The feeling of falling into a deep pit is how Yiap Geok Khuan, 67, would describe her state-of-mind when she first received word that her daughter, Eileena Lee, 38, is gay. Tears filled her eyes before she even heard the words. She had been in denial for years and her greatest fear was about to be confirmed – that the daughter she once dressed up in her own image – would turn out to be lesbian.
Coming out of the closet is seldom easy. Just ask DJ Big Kid (otherwise known as Johnson Ong), a prominent name at dance parties across Asia.
Big Kid is Singaporean, gay, and closeted to his family. In fact, this story might be his way of leaving the proverbial doors open for future conversations with his loved ones. “I grew up in an environment where I was told being gay is wrong; that I needed to cast out the demons,” he said.
To face the prejudices he encountered growing up, Big Kid said ‘yes’ to being a Pink Dot 2010 ambassador, along with GLBT-supportive celebrities Tan Kheng Hua and Adrian Pang.
He says: “Last year’s Pink Dot was a fantastic effort… and it’s a simple thing that we can do once a year to say that LGBT people are a part of the Singapore family.”
Pink Dot is a one-day event celebrating the freedom to love, regardless of their sexual orientation. Last year, 2,500 people turned up at the pink picnic held at Hong Lim Park to celebrate Pink Dot day. The high-profile event also received attention from local and international media, like the International Herald Tribune and the BBC.
This year, Pink Dot honours kinship and family – in support and in recognition of our parents, siblings, relatives and friends of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Singaporeans. Come join in the fun on May 15, 2010 at Hong Lim Park.
Big Kid suspects some members of his family might be aware of his sexual orientation. But so far, none of them have confronted him. He’s pretty certain that this same dynamic applies to many gay Singaporeans – a code of ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ within families, so as to avoid difficult conversations.
This picture reminds me of never-ending questions, and conversations that go in circles...
While having dinner with a Christian gay friend, she asked, ‘Anj, i have a question to ask you...’ Over my piping hot ramen, i took a deep breath and placed my chopsticks neatly at the side of the wide ramen bowl. And i studied her carefully for a few seconds as she began the conquest of her spicy minced pork ramen. She has been my friend for some years now and has asked me the darnest things. Sometimes i wonder how it is possible that a friend of mine would hold such values.
Gay people around me ask questions like... • ‘Don’t you think there’s something wrong with lesbians who dress like men? Why don’t they just be FTMs?’ • ‘Don’t you think there’s something wrong with butches? They are born like women therefore they should behave like women.’ • ‘Bisexuals cannot be trusted. They shouldn’t be in the community.’ • ‘Gay people who are promiscuous should just be shot because they are bringing the community down.’ Christian struggling gay friends ask me additional questions like... • ‘Wasn’t Sodom destroyed because of homosexual activity? My church friend told me so.’
And i find myself defending the right to be masculine, to choose one’s partners, to change one’s sex and to choose one’s faith. That’s not onerous part. This is worse: typically, it takes multiple repeats before anything makes an impression. It’s almost like they are so rooted in what they believe, they find it hard to digest contrary evidence.
I never truly understood what femme privilege was till the time I walked down the street with a butch-seeming friend and felt the looks change, became conscious of being different.
But I hadn’t changed at all, I declared to myself, shocked. I could have walked this path two days ago and not merited a second glance. The visibility actually came as a shock, which says a lot about how much I’ve been in the straight world lately.
The fact is, in this society it’s not hard to pass (as straight), especially when you’re happily single, with no fetching woman on your arm, and dress in fairly feminine attire. I probably could get by the average straight person’s gaydar without a second glance.
When i first picked up the book ‘Beauty Myth: How images of beauty are used against women’ by Naomi Wolf, i wasn’t expecting to repent.
Oppression against women... not me! How can that ever be?
Not with my belief that women are on par with men in terms of intelligence and its many forms.... or my conviction that women are presentable in the public sphere and that they make good in society. I pitch for equality and meritocracy for all genders. I am definitely for women, not against women.
Even before i read the book, i made it a point not to comment on how someone looks unless she/he is looking ‘good’. If i can’t say anything pleasant, i don’t say anything at all. I find people who go ‘hey, you have dark eye rings/pimples/wrinkles’ or ‘you are getting really big-sized/fat/a tummy huh?’ particularly agitating. The rule of thumb is simple: if whatever you want to say makes your friend feel bad and it ain't gonna help, shut up. If you think you are informing her of something she doesn’t know... guess what? Not a chance. She has probably scrutinized herself in the glass 1000 times. All you had was a perfunctory glance.
