Saturday, December 03, 2005

Migration - Part 2

Posted by: Zee
From: Elsa

(Well, actually, this email is in response to the email from Older Gay Singaporean. I couldn't encapsulate all that I wanted to say in 300 words so I chose to email instead of 'comment'.)

You're right, you know. I was once tempted by the idea of migration because I wanted to taste that freedom you mentioned. In fact, I wanted to study overseas for the sole purpose of exploring my sexuality. But after finally getting the courage to break into the local gay community, I've changed my mind now. I've decided to stay.

The reason was simple. All that freedom in other countries didn't just fall down from the sky did it? People must have fought to achieve it. Even though countries like France, Germany etc are much more open about homosexuality right now, it was probably considered 'sinful' and socially undesirable. These countries weren't naturally 'open' and free. They evolved, and progressed, and are at a more advanced stage than where we are in S'pore. That's the reason why gay people have much more better lives over there. And even so, the homophobic element still exists becos it was initially there in the first place. GLBT activists reduced it.

Then we have our country and its 'democratic oppressiveness'. . . Are we to abandon it as it seems fruitless to change it? That gay life in Spore will never reach the normalcy that is present in other countries? That nothing can be done? But I guess the more important question is, shouldn't we even try? Because after all, to migrate and leave this country can give me a better life. Yes. True. But does it change anything? I am merely running away. Just as Older Gay Singaporean said, he couldn't wait to leave S'pore when he visited. I am no less free in the sense that even in my birthplace I cannot find the peace and happiness I want.

The thing is, we can't hide forever in the 'safe havens' of other countries. Yes, it'll benefit me but what about those who can't leave this place? The future generations of GLBT will be stuck in the same, unmoving and outdated society if everybody gay migrated. It was the activists who stay put in their homelands and struggled, who made their countries so free nowadays. It's becos of them that we now have these foreign places to run away to.

And wouldn't it be wonderful, if the whole world was gay-friendly?

S'pore society can change. And it is, bit by bit, slowly but surely. You can't stop the trend of progression. And if you see how gay activism in other societies are unfolding, you'd realise that it's always moving forwards. Opposition and conservatives only slow it down but they can never stop us. This is happening in Spore if you watch the local gay scene. Yes, though the picture currently is not rosy but its much better than the 'nothing' of decades ago. To me, the struggle for gay rights is just like the struggles against slavery, for equality and women's rights. Though it seems impossible in the present, history has shown that the enlightened always wins.
I fully agree with your letter. And it’s definitely not a lost cause. It is doubtless that the situation is moving forward, though currently the picture is less than a "rosy" one.

If we were to take a snapshot of the LGBT community and compare it with one taken a few decades ago, the contrast would’ve probably been glaring, because it wasn’t much of a community in the first place.

Island wide, a subtle change is taking place. Groups of people are stepping up to get themselves heard (eg, for their own causes. It is on the same vein that this blog was started, because a visible platform consisting of different voices and opinions to make us seen by Singaporean masses was not available.

Sexuality issues aside, there definitely are other defining reasons why migration is on the minds of many people here. At a recent forum I attended, the facilitator asked the audience if they would like to stay in Singapore provided they had the resources to move out of this island, and the answer was a resounding no. Reasons thrown up include wanting to spread their global wings, the lack of support for polytechnic graduates to further their education and one even mentioned he had a dislike for the government.

The youth today lack the sense of belonging our peers have in other nations. The reasons are obvious and I shall not delve into them here.

Meanwhile, our struggle for an equal footing with our heterosexual counterparts continues. Let’s make it a place where we can proudly claim our citizenship.

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