defragment.me

How much do we have to lose…

...In order to appreciate what we have? Why does it take for us to lose, or to face mortality, before we are even willing to maximize life?

I've just read "Tuesdays with Morrie" by Mitch Albom. I picked up the book to read because I was feeling restless; I wonder if the restlessness I feel are subtle nudges by my guides. The book chronicles the last days of Mitch Albom and his University lecturer whom have been diagnosed with a terminal illness. The story itself was nothing new, but Mitch Albom just have this way of writing that tugs the heartstrings, or maybe I am just an emotional blob. I'll rather be an emotional blob than a non-feeling human I guess.

Death is the main theme of the book, and the author repeatedly questions himself about his own values, dreams and goals when faced with his beloved dying lecturer. I don't have to face death, I've been repeatedly questioning my own values, dreams and goals regardless. However, I've been guilty of taking life for granted. Reading intricate details about Albom's lecturer's slow decaying body and lessons about life he tried to teach before he left the world, I cannot help but feel that I have been wasting precious time given to me.

Making major decisons

I've always made major decisions easily. I am blessed with the self-ability to be realistic in a manner realistic people cannot be. Realistic people are not truly realistic in my humble opinion because if they have been honest and realistic about their life and death, they would not choose to live life in a 'realistic' manner, would they? If they have known that life may end anytime, that health may degrade over time, that possessions may be lost any moment, would they still pursue a so called 'realistic' life?

So, most of my life's major decisions are made pretty simply. I just ask myself, what if I were to die the next day? Will I be at my deathbed regretting making this decision or not? And then I'll realise, what truly matters. That sucky job did not matter so I quit, I cannot bring my money to my grave so I spent it on stuff that would make me happy, I did not want a mundane life to flash past me before my death so I took risks.

When I tell my friends how I make decisions, they laugh and remark that I am being too extreme. Am I really? Does anyone of us truly know if we are going to be alive the next day? What is so extreme to be realistic about Death?

I am grateful because even if I procrastinate over work, waste my time fretting over senseless worries, but when it comes to major decisions, I  do not shy away from it. Never shy-ed away when I quit my diploma studies, when I fell in love with a girl, when I quit at least 8 jobs in 8 years because I couldn't fit into the system, when I told my heartbroken mother I want to move out and that I am gay at the same time, when I took the leap to be self-employed.

Looking back, I am proud to proclaim that they were all fantastic decisions that made my life a lot better. I struggled with the guilt when I was young, because it seemed to society that I was being selfish, but life is really not about living it so that parents can be happy or to gain acceptance by society.

Making better use of my time

Right now, I am just ruffled that I am not making good use of my time. I live everyday as though there are going to be many more 'everydays'. There's so much I want to do and fulfill, but it is always 'later when it's a better time'. Either I am waiting to do something, or I am simply busy with work. I have no desire to go back to 16 hour work days working on projects that mean not much to me.

My values have changed.

I would like to work on projects that mean something to me. I used to be working for a certain number each month, a number that would mean that basic to intermediate material needs would be met, and then hoping that after those needs are met, I would have time to work on personal projects and causes. To accomplish this I took on intense projects because I was naive enough to think that I can complete these projects in short-time frames and get paid faster, and that will enable me to reach my target soon, which equates to free time for me to do things I want to do. I just ended up very tired, dissatisfied, and burnt out.

I realised that I would be very much happier if I chose to work on stuff I really wanted to work on, design-related or not, and even if I have to compromise on my comfortable lifestyle. Chasing numbers just doesn't cut it for me. I feel that I should do what I feel is right, and simply trust that I will be provided enough for to accomplish my dreams and goals.

I no longer want to be the old self who lived just to prove my worth and to gain acceptance. I am so much more than my work, why should I let my work and material possessions define me?

Living life

I do not want to wait till someone has died, or when my senses fail, or I lose my limbs, to live life the way in order to do it justice. I want to be able to have a sense of purpose or accomplishment everyday and not feel like I have wasted yet another day.

I think for me it is very much a psychological barrier – I need to literally reprogram my mind to discard belief systems that seek to disempower me and not to fall back into the whole capitalist society syndrome whereby money-making must be the prime objective of every human being's survival plan.

