Sunday, October 30, 2005

Loss of updates

Posted by: GayGuy
I am very concerned that recently this blog has been lacking in updates, while we still have 2 contributions at hand that needs to be settled.

Me, GayGuy, is a 17 year old Chinese GCE "O" Level candidate. My exams starts in a few days time, but I promise that the contributions will surface on this blog soon.

Zee, is a 19 year old Malay Polytechnic student. He is currently busy writing up an article, while he still needs to juggle between his studies.

I believe this blog has been a great blessing to many readers out there, and I promise that we will be as dedicated as we are to bring you articles from our contributors. We really need your help to spread the word. We want to target our blog on teenaged homosexuals, and therefore, if you know any of them, tell them about this blog.

Meanwhile, I felt the recent article "The keyboard activist speaks" featured on Tomorrow.sg is worthy of publishing on this site.

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the keyboard activist speaks
THIS IS NOT A LIST-THE-NEGATIVITY EXERCISE AND THERE ARE A NUMBER OF COUNTER-EXAMPLES BUT THEY ARE FEW AND FAR BETWEEN. I FIGURED A FAIR NUMBER OF PEOPLE READ MY JOURNAL AND IT MIGHT BE A GOOD PLACE TO RAISE AWARENESS ABOUT HOW MUCH HATE THERE IS OUT THERE. THIS IS NOT SO MUCH ABOUT SCREWED-UP GENDER ROLES BUT BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS.



I am the girl kicked out of her home because I confided in my mother that I am a lesbian.

I am the prostitute working the streets because nobody will hire a transsexual woman.

I am the sister who holds her gay brother tight through the painful, tear-filled nights.

We are the parents who buried our daughter long before her time.

I am the man who died alone in the hospital because they would not let my partner of twenty-seven years into the room.

I am the foster child who wakes up with nightmares of being taken away from the two fathers who are the only loving family I have ever had. I wish they could adopt me.

I am one of the lucky ones, I guess. I survived the attack that left me in a coma for three weeks, and in another year I will probably be able to walk again.

I am not one of the lucky ones. I killed myself just weeks before graduating high school. It was simply too much to bear.

We are the couple who had the realtor hang up on us when she found out we wanted to rent a one-bedroom for two men.

I am the person who never knows which bathroom I should use if I want to avoid getting the management called on me.

I am the mother who is not allowed to even visit the children I bore, nursed, and raised. The court says I am an unfit mother because I now live with another woman.

I am the domestic-violence survivor who found the support system grow suddenly cold and distant when they found out my abusive partner is also a woman.

I am the domestic-violence survivor who has no support system to turn to because I am male.

I am the father who has never hugged his son because I grew up afraid to show affection to other men.

I am the home-economics teacher who always wanted to teach gym until someone told me that only lesbians do that.

I am the man who died when the paramedics stopped treating me as soon as they realized I was transsexual.

I am the person who feels guilty because I think I could be a much better person if I didn’t have to always deal with society hating me.

I am the man who stopped attending church, not because I don't believe, but because they closed their doors to my kind.

I am the person who has to hide what this world needs most,
love.


(Repost this if you believe homophobia is wrong.)

Saturday, October 15, 2005

A heterosexual look into homosexuality

Posted by: GayGuy
We are excited as we recieved this submission from a heterosexual female. The letter talks about deeper issues, rather than just "what queers can do".
This is an email sent on the 9th of October.

From: Cher
To: gay_2_d_bone@yahoo.com

There is a thin line differentiating from what is ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’.

‘Natural’ is what is defined as “conforming to the usual or ordinary course of nature”. ‘Unnatural’? “Inconsistent with an individual pattern or custom”. The definitions itself are blurry, the lines oh-so-vague. How does one come to the conclusion that something is ‘natural’ and some other thing is not? How does society as a whole deem something as accepted because it is ‘natural’ and shun it when it is not?

And so goes the gay community in Singapore, and to a certain extent, the world. They are ostracized for “going against the norm” and looked upon with disdain because they are perceived as ‘unnatural’, amongst a sea of human beings who are heterosexual and ‘normal’. Homosexuality is seen as a ‘bad habit’, sometimes even a ‘vice’, and just ‘wrong’, whereas ex-convicts, drinkers, gamblers, drug abusers and adulterers are given second chances in life. It seems that once you come out as a homosexual, your life is destined to be doomed, all your dreams and aspirations slowly seeping down the drain, and you are subject to a life of discrimination and stigma.

