Archive | July, 2008

Vicious Letters To The Editor (The Star) (updated 1/8/2008)

Posted on 31 July 2008 by Gabrielle Chong Yong Wei

In response to the raid on a transsexuals’ beuaty pageant reported by The Star on Sunday (June 27, 2008), one reader named Lilian Tan wrote a letter to the Star editor calling for respectful treatment towards transsexuals. Unfortunately, her letter has been followed by two mean spirited and bigoted letters:

Letter (I):

Wednesday July 30, 2008
Transsexuals are ‘haram’ under Islamic law

I REFER to the letter “Transsexuals can’t help being who they are” (The Star, July 29) and would like to point out that to comment on such a thing and why action was taken, one should understand Islamic Law.

When the writer says that “It is more inhumane to force these men to dress like a men etc,” she is indirectly saying that Islamic Law is inhumane.

Non-Muslims could argue that, but as Muslims, we know that on every Law that the Quran and Hadith lay, there is a ‘Hikmah’ and we abide by it. Some Islamic Laws are for prevention rather than punishment. But haram is haram. Period.

We don’t use so called human rights to justify what we like and not like. Why stop there? Why not go all the way and support gay marriages? Why force some men to marry women when it goes against their true nature?

I don’t think the writer has ever gone to the back lane of Jalan Pasar or Lorong Haji Taib where men dress up as women. Some are so beautiful you would think they were women whose only crime was to “make a living.”

AHQUA,
Cheras, Selangor.

Letter (II)

Thursday July 31, 2008

Transsexuals are not acceptable

I MUST say that if transsexuals can be described as “beautiful”, as Lilian Tan of Kuala Lumpur asserts, then the word “beautiful” must have acquired a completely new shade of meaning never before entered in any dictionary of the English language.

While we do not argue on the different inclinations of these people and the fact that “they cannot help being that way”, we certainly cannot make it acceptable or legal.

Ms Tan and those who share her views on this subject must be reminded that refuting one’s sexuality at birth is condemned by all religions as well as all civilised and decent traditions in millenniums of recorded history.

Countries around the world which have legalised homosexual and transsexual behaviour have consequently suffered a very steep decline in moral standards that in turn has led to the breakdown of the solid family structure and the isolation of the individual.

Criminality, terrorism and all types of physical and mental abuse come from lonely people who see society as alien, strange and identify it as an enemy.

Every human being has a right to life and freedom, but this freedom must not go against the laws of Nature and decorum. And no one can abuse you when you behave according to the law of both man and Nature.

It is not for me here to discuss or suggest what we should do to help people who display unnatural sexual tendencies. We have scientists, doctors, and counsellors who can better deal with that.

Suffice it to say that it is my sincere hope that the leaders of Malaysia, both Muslims and those of other faiths, will never label transsexual behaviour as acceptable.

MBA,
Ipoh

Yuki Choe’s reponse to the letter (I) (which was sent to The Star but not published):

Wednesday July 30, 2008

I am absolutely sympathetic to AHQUA’s choice of a world without human rights. He does not understand what human rights are until the extent he calls it “so-called”. Perhaps he never felt inclined to find out what is it and never will be.

What is disturbing is his challenge to the integrity of human rights. Human rights existed for centuries since the advent of time. With it, the boundaries of colours were broken down, slavery was abolished and women were finally able to vote. The world is constantly progressing respecting individuals as human beings, each heading to his or her own destiny, and does not need any attempt by any parties to stunt their growth.

It is because of human rights AHQUA gets to think what he thinks, says what he says and do what he does. Sadly, it seems AHQUA do not feel this way about it. He seems to feel contempt to all the freedom he is having as a human. He feels safe and secure locked up in his own world, even as Islam is undergoing modernization into a loving religion.

He went on to attack the transsexual prostitutes at Jalan Pasar and Lorong Haji Taib, as if all transsexuals are prostitutes, as if they are doing a crime by selling themselves. He claims the writer of the letter he referred to never been there. May I say this. I have been there. I have spoke to these beautiful women whose souls are torn and the scars of living in a society where bigots like AHQUA still remain. I spoken to them on their hopes and dreams and moving forward, but for the prejudice of society unwilling to accept the fact that these people exist, and that they are real women after all.

Instead, I wonder if AHQUA ever asked these nice ladies why they are there. I will tell him now, straight at his face; it is because intolerant and discriminative people like AHQUA who wants them to stay that way for the rest of their lives instead of living in a society that treats them as equals and able to get a decent job with their qualifications as any girls would do.