I want to start living life.

Quantum Touched

It is funny how life turns out sometimes. It is just not easy to see the humour in it when you're going through the process yourself.

A lot of stuff has been going on since I've last written over here. Most of it has been internal – within me. My intention when I first started this blog was to share how I had gotten over the darkest periods of my life. I have honestly believed that I have left those days behind me.
On the front, it seems like I have almost all I've ever wanted. I have a fairly stable solo business that enables me the freedom to work from anywhere I want (technically), I have a partner who loves me to bits and shares the same life goals, family issues that have plagued me during my youth were no longer existent.

I was not earning big bucks or that I can afford to relax and be stress free, but come on, it is not as if I have some life-threatening situation or like I am working to cover a mountain of debt.

But I just was not happy.

And I simply grew increasingly unhappy. So unhappy that I kept having mental and emotional meltdowns on a frequent basis. The scary part was that I do not even know why exactly am I so unhappy.

I still feel blessed and grateful for all that I have, but somehow, something is just wrong somewhere. Perhaps I knew what was wrong, but I was just in denial. I had written about what could be wrong on this blog before, but somehow I thought that I may just fix it with sheer bull will.

Burning out for a reason

I wrote a post a while ago after falling into a drain, that I had felt strongly about pursuing 'the other path'. I remember back then that I decided that I should let my current work take a backseat and go all out to pursue what they call 'lightwork'.

That decision somehow fizzled out because I had to relocate my residence plus I went to Tokyo and all the expenses did not allow me to feel like I can simply stop working and just be a student.

Apart from financial reasons, I thought I may be burnt out due to other reasons: overworking myself, undercharging, taking the wrong mix of work, etc.

I just did not think I can simply say goodbye to a career and passion that my life has revolved around for the past decade.

Design was something that could make or break me.

I was slowly growing in realisation that it may not be simply due to fatigue. I was not working during the ten days I spent in Tokyo and it did not help a single bit. I no longer feel excited about my projects and I have been feeling this way for the past six months to a year? Our emotions are a good indicator of whether we are fulfilling our purposes or if we are on the paths intended for us. My increasing bouts of depression started from gentle reminders to rude alarm bells – I am not doing what I should be doing. Whatever that I am doing now is obviously not making me happy. And I may have exhausted my best effort.

I feel like I am wasting precious time on earth. Getting eaten up slowly everyday.

Maybe my thought process has been too extreme. I did not need to think that one has to go in order for one to come in. I just need to acknowledge the other is growing in strength and I no longer loved the original one as much as I did. If we should spend time on things in order of how much we feel towards them, then it is simply put out to me that I have to spend more time on my 'other path' and let design work take a backseat.

No matter how financially difficult it could be. No matter how difficult it is for me to admit that I no longer want to revolve my life around a passion that I have built my life around.

Remembering how passion feels like

I remember how it all used to be for me. The excitement of opening a design program, drawing pixels and letting everything fall into space intuitively. Now, in order to be the true professional I want to be, every design decision is thought through really hard – will this confuse users? Will something else work better? Am I breaking new ground here? I don't want this website to end up looking like the last one, or like other typical gradient-laden websites. Or the worst case scenario – will this look like crap in IE?

Sometimes I feel, the field of web design takes out the joy of creating. At least for me. It can be upsetting to realise that being good at something doesn't equate to liking that something.

I miss designing for the fun of it. Not for the client, not for the users, not for the money. Just for fun. It had been something difficult to do because I so much wanted to excel at it that the process has been over-rationalised. The beauty of the web is ironically what kills it for me – the transience, the dynamism, the technology.

I miss laying out words and pictures meant for paper. It is altogether a different set of problems for print. Is this legible? Will this look good in black and white? Can I use special inks or varnishes for this? How about different paper or cuts? They are problems that I miss. I miss seeing my work printed, I miss feeling my work in my hands.

Earlier today, or rather, yesterday evening, I caught a whiff of how it feels like to be passionate about something. I have long forgotten how it feels like until just now.

