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The Campaign to Confer the Public Service Star on JBJ

Thanks to the generous sponsorship by Harry Elias Partnership and the student discount, the law faculty was given an opportunity to buy heavily discounted tickets for this play and support a faculty member, Eleanor Wong. Yes, the Eleanor Wong, famous for her lesbian lawyer trilogy, who is practically a lesbian icon unto herself. Perhaps even more famous than Irene Ang, who still tells the media that she is just an unmarried single woman. Continue reading

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September 30, 2007 Posted by | singapore, Theatre | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lost

Yes, no need to tell me, I am rather last in following trends. I didn’t catch on the Grey’s Anatomy trend until season 2 was showing on local TV. I was hooked on Desperate Housewives for a short while, but those two became too campy and stupid after a while. And now Lost is already in season 3, and I’ve just finished watching Season 1 DVDs.

Comments so far? To the producers of Lost: you’ve got me hooked. So there better be a reason for all the mysterious happening, the cursed numbers and whatever… if you dare tell me it was all a coincidence at the end of the show, I swear I’ll send you elephant poo in a FedEx package. Very stinky elephant poo.

P.S. Josh Holloway, Ian Somerhalder and Evangeline Lily are super-hot. But you knew that already. [/gush]

September 29, 2007 Posted by | TV Shows | , | Leave a comment

Love isn’t everything

Yesterday I made contact with two former friends of mine. One is from the States whom I haven’t spoken to in a year or two[we simply lost touch], Ms T R. Or as I should now call her, Mrs T A. She is now a stay-at-home lesbian mum, married to another friend of mine, Ms K A. She told me our mutual friend Ms T K, who is all of nineteen, was getting married to her boyfriend [who happens to Ms K A’s nephew]. I can reasonably guess why she is doing this at her tender age, given her past. But being me, I think it is a colossal mistake by the simple virtue of her being so young.

What is it about the girls around me? They get into relationships at the age of 17, 19, 22, and start talking about a marriage, family and a white picket fence the minute the relationship stabilises. Or sometimes even when the relationship is not stable. The other friend I made contact with, who is my age, expressed her desire to find a nice girl and “settle down” and urged me to do the same.

Why, girls? What is it about you, gay, straight or bisexual, which makes you want to exchange rings with the first person that comes by, especially when you are so young? It can’t just be the ones who are scarred and damaged, though they tend to be the ones who express these sentiments.

Take a breather. Enjoy your youth, enjoy dating people. You have your whole life ahead of you worry about mortgages, chores and kids. You may feel like you love that person a lot, and marriage can seem like a really good idea to hold on to him or her, to avoid losing that special person. When you are in love, your emotions may completely overwhelm your intellect and your good head… just keep in mind that there is a life beyond being in love and a relationship, though the movies say otherwise.

Love really isn’t everything.

September 25, 2007 Posted by | Relationships | , , | 1 Comment

An Honest Opinion

Lee Hsien Loong has spoken, echoing both his predecessors in his views on homosexuality. It is interesting how the Father, the Holy Goh and the Spirit all seem to come down on the same side of the fence, willing to decriminalise but seeming to hold back for the fear of the “conservative majority” [I’ve argued plenty on this conservative majority issue and so have others, so I shall not repeat my arguments here. Go read Yawningbread.org if you really want to know.]

As of this moment, I will not deny that my morale is pretty low. It does not seem likely that the decriminalisation will take place in this penal code review. We neither have the time, nor the political climate, or rather, weather, on our side, given that the second reading is just 1 month away. In the first place, the announcement of the first reading took us by surprise, as it was originally slated to take place next year. By the time we learnt about it, it was too late.

Or was it? We’ve had one year from the time the penal code amendment draft was released. At that time, we tried very enthusiastically within the one month we had to put forward our views. I myself went for the focus group discussion, wrote letters to everywhere I could and all. And much has happened between then and now, from MM Lee’s remarks to Indignation to Otto Fong’s coming out. We’ve had every opportunity to raise and sustain this debate in the public arena, to change people’s minds, to tell our MPs how we really feel.