AHQUA, I have got news for you. I am here, a young adult transsexual female. I am healthy, confident and fighting. Do you know in medical terms what a transsexual female is? Do you know what is known as the “Harry Benjamin Syndrome”? I doubt you do. So perhaps you should go and get yourself some education on this before perpetuating your ill-informed and highly dogmatic views on what transsexuals are. And AhQua is a hokkien term. Since when you became one?

Pink Triangle Foundation’s response (submitted to The Star, The Sun and Malaysiakini):

Friday August 1, 2008

Dear Sir / Madam

Your report on the raids by the Kelantan Islamic Religious Departmnent on July 27th, 2008of ‘transvestities’ at the Glam Nite Miss Universe
Asia 2008 Pageant in Kelantan and the subsequent letters from Lilian Tan, Ahqua and MBA, makes for interesting reading. But I am afraid, none of them helps to address the practical realities that NGOs like PT Foundation has to cope with on the ground.

There will always be a contention on whether transgenders should be allowed to be who they are, and whether such a life is ‘un-Islamic’. Regardless of what the judgement is, the maknyah community has and will continue its existence in Malaysia as they have always been even way before the colonisation of Malaysia (as mak andams and palace aids). Transgendered people are also found in all nations from USA, to India, China and Iran, and have played prominent roles in ancient history. Their continued existence, despite the most repressive and restrictive laws, suggest that more practical appraches are needed to deal with their existence.

Some of the very real issues that confronts all self respecting Malaysians is that the maknyah community is one of the most stigmatised, prejudiced and discriminated communities. They have problems staying in schools and colleges due to the taunting from peers and teachers, they are subjected to rigid religious education, strict discipline, and tremendous moral pressure from well meaning parents and kampung leaders. Some run away from home or are evicted. In adult life they find difficulty in getting jobs, and lodgings. It is no wander that many of them turn to sex work and the entertainment
industry.

Being disempowered and living on the borderline has made the maknyah community very susceptible to HIV. Unfortunately HIV recognizes no borders, and this infection is passed on to wives and children of the clients and partners of maknyahs. The rate of HIV infection among maknyahs if not contained will result in Malaysia failing to meet the United Nations Millenium Development Goals despite doing well in all other areas.

At PT Foundation (a non-governmental association dealing with HIV prevention among marginalised communities), our approach of being community-based, non-judgmental and non-confrontational, is showing positive results. The maknyah community are given basic welfare, hygiene and legal assistance. HIV prevention, care and support are key components of our programmes. Our engagement with the Jabatan Islam Wilayah Persekutuan (JAWI) or the Federal Territory Islamic Department, has resulted in JAWI adopting a ‘dakwah’ approach in dealing with the maknyah community, that includes religious classes being conducted by JAWI and attended voluntarily by the maknyah community.

As a result, more maknyahs have opted to give up sex work and stop working in the entertainment industry. But they need a lot of help to move on in life such as training skills, job opportunities and most of all, the dignity to be treated as any other self respecting Malaysians.

They need the assistance of other state religious departments, welfare boards and people like Ahqua and MBA to help them get on with life. I for one believe that judgement is best left to be made by God on Judgement Day.

Enabling Communities,

Raymond Tai,
Acting Executive Director & Programme Director,
Pink Triangle Programme
PT Foundation

To our readers:

If you have written/intend to write any similar letters in response to the two prejudicial letters mentioned above, we would like to invite you to share your letters with us by sending your letters to contact@tiltedworld.org.

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Sexual Attraction ≈ Love?

Posted on 31 July 2008 by Gabrielle Chong Yong Wei

I am currently in a happy, committed and fulfilling relationship with a person of the same sex. However, this person is neither a homosexual nor a bisexual. Or rather, this person is strictly heterosexual. If you are puzzled, then read on. 

Clasped.

I assume that you are probably one of many, many people who assume that one is only capable of falling in love with persons of the sex you are attracted to. I also assume that you probably also assume that the sexual orientation of a person can be determined by the sex of the person he/she falls in love with. Underlying these assumptions is another assumption: that sexual attraction is one of the indispensable prerequisites for love.

I beg to differ.

Sexual orientation is only but the categorization of which sex you are physically and sexually attracted to, and nothing more than that.