Serendipity

I enrolled in a course shortly after I moved residence in June. Despite feeling tired after the move, despite having tons of work to do, despite many other factors, I somehow signed up for it anyway. It was not something I looked for. Serendipity works in the most amazing ways. Do you know how it came about?

It came about because I was (along with some other volunteers) searching for a missing rescued dog some when in May. To be really honest, I did not even feel like it when the call came in on a lazy Sunday afternoon. I was looking forward to resting during the weekend and searching aimlessly under the hot sun was not my idea of rest. However, the rescued dog was deeply insecure and afraid of humans, it would require every effort to be found again for the sake of its own safety. The thought of it getting knocked down by cars during possible confusion, getting caught by the authorities, or getting cooked for a good meal by foreign workers, overcame any hesitation.

It turned out that the fosterer who was taking care of the dog is a dog trainer. We had a chance to converse when we were waiting to lure the dog out from some forest foliage. She, was one of the very few humans in Singapore, who did not stare at me with *that* look when I mentioned that I have taken a animal communication course before. In fact, her eyes lighted up and was very interested to find out more. Don't you think it is amazing how you somehow 'stumble' into people with similar 'out of this world' interests when you start pursuing them?

With the knowledge that my partner and I were both interested in animals and alternative modalities, she asked if we were interested to form a small group to learn Quantum Touch.

Keeping the faith

I have already went through an Angels Miracles workshop and also an animal communication workshop last year with very limited results on my side because despite my deep beliefs regarding the magic of the Universe, I have a rather rational side to me as well as a mind that doesn't really like to quieten down (a focused mind with good visualization powers is essential for most spiritual work).

Somehow, I just kept the faith. If I feel it in my heart that I want to do it, I may not get it for now but it will eventually come to me.

I thought it would be nice for our animal volunteer work if I could learn some healing modalities (and eventually learn how to talk to them). Our animal communication teacher told us that we may want to consider learning Reiki but which I did do some research into but it just did not fall into place or feel right. When the dog trainer brought up Quantum Touch, I was like, why not? The method or technique does not matter as long as allows the subject to feel better.

Energy works

And just now, I felt it with my own hands – Energy.

It was our first workshop and within a couple of hours, we were trying out on one another. I took it with a pinch of salt since the previous other workshops were not too successful for me. Yet, it was there for me to feel. Light pulses at my fingertips. My partner's backache went away after I tried it on her. I felt the accumulated pain due to sitting for long hours in my back seemingly lighten. I saw bones aligning in the training video, stuff that professional chiropractors deemed impossible.

I just knew it in my heart there and then. This is the work I truly want to do. Not just Quantum Touch, but I want to keep on learning, marry all the modalities and experiences I have accumulated and be able to touch people and animals in my own unique way.

I may not be successful at getting my dog to talk to me right now, but I believe once I get over the stage of taking control over my mind, it will come to me. I have to take care of a fearful, aggressive dog right now, and can you imagine what difference it will make to its life and its people if I am able to rehabilitate it?

Finding my way (repeatedly but consistently)

Just the thought of it makes me happy. And I hope I will be able to do it not only for mine, but for those poor rescued animals who had been traumatized in one way or another.

The added bonus is – my partner is on the same path as me (you have no idea how rare this can be). Apart from the mutual support (imagine a partner that goes, ya...right.), it is that synergy, the common beliefs and shared vision; and in future, the partnership. I feel that she is clairvoyant and clairaudient wheras I am more clairsentient and claircognizant, so we should make a good partnership.

At this point if you're not yet rolling your eyes, thank you. To my business associates and clients, no I am not giving up on my design work, I just need to recalibrate it a bit. I would like to be able to think of work as fun.

I just finished reading "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert (will post a review soon) and she gave me a ray of hope in trying to get my mind to quieten. I never thought my mind would ever shut up, but after reading her experience (her mind sounds like mine), I have renewed hope for mine.

I plan to really cut down on design work (time to be really selective), pack up my new place (it has been 2 months and it still looks horrible because I am just either working or moping and my poor partner is doing it on her own), continue my Soul Realignment course (it has been put on hold because my place is in a mess and I can't be in a state of mind to do such work), try out Quantum Touch on myself and my immediate family (dogs and partner first), and see where it all brings me.

