fashioned politicking. The stakes were high for the veterans – the 24-year old organisation they had been with for years (and in some cases, since its founding) was in danger of being lost to a group of new faces who did not exactly seem to have women’s welfare in mind. (See here and here for a review of the events after the power-grab).

The venue had been changed twice – at first from Toa Payoh Auditorium to Expo, then, upon the instigation of the police (who was concerned with law and order issues given a large-scale Christian seminar would be going on next door), to Suntec. The media were ready with cameras and microphones, and when Saturday dawned bright and early upon Suntec, the stage was more than set.

I arrived at 10.45 am, as the registration was set to start at 12 pm (and the meeting was set to start at 2pm). Clearly I was not the only one with the bright idea of arriving early – the 4th floor was already full of supporters on both sides: red-shirted men and women on the side of the new exco, and white-shirted volunteers on the side of the new exco. When I arrived, taking in my outlaw appearance (ie, not being a chinese christian), 3 women tried to stop me from going up the escalator to the 4th floor, saying registration didn’t start until 12, and that the white t-shirted people weren’t part of their team. I brushed them aside and went up anyway.

After waiting an extraordinarily long time in the queue (thank god for reading materials I brought along), during which the white-shirts distributed food, flowers pamphlets and advice, and passing a security check, I finally entered the hall and sat myself down for what was going to be a long wait.

Little did I know the said long wait was going to be for the next 9 hours until the end of the EGM. In between reading, I noticed that there were two police-men guarding Thio Su Mien, and that an extraordinarily old woman on canes (literally) was walking up the aisle to the VIP seats, whom I later learned was Mrs David Marshall, coming to support the old guard.

The meeting started really late, at 2.40pm, where they exco finally presented themselves. The second Josie Lau took the mic and started speaking, the previously demure congregration burst into jeers and shouts.

And that pretty much set the tone for the rest of the EOGM. If anyone ever thought Singaporeans were quiet docile lambs, all such notions would have been dispelled within seconds of being in that hall.

The drama continued for the next 7 hours – for a full transcript of proceedings, see here. The highlight of the proceedings were threefold: when the new exco admitted that they had spent 90k SGD to date, in prepping for the EGM (including the venue), when Thio Su Mien stood up and declared that she was qualified to be a feminist mentor because she was mentioned on an obscure book AWARE published, on page 73, and when the new exco was voted out 1414:761 through a no-confidence motion.

Now, having had a few days to digest this historic win and event, and having read distinguished commentaries upon it (here and here), there are a few things I would like to highlight.

Firstly, the behaviour of the exco in spending nearly 90 000 dollars since the time they took office a few weeks ago, itself makes them entirely unsuitable for running AWARE. There were so many ways to do it for cheaper – such as employing volunteers to scrutineer (and make a buddy system to cross-check against biasness), engaging pro bono counsel instead of running to one of the most expensive law firms in Singapore and perhaps not installing CCTVs and changing the locks barely after they took over. Their attitude is one of that of a mega-church with deep pockets, or a corporate entity, not of a voluntary organisation. Whatever else one can say about their stealthy maneavours and less-than-noble intentions, if one is to judge them by their performance in office for a no-confidence motion, this would have been the clincher.

Secondly – just because you are legally in power, does not mean you have the authority to lead, especially when you have had no experience, the only reason you are voted in is because you rallied people to sign up and vote for you, and your means were underhanded and shady. Please show us some respect, and do not keep insisting that this was not planned – it most obviously was, and the longer you repeat that story, the more credibility you lose. I asked a question at the EGM which was not answered: what if I decided that Focus on the Family (FOTF) was losing its pro-family focus and becoming overly concerned with promoting homphobia? What if I decided that, because of this, I was going to appoint myself a Family Values mentor, email my friends and family and simply take over FOTF one day? It might be entirely legitimate, but does this new exco have any moral or even practical authority to lead FOTF? More importantly, is what I did right?

Thirdly, I was there, and I can testify that the crowd was indeed loud and sometimes overpowering. But contrary to what the other side has said about the old guard supporters being bullies and hooligans, I feel this was a result of passion and deep belief.  Voices were raised, but no one was harmed, or even threatened to be harmed. Emotions spilled over, but that is approximate response to what happens when one takes over an organisation by stealth and under-handed means. No one stopped the other side from speaking up – they were entirely free to make their opinions, and when they did, I observed that they made no sense (even to an objective listener). The other side had all the opportunities to speak, but they did not.  I personally feel many of the supporters of the new exco were only there to vote, not speak – by the very fact that the most of the new exco supporters left shortly after the voting process. Even I cannot help preserve the freedom of speech for someone who does not want to make their opinions known.

