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Archive | December, 2008

Ani DiFranco is coming to town (well, almost)

Posted on 31 December 2008 by lainie


Ani DiFranco performing acoustic version of “Out of Range”

I was locked
into being my mother’s daughter,
I was just eating bread and water
thinking nothing ever changes,
and I was shocked
to see the mistakes of each generation
will just fade like a radio station
if you drive out of range

If you’re not angry
you’re just stupid
or you don’t care
How else can you react
when you know
something’s so unfair
The men of the hour
can kill half the world in war
make them slaves to a super power
and let them die poor

There’s one big reason to visit Singapore come 10 Feb, 2009. Grammy award winner, Righteous Babe Records owner, feminist icon and lesbian favourite singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco will be performing in the Esplanade.

I love the woman’s work, I do. And while I might slide off my chair at the idea of some idol worshipping in Singapore, budget and time constraints will most likely prevent me from doing so (sponsors, anyone?). Still, for those who are fortunate enough to have the opportunity, head on down to Singapore for Ani’s gig.

More information available at the SISTIC website.

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“You met her WHERE?” Aaah, Internet Dating.

Posted on 29 December 2008 by zaephyrus

“So where’d you meet your current other half that seems permanently and awkwardly attached to the side of your left thigh?”

“We’re not that clingy, but I digress. Try guessing!”

“Huh. What, did your eyes meet across… wossname, a crowded room?”

“Cheesy lah you. No.”

“Nosy matchmaker friends?”

“Naaah. Nope.”

“What then!?”

“Shouldn’t it be obvious by now? The Internet!”

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Fridae: one of the most popular gay dating websites in Asia (picture courtesy of WikiCommons)

Oh, yes. In this day and age where technology is completely dominating our lives down to the smallest details and one is rarely seen without a few gadgets on hand (at least the one – the mobile phone!), meeting and dating people over the Internet is in.

I didn’t actually have the aforementioned conversation with any of my friends per se (just dated a few casually, here and there, maybe a few meetings, yanno), but the very fact that I was on several lesbian/gay networking social websites raised more than just a few eyebrows when I told my acquaintances about Fridae, Purplelab.net and the likes.

People certainly have heard of online dating, but given the large number of online marriages that’ve been increasing exponentially as of late, it was usually associated with heterosexual couples without much focus on the LGBT community – for those who didn’t know of the LGBT sites, that is.

With the existence of these LGBT social websites and especially those that cater specifically to certain demographics (Purplelab for womyn, Trevvy for men, etc.), it’s easier to browse profiles of countless others online (even by area, for some websites) to meet potential dates while keeping the undesirable and The-Ones-I-Wouldn’t-Approach-Even-With-A-24-Foot-Pole at bay.

Dating someone over the Internet or even just meeting a girl online isn’t viewed with as much skepticism anymore, nowadays, to be honest. More and more people are actually becoming more open to the idea of meeting people online – in fact, rather than as a last resort, online dating has become somewhat… of a first resort. In other words, people are actually flocking to these sites to socialise and meet people and dates of their choice – and especially their Type, at times.

One of the reasons why the gay/lesbian scene is expanding even more as it is is thanks to the marvel that is the Internet, anyhow. With a click of a mouse, the loading of a webpage, checking out Facebook – events are becoming more and more accessible, and a lot more people in the community are finding out about the scene which they’d actually assumed was nonexistent prior to their discovery of the community. A lot of lesbian girls I talked to, especially those who’d just gotten out of high school and/or are freshmen/sophomores in university didn’t even KNOW there was a scene or that there were that many members of the community locally.

I do get that dodgy look, of course, when I say I met a date online. My friends narrow their eyes at me and suddenly say in hushed whispers, “How do you know she’s not some… serial killer?! Or some member of the mafia? What if she’s secretly married to so-and-so and is just playing you like a toy? Surely you deserve better!”

The usual concerns with Internet dating, yes. But a lot of these people are very much real – and with the really small lesbian dating puddle in Kuala Lumpur, you’ll find before long that your date probably has more than just a few friends in common with you and that a few of your social circles overlap. Perhaps, that is. It’s getting much easier to upload photos and videos nowadays, though, so a lot of these fears are somewhat alleviated.

