Article

The Freedom to Love

Ten years ago the Internet was a different place. Singapore was a different place. While it wasn’t exactly the sort of pitchfork-wielding, gay-vilifying environment you would imagine, you certainly did not feel like people understood. You felt, at that time, at odds with large swathes of society, as though it would never accept you. Worst of all, you felt doomed to forever be avoiding the marriage question at Chinese New Year. It did not seem like your Asian relations would ever stop asking you intrusive questions about your personal life, when there was none to share because your chosen pronoun would cause you to be thrown out of the house, ostracised, prayed for, or otherwise politely ignored.

This year, the climate cannot be more different. The hate groups have openly stepped forward to identify themselves. They even have their own colours. Like in the US, and anywhere else this theatre of ‘cultural war’ is being waged, they’ve chosen to usurp the word, ‘family’, for themselves. No matter.

Each year the dot gets bigger and bigger. Each year the LGBTQ community gains strength in multitudes; and its allies, even more. Each year I see more and more families; each familiar face is not the girl I last slept with in a club, unlike what they think, it is a friend, ally, collaborator, or all around interesting person.

Challenges abound. Hatred reeks. Certain religionists (that’s really what they are, and I won’t even sully the term religious by associating that with them) desperately hope to roll back the tide. In 20 years I will be happy to never have to hear a squeak from them ever again, for their present struggles against demographic and cultural sea change will seem as bizarre, absurd and archaic as opponents of interracial, inter-religious love a couple of decades ago.

Here are a couple of things I’ve written in the past decade. My sexuality has been a big and defining part of life; but love itself comes through, above all. Hope to see you at Pink Dot, and say hi if you see me.

P.S. Also, a friend and I are hosting Rabbithole, a brand new party for queer women who like good drinks and older company. :) Come by at Life Is Beautiful, 99 Duxton Road, from 10.30PM on 28 June 2014.

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Article

Sitrep

BSG Tattoo

  1. I got a Battlestar Galactica tattoo
  2. I’m pretty pleased about that
  3. It’s one half of the pair of wings and Caprica constellation that Starbuck gets when she marries Anders
  4. Within a couple of hours of getting it, a random stranger proposed to me — saying she would get “the other side”
  5. Which would be romantic, but that would also mean (a) she’s a Cylon (b) we’d have a tumultuous relationship (c) she’d better be damn good at Pyramids
  6. It’s unbelievable that 10 years has passed since I first started to watch this show
  7. I don’t generally fan-girl anything, but this was special
  8. I identify with Starbuck in far too many ways, if you know what I mean
  9. It’s potentially far more meaningful than anything else I could have gotten
  10. After getting this done I do kinda feel like nothing can frak with my qi

I love BSG.

Article

What I Learned

Two years ago I found out I have an autoimmune disease. I will always have it. It changed everything about my life from what I do for money to where I live. It prompted a reinvention of myself which was at turns painful, but ultimately necessary. This is what I learned.

1. Never forego sleep. “You’ll sleep more over the weekend” is bullshit. Not sleeping is bullshit. There is no amount of money in the world anymore that can make me sleep less, even if I grumble about it: I’m convinced sleep is the single most important thing I will never, ever give up again.

2. Make your own destiny. The single best thing I have done in my 20s was to grab every damn opportunity that came my way. And there were plenty. Even if people can’t see the method in the madness, every little thing adds up. I truly believe that.

3. Be nice to your family. At least for me, they’ve been the foundation upon which I’ve been able to build a life. Through illness and in health.

4. Home is home. There are many reasons to not want to live in Singapore, but returning here to build my adult life here in my late 20s was the best decision. There are a ton of opportunities and we are in the centre of exciting things, at least for what I do in tech and business.

5. Surround yourself with smart people who care about people. I’ve been lucky to have some of the smartest people in the world in my direct orbit. I’ve learned an immeasurable amount from them. It’s the only way to be better. If they’re douchebags, nothing you learn can ever be of use.

6. If you need anything, just ask. There’s a longish essay in this that I need to write sometime. If you don’t know anything, ask as well. Only good things can ever come out of asking.

7. Don’t date people who want to hold you back. Or down. Ever.

8. Do date someone who inspires you to get up every morning and change the world. Who won’t laugh when you say that. Who will ask you what part of the world you would like to change today, and how she can help.

9. Milestones are a sham. You’re expected to check certain boxes by a certain time: degree, first job, first apartment, blah blah. It’s not that they’re not important, but following someone else’s timetable for your life is the biggest lie we’ve all been told.

10. Corporate conferences are never worth any amount of money you are asked to pay. Ever. If there is a giant billboard and a roomful of suits, go to the bar and do some real work instead.