I am a heterosexual female living in Singapore. I have never been homosexual before, and will never be, because I simply do not have such inclinations. I want to speak out for the homosexual minority here, they who are being judged upon and looked down on without being given a chance to shine, to contribute to the society and community as a whole, and for the majority out there to accept them as human beings and human beings alone, without any labels attached to them. It saddens me greatly when I see people forming their own judgments on what gay people are really like, and to lump everyone in the gay ‘category’ into a stereotype, calling what they have a ‘lifestyle’.

If there really is a gay ‘lifestyle’, where is the straight ‘lifestyle’? When we see straight men going to clubs to pick up girls for one-night stands or to visit call girls in Geylang, why isn’t this defined as a “straight lifestyle”? And why aren’t all straight men seen as typically being this way? When we see the gay men who have lots of sex we immediately jump to the conclusion that ALL gay men are the same. I understand that one rotten apple infects the entire box and all that, but we should take a step back, take a breather, and examine everything from a wider point of view.

It is because of this stereotype that the gay community is suffering. I believe in equality for everyone. This translates to me believing that everyone should have the exact same rights by default, regardless of their race, religion, social standing, and sexual orientation, on the sole basis that they are human beings. Being a human being is a right in itself, and there should not be any social bias as to what you “should do” and “should not do”. Of course, we draw the line at criminal offences, which harm others, but does being a homosexual harm other people? Homosexuals should be given the same rights as heterosexuals. Just because they are attracted to and fall in love with members of the same sex does not mean they are committing a heinous sin. Artificial insemination is not natural, so does it mean it is wrong? Along the same lines, how about abortion, sterilization and contraception? Are they not “going against” the natural cycle of life too? Homosexuality is not a disease that breeds or a phenomenon that snowballs.

Being gay is not a choice, and neither is it a ‘lifestyle’ that people CHOOSE to adopt. They are gay because they just are, and they cannot help it. Think about it – in a society that is mainly made up of heterosexuals, why would anyone suddenly decide, “Hey, I want to be gay,” and subject themselves to discrimination? Homosexuality HAS been observed in animals, so who is to judge that such and such is not ‘natural’ anymore?

“Heterosexuality is not normal; it’s just common.” Food for thought, no? I seriously hope that everyone will start accepting homosexuals for who they are, and let them have their place in society. Everything is subjective; so let them have a chance to live their lives just as rightly as every other human being should. Who they decide to sleep with at the end of the day does not affect their morals or who they are as people.

I have to say that I totally agree to all the points stated.

After everything that was said, I still believe that it is entirely up to an individual to choose if homosexuals should be accepted or not. I feel that a gay individual should not force, but rather to gradually affect the lives of heterosexuals around them, show concern over their lives.

Logic will tell anyone that if a heterosexual has good homosexual friends, they tend to be pro-queer. Those without homosexual friends, wouldn't have a living example for them to see that we are not "disgusting sodomites" after all. Therefore, I believe, to press for gay rights, we have to make ourselves visible. Even so, there is a long way to go, for along with it, is a web of the individual's personal issues.

Starting early is better than not. I believe that coming out raises self-esteem too. Although the road ahead of a person out from the closet may be bumpy, coming out proves to everyone that you are happy of what you are, how you are made up, and the things unique about yourself.

I do believe that a large number of Singaporeans are open minded people. They tend to be more positive and receptive about queer issues. The so called "conservative" Singaporeans with the said "age old asian values" are like us, as they belong to the minority. I believe a huge irony exists when age-old asian values says homosexuality is wrong, because we are largely affected by modern Western values.

Western? Why western you may ask.

As of what I know, ancient China does not discriminate homosexuals in any of it's Dynasties. Even in the imperial court, homosexuality wasn't deemed as a crime. Portrayals of same-sex relations have been found in Chinese art, in particular, silk paintings and handscrolls which have survived the massive book-burning of the Cultural Revolution. Eunuchs had superior powers in China, as their castration added value to their status. Though it remains to be seen if a man turns gay as a result, due to the lack of hormones most are effeminate by nature.