We have had time. So what has happened, for us to feel we don’t have the time to effect any changes? Firstly, I believe we have been procastinating. We have not acted in a timely manner to strike when the iron was hot. We have been REACTING to events, rather than create them. Obviously, when you operate in a reactionary manner, you will not have time or the resources to mount a suitable campaign.

I got to thinking about why we have been acting this way. I asked myself why I was acting no better, only responding to external stimuli. What was stopping me from going out there and campaigning for this, MM Lee or no MM Lee? The answer was blindingly simple: I was too tied up with my current obligations, with Sayoni, PLUME, (until recently, AFA) and with everything else in my life. Too involved in the day-to-day running and administrative tasks to focus on the 377A issue.

I don’t imagine things are better for other community helpers. The queer activism scene is a fragmented landscape, with each of us tied up with our individual organisations to pay attention to the bigger picture. By writing this, I do not disparage the work done by my peers… they have done so much with so little, they have stood up bravely when much of the gay community prefers to cower. Neither am I implying they have done nothing to push the decriminalisation issue – I’ve seen their efforts and applaud them for it.

But it is not enough. We are trying, but we are too fragmented, too disconnected, too demoralised. We have different visions of how we want to do this, some preferring a softer approach, others wanting to push the envelope. We don’t work well together, quite naturally. We have an advocacy group, PLU, but they, by their own admission, is not a formal institution. They are not exactly ACLU, but an aggregrate of community leaders, who, as I have said earlier, are all engaged with their own organisations and obligations. As a community, our committment to legal rights is seasonal and responsive, when it rightly needs to be perennial.

((Here, I must make an extremely important distinction between the two types of activism as I see it: legal advocacy and community-building. The first focuses on our legal rights, not just decriminalisation at the moment, but in the long-term, marriage rights and so on. Community-building is what most groups engage in, at the moment. These are the groups which offer counselling services, provide discussion platforms, run support groups etc, geared towards helping queer people adjust and find others like them. We have no legal advocacy groups to speak of, with the possible exception of PLU.))

At the same time, we have individuals who are eager to help, who genuinely want to do something about the legal issue, but do not belong to any recognised queer groups. Their options are extremely limited, if not non-existent: PLU does not accord them a place, not being community leaders, and other queer groups, being community-builders, do not give them any opportunity for legal advocacy. Some of these people are straight, and are extremely passionate about the issue, but see absolutely no avenue for them to help.

Synthesising these two issues, it is easy to see why we are so disorganised, so non-functional. We cannot keep reacting to situations, trying to spread awareness of the issue only when it is raised by someone else. There needs to be a body of people whose sole objective and obligation is to tend to the legal issue, who can be counted on to keep up a constant campaign on the issue, whether or not events happen that spark debate. Very importantly, these people cannot be tied down by obligations to other groups – though it would be highly helpful for current community leaders to maintain close ties with this group, providing it support. We have a huge advantage compared to other countries, due to our small size – it is not difficult to reach each other and coordinate.

I am putting forth this idea now, hoping that some people will read it, maybe debate about it and hopefully try to make it work. It can be a GSA of some sorts, only on a national level. (Please, for goodness’ sake, stop excluding straight folk. They are valuable allies.) Never before have I commented on the state of the activism scene in Singapore, preferring to hold my tongue in order to avoid stepping on toes. I give my honest assessment knowing that I’ll inevitably be flamed, but that is a small suffering to bear, if fruits do eventually bear out of this.

To end with an extremely cliche quote, but one that has been proven time and again: United we stand, Divided we fall.

And I, would much prefer to stand.

September 23, 2007 Posted by | Law | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Of Seers and Horoscopes

My mother stole into my room just now, prefaced with “I have to tell you something”. She then proceeded to tell me that I should not break any laws in the near future, because my horoscope said it was a bad time for me, and even predicted a possible arrest. Apparently, I was fated to have a great and successful career after this, and she told me not to do anything to ruin that. She was rather vague on how long this bad patch was supposed to last.

I guess that means I should try not to run off with my clients’ money in the future.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out I am no believer in Astrology and all that crap. [For those interested, I am a Sagitarrius by the Zodiac calendar, and a Rabbit by the Chinese one.] But it does amuse me whenever astrology happens to coincide with real-life in ways that would seem to lend astrology some credence, but really, it is all coincidence.