Getting the little aggressive dog in my household to calm down will be a good testimonial and start.

Let me have the strength to continue my journey with not too many detours. I know some are inevitable, so I am just asking for less. That is not too much to ask for, right? :)

I have been self-sabotaging my own decisions for quite a while now and I would like the courage to be able to stick to them.

The Power of Now

I want to share my immediate after-thoughts of speed-reading "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle, because I know if I do a proper full review, it will probably never be published. By 'speed-reading' I mean letting my eyes naturally scan through the book, picking up the bits of information that jumped out at me and scanning through the rest of the book that I felt wasn't important to what I wanted to know at that moment. I finished the book in an hour and I will probably pick it up to read it again in-depth.

My history with the book

If my memory did not fail me, I was first introduced to Eckhart Tolle by Julia , probably a couple of years back when she implored me to listen to the podcasts recorded by him and Oprah Winfrey. I am not the sort of person who have the patience to listen to podcasts or watch videos, but somehow I managed to finish listening to a couple of episodes. I remember feeling struck by certain concepts he shared and I made a mental note to buy the book, but somehow, even though I have come across the book countless times in the bookstore, I have never wanted to buy it. I have always believed that books are meant to be read when they are ready to be read.

The other reason why I did not feel the need to buy the book was because I thought I have already understood the power of Now. In theory. I know Transience. I know that everything is impermanent. I know our experiences in the current life are no more than mere illusions (okay I know people are going to disagree with me on this but truth is not absolute).

However, knowing and really being able to live it are two different matters. It takes a lot to tell myself not to worry about the future when I know there are bills to pay. Ideally, I would love to go sit beside a rock and meditate my whole life, living like the Peace Pilgrim without a cent to my name. Somehow perhaps I really will one day, but right now I have my loved ones to consider. I am already grateful that they are giving me their support with the life I am leading now, asking them to give full blessings for wanting to be a penniless nomad is a little too much to ask for.

How I came to finally read the book

I have been feeling down (yes, again) recently. I do not even know when it really started. I just feel that something is missing, something is wrong somewhere. Until a couple of days back, I realised in the middle of conversation with my partner, that I have no enthusiasm for anything anymore. Even the thought of travelling somehow did not excite me anymore. Was it because subconsciously I know that – even if I had the means to do all that I've always wanted to do, I still wouldn't find true happiness. What comes next after reaching the ultimate goal?

I imagined myself having a lot of money, jetting anywhere I wanted, opening the animal shelter that was my life-long wish and I asked myself if I would be happy if I were to live the life that I thought was my dream.

The answer was no.

Then I asked myself, what is it that I really want? I had no answers. And having no answers scared the hell out of me. I have always prided myself for attempting to do what I love to do, or trying to head towards my dreams, but what if I no longer loved what I loved to do and worse, what if I no longer had a dream?

The thought of living a life emptily really disturbed me. It made me feel worse than before.

So I was browsing the iTunes app store last night, under the "Staff Favorites" section I noticed "The Power of Now". I had finished some of my work and I had no mood to continue. The ebook was $13.99 USD and I thought that I would probably be better off buying the physical book. However, I really felt like I wanted to read it there and then. Like NOW. I closed iTunes and tried to distract myself from buying the ebook. The thought just kept popping back (okay thank you, guides) and I gave myself proper reasons to buy it. Since I have nothing better to do, I may find something uplifting from the book and it is an ebook I can carry it everywhere, plus save the environment! ;p

Concepts of the book that jumped out at me

(These are in my context and I consider myself weird, so you don't have to agree)

1. I am not my mind. The mind is conditioned to make us worry, fearful and insecure. I should control my mind, not vice versa. This is exceptionally true for me. My mind is ALWAYS worrying. And it seems to have a knack for reminding me how imperfect I am. If I can recognise the mind as a separate entity, I can get it to shut up and not give a shit to what it is constantly making me think and feel. Laugh at it. Why should I even think that I am less than any other being?