Falling in love is, on the other hand, a yearning to spend your life with a person, believing that that person is the most wonderful human in the world, and loving that person unconditionally for who that person is. Love does not give a damn about your dress size or your football club affliation, whether you are white, black or polka dot, which set of reproductive organs you possess or even if you possess any at all. Love is blind as a bat.  

Most of us probably come across many people whom we find sexually attractive in our daily life. That dashing captain of your school’s football team. That vivacious lady who works in the human resource department in your company. We do not, however, always find ourselves falling head over heels in love with these people in the purest sense.

We do, on the other hand, often fall in love with people whom we would not have considered as sexually attractive in a platonic relationship. Thus, we fall in love with people with bulging beer bellies, people who are mentally handicapped, people with a disastrous fashion sense, people who are significantly older etc. And yes, people whose anatomical make-up we may not be naturally inclined to desire. (Or even people whose anatomy may not be complete at all due to cancer, physical handicap, accidents etc) Yes, we are capable of falling in love with people who may be sexually very unattractive.

Thus, even though I am not naturally inclined to be sexually attracted to males, that does not mean that falling in love with a boy is an absolute impossibility for me. I may not be physically attracted to persons of his sex, but I am very capable of falling in love with people who are unique, mature, sincere, caring and intelligent, regardless of their sex. I cannot automatically love someone just because I am physically attracted to that person. I can, however, find someone physically attractive because I love that person.

Gay rights activists and those who condemn homosexuality like to bicker over whether sexual orientation is fixed or malleable. While the fact remains that sexual orientation is shaped by both biological and social forces, and that it is neither determined by fate nor changeable at will, gay rights activists almost always only stress on the former and their adversaries, the latter. At times, both sides argue so well that we are led to believe that if sexual orientation is “proven” to be fixed, then it is assured that one is incapable of falling in love with a person whose sex is counterintuitive to his/her sexual orientation. They devote so much effort to debating whether homosexuality is “natural” and legitimate, that they miss the more important issue of So What If It Is Not Natural? So What if I am a heterosexual but I choose to fall in love with a person of the same sex? And so what if I am a homosexual but I choose to fall in love with a person of the opposite sex? Is it not a very natural thing to fall in love?  

If I had believed that sexual attraction is the sole basis for falling in love with someone, then I would have given up all hope of pursuing that girl whom I fell in love with who happens to be heterosexual. But I did not. And now I am so glad I did not.

The girl whom I fell in loved with, is very pretty, but I fell in love with her for so many reasons other than her physical beauty, for the qualities in her which are eternal, for the beauty in her which only the heart can see. And because I love her, she becomes stunningly beautiful in my eyes.

Yong Wei is still a teenager. She would like to be idealistic and optimistic about life and love without being accused of naivete while she is still allowed to do so.

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HEARTBREAK HEROES: 4 Malaysian writers at Singapore’s GLBT Pride Season

Posted on 28 July 2008 by Gabrielle Chong Yong Wei

IndigNation 2008
Singapore’s 4th Annual GLBT Pride Season

The heart is the only broken instrument that works.” – T.E. Kalem

Malaysian quartet

Farish Noor, Jerome Kugan, Jac Kee & Pang Khee Teik are reading and representing Malaysia at IndigNation.

To Malaysians who wanna go down on Singapore to support us, please let me know and I will see if we can organise a campy little road trip, perhaps take over the overnight train and burn the tracks into Tanjong Pagar!

To Singaporeans, please come and hear our stories lah. Admission is free!

Heartbreak Heroes is billed as a private event, so it requires registration: http://www.plu.sg/indignation/?p=473

Direction to venue: http://www.plu.sg/indignation/?p=408

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“The heart is the only broken instrument that works.” – T.E. Kalem

DR. FARISH A NOOR is Senior Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University; and Affiliated Professor at Universitas Muhamadiyah Surakarta (UMS), Surakarta. He will present the titillating academic study on “Our Very Own Bisexual Superhero: Rereading the Hikayat Panji Samarang.”

JEROME KUGAN is a writer and musician who recently released his electro-acoustic debut album “Songs For A Shadow”. JK also edits Poetika, his pet poetry journal, co-organises Wayang Kata, KL Sing Song, Troubadours, was sub-editor of KLue and Junk magazines, and now works as the media whore for The Annexe Gallery. He will read a short story called “Alvin”.