Someone I know who advocates online dating replied sarcastically to the serial killer comment with, “Sure, and so the men some of these women follow home at a bar – total strangers, mind you! – after conversation over a vodka shot or two couldn’t ever be serial killers, eh?” She has a point, really. There’re risks everywhere, but the number of relationships that’ve spawned from e-meetings really have grown – and a lot of these people are happily committed couples, who couldn’t ask for more in the world.

Me? I enjoy it. Aren’t some of us just rather picky about the kind of people we like or are attracted to? Some like their women witty; some like them shy, or sweet. Some like them fiercely passionate, vocal and outspoken – some go for the cool, dorky types.

You never know either, really, whether someone outside of your Type will prove to be your greatest One True Love or at least a very enjoyable companion for the period of time you’re dating her. Life is full of surprises. But going online and checking out these profiles certainly narrows down the search – and it always helps when you find someone who has things in common with you and shares a particular hobby of yours that could help you bond, et al.

So, honestly? It’s all very unpredictable. But since the Internet’s growing to become something in our lives that’s never really going to go away (and certainly not anytime soon!), best make the most of it.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be a-getting back to my green tea and chatting up that hot bespectacled girl who just messaged me on Fridae…

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Fashion with Passion @ Club69

Posted on 28 December 2008 by lainie

20th Dec: I was just done with helping organise a queer-related fashion show at the Annexe.

Yuki suggested we follow up by attending the “lesbian fashion show” at Club 69, in Asian Heritage Row. It seemed like a good suggestion – after all, what are the chances of two gender-bending fashion shows being organised in Kuala Lumpur, in a night?

I didn’t know anything else, but the little information I’d been given seemed plausible enough. I will freely believe anyone who says a lesbian-related event is being organised at Club 69 (especially when said informant actually organises such events there).

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One of the models from the fashion show.

When I arrived, persons who in all likelihood do not subscribe to heteronormative standards were on duty as front-of-house. This might have turned out to as “some women, who kinda looked like lezzies, were manning the booth as doorbitches”, but that was before I found out who the organisers are.

When I stepped upstairs, I noticed the crowd was largely female. This seems best illustrated by the event’s description of the cover charge:

Cover charge for womyn : RM 30 (plus one drink)
man : RM 40 (plus one drink)

Cause I really think that besides those working there, there really was only one man at the event (though I can’t say I was looking too keenly). Poles lined the floor, for dancing. I spotted some familiar faces from the queer-scene. The fashion show began.

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One of the organisers, Pam, gave a speech. Apparently her team was so anxious to have her step up to the mic they even wrote it for her.

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The models for tonight were volunteers (I thought they did a good job strutting onstage). And now, some more photos:

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After each collection, the fashion designers did a brief Q&A, explaining their designs, and what their stores had to offer.

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Prizes were given out, via lucky draw. There were also some belly dancing performances that night:dsc_4584

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After the show, I met the organisers, and had a bit of a surprise.

Though quite a lot of people are under the impression that Womyn Like Us (WLU) is a People Like Us (PLU) group, they do not consider themselves as such. The organisers I spoke to, Philo and Pam, clarify that they are a womens’ group. As in, “not gay women”, but “women in general”.

That being said, WLU events are popular with certain segments of the lesbian community, to the extent that their events may look somewhat lesbian-centric. With regards to the queer-community, I think quite a few have staked this event as one of their own. So womens’ group, PLU group, whichever it is, this post is going up.

I found out (belatedly) that the fashion show was a charity event, to raise funds for building a home for differently-abled women (womyn, if you will).

You can find out more about Womyn Like Us from their website. To find out more about the event, Fashion with Passion, read these posts:

Tres Chic! (event promo and flyer)

Fashion with Passion (charity details)

Facebook event page

Stay tuned, people. I will be updating soon on the Tomboy & Angels Fashion show!

[Update]

Note: I just realised some of the people participating that I called “fashion designers” may be owners of businesses that sell fashion apparel they sourced from other locations, without necessarily having designed them.

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Prop 8 – The Musical

Posted on 27 December 2008 by Gabrielle Chong Yong Wei

 This short video was released on more than 3 weeks ago. Nevertheless, it’s still a worthy watch for those who haven’t catch it.

