defragment.me

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.