Fourthly, the opposition camp has painted this as a pro-gay vs anti-gay issue. It is anything but – it is the new guard who declared their motivating factor to take over AWARE was because they felt AWARE was too pro-gay. It still is NOT a pro-gay vs anti-gay issue – it is an issue of mutual respect, of living in harmony with different points of view and faiths. It is an issue of protecting the secular principles this country is built upon, by making sure one religious group does not overstep its boundaries or amass so much power as to intimidate minorities.

Fifthly, going into the hall, knowing this is not a pro-gay vs anti-gay issue, I was pleasantly surprised that there were plenty of people who spoke up for the acceptance and inclusion of queer people – women and men of all ages, backgrounds, religions and races. The message the majority sent out is that inclusiveness is not an empty word, and it means what it means. And really, for a bunch of educated women, especially Thio Su Mien – they seemed unable to tell the linguistic difference between tolerance, acceptance and promotion. The dictionary is there, use it. When you do learn the meaning, come back and tell me with a straight face that being accepting gay people for who they are, is exactly the same as telling people to be gay.

It must be said in conclusion that this EOGM was a reaffirmation, and a heart-warming sign that there is progress being made on the forefront of inclusiveness. It however, sadly highlights the existence of certain fundamentalist conservative groups who do not understand this concept and will do anything, anything to stop it from happening, even though it really has nothing to do with them.

Christians are not the enemy, neither do we consider them to be. We are not your enemy either. I take this opportunity to make a plea not to let things go that way, to not go the way America has gone in terms of the culture war – there are far far more important things in the world to think about, to work on. There are literally starving children in Africa, and I think your money, your effort, all the passion you have towards changing the world, can be redirected to causes much much bigger than trying to stop two consenting adults from loving each other.

And on that note, this is me hoping the best for the future!

Event: Sayoni Third Anniverary Party
Articles - Events
Written by sayoni   
Monday, 02 March 2009 00:00

3rd ILGA-Asia Regional Conference
Articles - Events
Saturday, 13 December 2008 00:00

The 3rd International Lesbian and Gay Association-Asia Regional Conference was held in Chiangmai, Thailand from 24th to 27th January 2008. Being a member of ILGA, a few of us from Sayoni Singapore travelled to participate and vote in the event.

At first, we were caught off guard by the sheer diversity of people who attended. The conference brought together about 160 delegates from a whole range of Asian countries, to name a few, China, HongKong, Macau, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, Mongolia, Burma, Philippines, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Kyrgystan, Armenia, etc etc.

The difficulty of initial communication and fruitful networking aside, seminar sessions were many and diverse in their content and quality. Of particular importance was the launching of the Yogyakarta Principles by Prof. Vitit Muntarbhorn.

Prof. Vitit Muntarbhorn (Thailand) is UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Democratic People�s Republic of Korea and professor of Law at Chulalongkorn University, Thailand. He co-chaired the experts� meeting which drafted The Yogyakarta Principles, a set of principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity. The Principles affirm binding international legal standards with which all States must comply.

Sayoni was able to help out by facilitating the women’s caucus on the first day and learned a lot from the women sharing about their views on various issues pertaining to the personal, community and the world at large. Subsequent days were followed by sessions on transgender issues, laws, rights, HIV, country focus issues, women issues, etc.

A gay pride parade was also held on the third day (Saturday) of the conference that marched from the Puttastan Buddhist Centre to the Night Bazaar / Pantip Plaza. The first in Chiangmai, it was greeted with curiosity from the locals, delight by tourists and participation by some who wanted to show their support.

Sayoni would like to thank Myo, Mira, Chiang Mai based LGBT groups, The Committee on Lesbigay Rights in Burma (CLRB) and M-Plus for organizing the conference on the ground.