JAC SM KEE is a feminist writer, activist, poet and occasional painter. She has written column pieces for several Malaysian newspapers, and numerous articles for both online and offline journals. Jac has also self-published a collection of poetry. Jac will be reading “a bunch of words and sentences strung together to make a shape of loss”.

PANG KHEE TEIK is the Arts Programme Director of The Annexe Gallery. He was formerly the editor of the online arts magazine Kakiseni.com. As an arts practitioner, he has been involved in theatre, independent films, photography, graphic design, writing, editing, plus a spot of experimental dancing, not just on the podium. Pang is reading an autobiographical story about being bullied in a hostel in Singapore.

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Singapore’s 4th annual Pride

There are talks and forums, art and literature, and of course, fun social and outdoor events – for learning, celebrating and building bridges with those outside our communities. So please keep your evenings free in August and come to as many as you can.

All events are free of charge unless otherwise stated.
Calendar of events: http://www.plu.sg/indignation/

Other events at Indignation that same weekend:

My wife, my kids…
Friday, 15 August, 7:30 pm, at Post Museum

Heartbreak heroes: Four Malaysians on surviving love, loss and a hostel in Singapore
Private event. REGISTER
Saturday, 16 August 2008, 3 pm, at 72-13

TheBearProject Charity Art Show
Saturday, 16 August 2008, 7 pm, at Play

Queer women within feminist Singapore
Saturday, 16 August 2008, 7:30 pm, at 72-13

Is HIV becoming an Asian disease?
Tuesday, 19 August 2008, 7:30 pm, at Post Museum

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Kelantan Religious Officers Arrested Transgender Women.

Posted on 28 July 2008 by Yuki Choe

The Kelantan Islamic Religious Affairs Department sent a clear message to transgenders all over the world. Do not come to this conservative state in Malaysia if you identify as a transgender, or even as a transsexual. We will arrest you, jail you and fine you if we find you dressed up as women. It is reported in The Star on Friday, these Kelantanese religious moral guardians arrested young adult transgenders at a beauty pageant held within a nearby resort. The Malaysian Insider reported the arrest of 16 out of 50 contestants from all over the country, while 3 managed to escape by dangerously diving into the river, during this contest called the “Glam Nite Miss Universe Asia 2008″ at Tok Bali, Bachok.

Abdul Aziz Mohd Nor, chief assistant director of the religious group, was mentioned saying “activities of the transsexuals, including dressing up like women, were against Islamic practices”. By the picture of those busted, some were indeed transsexuals. So this begets the question, how much do Mr. Abdul Aziz know about transsexuals? Transsexuals (a sub-entity of transgenders) are a group of people that can now be reasoned medically and socially as women. They are not dragging around in women’s clothes. As for the “activities”, is it not normal for women to enter beauty pageants?

As for the transgender community, I did not realize that wearing a different set of clothes would brand people as immoral. Are we all not born into this world naked? Are they going to catch anyone wearing anything in semblance of a skirt like a sarong? Or if Scottish people ever hold an event in Kelantan, are they going to arrest them if they wear kilts? The capture of transsexual women itself is absurd. I wonder what they hope to accomplish by this behaviour towards an already very misunderstood group of people. Malaysia is still fighting hard to realize the goals for Vision 2020, but with such draconian rules based on an outdated mindset in our country that punishes some of those like transsexuals whose only sin is being themselves, how can that be possible?

In the aftermath of this recent arrest of transsexuals; it is a faint wish that relevant authorities, even in the light of the increasing evidences of transsexuality as a biological phenomenon during the past few years, would review this latest case of treatment towards them that went as low as treating them like criminals. But it is hoped that their plight in this country would be further highlighted by this incident. It is really time to exercise openness towards transsexuals, who are in the end humans and part of the Malaysian race. They deserve dignity to live as who they are.

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The Edge @ KLPac

Posted on 27 July 2008 by lainie

This is not a review, it’s a heads up. My Friday night was spent in Indicine, KLPac, watching the musical workshop performance for The Edge, an upcoming musical written by Nick Choo, directed by Chris Ling.

Six people’s lives are turned upside-down when someone near and dear to them decides to take the plunge — off the ledge of a building. Suddenly the mother, brother, girlfriend and three close friends are forced to reexamine their individual histories with the boy, in the process learning things both startling and redeeming about themselves and one another — about family and friends, love and betrayal.

THE EDGE is a musical that explores the complex relationships between these six persons and a young man moved to the point of despair.