2. That it is a fact that we're the only species that killed hundreds of millions of our own in this century alone. Tolle says that the human mind is insane and I agree.

3. That we are always looking to the future or the past but never the present. The attachment to the past and the future is what that makes us unhappy. This concept I have already understood a while ago, but it never rang so true for me until now as demonstrated in the next point.

4. We're always waiting for the future to happen for some kind of salvation. We should stop waiting. I should stop. Because I am always waiting for this and that to happen, trying to find this and that so I can be fulfilled. But what comes next?

5. On up and down cycles:

"It is not true that the up cycle is good and the down cycle bad, except in the mind's judgement. Growth is usually considered positive, but nothing can grow forever. If growth, of whatever kind, were to go on and on, it would eventually become monstrous and destructive. Dissolution is needed for new growth to happen. One cannot exist without the other."

This completely changed my perception of 'being down'.

6. On true compassion:

" True compassion goes beyond empathy or sympathy. It does not happen until sadness merges with joy, the joy of Being beyond form, the joy of eternal life."

I need a little more time to comprehend the essence of this, though I think I am very close. It is a paradox, because if pain is an illusion, then compassion should cease to exist isn't it? Why should I be compassionate to another being in pain when it is simply an illusion?

7. On evil:

"The ultimate effect of all the evil and suffering in the world is that it will force humans into realizing who they are beyond name and form. Thus, what we perceive as evil from our limited perspective is actually part of the higher good that has no opposite. This, however, does not become true for you except through forgiveness. Until that happens, evil has not been redeemed and therefore remains evil".

I particularly like this quote, because it aligns with my belief that evil does not truly exist. Evil exists so that Good can exist. This is the law of duality. We need Evil to realise the Good.

8. Happiness comes externally and is temporary, but joy comes from within and is permanent.

The aftermath of all these

I know I am on the way of a process that does not have a name. There are a lot more processing to go, a lot more to be reconciled. I am not sure where will this bring me, or will it just be a temporary lapse before I go back to my perpetual moping. What is truly important? What do I truly want to do with my time here?

So what if one day I am actually able to put all these in practice. What comes next?

Okay, I realised I am obsessed with the 'next'.

Perhaps I will truly know the answer when I eventually learn to find joy from within. And live in the Now.

Other resources

Steve Pavlina on The Power of Now

Stop feeding the fear mongers

They are not worth our precious time and energy.

Perhaps I was naive to think that things will settle down after the AWARE EGM – it has opened a can of worms that probably most of us would wish that it had remained closed, the Singapore government included.

I grew increasingly disturbed and worried as I chanced upon comment after comment that reeked of homophobia and narrow-mindedness. The news of MOE (Ministry of Education) suspending the sex education program made me start to seriously wonder what is going to come next. A witch-hunt?

Just when we think that the media censorship laws have gradually relaxed and the society seemed to be progressing, now it just seems like we are almost back to square one.

Many thoughts went through my mind as I came up with retort after retort, full of logic and reasoning, why people should stop being so near-sighted and judgmental. I was prepared to write a long post, making a clear argument on why all this paranoia is just plain ridiculous.

'The other side'

Until I came across a few blog entries and comments from 'the other side' – the side that believes that homosexuals are just headed for hell and that raising kids with 'the right values' is the apparent right thing to do. There were other people like me, who tried to reason their way through by making comments, and looking at the written exchange, I came to a realisation.

There is no point reasoning or arguing out with people who are just not willing to listen in the first place. Reading most of the conversations between the pro-gay and the anti-gay are like trying to understand a conversation between a chicken and a duck. One party can make a perfect argument but if the other party is not willing to see beyond his/her own viewpoint, they can go on forever and nothing will be concluded.

Alienation

Being marginalized personally for most of my life, I was actually almost immune to it. However, the scale of the matter this time caught me by surprise and I could not help but worry about the homophobia surfacing into the mainstream society. It is like the AWARE issue has forced many to take a stand and have a say, especially when their precious kids are concerned.