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Taken from Time:

Oh, those crazy Hollywood liberals—show ‘em an opportunity to school the nation on civic duty, and they never fail to jump. While this tendency can sometimes lean towards the sanctimonious, not so this farcical Funny or Die skit, in which composer Marc Shaiman wrangled a glittering cast of comedians to weigh in on the controversial California ballot initiative passed last month.


As you might expect, “Prop 8 — The Musical” is Shaiman’s attempt to pick apart the anti-gay marriage lobby’s logic. Lending support to the cause are Jack Black, John C. Reilly, Maya Rudolph, Craig Robinson, Neil Patrick Harris and Allison Janney (who, in a cheeky nod to Mormons’ support of the ballot initiative, is listed in the title credits as “Prop 8 Leader’s #1 Wife”). Despite the collection of comedic chops on stage, the spoof isn’t trying to be funny. Well, OK, it is — but the larger point it intends to hammer home is that not all Biblical doctrine is eminently reasonable (avid West Wing watchers will recall one or two of these lines from a famous Jed Bartlet smackdown). And though the video isn’t a full barrel of laughs, it’s packed with its share of wit, with both Black (as a laid-back, rotund Jesus) and Harris turning in pretty good solos. (See the Top 10 Plays and Musicals.)

Shaiman, whose songwriting credits include showstoppers from South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, called his troupe the “Sacramento Community College Players” because of outrage that the city’s California Musical Theater director had given money to a pro-Prop 8 campaign. In an interview with the New York Times, he calls the video a “viral picket sign.” Though he concedes he executed the idea “six weeks later than he shoulda,” he nailed the viral aspect. In just a few days, it’s racked up more than 2 million views.

 

 

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Of Making Choices…

Posted on 27 December 2008 by Gabrielle Chong Yong Wei

Many thanks to JC for contributing this post.

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As we walk on the long weary path we call our lives, we stumble upon parts in which we are forced to make a choice. Some choose to take the path less taken; some choose to follow their hearts’ desires. But all in all, will it bring us to the future we hope for remains questionable. The choices we make and the choices others make are sometimes merely a simple indication of our hearts’ desires. What do we want for ourselves? Some of us can’t really answer this question. Those who are generally holier than thou would reply that they want to please God and to live in His will. Others who are deluded by the prospects of fame and fortune will merely say I want to be rich and famous. But what do YOU want? What does your heart desire most? That’s a question you have to answer in your own time, and till you manage to answer this question, you haven’t truly matured yet.While others may believe that our choices are selfish and against both God’s will and against the norm, we pursue them anyway. In the process, others will still try to change our choices as a feeble attempt to put their choices in our path. Your parents will do certain things and say it’s for your own good. Your friends will say that they’re doing this because they care for you. Both reasons are generally truthful but the very last question remains, but what’s your role in this decision making process? Will their choice fill the void in your heart? Will you be the person you dream of being and all in all, will that silent wish of yours ever come true? There is no reason for you take make a choice just to please others. Perhaps it is time for us to go against the world and stand up for who and what we are.

We have to come to an understanding that all of us seek different things and that’s why sometimes we end up believing that the other party is misled. What is right and what is wrong remains a question without an answer. While some of us may place their lives on the top of their decision making hierarchy, others may not do so. A mother who had lost her daughter in an accident may put her only remaining son on the very top of her list of factors to consider while a father in the same condition may put his supply of alcohol and sex on the top of his list. The general human nature would believe that what the mother is doing is right and what the father is doing is obviously wrong. But who would ever know that it was the mother’s protective actions that broke her homosexual son’s heart whilst the father’s choice of being sick and drunk that made the family stay together to nurse him? The way life works is beyond our comprehension. We are but mere mortals living to fulfill our very own purpose.  Every step we take to realize our dreams will sometimes be the undoing of our wishes. But then again, it’s just the human nature to keep on trying. Sometimes we try so hard, even when we know that the future we are trying so hard to avoid is indeed, inevitable. It’s like trying to make a straight guy fall in love with you, you know the odds are definitely against you but you love him anyway. Secretly you are betting on the 0.1% chance that he may be a bisexual even when he secretly onfides in you that he’s interested in a certain hot chick.