Please note that this is a workshop performance in KLPac’s IndiCine. The full production is slated for 2009 in KLPac’s Pentas 2.

Written by: Nick Choo
Directed by: Chris Ling
Featuring: Ho Soon Yoon, Samuel Tseu, Michael Chen, Zalina Lee, Janet Lee & Sheryl Chong.

24 – 26 July @ 8.30pm / 27 July @ 3pm
Entrance by minimum donation of RM10
IndiCine, Level 2, KLPac

There are no clear heroes or villains in this musical, which I liked. Just a group of interconnected people, flaws gaping wide,  making mistakes and cooking up the pressure that leads to a man standing on the edge, willing to let it all go.


Video preview of a rehearsal session here (other videos are available on Youtube, you just have to look)

Watching it in Indicine was kinda cool especially with the monologues, when each character sang while a spotlight cast a long, dark shadow across the room. Almost like being left to deal with your darker side which has been made visible.

michael chen

This being a workshop to get feedback, the musical is not complete yet, but the large, shiny potential is there. The cast/ crew is doing a good job so far, and I’ve seen enough to be so very hopeful on how this will turn out. The voices – holy hell, I teared at some of the scenes (as discreetly as I could, anyway).

samuel tseu, janet lee, sheryl chong

Sometimes the characters border upon caricaturing themselves – for those familiar with Avenue Q (“the internet is really really great, for porn:), where Bert and Ernie of Sesame Street have their latent homosexual relationship heavily paradied, you’ll probably find some similarities between Rod (the repressed gay man) and one of the characters in The Edge (though he does get more human later).

Or perhaps there is a stereotype for portraying bitchy gay men that everyone understands – one of our more modern archetypes. Or, I have a nasty habit of lumping things together under one broad generalisation. Hmm.

[ Gratuitous link to Avenue Q performance of "If you were gay" ]

To me, the one person who seemed the most complex was the one who never appeared in it. The musical effectively paints a murky picture of the enigmatic man . 6 people from around him start to narrate how their relationships worked, and I can see so many things about him, but more I didn’t understand. Did he really have nowhere else to go?

I have more questions, but none I want to state here (and give away the plot).

cast of the edge

(cast l-r: Samuel Tseu, Janet Lee, Sheryl Chong, Michael Chen, Ho Soon Yoon, Zalina Lee)

I’m mentioning The Edge here because for those seeking theatre with queer characters, this is one of them. Yes, this post is here just to say – there is a gay character coming out in a Malaysian musical (not the first genderqueer one though, mind).

You have only till Sunday 3pm to catch this – sorry for the very late update. Otherwise, keep a look out for The Edge, and wait for the full production (tentatively scheduled for February 2009).

The Edge @ KLPac

The Edge @ Facebook

All photos stolen from the Facebook group, because the flyer doesn’t do it for me. Credit for photos go to owners.

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The Ex-Gay Lifestyle.

Posted on 25 July 2008 by Yuki Choe

Have you ever heard of a man named Edmund Smith? Have you ever heard of his group called Real Love Ministry (RLM)? I would like to draw your attention to the most vocal, most amateurish ex-gay ministry in Malaysia, especially because of the recent additions to his blog site which runs in total contradiction to what he is doing towards the homosexual and even the transgender community.

Edmund presents the sermon called “Stop Pretending”.

But Edmund, while admitting that sexual orientation is inborn, still wants you to choose to act out heterosexually.

First, as most of you intellectual girls and guys would have known since you are born, homosexuality is something innate in you. Something that is not changeable. Secondly, you would have known by now that there is certainly no need to lie to yourself (and grief the Holy Spirit, if you are a Christian) by pretending to be someone you are not and exercise behavioral modification to suit any standards of heterosexuality thrown at you; because you are normal. Decades of strong peer previewed research concluded that.

Compelling new evidences of inborn traits of homosexuals and transgenders may have surfaced for the past few years. Yet many LGBTs are still deceived and confused by these medically rejected practices which began more than 25 years ago in the United States. The target audiences of ex-gay ministries have changed to the friends and families of LGBTs during the past decade, in the attempt to coerce the community into religiously motivated submission by peers and relations grounded specifically on “traditional values”.

Ex-gay ministries, losing their foothold in the States because of the rise of information technology since the 80s, stepped foot into the conservative Asian market during the 90s, with many eager listeners of their dogmatic views lining up to justify their own personal prejudices by way of the Bible and discrimination based on the myth that the LGBT community can but stubbornly refuse to “change” from their “immoral ways”.