Prior to the AWARE hijacking, everybody went about their own business, the very most, conservatives would sometimes stare and mutter words of disgust to themselves. Now, the publicity and scale are somehow making many of the 'traditional' family-oriented people jump on the anti-gay bandwagon.

Ironically being gay is the least of what I have been marginalized for. I was made to feel like an alien because of my academic success (or the lack of it), my career path, my choice of hairstyle, a whole long list actually, and more recently, my spiritual beliefs.

People give me strange looks all the time, and that includes my very own relatives. Like the uncle who snorted when I told him I was running my own business. Friends roll their eyes when I talk about astrological charts and reincarnation. Strangers stare because of my spiky short hair (yes, girls must keep their hair long and flowy).

All these made me stronger, but not without much pain and tears. I have grown to be proud of my individuality and identity. What I have learnt through all these experiences is, there is only so much you can do to change a person's mind.

There are people who will listen, these are the ones who are not judgmental in the first place. Those who judge, are typically people who do not have it in them to open their minds to another viewpoint. The third category, are people who believe very strongly in their own beliefs, so firmly that nothing will change their mind unless they personally experience otherwise.

I generally do not have a problem who stick to their own belief systems, the issue only comes when there is a lack of respect in the belief systems of others. The extreme end of this spectrum, are people who deliberately incite fear and hatred.

Playing into their hands

It suddenly dawned upon me, by reacting negatively to these fear-mongers, I am simply playing into their hands. Negative feelings drain our energy. These people get a kick out of seeing us getting upset. The best way to deal with them, is either react positively, or choose to not react at all. It is just like dealing with people who are (consciously) abusive. They continue their abuse because the fear shown by their victims gives them a sense of power. The only way to dis-empower them is to stop the fear.

Having not much of a sex education in school did not make me less or more gay. Having a rigid education system depressed me more than it made me 'equipped' for society. Facing nay-sayers all my life did not dilute my individuality.

My take on the sex-ed program and 'concerned parents'

They can do whatever they want with the sex education program. I believe the targeted age group (12-18) will form their own judgments (or non-judgments) with or without a sex-ed program. The 'impressionable' ones, I am sorry to say, will still be impressionable by other sources even if the sex-ed program preaches all the 'right' values. Food for thought, would a 'concerned parent' be happier if their kid leads a double life in order to upkeep the 'right values'? It does not have to be an extreme case like a married man having a boyfriend on the side (though there are plenty of these around), there are plenty of people out there who are so internally conflicted that they cannot even bear to face themselves. Kids who live the 'right' way but end up extremely unhappy will make these parents happy and proud indeed (can't help the sarcasm, sorry).

Good will eventually prevail

I personally believe that whatever goes around comes around. I also believe in the good old fashioned 'good will prevail over evil'. Just as they would like to believe 'evil' gay people like us will be damned, I believe people who deny the minorities their rights and respect will have to bear the consequences one day. The government, for being overly conservative, will one day have to face repercussions (please stop complaining when there is a mass exodus of talent).

Nobody has the power to change my beliefs if I carry a strong conviction towards them, thus I understand that I do not have the power to change anybody else's.

However, I have the freedom and the right to express myself, that includes leading a fulfilling life and contributing to the causes I support. There will be people, however few, who will honestly question themselves, if I deserve to be in hell, simply by being in love with another girl.

Do not play in their hands any longer by feeling any ounce of anger, instead, focus on doing our own part (whether by setting a positive example or by positive advocacy, we just need to answer to ourselves.

I am not afraid to be judged if judgment day comes because I hold nothing but truth and love. On the contrary, am not so sure about the ones who incite fear and hatred. I therefore hope that one day love can open their eyes to God's unconditional and non-judgmental love.

Reasons for feeling insulted, disturbed & hurt by the new AWARE leadership

I have avoided writing about the anti-gay sentiments put out by the new AWARE executive committee (exco) because I feel that being in support of the old guard has nothing got to do about anti-gay vs pro-gay, but about women's rights in general. Till I got increasingly disturbed by their anti-gay statements, which I cannot put in words exactly how disturbed I feel to be reading the comments made by them.