In the Western context, especially among evangelical Christians, they view it as "sodomy", and "a sin of unhealthy sexual perversions, lust and desires". I respect what they believe in, but as everyone will know, a lot of their ideologies and teachings suddenly became "mainstream" belief. Christianity may not have originated from the West, but they seemed to be the group of people that "glorified" the religion in a greater way. One good proof is that the number of English translations of the Hebrew Bible wins all other language translations.

Also another Bible teaching that went "mainstream", was the infamous quote, "Spare the rod, spoil the child". It has been used widely in western Christian churches and, was further passed down to be used widely, even among non-religious people. The original quotation, which I will quote from the New King James Version of the Bible, Proverbs 13:24 - "He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly".

Many people hence view homosexuality as "bad sexual perversions".

Though I cannot totally push blame towards the west, Christianity or whatsoever. The fact is as people got more educated, the more they think. Education may not always bring about open mindedness, but I believe it acts both ways, based on what was taught to the child.

The labelling of "lifestyle", has been the question on my head these few days. Is it appropriate?

I asked 2 of my gay friends if they think "lifestyle" was a foul word in the gay context. The first response I got from my gay guy friend, was a quotation of "lifestyle" from the dictionary.
life·style also life-style or life style n.
A way of life or style of living that reflects the attitudes and values of a person or group: “It was a millionaire's lifestyle on the pocketbook of a hairdresser” (People).
Usage Note: When lifestyle became popular a generation ago, a number of critics objected to it as voguish and superficial, perhaps because it appeared to elevate habits of consumption, dress, and recreation to categories in a system of social classification. Nonetheless, the word has proved durable and useful, if only because such categories do in fact figure importantly in the schemes that Americans commonly invoke when explaining social values and behavior, as in Rachel Brownstein's remark that “an anticonventional lifestyle is no sure sign of feminist politics, or indeed, of any politics at all.” Fifty-three percent of the Usage Panel accepts the word in Bohemian attitudes toward conventional society have been outstripped and outdated by the lifestyles of millions of young people. An even greater number - fully 70 percent -accepts the word in Salaries in the Bay Area may be higher, but it may cost employees as much as 30 percent more to maintain their lifestyles, where the context requires a term that implies categorization based on habits of consumption.

Source: Dictionary.com (http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=lifestyle)

As you can see, the usage of the word did drive up a sort of a "controversy" before. My friend stands that usage of this word with being gay, isn't correct.

I then moved on to ask my lesbian friend, who is currently in a relationship.

She explained that "lifestyle" is a safe word to use, when it is not mixed with living an "alternative lifestyle". She said also that "there is a negative connotation to the word gay lifestyle itself".

I agree with her that being gay is not a lifestyle at all, but the life I am living is a gay one. Should I be labelled as living a "gay lifestyle" too, if I don't drive up into the details? I think it's somewhat correct to label a person that's gay to be living a "gay lifestyle", because after all they are gay and they have to live with it all their life, and hence their lifestyle. "Alternative lifestyle" on the other hand, separates from the whole meaning of a "gay lifestyle" which was thought to be a "normal lifestyle". The word "alternative" suggests that there is "a way out", or "a way to change", this "gay lifestyle".

I would agree that every individual has their own opinions, and I felt the over-sensitivity of homosexuals towards little "labels" a little too much. Unless the labels are crude, or suggests a certain ideology (like how "Alternative lifestyle" did), I believe they are all fine to be used.

I do expect different people to have different opinions over this, which is ok. After writing what's above, I asked the same guy friend more specifically. I asked him, which poses a foul connotation: "gay lifestyle" or "alternative lifestyle". His opinions were different. He thinks that "alternative lifestyle" was less hurting to him than "gay lifestyle". His stand is that the word "gay" is more commonly used, whereas "alternative" may mean anything.

Ditch labels if you can. I choose to view everyone to have their own "unique lifestyle", queer or not.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

An article in Time

Posted by: Zee
In a study done in the United States, gay teenagers are coming out earlier than before. Reported in the October 10th 2005 US issue of Time, it noted how American gay teenagers do not experience the ordeal of the previous generations, the increasing prepondrance of Gay-Straight Alliance clubs in high schools and changing attitudes among students. It also highlights the cultural war between social conservatives and gay activists on the issue of youth embracing a gay identity.


