Being Gay in Singapore—A Friend Shares Some Thoughts

When I view videos or images of past Pink Dot events, it all looks so fun, so lively, so well-attended (for a Speaker’s Corner event!). I tend to forget its motive: to counter fear, ignorance, and prejudice towards the LGBT (that’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community here in Singapore.

When I think of my close gay friends, I see generally happy, well-adjusted individuals, some in long-term relationships. Their outspokenness and apparent ease with sharing their gay relationships with our peers – not to mention achievement of middle-class success – means I’ve never looked at them and thought: marginalized. Continue reading

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Sticker Lady—What Would You Do If She Were Your Daughter?

From Kirsten Han@funnylittleworld

What would you do if Sticker Lady were your daughter? (Or son?) Would you

  • High-five her for her genius and boast, “She gets it from me!”;
  • Thump her on the head for being so blur – “Never see surveillance camera, ah?”;
  • Be flippin’ FURIOUS she got herself into trouble and appeared in the papers for “this kind of thing”;
  • Tell her she should have known better and needs to “face the music”.

Or maybe, maybe you’re scared out of your wits the police appeared at your door and took your child away that you don’t care about the morality/artistic value/intent of what she did or didn’t do – you just want to make sure it NEVER.HAPPENS.AGAIN.

Much has been written about Sticker Lady since her arrest on Sunday, 3 June 2012. It has stirred debate over vandalism versus (street) art, and the “fairness” of punishing all “vandals” equally.

When I read the New Paper’s report on 6 June 2012 though, I remember thinking: Wonder how Samantha’s father felt when the police showed up at their doorstep, and took his daughter away. After all, he was clueless about what she’d been up to. In the article, her father described her as “quite traumatised and distressed” since the arrest.

I started to wonder what I would do, as a parent, if Sticker Lady were my daughter (or son). Amidst all this discussion about the line between art and vandalism, what happens to a person’s spirit, a family’s unity, when what may have been tongue-in-cheek works of creative expression (some also say political subversion), leads to serious consequences – a potential jail sentence of up to three years, a $2,000 fine (and caning, if the person were male).

So I asked other parents: What would you do if Sticker Lady were your daughter? Continue reading

That We May Dream Again—Faith, Justice and the ISA

(Photo by Shawn Byron Danker)

On 2 June 2012, Matt and I were at Hong Lim Park for That We May Dream Again, an event to remember the events of 1987. (Yes, that’s Daddy in the background on stage – and yes, he’s the shorter one.)

Like Rachel Zeng, I was very moved by the exhibits. I reached out and felt the clothing one of the detainees wore, read the notes they received, the cards they drew and the poems they wrote while in detention. Matt, who was strapped to me in the baby carrier, was curious in his usual baby way – I yearned to explain to him how important, how precious, how poignant each of those pieces were.

Later on, we bumped into Vincent Cheng, one of the detainees, and he said they had many more mementos. A part of me marveled at how they had kept all this “memorabilia” while another wondered how it felt for them to revisit the trauma so intimately and yet so publicly. Continue reading