They say we are very often abused by our fathers

This was one of the most disturbing ones:

"On a personal front, I've given ministered, I've counselled them. So you need to understand I'm not talking about... They are in pain. And very often...where you have abusive fathers, they do things with their daughters and the daughters revolt, rebel against society. We understand this is what it's all about." – Dr Thio Su Mien

Excuse me?! My father is one of the nicest men you will ever meet and he will feel very personally insulted and hurt to read this. I seriously do not think this self-proclaimed 'feminist mentor' should be even allowed to speak in public with all the insulting rubbish she is spouting.

I cannot decide whether I am petrified or amused that such narrow and un-evolved minds exist in women who had been highly educated and possess high-flying careers. These are the very same women who now want to fight for gender equality.

So, according to the new exco, led by 'feminist mentor' Thio Su Mien, me and my peace-loving, society-contributing gay community are criminals, abnormal, wicked, anti-family – basically in their eyes we do not seem to warrant a place in society, supposed to be abused and in pain.

The consequences & implications

Speaking from the bottom of my heart, I really wonder if they have considered all the implications and consequences before making such statements and having such beliefs? Is there even an absolute truth in anything? Did they even consider the feelings of people like us, or even the youth who are confused about their sexuality? To be marginalised and criminalised in this manner, to be made to feel as though as we do not belong anywhere, have they even stopped to think for a second if they may be causing a lot of hurt?

Supposing if they win the EOGM, and the possibility that the new sex education material is made to reflect homosexuality as a negative word, would there be a possibility that young, talented, confused minds will be driven to depression, or even suicide? What about influencing young minds into being homophobic individuals, subjecting their 'abnormal' peers to gay-bashing and discrimination?

Brainwash people to be gay?

I did not have an abusive father, sorry to disappoint Dr Thio, I do not remember having sex education in my school days, and homosexuality in my era was largely a taboo subject. There were no gay films, no gay propaganda, no media reporting on homosexuality, almost zilch.

Having no gay 'influence' when I was young did not stop me from falling in love with another girl. For me personally, for many of my gay friends, being gay has nothing much to do with preference for bedding the same sex. It is as simple as falling in love with another person. We just don't feel the same for the opposite sex, does that make us less of a human?

Why can't the new exco and paranoid parents simply realise that presenting homosexuality in a neutral perspective does not brainwash your precious kid into being gay? If your kid is gay, even if the poor kid is blocked off the entire media will do nothing much to change how he/she feels. You can probably threaten to disown the kid, make her/him marry someone, have kids, but do you even know how much more pain and suffering that causes for the person and the people involved? What about the marriage partner who was deceived into believing that their partner loves him/her?

The reverse is also true, if your kid is not gay, no amount of external influence can change that as well. I have plenty of straight friends who loves going to gay parties, watch gay films, hang out with gay people, but they would still rather be with the opposite sex. There is a healthy mutual respect, a mutual respect which would be in danger for the youth if the new exco manages to have their way.

Personally

I am proud to be who I am. I am in a committed relationship with a partner who loves me more than anything in this world, despite and in spite of my flaws; and I feel the same way for her. We are both doing our best for the causes we believe in – animal welfare and environmentalism. We like to give our time to stray animals whenever possible, she recycles everything that can possibly be recycled. We are not well off, but we are contented with what we have and are both working very hard to pursue our individual dreams. She has been my pillar of support, I would not be where I am today if not for her. Yet, according to Dr Thio, the new exco and their church, we should both seek cures (read an example of their supposed cure program). We have done nothing wrong except to love each other with our hearts, yet in the eyes of the new exco, we are dysfunctional and really need to repent.

I am lucky. My parents accept me for the person I am, we go out all together for family outings and occasions. My mom asks about my partner if she could not be present for some reason. I am out to everyone who knows me personally. I never had a friend who ended our friendship upon knowing I am gay. In fact, I never really had someone dear to me shake their heads in sadness and look at me with pity or distaste, but the harsh reality is, there are plenty of people who are subject to such discriminatory and hurting behavior.