To give an example of this, Ms C and I were sitting at Crossroads, and a passing “holy man” offered her a reading. He said many things, but what I remembered was that he declared a mismatch between her birthdate and her ex’s birthdate, and declared them mismatched. Which, in my opinion is the truth [as to them being mismatched] but simply backed up by the wrong kind of proof . To his credit, he had no idea the birthdate belonged to her ex, so he wasn’t twisting his answers. Not to his credit, though, he took 10 dollars for his services.

Coincidences occur. And people tend to look at what fits rather than what doesn’t – if a horoscope says XXX sign is passionate, impulsive and outgoing, and you fit two of the descriptions, you would automatically think the horoscope fits you, ignoring the one that doesn’t. Or you try to conform or interpret it such a way that it fits you.

At the end of the day, astrology exists for the same reason religion exists: to bring certainty and order to life which would be otherwise scarily unpredictable. People want to think there is a plan, a destiny for them. People want to think there is someone “made” for them. This would be much easier than facing up to life and taking it with all its unpredictability, to walk into the swirly mist of the future with no idea or confidence in what lies ahead.

Not that anything is wrong with it: some people can only live this way, and I will not begrudge them this existence. But I would prefer not to be subject to it.

P.S. Even coincidence, however, can’t explain this mystery: the link between Scorpios and Bipolar disorder. Based purely on anecdotal evidence, almost every person with Bipolar disorder I’ve known is a Scorpio. Unfailingly, this link keeps cropping up. I sincerely hope someone will do some research into this, because the link is simply fascinating. Obviously not all Scorpios are bipolar, and vice versa.

September 19, 2007 Posted by | Random Musings | | Leave a comment

Making a Mockery of Democracy

No, not referring to Singapore politics. Something of far less import: the elections for the class committee for our faculty, ie, electing the people who will be saddled with a lot of work and no conceivable reward, and the people who will be tasked with organising freshman orientation next year. A task, in my opinion, that should be left to people with no life and no love.

Given how my batch has been reacting with complete apathy to everything, you would have thought that the seniors would have figured out that they weren’t going to get any volunteers for this post. Or maybe they could have figured it out when half the class emptied out when they were asked to stay for the elections.

Eventually the people came back for the next lecture, and the election process turned into an exercise in mass sabotage. Many unwilling people got elected [my name was called by a few jokers, but I determinedly went down and erased it from the board], and I shudder to think of the fate of the freshies next year.

If last year’s committe was elected in a similar fashion, that would explain why our orientation this year was abysmally bad, and hence has led to the extreme apathy in our batch. There is no sense of belonging, no sense of community in order for people to want to do something. Vicious cycle, it would seem.

 Addendum: I’ve been informed that the election for FOCC is a separate matter. But my initial observation stands… if this is how they elect people in general, then how reliable is it?

September 18, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 2 Comments

Penile Penal Code Amendments

http://www.parliament.gov.sg/Publications/070038.pdf

The amendment is out. I haven’t done a line-by-line comparison, but it is fairly similar to the draft presented last year. Section 377A is still very much intact, now offensively mixed in with necrophilia and bestiality.

About the only real change from the draft that I noticed was that Section 375 has been amended to give a bit more room for the exception to the marital rape immunity.

It is a pity that I have not done criminal law yet. Oh well.

September 17, 2007 Posted by | Law | | Leave a comment

Indian Women

I am soooo gay. I sometimes wonder why I didn’t realise it earlier.

I came out to myself officially about 3 years ago, and from there, it took me about a year or two to be absolutely, 100%, no-looking-back sure. And it is small revelations like this that just adds to the pile of evidence.

What revelation am I talking about? I doubt anyone reading this blog will understand what I am talking about, but today I caught the beginning of an old Malayalam movie, Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha, translated literally as “A Brave Western Tale”. It is a tale, set in the Kairali training grounds, of love and loss, of tragedy, of an orphan’s journey of being rejected. This movie is as classic, as enduring, as solid in the Malayali culture and history as you can get.

The film itself was made shortly after I was born, but set in a much olden time where women dressed like this:

[I can’t get a better photo, sorry…. this was before the internet age].