What ex-gay ministries like RLM  would want you to believe is that you can, should and need to “change” your sexual orientation to heterosexuality or at least act out straight. And they would go all ways to prove that. Now honestly, Edmund Smith’s RLM would go around parroting the usual twists and turns of the truth in regards to homosexuality and transgenderism, and loves to double talk between the churches and the LGBT community, but even he actually admitted that nothing is changed and that you are to lie to yourself “for a season OR for a lifetime”.

Let us say you are born left handed. By the right (literally) of religion, you are to use your right hand. After struggling for years and found out you are just unable to do so, they ask you to not exercise the use of your left hand. So in the end you have one able left hand you never use and the other right hand that is without coordination to perform your tasks. So what happens to you then? Do you not look ridiculous? Those days can easily be labeled the days of the Right supremacy. The actions of ex-gay ministries such as RLM blatantly stigmatize the homosexual and transgender community into submission to heterosexual supremacy. It is a gently imposed threshold upon LGBTs. Curiously, the reverse process for those living an immoral heterosexual lifestyle never happens, neither calls of celibacy for heterosexual sex addiction can be heard. Is that not favoritism that even some religions especially Christianity would be against?

The premise of their ministry is denying who you are. When you lie to yourself, or let others convince you to do so, you only suffer consequences that can stretch a lifetime. You must know who you are to live a fruitful life. For example, if you are a true homosexual and choose what Edmund Smith calls the ex-gay lifestyle, two proven things would happen to you. While other homosexual couples move into adulthood having monogamous relationships and planning to migrate overseas to a more tolerant country to get a civil union or marriage and going to live happily ever after until old age takes shape; you either:

a) Will still naturally be attracted to the same sex while being married to your temporal co-star Ms Wife in your heterosexual acting career. You will suppress all desires towards the same sex for years. But, if you ever show interest towards your own sex, then you would hurt those people around you especially Ms. Wife, and children if you have any. Then you would have two choices; be who you are, or choose option b).

b) Be celibate. And spend a lifetime with independence to do whatever you want. The bulk stops there. Because that is all you would have for the rest of your lonely miserable life.

Any mantra that states homosexuality, a normal human born condition; as non-existent, as nothing but a sexual confusion that needs to be controlled, is a falsehood that goes against the very essense of being human. There may be some who choose this ex-gay path (good for them, all power to them). But to go around marketing it as if everyone in the world would eventually want that “change”, or attempt to brainwash weak and impressionable minds from the big fact that homosexuals can live in love, peace and joy just as any living person of any sexual orientation on this earth, is very wrong.

Presenting the “cure” that never was is a direct selling strategy that even God would not be pleased with, and I believe RLM’s Edmund Smith knows that all too well. Do you understand the obvious fact that his ex-gay image is used as a platform to sell his CDs? Do you get it when he is so desperate to become an international “superstar”? Do you realize that Edmund Smith charges people in the guise of “donations” to listen to his reification fallacies and self-created “sciences” based on nothing? Do you know that Edmund Smith recently changed to a new car, even though he mentioned RLM is a non-profit organization? It should be obvious to everyone; under whose expense?

The author of this article is often prayed for (for already a few months actually) with a lovingly made accusation masked as a prayer.

Please pray for Vivienne @ Yuki who was once helped by RLM. He is a transgender (male wanting to be female). He is aggressively moving from one website to another (internationally) trying to ruin the name of Ps Edmund and Real Love Ministry. Pray for Jesus to touch him.

As a girl, medically and scientifically reasoned, I take it as compliment. People can never be comfortable when the truth stares back at them. I have written a response here. By the way, I did not receive any help from RLM except attempts to indoctrinate and coerce me to change into something I am not. From that experience, I realize how important affirmation and integrity is for the community. That is why my fight now is for the life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders.

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What’s Sodomy, Daddy?

Posted on 21 July 2008 by Paul

Seriously.

Free-wheeling bachelors like me wouldn’t even think twice about mouthing the occasional swear word – or ten. Even a prim mealy-mouthed fella like me. After all without the pitter patter of lil feet in the house, there’s very little fear of lil ears around to eavesdrop – and then for lil potty mouths to imitate! Embarassingly enough. Doubt there’s anything quite as unnerving as an adorable pink-cheeked five year old with pigtails screaming Muthafucka for all to hear in the sandbox.