I fell in love with my best friend, and even though I knew he was straight and I would get hurt, I loved him anyway.Guess all we can do is to keep on choosing, regardless of where it’ll lead us to. We only have a choice over the action and none over the result. This little power of choice is all we have, though it can’t always bring us the ending that we want, we can always still live in denial and believe that it will bring the happy ever after we yearn. This little bit of belief is however what we call HOPE.

Wherever the trail leads you and whatever the choice you make, have hope and one day it will lead you to your very own fairytale.

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Harian Metro, The Star Demonizes Transsexual Females.

Posted on 26 December 2008 by Yuki Choe

Harian Metro has been very diligent in spreading misinformation about tomboys and pengkids for the past couple of months ever since the fatwa on tomboys came out of the National Fatwa Council. They even used the word “tomboi” in various situations, from a girl wanting to be a boy, to a girl who looks like a boy. Most of their articles centered on women who left their husbands or girls who ran away from their parents, for the love of a tomboy.

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A few days ago, while spreading such a story, they went back to the very essence of their tabloid style news reporting. Not only are they purposely sensationalizing an issue that could apply to all walks of society, they regressed to utter journalistic idiocy, and showed a total lack of professionalism in reporting, as they covered a story on transgenders with drugged coffee drinks. The Malaysian English daily, The Star, also picks up on Harian Metro’s sore thumb.

There are serious problems with this article here. In Harian Metro, transgenders were inaccurately called “golongan homosexual”, which means the homosexual community. Then, The Star calls all of them “transvestites”, which is entirely wrong at its context in describing transgenders who are actually transsexuals. The English daily then uses male pronouns instead of female ones, blatantly misrepresenting the transsexual female community as males. This displays total ignorance to the major differences between sexual orientation and sexual identity, that has already been established by major psychiatric establishments all around the world.

They then proceeded to paint transgender females as drugged coffee addicts that work overtime to sleep with men, in an attempt to demonize transsexuals as sex-crazed. And the purposeful use of the phrase “pakar sakit tuan” or men’s health expert, underlines their intent of exploiting a transsexual female’s male biology, and duly insults the knowledge of many medical professionals and doctors that work to correct the sexual identity of a transsexual. The grave mash-up of gender and sex in this article is appalling.

The title given by The Star for the Harian Metro article, ‘Kopi reggae’ keeps transvestites up and going”, discriminately paints all transgenders to be involved in this drugged coffee scandal. One should ask, what is the purpose of printing something this negative on a segment on society, one which many may not even be involved in prostitution or drugs?

The Star and Harian Metro should not have resorted to creating new stereotypes on an already painfully misunderstood community, and educate themselves on what Harry Benjamin Syndrome, transgenderism and transsexualism is all about. In this age, it is already a proven scientific fact that gender exists between the brains and not between the thighs. It should come as no surprise with Harian Metro’s reputation as a laymen’s paper, but The Star should be wary of their countless presentation of biased junk articles, to maintain their name as an authoritative source of news. In the end, we duly ask for both dailies would refrain from prejudicial practices, and be sincere in presenting their stories.

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Katagender’s Tomboy Photo Project

Posted on 23 December 2008 by lainie

In lieu of recent heat tomboys have been getting, Katagender will be celebrating “tomboys” in Malaysia with the tagline “We are proud of our women just the way they are!”.

With all the hype recently over the way women look, should look or what folks think they/we look like; we are now compiling photos of all the women that are perceived as ‘tomboys’ and putting up on the katagender.blogspot.com.

These photos can be of working women, in uniforms, in factory clothings, historical figures, sportswomen, our grandmothers, mothers, ourselves…as long as it is all from Malaysia (whatever you perceive as Malaysian, your grandmother could be from Singapore but now in Malaysia, you know that kind of thing.)

Anyway, this campaign shall be lovingly tagged, dedicated to the cool ‘tomboys’ out there, as: “We are proud of our women just the way they are!”

Do you have pictures of yourself with short, spiky hair? In an ‘unfeminine’ outfit? Wearing those pleather, punk wrist bands, all geared up for some PLU party in Club 69? Posing with your foot upon a ball with the rest of your futsal team?