Contradition IV: Chrystal
Articles - Events
Friday, 03 October 2008 00:00

These three poems were written by Chrystal, read at Contradiction IV. We thank the writers for allowing us to publish these works on our site.


self-expression or self-release?

ink on skin more like blood seeping through

art and architecture colliding

on surfaces and within

the body

is beautiful. her body is beautiful.

a landscape genius with shading

and smooth curve.

an entire canvas – a work in progress

with drawings that misdirect, drawing

attention only to

a gun which recognizes we are all to blame

its nozzle pointing in, its handle open for your grasp

I grasp her arm and she lets me

puts the trigger to my anxious untrained fingers

and I have hurt her

in my defense of expression and release

too many times

her heart once worn, red, on her upper left sleeve

now lower, worn out, perhaps, or still falling with hope in gray flames, still burning

waiting for my silly searching to end where it began -

a nautical star for direction and a banner left blank

with an invisible inscription. her name written in permanence.

this landscape

is genius.

five feet and four inches and the occasional additional seven and a half strapped on

a version of our aversion to the need for heels or height

a little lean and you learn that when it’s all laid down, the world

will slip into reach just right.

but the landscape is genius. in dim light.

a skyline crafted like odd-lengthed crayons in every shade of Crayola’s blue and gray

scraping the night as if god’s ass is bare and daring

the boldest, tallest, to take him on.

fool enough to try and fooled enough to stand

before the lobby

at street level and shrinking.

but away from that city

such erections are mere shadows

cast upon faces like masses of clitoral vindication.

so let’s make art with our bodies

and war with our voices

link arms, build walls so great in front clinics

and around women

exercising a right not given by statute

but by the inherent allowance to choose.

see, that’s the art of creation

each individual with difference

and on that level – equal

in innocence.

guilt implied only by those above judgment

those who have proof of absolute truth

and I will say not even science is very much more than theoretical

but aesthetics are pleasing. unexplained. mysterious.

like favorite colors.

favorite contours.

so the direction of my gazes is, quite frankly, none of your business

specifically if you deal with laws and �infringements’

the fringe of society will always be here where you put it

whether you like it

holding in place the outline of your weak definitions

constraints and restrictions you man-made normality

you nurtured into nature

non-conformity is the frame around your masterpiece

and what’s truly genius

is the landscape

and the escape from textbook terminology

and the noise.

life and art

are the colors of skin and the contours of choice.

In the Streets

recently, with the attention from the random schoolgirl stalkers and the truly crazy girls,

every time we fuck i wonder if this is how they see me.

on top but way too bottom.

more skin undressed in a single frame than anyone else could account.

your seven and a half inches of what it means to be free..

seven and a half inches within me.
and god, do i get loud…

it’s so odd to think about.

i imagine them glimpsing us in that hot clammy wet moment.

can’t feel my toes or grip your hair any tighter.

can’t hear my drippy mucous thoughts

over a voicebox in my throat that switched channels.

can’t stop the tremble in my thighs or press our chests any deeper.

when all i can is come.

butch on the streets and femme in the sheets.

i don’t believe in that.

i don’t believe in gender.

i don’t believe in codes that formulate a system of authority.

they’re just roles we play in the dark.

i believe i cracked the passwords, beat the boundaries, and defeated the purposes we were expected to accept.

without question.

but i came.

and i asked.

who am i if not in some form some way someone i’d be assessed to be?

expression and identity are knit too close.

like my breaths and my gasps when your hand is down my pants.
when i look in the mirror i see what i want to.

what i want them to.

i see a dash of arrogance that means strength in the bulk of male muscle.

masculine terms that i want my chin to speak

before my words have their chance.

when i look in the mirror i furrow my brows.

i am defiance. i am real. i am man. – or boy,

because my dimple charms and jello smile and pissed-pants eyes reveal.

too much.

so i am not defiance. i am not man. that is not real.

and when i look in the mirror i furrow my brows to deny, defy,

a toddler

with cheeks too chubby to know the arch of man constructs…

architecture of the home, the rod, the rule.

the triangle was gold, not pink.

but I never followed the hint.

when i talk to myself, i’m a hundred and twelve percent boy.

albeit sensitive and introspective.

And i don’t know myself any other way.
the day i cut my hair off (it only took me seventeen years)

i stayed in front of the mirror for hours.

negotiating what i saw.

resolving who i had always been.

it was like staring at your twin, separated at birth,

and that internal reconciliation.

putting the parts together.

like always knowing there was someone out there who had stolen your identity and left you with someone else’s.

and then seeing your self walking down the street right across the street from you.

i don’t know myself any other way.

yet you know me that other way.

you know the way my jaw drops and locks, the way i bite my lip, the way my neck throws back.
i’m no actor.

i’m not the best liar.

i guess i’m versatile but you somehow lube up my dichotomies just right…

we’re faggots and toughguys and leather dykes and fruitcakes…

and god knows i love the sounds you make when you’re almost.. quite… there.

My Definition

my mother wants to define this

as if

sex came with

a gender clause.

this uniform skirt is control

exercised by culture

and laws that dictate

over external genitalia, wombs, female fetuses, and the space we�re allowed to exist


a norm of petite, polite, post-marital slave

and we carry our heels high

to be crippled

we acquire joy

from the vanity of requiring continuous assistance.

so my jeans will be worn, knowing

the price that accompanies�

this awareness that this world was born


a woman�s pain

this responsibility to react sensitively


taught his story and his terminology that recites fair game.

my god is my maker; his word is my sin

you are my judges, judge, judgment

qualified by manhood

raised, erected, waving like a wand

your command

but she, she is my conscience

and for that thrust, i will stand.

the truth is out there

a simple search, keywords, on the world wide web

take away politics, religion, ignorance and

add a dash of self-worth and

it will be found that the mystery is stellar

and it lies in here.

in these words, this supposed poetry

of language and languor

lies irreverence and love and its stolen midnight motion

if only in respite.

i was told by an artist that art empowers scientists

that laws are enacted by politicians and embellished

by poets

well i write and i paint, but not enough to make change.

canvas does not sound like the alarm, the crash

of three airplanes headed for history.

but we�ll go down on your daughter

before their husbands understand and

we�ll plan our revolution under conservative family tables

by holding hands and

we�ll respect their laws of nature, stare it down like fighting prey

while they turn away from this physics of gravitation

alike to and amore so than theirs, since the anatomy�s the same.

but i digress.

i�ve been inspired, and i�ve been told that this thought is a weapon and its ammunition

is the voice to reveal

it�s some gift of the gap, a trap, I appeal the decision

for you ration your rationalism, spread too thin to comment

but I realize

that guns serve best pointed at the ones holding

and the gap, well it�s a fucking ravine and i�m drowning in it.

having to sleep to a head in chorus and in cry

the alcohol helps it stop, temporarily pause, distill, dilute, comply

but most nights these days

i�m dry

and i�m dreaming

of better times, better places, more liquor in my drawer

but i continue to wake

to our current state and current current events and

the stench

of my un-recycled page and sweatshop-made pen.

and i mention them

because in every torn nation and through every impoverished people

the boys have it better than girls

who bear the brute of an already blunt butt.

and i�m not saying i�d rather none make do

i�m just questioning

the mentality that equates this equality.

and i�m no feminist. i�m barely feminine, in quotes.

but i do hope the first term did not stem from the latter

since that would render both words

unjustified to my vagina.

maybe perhaps that�s my soul agenda

to say the word real loud in public � vagina vagina vagina.

Last Updated on Sunday, 31 January 2010 19:36
Contradiction IV: Adrianna Tan
Articles - Events
Sunday, 28 September 2008 00:00

Why I am Still a Feminist

by Adrianna Tan

I am still a feminist because I am no longer ashamed of saying I am one. I have grown tired for apologizing for so many of the things I am: for being liberal, lesbian, anti-Bush and anti-war, a Christian that hates the fundamentalists. Anymore to apologize for, and I may have to apologize for being Chinese.

I was feminist before I was lesbian. I was feminist before I was liberal. I was feminist before I knew feminism had become synonymous with �bra burning� and �aggressive� (I like my bras too much, and I prefer to be passive-aggressive). I was feminist the moment I was acutely aware that being a girl meant there were many things I could not do, and so much more I was expected to.

The first feminist I knew was my father, who taught me I must never bow to the demands of any man, and must never let any man suppress my intellect or free will. He must have known I was a feminist from the time I was 4, when, I did not believe the distribution of potato chips was fair and equal, and demanded he demonstrate by bringing out actual weighing scales, that I had as much as my male brothers and cousins.

In primary school, I was an avid soccer player. About as good as the boys, the boys told me. I played every recess time and after school, every day. I was the midfielder with stamina, who was fast as well and was everywhere and anywhere on the pitch at all times. Good enough, that the boys thought nothing of inserting me into their ambitious tournament plans for the next few years: we were a team. I started the first match in the tournament with the brand new soccer boots I paid for myself. At half time, the referee � his name was Mr Azman � said I couldn�t play, ever again. Even though this was an informal tournament in school, with no rulebook or precedents, he said that�s just the way it is: no girls allowed.

By the time I was 18, I thought I already had a pretty good grip on the �girl� issue. During one class debate, a member of the opposition made a disparaging remark about how sometimes rape victims �were just asking for it�. Livid, I made a comment which led him to say: �Let�s go outside, I�ll show you how good it is to be raped.� This same person is on his way to becoming a lawyer, and I fear.