Article

An Open Letter

On February 21, I wrote an open letter to the Health Minister, CC-ing the Prime Minister and the Law Minister. This was prompted by the Feminist Mentor’s own open letter. I found LoveSingapore’s pro-377A guide very helpful for this purpose — it gave me everyone’s email addresses in a single page!

OPEN LETTER TO

Mr Gan Kim Yong,
Minister of Health
Singapore

Dear Minister Gan,

A few days ago you made a step which many of my peers and I applauded. You let it be known, in a written reply to Mr Lim Biow Chuan’s question about the Health Promotion Board Sexuality FAQ, that you would reaffirm the Government’s commitment to the nucleus family but also stand firm on your belief that the FAQs did not do more than affirm certain scientific facts about human sexuality as well as disseminate much-needed information about STIs.

In the ensuing turmoil which followed after the FAQs first came into public spotlight leading up to the point where you have probably received countless letters from concerned Singaporeans about your ministry ostensibly leading the way in normalising homosexuality, to where we are at the moment: receiving a letter unlike the others, one which will express in no unclear terms that young, secular Singaporeans like myself will always make our voices heard in continuing to champion for our Republic’s secular values, even if we have not often given enough credit or praise to your government and to your party in recent times.

Cultural “wars” have been waged and fought in many developed democracies across the world; secular values that impart equal weight to all of the important freedoms we hold dear — the freedom of speech, love, action as well as of thought and of belief, the freedom to live a life of love across racial, religious, geographical as well as gender barriers — have always triumphed. Those who have let their cultural “wars” wage on unchecked have, as the United States is testament to, seen their societies grow increasingly polarised.

As a young lesbian Singaporean who has returned home after many years abroad despite the odds: despite knowing that I may never be able to have a family recognised by my State, despite knowing that as a “single” person of a “minority” our public housing laws unfairly discriminate against me, despite knowing that I may never see significant institutional change in my lifetime, I refuse to leave.

I refuse to leave as I refuse to let the country I hold dear be held hostage by a group of religious bigots who take it upon themselves to proclaim my sexual orientation, if normalised, necessarily leads to a “regression” of Singapore society especially when they base their beliefs on Judeo-Christian beliefs which, I must remind you, a majority of Singaporeans do not prescribe to.

HPB in its FAQ provides timely, factual information to parents as well as to questioning younger Singaporeans. In its current form, our existing sexual education programmes do not provide much by way of actual useful information outside of “abstinence”, which is a conversation which has already been hijacked by a militant group in our society that has demonstrated its continued ability to organise and to politicise their pet topics. Should ground be ceded once again, we risk being completely unable to reach out to young Singaporeans who need information on sex education, STIs and other important subjects because we would have failed them and lost our credibility — it seems only rational to worry that they would look elsewhere for information, as I did as a young lesbian woman when the schools I attended uniformly pretended that my needs did not and should not exist.

These groups also ask for civility and tolerance accusing other groups who disagree with their interpretation of Judeo-Christian history and family law of demonizing their right to their beliefs. By purporting to speak for a “silent majority” of Singaporeans and by building upon their network of religious organisations in order to advance a political cause, as a young Singaporean I am concerned about what this means from a sedition perspective. As a Christian, I do not condone a fringe Protestant grouping taking it upon themselves to speak for all Christians — nor for all Singaporeans.

The public needs to see prompt action demonstrating that the State will not stand for potentially seditious and religiously divisive viewpoints which tolerate vitriolic, daily verbal abuse as evidenced by the posts of Senior Pastor Lawrence Khong on his public Facebook page — directed towards tax-paying secular Singaporeans who just happen to form a minority.

I understand this divisive topic is not one our society can come to immediate consensus upon, and am open to a variety of differing viewpoints and debate. Yet as a politically concerned young secular Singaporean who also happens to be lesbian, I cannot sit idly while I witness religiously-affiliated groups wage a cultural “war”, one which no one else is interested to fight.

I urge the HPB, the Health Ministry, and the Government of Singapore to remain steadfast in its affirmation of its commitment to the family as a nucleus of society, while also continuing to make progress in areas such as making available scientific facts on human sexuality which can save lives as well as inform parents and young Singaporeans in need.

I am not a member of the Pioneer Generation, but I am a member of the Millennial Generation who desires to see small steps in social progressiveness so that the Singapore I call home will grow into becoming the inclusive society we want to be. This does not have to begin with an immediate consensus on sexual minorities, but we must make a stand that we will not tolerate religiously-affiliated hatred that a majority of Singaporeans do not belong to nor agree with.

Yours Sincerely,
Adrianna Tan
Millennial Generation (Tech)