The school I work in is blue, everything is blue. It’s like a very old house in a crowded area of Singapore. We take lunch in the dining hall, which is probably used to be the living room or a bedroom in that house. It’s a small school and I like my job. I get to have fun with kids everyday. My day starts at 7.30 am and we get playtime with the students till 9.30 am. At 12.30 pm they have a nap, which lasts till 3.00 pm. We play lao ying zhua xiao ji, police-and-thief… on great days we have paint bomb and water bomb sessions. I love to eat – I love pasta. Tomato based pastas. I always wanted to be a dancer but my dad always told me I’m too fat. I wanted to be a jazz dancer.
I am out to everyone, including my colleagues, except the parents of my students. That is just too complicated. I’m 29 years old, I am a very shy person. I joined this school a few years ago. One day we were having lunch in the hall, that old living room and my colleagues asked if I had a boyfriend. I said straight out that I had a partner, who is female. They were quite interested. They asked questions, nothing rude. I guess they are quite OK with it.
My parents took longer to accept it, though I had my first girlfriend when I was 12. I knew that I didn’t like any guys when I was 10. My first girlfriend and I were in the same primary school; we saw each other everyday, we took the same school bus. One day she asked me if I am a lesbian. I said, no, but I know that I like girls. She was two years older and lived across the street.
After that I passed my PSLE and I managed to go to the same school as her. She used to come over to my house. Five years down the road I brought her home and told my parents that we have been together for the last five years. My mother said oh, she had been going marketing with her mum. My parents were like oh, she was your partner all this while, but they didn’t want to say. They didn’t talk to me for a year but they gave me everything – a roof over my head, allowance. They would text me and ask how am I doing, do you need money. I wasn’t working at the time.
I actually came out to my relatives – it was ok. I had a gay cousin, who was a doctor. He passed away five years ago. He was the one who told his parents that I am a lesbian. He thought his father would tell my parents. I think he wanted me to be open but did not expect me to be more open than him. I think my family is just very open. It was just “this is my partner”. They know what homosexuality is about. The first time I went to Pink Dot in 2009, it was my parents who brought me.
I always thought that people who come out to their parents, have parents know about LGBTQ issues, or know people who are queer. But I realize now that that’s not true and about 90% of parents know nothing about LGBTQ and there are consequences. It doesn’t mean that it’s not good to come out – I know I am lucky. I strongly advise LGBT people to come out to their friends, parents and even colleagues so that they will stop living in fear. They should stop feeling in the closet. Just open up (even though we might have to bear some of the consequences), and realize that most people around you are able to accept who you truly are. The more we fear, the more we aren’t able to achieve many things. If you ask me why I want to share my story I will just shrug – why not? There are many things in the world to do – be a dancer, eat pasta, read books… why not?