Have you felt that Sayoni has changed your life? Do you feel like doing something for the community? Perhaps you would like to meet more people while having fun at the same time?
Sayoni is recruiting volunteers for our upcoming activities and events. We welcome everyone to join us in making the upcoming events possible. The first upcoming event would be Sayoni Anniversary Party, which will require many helping hands!
Please write to irene [at] sayoni [dot] com if you would like to volunteer. We are all waiting!
I love Chinese New Year [CNY]. Every CNY, i would disappear among the crowds at Chinatown where the New Year bazaar takes place. How i love the hustle and bustle. A myriad of colors- red dashes everywhere and fruits of every kind. A gamut of goods- pastries, hair accessories, lucky charms and all. Away from the bazaar, the family would get ready with all things new. Two changes of clothes, a pair of new shoes and a bag are necessities for each member of the family. Spring cleaning beckons... the kitchen floor receives its most rigorous scrub of the year amidst squabbles about doing it right.
This year, i went home for 3 days. During the short stay, we went out for a Chinese movie ‘True Legend’ together... where i spent much of the 2 over hours shrieking [every time i think the protagonist was going to plummet to the ground from an enemy’s sword slash or iron fist punch], much to the annoyance of my little sister. The family outing was heart-warming, and a rare treat for a father who works seven days a week.
Outside of the immediate family is where a fresh set of challenges lies.
"Fridae has been told that a total of 85 people including filmmakers Sun Koh and Royston Tan have lodged police reports over the long Chinese New Year weekend about pastor Rony Tan's offensive comments concerning gay men and lesbians in an online video."
Freedom of religion is a tricky thing. Take it too far and you can justify theocracy, give it too little and you have oppression. When freedom of religion and freedom of speech attempts to go together, it becomes even more of an unnavigable thicket.
Did Pastor Rony Tan make a mistake? Of course he did. He said things that were both ignorant and arrogant, as well as extremely bigoted. He acted in a way that no religious leader should have, in openly disparaging another religion, especially without much basis. Very few people would say that what he said was completely acceptable. And he has been reprimanded for it, by the ISD no less. The implications on this being considered a national security issue are for another author to debate thoroughly, but this author believes the use of the ISD to be heavy-handed and to send a chilling effect on political discourse and legitimate criticism of religion.
The ground gets more slippery when one considers his remarks against the queer community. I watched the video and found myself rolling my eyes at his ignorance. But what's new? He is only echoing what every other pastor says, when they might choose to speak on the issue. I am not sure he has had the opportunity to know better, and even if he hasn't, whether he even realises the damage he is doing. After all, he is doing what a lot of religious leaders do: latch on to one issue of moral significance and use it to gain popularity and following.
Four years after we first opened the doors to the world, Sayoni is proud to present our spanking new renovated site. We didn't just renovate the apartment - we built a mansion and moved in all the old furniture, installed a pool and a tennis court, and added a gym just for good measure. Why? All to make your visiting experience so much better.
So what's new? Here are the main highlights.
Under One Roof!
No, not just the lamest sitcom in Singapore history. All the various components of the old site is under one banner, and you can browse the forum and articles without leaving the main site, as well other check out other features, such as the Queer Women Survey and Summer Camp. You are also able to search the entire site now.
We have expanded the profile section such that you can add as much or as little information as you want. Want to find out if that smart-sounding girl on the forum is single? Check her profile!
Along with an expanded profile, you can now add certain members as friends, giving them the ability to communicate with you by Private Message. Yes, our onerous (to everyone, including us) system of granting PM privileges manually is gone! We are giving YOU the control over who is allowed to talk to you.
Events organisation has been moved out of the forum - now there is a dedicated Events section, which is easier to access and keep track of. The Events room in the forum is closed with immediate effect.
Classifieds is also its own section now. However, the classifieds room in the forum will remain open for a short while. You are encouraged to move your ads to the section before it is closed!
Want to reach our 1800+ and growing network of women? We are now open for in-page advertising. Contact us.
We now have a user guide, if you are completely clueless as how to navigate this site. However, if you are stranded on an island after a plane crash, we really can't help you.
And there is so much more. We are here to serve YOU, so if you have feedback, or feature requests, head on over to our forum, or just contact us privately.
We would like to note that there has been a correction made to the report on page 33, as there was a decimal place error made in the field for respondents who live with their immediate family in an HDB flat. The data was previously 5.7%, it has now been corrected to 57%. You may download the corrected report here: