Dear Pastor Khong: Your Homosexual Agenda

Dear Pastor Khong,

Actually, I don’t know what my ‘homosexual agenda’ is. In fact, none of us gay people know what the ‘homosexual agenda’ is.

It’s the first time we have ever heard about the ‘homosexual agenda’. Because we’ve never lived by this. We don’t have an agenda. We just want to live our lives.

This term, the ‘homosexual agenda’ isn’t created by gay people. It’s created by you. Now, the question is, why did you (and those who align) create the idea, the ‘homosexual agenda’?

Why did you and some people create the ‘agenda’, become fearful of the ‘agenda’, go against the ‘agenda’ and fight against the ‘agenda’, when all the time, this ‘agenda’ was created by you, you live within an ‘agenda’ that you’ve created and make it real, and fight against it – you are essentially fighting against yourself – You.

And no other gay person are involved in this cycle that you create and perpetuate.

We are really confused when you say we have a ‘homosexual agenda’. This ‘homosexual agenda’ was created by you, out of our own fear, which you then transpose on us, and want us to live by it.

But we do not want to live by any agenda. We only want to live our lives, just like you are living yours.

The question you need to ask is, if the ‘homosexual agenda’ wasn’t created by gay people, but by people who are not gay and fear the gay people, then what are you fearing?

What do you fear about the ‘homosexual person’ which you say you are not against, but fear? And why do you fear?

Why not reach out to understand? Because I’m willing to reach out.

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Pastor Khong: I Only Want to Be Able to Live My Life

Dear Pastor Khong,

I had chanced upon your latest status update and was pleasantly surprised when you had said that, “To anyone out there with homosexual orientations, I want to say: God loves you. The Bible (God’s Word) unequivocally calls me and my fellow Christians to love you unconditionally.” However, you continued to say that, “While we reject sin, we love and accept the sinner.” Though you showed honesty in saying how according to the Bible, “sexual sins, therefore, include heterosexual promiscuity, homosexuality, polygamy, paedophilia, beastiality and necrophilia,” and that you agreed that, “In God’s view, I suspect we are all sexual deviants.”

Previously, you had said that you were worried that the legal acknowledgment of homosexuals would lead to, “negative social changes, especially the breakdown of the family as a basic building block and foundation of the society. It takes away the rights of parents over what their children are taught in schools, especially sex education. It attacks religious freedom and eventually denies free speech to those who, because of their moral convictions, uphold a different view from that championed by increasingly aggressive homosexual activists.”

In your latest status update, you apologised for thinking so and said that, “I repent of rejecting, alienating, and condemning you because of my own fears or ignorance of or indifference to your struggle. On behalf of the Christian community, I ask you to forgive us for where we have consciously or unconsciously rejected you or condemned you. I commit myself and my church to do our best to come alongside you in your sexual struggle—while not condoning sexual sin, be it yours or mine.”

Thank you for your apology. I forgive you.

*****

You go on to say that, “Having said all the above with genuine sincerity, please understand that, as concerned citizens of Singapore and as Christians, we are NOT against the homosexual person, but we are unapologetically against the homosexual agenda. And that makes a world of difference.”

According to you, “the homosexual agenda is a political movement. It is well-funded internationally”, and that it is a “well-thought out plan (which)… comes in five steps.”

Honestly, when you spoke about the “homosexual agenda”, I had sincerely wanted to find out more, because if there was indeed an homosexual agenda which I did not know of, which would be unfair to others, I will be the first one to speak out against in and to prevent this agenda from being practiced.

I read on about the five steps of the “homosexual agenda” that you speak of:
1. Decriminalization of homosexual acts or sodomy.
2. Equalization of age of consent for heterosexual sex and homosex.
3. Anti-discrimination laws e.g. pushing for equality in sex education to cover heterosexual sex and homosex
4. Same sex marriage or civil union
5. Homosexual parenthood and adoption rights

*****

When I read the five steps you purport, I was slightly bemused and didn’t know how to react to it.

You see, Pastor Khong, I am gay. What you say is a ‘homosexual agenda’ is something that I live through everyday. One day when I find the person I love, I want to be able to marry the person, and live in a committed, healthy and supportive relationship with him. Pastor Khong, I do not have an agenda nor am I interested in imposing my life on others. I am also not interested in imposing my beliefs on others. You see, Pastor Khong, being gay is not a belief or a choice that I have decided to live with. I live with it because just like you are heterosexual and live your life along the way you know yourself, so do I live a life the way I know mine.

The truth is, I’ve always felt that for the heterosexual community, you have it much easier. I wouldn’t want anyone to have to go through the life I did. I had to grow up, facing discrimination in school and I had to learn to day in, day out, deal with it. Can you imagine how it had felt whenever I went on stage and I got booed down the stage? Can you imagine, how it had felt, for a teenager, who was only starting to learn what it was like growing up, having to be jeered at and ostracized, simply because he was gay? I know, because I had to grow up living with it. For me, it was very real.

Did I have a ‘homosexual agenda’? No, I don’t, Pastor Khong. I don’t. Because all this while, throughout my whole life, I just simply want to live my life, and I want to help the other gay people I know be able to live theirs, so that they are able to life their heads up and accept themselves for who they are. It isn’t easy living a life as a gay person, and why would anyone choose that? I do not want another person to go through what I had to go through. It’s painful.

*****

When you speak about the ‘homosexual agenda’, you spoke about how society would then enact anti-discrimination laws and ensure that there is equality in sexuality education.

Pastor Khong, but this is precisely what we did – not because I am gay. There are many people who continue to be discriminated in society – women, people of other races, the elderly, migrants etc. We need anti-discrimination laws to protect our people and our workers from being discriminated, because there are others who do not believe in their way of life or their rights and have thus chosen to discriminate against them. I have friends of other races who are discriminated. What do I tell them when there are no laws to protect them from discrimination? I was discriminated as a child – what would you have told me when I was young when there were people who had discriminated against me? That I should accept it?

It was painful growing up, having to learn to cope with the pain and discrimination. For many teenagers, if they had been taught how to deal with the discrimination and hurt, they would learn to become stronger individuals. But like me, there were, and still are, many gay youths who learn to blame themselves for being gay – for something that is essentially who we are, just like being straight is who you are – and we learn not to accept ourselves and look down on ourselves. If we were taught in school how we needed to learn to respect ourselves and to accept ourselves, we will be able to walk with our heads high. I developed low self esteem which lasted me through all the way until my mid-20s. It was only in the past 4 to 5 years did I finally learnt how to regain belief of myself, and learnt to find the strength to go on living my life, and learning to live a life that I can be proud of.

You see, Pastor Khong, I understand that you have your fears, and I understand that you might not understand the life that I had to go through. And I understand, because you do not live my life, or perhaps understand the inner struggles that gay people have to go through.

Pastor Khong, I do not have an agenda. All I want to be able to do is to simply live my life, achieve happiness in my life and be able to live with the one I love, in happiness and commitment. That’s all I ask for, Pastor Khong. You have the love and marriage that you are able to fulfill with the one you love, similarly, I wish that I am able to do that too.

For a long time, I have been discriminated and learnt to deal with it even as I felt hurt from being marginalized. As I’m growing up and now that I’m an adult, I hope that I am able to settle down peacefully with someone whom I can call home with. However, I’m still being discriminated for living my life. I’m still told that I do not have a right to be recognized for the love that I wish I can grow old with. Pastor Khong, this means that I should continue to feel alone, and stay silent in my own loneliness. I look at the marriage that you have and I admire the joy that passion that others can grow within their marriage. Yet, I know it cannot be mine as I am told to accept the state of my life and be contended, because the rights that are yours shouldn’t be mine, because perhaps I’m not good enough for it.

It hurts, Pastor Khong. It hurts when I continue to reach out to others to help them but when I extend a hand for help, my hand is pushed away. It hurts when I see families go out together in gatherings, when they laugh and enjoy their time together as a whole family and I continue to be on my own, single and silent, wishing that I can have the joy that they can but knowing that I should not want it.

It hurts, Pastor Khong. And it’s painful. I’ve lived with this for a huge part of my life. Should I go on living the rest of my life in pain and anguish? I don’t have an agenda, Pastor Khong. I only want to live a peaceful life with someone that I can be committed in love with.

Which is why it hurts and sadden me when you say that I should, “rise above (my) own personal need and do not be party to this insidious conspiracy.” Pastor Khong, to me, this is not a conspiracy. This is real to me. I am gay and as much as you see it differently, this is my life. It’s not a conspiracy. It’s my life, a life that I’m trying to make do with, because this is what has been given to me, just like yours has been given to yours.

You had said that, “Singapore society has given you space to live your lives, earn a living, and contribute to society—without discrimination or harassment.” Pastor Khong, I’ve lived with discrimination for a large part of my life. This is real. I’ve been hurt and harassed. I’ve been called names. I’ve been booed and jeered off stage and I had to learn the pieces up many times in my life. Pastor Khong, the discrimination is real. The hurt is real. There is discrimination. I’m not asking you to be nice to me. All I’m asking is to allow me to live my life, to be able to hold up my head high with respect and not to have to walk in fear and in sadness, because of how battered I have to feel when my dignity is taken away from me.

You say that, “we will not let LGBTs set the tone for society.” Who will then speak up for me? Who will then allow me to live my life? Where do I belong in this society then, if I do not find a way to let others, like you, know that all I’m hoping for is to live my life, to be my own person and to be someone that I can be proud of, like you are of yourself. That is all, Pastor Khong.

I want to be able to live my life.

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God and Gay: We Think The Same

Dear Pastor Lawrence Khong,

When I read the statement that you had made at the Faith Community Baptist Church, where ESM Goh Chok Tong was your guest, I have to admit that I was initially upset, and even infuriated.

But then, I read through your statement carefully and I heard what you had wanted to say. I just want to let you know that we think the same. 

You had said that:

  1. One, we believe that the building of Singapore is an exciting enterprise.
  2. Two, we feel passionately that Singapore is a place worth fighting for!
  3. Three, we want to create a Singapore we are all proud of.

I think many Singaporeans will agree with that, whether we are straight or gay, Christian or not, etc. Like you:

  1. I believe in creating a Singapore which is equal, where our poor and elderly are able to have better livelihoods. Like you, I believe in building a Singapore together, where we can bring Singapore into the next stage.
  2. Like you, I feel passionately about Singapore and I want to do my part to fight for Singapore, and Singaporeans.
  3. Like you, I want to create a Singapore that we can all be proud of.

You see, we are very similar, Pastor Khong.

You had also said that, “Examples from around the world have shown that the repeal of similar laws have led to negative social changes, especially the breakdown of the family as a basic building block and foundation of the society. It takes away the rights of parents over what their children are taught in schools, especially sex education. It attacks religious freedom and eventually denies free speech to those who, because of their moral convictions, uphold a different view from that championed by increasingly aggressive homosexual activists. We love our nation. We sincerely pray for and look to the Government to provide moral leadership in preserving this basic building block and foundation of our society. And with that, to robustly protect our constitutional rights to free speech and religious liberty; so as to ensure that social cohesion and religious harmony are maintained in Singapore.”

Dear Pastor Khong, I would just like to highlight some phrases that you had made in the paragraph:

  1. It takes away the rights of parents over what their children are taught in schools, especially sex education.
  2. It attacks religious freedom and eventually denies free speech to those who, because of their moral convictions, uphold a different view from that championed by increasingly aggressive homosexual activists.
  3. We sincerely pray for and look to the Government to provide moral leadership in preserving this basic building block and foundation of our society.
  4. And with that, to robustly protect our constitutional rights to free speech and religious liberty; so as to ensure that social cohesion and religious harmony are maintained in Singapore.

Again, we have the same views on these issues, or rather, we have the same motivations. 

  1. You see, like you, I am also worried that we take away the rights of parents over what their children should be taught in school. I am also worried that the rights of our children will be taken away. There has been research that has shown that if we educate children on sexuality issues when they are young, and even before puberty, the likelihood of them engaging in premarital sex is lower and the likelihood of them delaying their age of sexual debut is higher. So, you see, we think the same. Also, if we educate them openly on sexuality issues, they will be more informed about what sexuality is and will make a choice that they will learn to respect of themselves.
  2. Like you, I am also worried that my freedom of speech will be denied, because of the views I hold about who I am, which is different from what others think about me. Like you, I only want to live my life and be able to have myself heard, so that I can continue to live a life that I can respect and continue to journey in. Our wants are not that different, and are in fact, the same.
  3. Like you, I constantly hope that the government will be bold, and do what is right – to protect the rights of all people in Singapore, and to ensure that everyone is free from discrimination. Like you, I believe we need to preserve the basic building block of our society – to protect the individual, and give him or her the space and freedom to grow and nurture as a healthy, happy individual.
  4. Like you, I believe that we need to “robustly protect our constitutional rights to free speech and religious liberty”, and precisely “to ensure that social cohesion and religious harmony”. And what I have learnt is this – when we engage in intellectual and thorough discussions about issues, such as this, that matter, we will be able to have a clearer and more empathetic understanding towards one another. We will learn to show compassion and love towards another, and embrace their being, regardless of who they are.

Dear Pastor Khong, we have very similar ideals and motivations. In fact, many Singaporeans do. I respect and admire that you are driven by such motivations, because you want to do good and achieve goodness in Singapore and this is truly and indeed admirable. 

Pastor Khong, I’ve also learnt to understand this:

  1. All of us have different understandings and ideas about what life should be. To you, being gay might not be appropriate, and I understand why you would think so, for you are not gay. But I am gay, and to me, I live my life as a gay person everyday. In fact, being gay is just a small part of me. I continue to want to do things that can help improve the rights of others, and I continue to speak up for what I believe in. And like you, I want to take a stand in what I believe passionately and am committed to fight and protect for. We might come from different vantage points in life, but who is to say that either one of us is right or wrong? For, how can I say that you are wrong, when I have not lived the life you have and understood the learning that you experience. And how would you be able to say that I am wrong, if you have not had the chance to live my life, or even understand the struggles that I had to go through to become the stronger and happier person that I am now. We do not understand each other, or have an appreciation of each other’s life – not yet, at least. So, I understand why you would find it challenging to understand the life that I live and go through.
  2. I understand when you say you want to be free because that is essentially what everyone wants – to live a life as true as they can, to believe in themselves and live a life that they are meant to lead, and to serve god. I think the same. I might not call him god in the same way that you call him, but isn’t living our lives a calling that all of us believe in and aspire to do our best in? I believe in freeing people and I believe in helping them see the truth. I know this is what you want as well. How I do this is by sharing with others more about my life, about what I go through and I reach out to others to raise the awareness among them of the lives of gay individuals, like me. I hope that by doing so, that they will learn to understand what I go through, to empathise with me, and eventually to accept me for who I am.
  3. But I have learnt that even if people choose not to accept me, it’s fine, because it’s a journey towards understanding that all of us go through. Does it matter that people accept? It doesn’t, because just as it would take time to understand the lives of someone who has cancer, or someone who has to live in a small hut in a place of poverty, I cannot expect someone to imagine how it is like for me to be gay, not having lived the past 31 years of my life, and the discrimination, hurt and struggles that I had to go through, and how I had to eventually learnt to love myself, and be stronger, so that I can continue living a life that I can be proud of. Like you, Pastor Khong, I just want to live a life that I can be proud of, for myself. 
  4. Sometimes, it still saddens me to know that there are others who wish that I should not be allowed a right to live my life. And like I say, I understand why. I’ve learnt too that when people take issues against me, it’s because they haven’t had a chance to get to know me and to interact with me. They haven’t had a chance to realise that other than being gay – and I have stopped allowing myself to be defined by my being gay – I am really someone just like anyone else, who wants to do good, contribute to society, share what I have with others, help others learn, raise awareness and someone who wants to continue to learn and to grow, and to fulfil my potential as a human person. That’s all I want, and I really hope that people can see that. 

Dear Pastor Khong, I guess eventually, everyone of us comes from different vantage points. We live different lives but sometimes we share similar experiences. What is it that splits us, but all the same, what is it that bind us? As much as we might be uncomfortable, it might or might not god’s plan that there is diversity in this world and we live in a world where there are straight and gay people, where there are people with different physical and intellectual functionalities and where we look, think, believe and behave different. But yet we are all different and all the same at the same time. People can choose to look at the differences and choose to draw us apart, or we can choose to see the similarities that we have and learn to embrace one another. I can see the similarities that you and I have, and so can many of us.

Let’s not let the fears that we have used to guide us and to protect us prevent us from truly seeing beyond these fears, to see the possibilities that bind us. I will be willing to learn from you, and to know more about your perspectives, if you would as well allow me to enter into your life and share in the opportunity to learn more about one another. I envision and endeavour a day when we will be able to embrace each other’s differences, acknowledge the beauty and diversity of them and live in the harmony that we both envision and desire. 