Being in the minority has allowed me to be sensitive to other minorities. From my very own spiritual perspective, I see it as a blessing. I feel the pain and hurt when people exhibit discriminative behavior towards other minorities, be it the foreign workers, other races, etc. In fact, in many parts of the world, Asians are being discriminated upon as well. I do not feel it is fair to discriminate anybody if you do not want to be discriminated upon as well.

Mis-informed judgement

I deliberated for a very long time whether I should write this post. Like I mentioned previously, I am out to everyone who knows me personally, but I have never mentioned anything about my sexuality on my own websites, because the possibility of being judged by business associates and clients. I do not think that it is fair to be judged if people do not have the chance to get to know me personally first. That is the precise point I am trying to make. It is not fair to make a sweeping statement representative of gay people if you have not personally experienced their personal lives and relationships.

Yet I eventually decided to write this post, just like how I decided to out myself to everyone I know when I was in my youth, because I believe people will accept me for the person I am and not base it on my sexuality. People who make pre-judgments would not really appreciate me for me anyway.

Lack of empathy

I do not think the new AWARE exco has once stopped to put themselves in the shoes of gay people, or in the shoes of those parents who have gay children. They simply do not understand or empathise and is only concerned on their own selfish agenda of doing things THEIR right way.

Think about those teens who are already confused about their sexuality prior to this whole AWARE saga and take a moment to imagine how they would feel now. Take their adolescent sensitivity into consideration, their pain of not being accepted by society and the people they love, and being labelled as abnormal, disgusting, and other tons of negative words the new exco and their church have used.

Standing up for AWARE

I do not have the literary gifts of Adrianna nor am I remotely close to the impressive outspoken Pat Law, but I write from my heart, truly and earnestly. My readership for this blog is nowhere near their numbers as well, but it does not matter. Every effort counts, and even if I fail to bring awareness to a single soul from this blog post, it does not matter. This is still my heartfelt attempt to find my voice for the women in Singapore.

They have both made theirs:

I have never been active in local politics or activism, and I doubt that I will ever be. However, I still made sure I cast my vote carefully during the General Elections. When the news first broke out that AWARE was under a coup, I read it with detached interest. Only when a friend sent a Facebook message asking her contacts to join a newly setup Facebook group in support of the 'old guard', did I actually even start to comprehend the gravity of the matter.

The above articles have already provided a good overview of what is happening. The Facebook group is an excellent resource and chronicle for the series of events leading up till now. Supporters of the old executive committee has also set up a new website advocating their stand.

Personally, it is really not about pro-gay vs anti-gay. It was how the new leadership had handled the whole takeover, in suspicious manner and circumstances. If they are aboveboard, why is it that their behavior and response have been evasive, to say the very least? Take away the supposed anti-gay agenda, I find it difficult to trust that these women will fight for our equal rights when they go to a church that preaches 'the wife is in subjection to the husband'. I believe that God will not discriminate against the minorities – women or homosexuals included. And I have faith that most of the church-goers I know have the same belief as well. It is precisely extremist views like this that gives religion a bad name.

I am tempted to remain in silence, tempted to believe that some women will definitely fight for the right causes, I am extremely public-shy after all. After a few mere seconds of deliberation, I knew in my heart I would not be able to answer to myself if I did not make an effort. If I do not make this effort, what right do I have to ask someone else to make the effort? If everyone shifts this responsibility, it is of no wonder why this even happened in the first place.

I will not hide anymore. I signed up at AWARE over the last weekend, and made sure I did my part on Facebook and Twitter. I was hoping that prominent bloggers like Adrianna and Pat will make a clear stand, and felt very comforted that they did, so did local celeb Irene Ang. It can be a sensitive situation for public figures like Irene, but she has eventually decided to turn up. On the other spectrum, being nobodies can mislead us into thinking that our voices do not matter – they do. In times like this, every voice counts,  and when the vote is being counted your status/job/etc does not matter. This is what equality is about.

I implore you to turn up and be heard. You do not even have to be in support of any side, but the point is to be aware of what is going on. AWARE has done a lot for us women in Singapore in the past, a huge factor why we women in Singapore live in comfort and security knowing we are protected. This is the time for you to do something for AWARE.