“We are born alone and we die alone, but there is no reason why any of us should live alone in this life… Too many of my gay friends have left this shores because of intolerance. Let’s make a change today.” – Neo Swee Lin (in the video below).
SINGAPORE (AP) â The gay community in tightly controlled Singapore held its first-ever rally Saturday, taking advantage of looser laws on public gatherings to call for equality.
About 2,500 participants wore pink clothing, played music and sang songs at a park known as Speaker’s Corner, said organizer Pink Dot, which represents Singapore’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents.
“This is a great opportunity for us to make our pitch for the equal treatment of the LGBT community in Singapore,” said Roy Tan, a Pink Dot spokesman.
Singapore’s government has become more tolerant toward gays and lesbians in recent years, but sodomy is still illegal, Tan said.
Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng told the state-owned New Paper on Friday that gay people “have a place in our society” but warned they must “not assert themselves stridently as gay groups do in the West.”
The government eased a ban on public demonstrations last year, encouraging Singaporeans to air grievances at Speaker’s Corner as long as they don’t discuss race, language or religion. The government says public discussion of those subjects could enflame passions and create instability in the multiethnic city-state.
Last year, Singaporean investors met at the park after losing money on structured notes issued by Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.
A close friend of mine, Josh dropped me an email earlier this evening about a video compilation of various people from all around Singapore talking about homosexuality and the wonderful people they know who have embraced it as part of their identity. Suffice to say it caught my eye; it was the promotional piece for the upcoming Pink Dot event to be held in Singapore this coming May 16th – but despite my interest in the event (which I applaud Singaporeans for taking an active stand), I am perhaps more impressed by the spirit of the interviewees who speak of their friends and family with the utmost pride.
Not shame, not fear, nor of anger – but of pride; full distinguished accepting pride. Because pride is after all what we should all feel when it comes to our sexuality, no matter who we are. Sexuality cannot be defined by race, or color, or status, nor nationality even; it is something I feel everyone should understand and learn more about, rather than hide from.
Watching the video, it reminds me of the earlier days I spent trying to open my parents up to life knowing they have a gay son living under their roof. The earlier days my family pretends that my sexuality is something shameful to the family; to speak of it openly, even amongst ourselves is taboo. The video in its own way, now reminds me of the family I have today – who openly acknowledges that I am who I am, and what my dad playfully likes to refer to as the bengkok (literally “bent”) son, whom no matter what – is still family and for that, will always be loved. It is the same spirit I see in them that I see in the video; on the faces of the people who speak of homosexuality and the people they love.
In that way, I feel Malaysia has yet a long way to go in these matters – but that doesn’t mean I ever give up hoping for the day we could all stand as one beneath the flag that unites us all as a nation, the same way all Singaporeans stand united in the foreignness that is sexuality. The East, majorly – has a long way to go yet regarding the full acceptance of different sexualities as part of our identities, but as the Western world progresses, so will we.
To that, before I sign off - I salute and applaud once again to our neighbors in Singapore for this stand for the unity of differences in sexuality. May the 16th of May mark a great victory in your calendar for change, which in some way – I hope will pave the road for the many other nations in the East to someday follow in your footsteps; a statement to the world that sexuality is not a crime nor a defect. It is our identity. Godspeed.