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A Singaporean Gay Man Speaks: Get to Know Me, and You Will See That I Am Just Like You

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister for Law K Shanmugam had “recently met up with some activists from Sayoni, a Singapore-based platform for lesbian, bisexual and transsexual Asian women.” He said that he had “found the discussion useful” and posted the link of Sayoni’s blog of their discussion on his Facebook page.

A discussion had ensued on his Facebook page. I had commented on the page and decided to post it on this blog:

*****

Hi guys,

This is coming from a personal perspective. I am gay.

I have come to realise that whether a person would be accepting towards someone who is gay – this is a very personal journey that a person goes through. I am disappointed when people would discriminate against me, but I have understood that I am in no position to judge their journeys. If I do not believe that they should judge mine, who am I to judge their journeys? Is it fair?

People have asked me the exact same questions that are being asked here. If we give gay people rights, this will be society’s demise because there will be more and more gay people, and we won’t have any more babies. What research has shown is that in any society, there is less than 10%, or even 5%, of any population which is exclusively gay. Gay people cannot take over the planet. If so, our world won’t be undergoing overpopulation and the exhaustion of resources at this current point in time. The world’s population has grown and exploded since Industrialisation. If we could have prevented births, the population would have been decimated long ago and we wouldn’t be having this conversation on Facebook – which by the way, one of the founders is gay.

But of course, we might then say, but there weren’t so many people who were gay in the past. But do you know that homosexuality was prevalent and widely accepted in the most part of humanity’s history, except in recent time. I quote a report from China Daily: “While translating British psychologist Havelock Ellis’ groundbreaking Psychology of Sex in the 1930s, Pan was inspired to search through historical documents for credible clues of the existence of homosexuality throughout Chinese history.And he found plenty.”

But enough of the intellectual discourse. If you look at the fundamental reason as to why people discriminate, it has very little to do with the person they discriminate. Many times, we have to ask ourselves – when we are uncomfortable with someone else, why? And if we look deep enough, we realise that it’s because of our own fears or our own thinking that we might not be good enough, or am unable to match up, and that’s why we externalise our fears onto someone else.

Throughout history, we have seen many groups of people who were prosecuted. In the past, women weren’t treated as equal beings. Women were not allowed rights to vote. They were even considered as ‘property’ of men. Even in Singapore at present time, women are not paid equal wages, and find it difficult to be promoted to leadership roles. Among the blacks,they had a long hard fight before they were given back their rights in the 1960s onwards. Even among singles, people frowned on singles for a long time, before they realised that we had to respect the lifestyles of singles. Why is it that even now, single mothers who give birth are not given maternity benefits by the government?

You see, challenges that people face will always happen in society, because we allow some people’s beliefs to override others. Eventually, the fundamental question is this – should we be protecting the rights of individuals, or should we be marginalising the rights of others? We haven’t had an open enough debate about this issue. Because if we do, we can reshape the discourse in the law and how laws are made. But are we intellectually prepared to do this? For this means, we have to think beyond ourselves, to think intellectually, and to have the broadness of mind to empathise and see into the lives of others.

If you are a woman, a single person, a person of a race considered to be a minority, a disabled person, a person who has had to face discrimination of some form of another, I ask of you – what do you think of the discrimination that gay people face? Can you identify with it? The reason why I stop looking at people in terms of gender, colour, etc is precisely because of this – I understand how it feels to be discriminated and I have come to understand that sometimes, people discriminate because they don’t understand. They don’t understand who I am and what my life is like, and before they understand, they might judge and create their own ideas to judge me. But many times now, when someone finally gets to know me, things change. They learn to accept and embrace me for who I am. This is what I know and what I have seen.

I have learnt to empathise with the discrimination that others face and I know, that this isn’t an issue about homosexuality. It is after all, an issue about learning, understanding and finally accepting, if we can get to that stage.

I welcome anyone who would like to get to know me better so that you can come and understand that I am someone who wants to do good for society, and someone who cares as well. I care deeply about the issues about our country. I might be gay but it no longer features as a predominant feature in my life.

Ironically, I no longer think being gay is something I need to shout about, but it is the people who discriminate against me, who make it their issue to do so. But why should it even be an issue to anyone when it’s no longer one to me? I want to live my life, to help others, and like anyone else, to continue to be happy and to live a life that I can be happy with for myself.

Roy

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