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:
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British psychologist Havelock Ellis’ groundbreaking Psychology of Sex in the 1930s, Pan was inspired to search through historical documents for credible clues of the existence of homosexuality throughout Chinese history.And he found plenty.”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.