I�m turning 21 this year and while I don�t play soccer anymore, as a photographer I�m told �they want guys, because they look more like photographers�, as a Mac Evangelist in retail I�m told they �want to consult the guys�, even though I know as much. Guys still hit on my girlfriend in front of me because I evidently don�t count and I�m not the real thing; if I�m opinionated, I�m being either aggressive or emotional, and if I�m stoic, I�m heartless.

As a member of the majority race and male, you may not believe it when I say that sexism is alive and well, because you have never encountered it. You see female managers and female CEOs, females in positions above you, and you fear for your male superiority. What you don�t see is the sacrifice only women are made to make when they choose career, how they could be similarly qualified and similarly excellent or better leaders, yet climb slower and earn less, how if they are assertive they are aggressive female bosses, how if they are not then they are ineffectual leaders and submissive. What you don�t see is how she had to fight hard for most things that come easily to you.

As a member of the majority race and male, you sat next to me in school today at the library cafe, talking about how your girlfriend is not as loud as pornstars when you �fuck her�, wondering if that�s because �she doesn�t know how to express her pleasure�, then your friends all started talking about blowjobs and said in no unclear terms, that the world revolves around �your cocks�.

I will continue to be a feminist until the day my classmates are not seen as objects, whose pleasure is necessarily held up against porn industry ideals, until the day their pleasure is not dictated by the selfish dicks they date.

As a member of the majority race and male, you fathered one of my closest friends. When your daughter complained to you that she used to be touched inappropriately by your friend�s son, when your daughter discussed with you the topic of male infidelity, you laughed and said, �We�re men, we�re like that.�

I will continue to be a feminist until the day every father stands up for their daughter�s rights, the way my father does.

As a member of the majority race and male, everything you might be culpable for is �because she asked for it.� Can�t have children? She must be infertile. Want to use condoms? Only if she pays for it. She doesn�t seem to like sex with you? There must be something wrong with her. Pregnant? She sleeps around. Sex video spreads on the internet? It�s her morals. Lesbian? They haven�t met the right man, and you just might be the one.

I will continue to be a feminist until the day my friends� fathers stop explaining away their affairs based upon what their wives supposedly lack.

So when you say, those feminists, in the same breath as those nazis, those communists, those crazy bra burning women, you need to know that the object of our hatred is never men � it is what some men do to us.

I will continue to be a feminist until the day my uncle in the flesh and blood stops being an asshole, and his immigrant wife is not afraid to divorce him and press charges.

I will continue to be a feminist until it is realized that while it is best for every child to have his mother and father, if the father is a dangerous man he has to be kept away from her beautiful young children before he does any permanent damage.

I will continue to be a feminist until it is realized the existence of many good men does not mean it is irrelevant to be a feminist. They are our fathers, our boyfriends and husbands, our sons. All it takes is just one man, that isn�t good, to destroy the lives of too many women around the world, and among us now.

This is why I will remain a feminist, I�m not apologetic for it, I won�t burn my bra, I don�t hate you, and no, you can�t watch either.

Contradiction IV: Zhuang Yisa
Articles - Events
Tuesday, 23 September 2008 00:00

We shall be publishing the works read by the speakers at Contradiction IV in a series. We thank all the writers for allowing us to do so!

Both these poems are by Zhuang Yisa.

The Tough Guys

It is a serious matter. This spying
from behind a shower curtain,
across the ginger corridor of desire.

It is real business, and only real men
do it: show me what you have, and what I show you
will leave a bittersweet aftertaste

in your mouth. An open mouth
begs the question: what makes us real, as men?
You steal a glance

in the sauna, at the stud’s
towel-clad reserve, to observe the stoic,
unreciprocated silence

that might answer the question for you.
Ask and thee shall receive. A hunter’s credo.
The waiting isn’t ritual; it is mental.

Out of the gym we carry weights.
We are the tough guys. We are the soldiers,
the husbands, the fianc�s,

the boyfriends and the secret lovers
bracing our souls, to march on under
a sky willed cloudless into monochrome, blue as soap

held in a dispenser, pressed disinterestedly by so many hands.

Dog Lover

The best breeders love their dogs
to the point of exclusion

of even the slightest possibility of loving
another human. They are at one

with their dogs; they cannot tell what is worth loving
beyond the merits of their own species

except, perhaps, this potential in the rest: the ease
of being manipulated, bought over

by blind devotion to the superiority
of their breed. Knowing this,

I followed you home. Knowing
what I knew then, I put a leash

over every resistance
in my body, and put it in a cage; I pushed the key

into your hand, then lay next to you: we spent the night
in the hot stench of dogs

not knowing if the night would outlive either of us
should we bare our teeth and bark.

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