So what happens when they find something even more shocking to tell?

I’ve mentioned in passing the horrific sodomy scandal that has swept across our political stage. Yet again. With the frequent ( annual? ) accusations, who knows in time buggering cases could possibly be as common as horny political interns.

However it never occurred to me that concerned parents would be quite as appalled with the sensational news reports for far different reasons. Seems like such reports are peppering the innocent thoughts of the young with shocking scandals of sodomy and rape! So much so that a nine year old would look up from the sunday papers with guileless eyes and ask her mom exactly what two men can do together that could potentially land them in prison.

Two boys
Wonder what other positions I could get into with this guy!

Sure, I could address that pertinent question with several graphic sketches ( I can seriously imagine dozens of unnatural positions two men could get into together! ) but I don’t think such X-rated viewing would be suitable for minors. Not sure how my colleague answered her ingenuous daughter though – but I’m sure she must have choked on her breakfast pappadams – and the unwelcome thought.

Why, even the title of this post gives me pause – since the cheesy line smacks of nasty incestuous gay daddy porn.

I’ll admit to hiding a secret smirk when she told me. Fortunately my colleague didn’t retreat into a wild homophobic rant forcing me to raise the cudgels in defence. In fact she actually found herself far more irritated with the news-hungry journalists spreading such tawdry tabloid stuff rather than concentrating on more worldly issues.

Though I know I’ll find myself flabbergasted if I had such a query posed to me by my hypothetical child as well. Sex talk with curious rugrats freaks me out. And you know how bloody persistent kids that age can be with their overly inquisitive questions.

Nate : What’s sodomy, daddy?
Paul : What the f- frickin chicken! Who taught you that word? Have you been reading daddy’s bedtime stories again?
Nate : No, I read it in the papers. What’s sodomy, daddy?
Paul : Look, there’s a bird at the window.
Nate : What’s sodomy, daddy?
Paul : Daddy will buy you a present today. Isn’t that fun?
Nate : But what’s sodomy, daddy?
Paul : Ooh look at the time. Eat up your breakfast, Nate. It’s time for school.

Hey, I don’t have the answers to everything.

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I am ChoirBoy13

Posted on 20 July 2008 by Sam Nasser

And finally, we’ve got ourselves a contribution! Was actually going to write a pretty deep topic about safe sex (seeing as how I haven’t written anything since the last time) – but since I got my computer reformatted (bummer!), I kinda lost the STD manual that was in it (you read that right!). Oh well, will look for it online again (yes, I found it online) – it caught my eye, and since it was pretty interesting – I wanted to write about it.

But I digress. Anyway, our first contribution comes from choirboy13 – just a short introduction to one man’s thoughts on gay life in Malaysia, or gay life in general. About what it takes to be a part of the community, and away from the usual stereotypes of the effeminate gay men – choirboy13’s contribution is all about society, life, and naturally – being very, very gay. Read on, and may this inspiring post inspire you like it did me. :)

Being gay - is it okay?

I am choirboy13 – and I am gay. Ever since I could remember, I was always inclined towards the attraction of people who shared the same gender as I. It made me happy seeing other boys shirtless or running around in the nude. I developed excitement over the thought of having boys as my close friends, and maybe sometimes getting more intimate with some compared to the rest. Looking from hindsight at my growing up years, I can see very clearly now how homosexuality has been a deep part of my inner being. I was always gay, and I like to believe that I was born gay, contrary to many scientific journals and reports.

The challenge, however, was to grow up being a nice boy. I was always very innocent, not just in my appearance and my mannerisms, but also in the way I publicly portrayed my thoughts and my actions. I was always a cute boy who was active in church and was known for being mummy’s little boy. I was a choir boy. I was pure, holy, and gay.

Stereotypes ruined a big part of my growing up days as a gay kid. People around me laughed at words like “homo” and “gay”. People would laugh at boys who were sissies, and call them all sorts of insensitive names. Eventually, these boys would be laughed at because they acted gay, whether or not they really were gay. Coming from a part of Malaysia that is probably treading behind by 10 years in terms of rural development compared to Kuala Lumpur, the community I grew up with was never exposed to the facts of what a real homosexual lifestyle is like. From where I come from, being a homosexual was, back then, never really something possible. It was something you would only see in the movies and read in stories. It was also always merely a way to describe people who were weird, and for boys who liked to sing and dance. I liked to sing. I was a choir boy, remember?