They were simultaneously strong warrior women and angel-like beings of beauty and grace. They set the standard for femininity, and captured the imagination of an entire generation. Only now I realise it, but I fantasised extensively about these women at that time [I was six or seven when I was first able to watch and understand the movie I think]. I thought I wanted to be like them… but now I know I really wanted them. Them with their elaborate hairdos, their voluptuous ripe bodies, their grace and passion.

Talking about these women, I might as well take this opportunity to gush about Vidya Balan, who first captured my attention when she played Lalita in Parineeta.

I totally fell in love with the character in the movie… this intelligent, witty, strong woman who is at the same time, a little domicile and soft, a paragon of Indian femininity and natural beauty. I seriously can’t take my eyes off her when I watch her on screen.

But of course, perfect women like this don’t exist in real life – which is why they are called fantasies, isn’t it?

September 15, 2007 Posted by | LGBTQ, Movies | , , , | Leave a comment

Ratatouille

Went with Irene to watch Ratatouille today, after helping her pick out a perfume. It was an entertaining watch, a nice way to wind down after a busy week. The basic premise is fairly original IMO, though in this world, originality is often just a repackaged generic idea.

It is about a rat who loves good food and loves to cook, but has to use a human as his agent. The graphics were well done, but the plot was typically cliche and too far-fetched at many points. Not in the least because the rat could cook and read, but due to characterisation, the boring and unrealistic “romance” between Linguini and Colette, and the yawn-inducing “happy ending”. The moral lessons [there is one in every cartoon] were departed in a didactic fashion. But as people know, I don’t typically like happy endings. Unless the said happy ending is like that of… er.. Happy Endings aka Asian Boys Vol 3.

It was entertaining, but it did not live up to the hype or expectations I had of it. Maybe my standards for G-rated computer-animated movies are just absurdly high after Happy Feet. Even The Incredibles was better, and that’s saying something.

Verdict:

September 15, 2007 Posted by | Movies | | Leave a comment

Wintemute Unmuted

NUS, very surprisingly, organised a seminar called “The Legal Status of Gay and Lesbian People: International and Comparative Perspectives”. The speaker was Professor Wintemute, an academic and lawyer who has done much work in this area, especially for NGOs.

I knew about this seminar a month ago, and my mouth just dropped open when I saw the poster being casually displayed next to the elevator, and when I received the advertisement in my email. It very specifically stated only NUS students and faculty were welcome. It was pretty much right after the Douglas Sandlers talk was banned, hence my incredulity and delight. Ms R was equally surprised, and I was half-expecting another email to be sent to us, informing us that the event was cancelled.

But it didn’t, and on 12th September 2007, Ms J and I, along with Mr J and Mr S, filed into the seminar room [which, ironically, is where we have Singapore Legal System lessons]. They had to change the venue to a bigger one, due to the overwhelming response.

The audience was an interesting mix of notable faculty members and students of unknown origin. I am not sure how many of them were actually from law, as we learned later, the advertisement email was only sent to the law faculty and general staff. Very few of them actually pinged my gaydar, and there were more women than men.

Prof C began the seminar by asking us not to report the contents of the seminar, especially that of QnA, which I am quite rightly, not doing. Someone asked him the reason for the confidentiality clause, and he said “Let’s put it this way… I’d like to be able to come back to Singapore”.

In any case, the information he imparts can be found elsewhere very easily, just that he crystallises it all quite well. He said a few things I disagreed with quite strongly, and made a few other observations which were quite enlightening. He also went into his coming out story as a gay man, about being the only openly gay lawyer in his firm in the 1980s, about doing pro bono work for gay rights organisations etc. He cited a fair few cases in other countries, where the judges either struck down discriminatory law, or upheld them – possibly quite useful in its precedential value.

After the seminar ended, I went up and talked to him, with Mr J and Mr S. A simple question turned into a half-an-hour discussion about the various issues surrounding this, about inclusionary principles and semantics, and of the current situation.

All in all, quite an interesting event, and not in the least because of the content.

P.S. I’ve detailed notes of the entire event, including QnA, so if you are a friend of mine, you can ask me personally for the details.

September 13, 2007 Posted by | Law | , | Leave a comment