Pose as you will, get your friend to snap it, and send them Katagender‘s way! You know what? Get your mother to pose too, if your family is cool that way. Lo-res is fine, and include a tagline with the moniker, age and description of your choice.

The e-mail address is kata.gender@gmail.com and they’re looking forward to hearing from you ‘tomboys’ soon!

What defines a tomboy? Beats us, you decide. Do you have to be a lesbian to participate? Not at all!

The Tomboy Photo Project is still new, and some submissions have already been sent in. Head on over to Katagender and check them out.

Have some fun, people ;).

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Human Rights Closet?

Posted on 20 December 2008 by jiahuilee

 

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In this day and age, the term Human Rights is used as an umbrella term for a wide array issues, from equal rights between men and women, religious freedom, to minority rights. We read about international organizations condemning the acts of some governments as a “violation of human rights”. USA is said to have “abused human rights” with its treatment of Gitmo prisoners. Malaysia, lo and behold, “violates” and “abuses” on a Malaysiakini-daily basis – arrests of cyclists, ignoring the rape victims in Sarawak, judiciary interference, possible civilian abuse by the police, battered transgendered individuals in lockups.

But is it also a rhetorical trap? Are we cheapening Human Rights? Are we hiding in the Human Rights closet?

I know I am. When I advocate for LGBTQ rights in Malaysia, my approach will certainly be the Human Rights angle. For several reasons.

1. Allies. Under the human rights umbrella, you’re going to get many allies to advocate for change. Lawyers, Women’s organizations, the United Nations, etc. Using human rights as the general headline, we are calling for the rights of every individual to be respected, regardless of sexual orientation and identity, race, religion, class.

2. Success rate. Fighting for human rights which includes LGBTQ recognition sounds far better than LGBTQ asking for rights. Which would people support and see eye to eye with us? Why should any other communities respect a place for ourselves?

3. Language. The language of human rights has developed and is developing for far longer than the language used for many advocacies. Using the concepts and ideas already embodied by human rights language gets the message across internationally and clearly. People know what you want. Rights for All, including US.

But are we not hoodwinking ourselves? A Greek friend of mine defends the riots in Greece. An anarchist himself, he and his friends have participated in throwing eggs and stones at cars, shops, and government buildings. Certainly a very distressing concept for a Malaysian like myself. “But you can’t destroy people’s properties! or create havoc in the streets! What about a peaceful protest?”

Peaceful protests are for people who compromise. Are we sacrificing our ideals when we fight for LGBTQ rights under the humongously encapsulating banner of human rights? Are we ready to start advocating LGBTQ rights? Can we start allowing universities and businesses to higher people regardless of orientation and identity, rather than have them adopt a general non-discrimination bill against any one regardless of race, religion, gender (and pssssst… sexual orientation and identity, but we won’t say it!)?

Can we get out of this closet?

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Gay Rights Speech Delivered At Bar Council

Posted on 15 December 2008 by Gabrielle Chong Yong Wei

Speech delivered at the Malaysian Bar Council, Bar Council Human Rights Public Speaking Competition 2008 finals (1st prize), 12 Dec 2008:

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Good evening everyone.
In this country, I’m the minority of minorities.
Firstly, I’m a female. Secondly, I’m a Chinese and thirdly, I’m an agnostic.
I’m glad to let you know that, throughout the 19 years of my life thus far that I have spent in Malaysia, I’ve never encountered serious oppression because of my sex, race of religious belief, because thank God, in Malaysia, we acknowledge and have satisfactory protection of women’s rights, as well as the rights of racial and religious minorities.
But I also belong to another minority that has been discriminated and persecuted until this very day.

Ladies and gentlemen,
I stand before you today as a gay Malaysian to appeal for the protection of gay rights in Malaysia.

What does it mean to be gay person?
A gay person is someone who is attracted to persons of the same sex.
But that’s it. The definition ends there.
Far beyond our differences, I share many similarities with all of you in this hall.
For example, I’m here today because like you, I’m concerned about human rights and I enjoy debates.
Like you, I’ve a family that I love and cherish.
Like you, I too, long for the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
And most of all, like you, I am capable of love.