I was afraid of the truth. Me? Gay? Can it really be?

I wanted to be normal. Yet, you cannot be someone who you are not. It wouldn’t make sense. I knew I was born gay. I liked boys. It felt normal, and fun, and I didn’t want it to be any other way. Still don’t.

Stereotypes became my worse enemy. I hated it that people would link bright coloured shirts with gay men, and simply conclude that men who cry are typically gay. People just don’t realize (yet) that gay men are as varied as straight men. We come in all shapes and sizes. Some of us like sports, some of us don’t. Some of us like to cry at sad movies, some of us laugh. Yet, the bottom line is, we’re not what most people think we are. Of course there are some gays who fit the perfect gay-man stereotype. But would you see an obese heterosexual man and say that all straight men are like him?

Life can get complicated when you’re gay. You face all sorts of predicaments. But straight men do too. Which proves it yet again, we’re all the same. We just have different sexual tastes.

Human beings are as colourful as the rainbow. And that is what celebrating humanity really means, homosexual or not.

- choirboy13

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Are we doing enough?

Posted on 18 July 2008 by jiahuilee

As Anwar’s sodomy charges are being investigated, it is perhaps a good time that the debate shifts from a question of whether this is a Machiavellian manoeuvre to sabotage his political career to a question of what the charge itself is about.

The press are hot on the heels of Anwar’s sodomy charge; Bernama goes a step further and takes the opportunity of the issue to dive in with an expose of some sorts on the “dangerous” and rising cases of “homosexual” life.

This was followed by a quick forwarding of emails within the LGBT community with a few individuals immediately writing letters to the editors. But the action, even though timely and appropriate, lacks organization and coordination.

I was too young to remember the condemnation of LGBTs during Anwar’s trial in 1998, but 10 years down the road now, I think there should be more concerted, constant and confrontational responses. Instead of letting this political issue pass us by into history, we should use it to highlight the implicit and systematic discrimination of Article 377a.

Should we be forming a group of people with this goal in mind? Can we?

To date, there are no organizations or groups dedicated to defending and fighting for the basic human rights that should be accorded to LGBTs. Although PT Foundation exists in Malaysia, their involvement are focused more on community grassroots. Their work and centres provide much needed support systems and information dissemination among the LGBT community. They also oversee and monitor the type of discrimination that inspired the recent theatre production, Air Con.  

But perhaps what we also need, alongside care and support in the LGBT community, is an ideological construction of an active Malaysian LGBT culture. When the few bloggers approached me about TiltedWorld, I was hopeful that this is the space for that ideological dialogue to take place. And with a little more time and effort from all of us, we can keep a constantly developing dialectic going on.

Today, three grown men in their fifties – an academician, a lecturer and a magazine editor – asked me what LGBT stood for. There was a silence when I expanded the initials with the communities each letter represented, followed by curious questions. I’ve never underestimated Malaysians, and I can tell from past experiences, that the average Malaysian on the street may be more accepting than your average American or British, if they were given a chance to listen. 

And perhaps, if we continue the conversation, reminding people of the heinous misrepresentations a news source like Bernama portrays, writing about Article 377a of the penal code in our blogs and facebook notes, and talking about the LGBT community, then people will begin to listen in.

And sometimes, that’s all it takes.

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Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen: Equal Treatment For Gays

Posted on 18 July 2008 by Gabrielle Chong Yong Wei

(picture source: Bernama)

According to The Star reports, (http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/7/17/nation/21846232&sec=nation), Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen stresses that all Malaysians, regardless of their sexual orientation, are equally entitled to welfare aid as long as they meet welfare requirements, and acknowledges the fact that homosexuals are often stigmatised in our society.

Surely, it is consoling to know that, amid the recent wave of moral panic propogated by certain authorities (Bernama articles lambasting homosexuality as a social ill, certain members of Parliament labelling homosexuality as a “problem” – http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v3/news.php?id=346091 etc), we have a senior Minister who is willing to lend her authority to remind everyone that gays are to be treated no less and no more than other Malaysian citizens.

But the work to promote equal treatment of gays does not end with the recognition of gays’ equal rights. It must be followed by consistent and committed initiatives by the government, NGOs and civil society alike to incorporate LGBTs into mainstream society in every aspect. It’s a long way to go, but if someone like Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen has made the first step of acknowledging the equal rights of gays, then we must make sure that the ball doesn’t stop rolling.

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