To read, click here: The Battle Over Gay Teens

Friday, October 07, 2005

Embracing our own diversity

Posted by: Zee
The subject matter of the following letter has highlighted the position of those in the minority of the minority. It has opened up an area not many people have spoken of.
This is an email sent on the 7th of October.

From: Dead Gay Walking
To: gay_2_d_bone@yahoo.com

Tears are streaming down my cheeks right now as I type. I am not going to bother sounding composed, tactful or gentle. I'll put it as it is because I'm upset. I hate everything about being gay. I hate how I'm being discriminated against not only by straight people but by other gay people too.

I'm an 18-year-old Indian "Muslim" who had a staunch religious background. All my life, I've been in an all boys, school with the exception of junior college. Since young I've been made fun of by my peers. I am effeminate by nature and I get called names like "sissy", "bapok", "pondan" and "ah gua" all the time.

I grew into my teenaged years with those labels in mind. I've never enjoyed playing rugby or all the tough sports the other boys always play. As such, I've always borne the brunt of their jokes.

Even in the gay circle, people avoid or choose not to talk to me because I'm effeminate and Indian. You think you have it bad if you're chubby? Try being me. Try being in the minority of the minority of the minority.

So I'm gay and carry the stigma that I'm more susceptible to HIV. Utter rubbish. I would change if I could, but no, I've been attracted to other males ever since I entered puberty.

Singaporean newspapers carry negative press, which feeds a society that is becoming increasingly homophobic. Nothing is helping me out here, nothing is making me feel good about myself. They make it seem like it'’s a choice. When really, they don't know we'’re having it tough. I'm having it tough.

And to put the icing on the cake, I have a faith, which says I'll go to hell. Well, guess what? I already am in it.

People need to know that their actions and words have a butterfly effect. Even the negative articles about homosexuals affect me deeply. If one day, I really do end my life instead of just thinking about it, just know, my name will be in their hands. And I doubt they'll know it.
We sent an email to which we've yet to receive a response.
This is an email sent as a reply to Dead Gay Walking.

From: gay_2_d_bone@yahoo.com
To: Dead Gay Walking

The second last sentence of the last paragraph left me worried. Please, do not do anything that will put yourself and your loved ones in jeopardy. Life is tough, yes, and that's a given but what shows our strength of character is how you pick yourself up from the pits and face up to the challenge. While I've tried scouting for help lines for troubled gay teenagers to call, I've come up with none. However, there are counseling services that may help. Oogachaga (http://www.oogachaga.com) is one of them. I hope you give them a call for what I say here can only do so much.

Just know that you are not alone. You never are.

Students, being immature can hardly respect the individual. To me, you have shown resilience and emotional strength in handling these people. You've probably endured more in your life than the whole bunch of them put together. In fact, this letter sounds a lot like your breaking point, that you're finally sick of it.

It might all sound clichéd, but my concern is genuine. And at worse, you might scoff at me and brush me off as some guy who doesn't know what you're going through. But do seek help. I have taken the following addresses from Oogachaga.com for you to contact and make an appointment: (please refer to their website for more information)

peggy@oogachaga.com

bryan@oogachaga.com

daniel@oogachaga.com

clarence@oogachaga.com

Meanwhile, please be kind to yourself.

Zee
Let's just put it on the table: Discrimination exists in all societies, and I say that as a minority on two fronts. The letter Dead Gay Walking sent has not only thrown the spotlight on the unspoken racial hierarchy in a mainstream context, but within the circle of the sexual minorities.

Because we are a group that cuts across a healthy cross-section of the population, it is to be expected that our own diversity exists. It is rather ironic, that while we've been pushing for the sexual majority to embrace diversity and accept us, we have to question ourselves: Are we practicing what we preach?

Are we embracing our own diversity? How should we let racial minorities feel comfortable within us, who already are the sexual minorities? Removing the mental barrier and differences within our own community would marginalise lesser people.

I'll leave the questions as they are. What the writer wrote struck a chord within me and opened up new perspectives I've thought little about. And I hope it did for you too.