What does it mean to be a gay person in Malaysia?
For one, I know that I probably will never be able to marry the person that I love in this lifetime.
Until today, there’s no formal organization that I can rely on to speak up and stand up for my rights.
Sometimes, I’m even subjected to state-sanctioned homophobia such as that propagated by the National Fatwa Council’s recent decision to outlaw tomboys and lesbianism.

In the last three days of this tournament, I’ve made quite a number of friends, who are in this hall right now.
And I’m thankful for your priceless friendship.
But there’re many occasions in life when, in the course of making friends, I wonder…I wonder if their friendship is subjected to the assumption that I’m a heterosexual.
I hate to doubt anybody’s sincerity and capacity for acceptance and friendship, but as a homosexual Malaysian living in a homophobic Malaysian society, I’ve no choice but to grapple with such fears and suspicions on a daily basis.

And what about gay rights? What are gay rights?
Gay rights are simply the rights of gay persons to live in peace and dignity, and to be accorded the same recognition and opportunities as other human beings.

Ladies and gentlemen,
We have gathered here today at this human rights debate tournament because we share a common ideal: that all men and women are created free and equal, but I would also like to introduce another concept to you today: that not only do we deserve equal human rights, but that all human rights are equal.
That means, gay rights are no less important and impacting to the preservation of human dignity than women’s rights, the rights of racial and religious rights as well as other rights.
For far too long in Malaysia, the issue of gay rights has been at best occasionally brought up by human rights organizations and at worst, totally swept under the carpet.
And this has to stop, because discrimination towards gays is no less demeaning and dehumanizing as discrimination towards women, blacks, Jews, Tutsis and other minorities.

At the same time, I realize that some of you here will hold views contrary to mine, and I realize that I probably won’t be able to change those views with a single speech, but I would still like to encourage you to reconsider some of the common arguments against gay rights.
If you fear that the granting of gay rights will bring about the end of procreation and the human race, let me assure you that the granting of gay rights will eliminate heterosexuals no more than the granting of heterosexuals rights will eliminate gays.
If you believe that homosexuals are perverted and abnormal, then remember that there’re many things which we approve of today, such as hand phones and cars, and the concepts of democracy and gender equality, which are unnatural outside the realm of civilization, but are still worthy of preservation anyway.
At the same time, there’re many things which come naturally to us, such as hatred, fear and bigotry, which I believe aren’t worthy of preservation.
If you’re one of those who object to gay rights on religious grounds, and believe that we’re the untouchables, then remember that the untouchables too, are the children of God.

I stand before you today as a gay Malaysian to appeal for the protection of gay rights in Malaysia, but I do not speak for myself.
I do not speak for the person I love.
Neither do I speak on behalf of the estimated 350,000 gays and lesbians in Malaysia.
Rather, I speak on behalf of humanity as a whole, because our fate is intertwined.
When one man is not free, all are bound.
And when the gay community triumphs, our triumph too, shall be your triumph.

Martin Luther King had his dreams, on which my fellow speaker Marcus Wee will elaborate after me.
I too, have my own dreams.
I hope to pursue a life of happiness and companionship with the person I love, freely and without fear or fervor.
I hope that someday, if I ever win a public competition with a speech on gay rights, I can go home and proudly tell my parents of my achievement without fear of repercussions.
I also hope that you will join me in the cause to uphold gay rights. But if that is too much to ask of you, then I appeal for tolerance.
But most of all, I dream that someday, speeches like this one will no longer be necessary.
Lastly, I end my speech with a quote by Boethius:
“Who can put a law unto love? Love is unto itself the highest law.”
Thank you.

 

 

Chong Yong Wei, Gabrielle

12/12/2008

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“When I come out on Xmas day”

Posted on 11 December 2008 by lainie

This is the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Choir, with “Coming out on Christmas”

Some of the lyrics:

I intend to drop a bomb,
On my dear ol’ dad and mum.
For this year, without a doubt,
Is the Christmas I come out.

First I’ll get their full attention;
Then slip in a subtle mention:
“Lovely tree, and by the way,
Some of my closest friends,
Are gay”

That should do the job okay,
When I come out, on Christmas day.
“Oh say have you seen it now
Watch my parents have a cow”

For those who pick festive family gatherings like Christmas to come out (or already have), this one goes out to you! All the best, and Merry Christmas!

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