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Sayoni Summer Camp ’10

In 2009, Sayoni began a new initiative, an overseas vacation “camp” specifically for queer women. The inaugural run in Batam was a great success, attended by a large number of participants hailing from different walks of life. Bringing together a blend of personal development workshops and outdoor activities with ample bonding time, the 3-day camp was an uplifting experience for its attendees, providing a valuable space for fun, growth and connection with other queer women. A life-changing time for some, the camp has allowed its participants to forge enduring bonds beyond the camp itself and given others an opportunity to expand their own boundaries with new experiences.

The Sayoni Summer Camp team is gearing up for its second camp this year, titled SSC’10 for short. We hope to share the SSC experience with new and former participants alike. We welcome you to join us from 4-6 September this year for an all-inclusive vacation at a beach resort in Thailand.

More details can be found at http://www.sayoni.com/ssc10
Registration ends 15 July.

These are some of the comments from participants of SSC09:

“I did take something away from the camp. Something positive, chief among which is AWARENESS. Of the community, of the commitment of those who work so hard to make life and/or transition a little easier, of the quality of leadership and the quality of the people who are a part of our lives whether wittingly or unwittingly – TOP NOTCH, OUTSTANDING WOMEN. I have never before in my life, been surrounded by so many wonderful women, on an island no less. Thank you for that experience.”

“As quickly as ‘team’ surfaced from the diversity, the spirit of ‘family’ soon emerged by the 2nd day of the camp. You could say we played our way into each other’s hearts. Water polo matches, meal times, BBQ dinner, late-night symposiums and even on the ferry back, these were all dear moments of playful fun, hearty laughter, good conversations, and explicit sharings. We found ourselves to be different yet so similar in our struggles, challenges, discrimination, hopes and dreams.”

“Best thing abt ssc09 is of course the most incredible organizers I’ve met! And i did learnt more abt myself and those around me. I also loved the sharing sessions because that would definitely help others if not yourself too. I am happy that I am better equipped with knowledge and friends who CAN be really open abt their experiences.”

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June 27, 2010 Posted by | Announcements, LGBTQ | Leave a comment

Take the Sayoni Queer Women Survey 2010!

Sayoni is proud to present the Sayoni Queer Women Survey, 2010. This survey is aimed at queer, lesbian, bisexual and transgender women living in Singapore, to gather essential information about the community, in terms of

1. Age, racial and religious composition

2. Educational and career background, and financial status

3. Social framework, in relation to their sexual orientation

4. Personal/Emotional status, in relation to their sexual orientation

5. Feedback, on Sayoni and on the community

We appeal to you to take this survey, if you happen to belong to the target group. Just five minutes of your time can help us learn how to better help you and the community as a whole, as well as serve as a record of progress throughout the years.

All information, once collected and analysed, will be made publicly available.

Please be reassured that this survey is completely anonymous. Individual responses will not be revealed, and will not be traceable to the individual user.

Please help spread the word around, to your queer female friends. We aim to capture people from all social strata in this survey.

takethesurvey

If you wish to see the reports from last year, please click here.

If you wish to the survey with an image, you can use the following code.

<a href=”http://www.sayoni.com/surveyphp/index.php?sid=15″><img src=”http://www.sayoni.com/images/stories/wpress/sayonisurveylogo_big.jpg”></a&gt;

You can use the links below this article to share it on social networking sites you frequent.

Thank you for your time!

March 17, 2010 Posted by | Announcements, LGBTQ | , , , | Leave a comment

Ending the War

Originally published on Sayoni.

“Fridae has been told that a total of 85 people including filmmakers Sun Koh and Royston Tan have lodged police reports over the long Chinese New Year weekend about pastor Rony Tan’s offensive comments concerning gay men and lesbians in an online video.”

Read the rest of the article here.

Freedom of religion is a tricky thing. Take it too far and you can justify theocracy, give it too little and you have oppression. When freedom of religion and freedom of speech attempts to go together, it becomes even more of an unnavigable thicket.

Did Pastor Rony Tan make a mistake? Of course he did. He said things that were both ignorant and arrogant, as well as extremely bigoted. He acted in a way that no religious leader should have, in openly disparaging another religion, especially without much basis. Very few people would say that what he said was completely acceptable. And he has been reprimanded for it, by the ISD no less. The implications on this being considered a national security issue are for another author to debate thoroughly, but this author believes the use of the ISD to be heavy-handed and to send a chilling effect on political discourse and legitimate criticism of religion.

The ground gets more slippery when one considers his remarks against the queer community. I watched the video and found myself rolling my eyes at his ignorance. But what’s new? He is only echoing what every other pastor says, when they might choose to speak on the issue. I am not sure he has had the opportunity to know better, and even if he hasn’t, whether he even realises the damage he is doing. After all, he is doing what a lot of religious leaders do: latch on to one issue of moral significance and use it to gain popularity and following.

Continue reading

February 21, 2010 Posted by | LGBTQ, Religion, singapore | , , , , | 2 Comments

Quotable Quotes: Freedom of Fashion

Me: [posts article about a campus in USA banning cross-dressing]
Rach: Well if they banned leggings as pants in law school you’d be happy
Me: I am a liberal. I will fight to the death for your right to wear things that are an eyesore to me

October 17, 2009 Posted by | Fashion & Beauty, LGBTQ, Politics, Quotable Quotes | , | Leave a comment

Indignation: United We Fall, Divided We Stand?

Date: Saturday, August 29, 2009
Time: 2:00pm – 5:00pm
Location: 72-13 Theatreworks, Muhamad Sultan Road.

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RSVP on Facebook

LGBTQ – an umbrella term that seemingly unites us, in our diversity. We automatically assume that our non-heterosexuality means we are one community, with common goals and a common space. But are we really? Can men and women really work together in the gay rights movement? Are our differences too great, or are our common goals sufficient to keep us united?

A panel of men and women experienced in working with the community take on this question in a debate format, exploring the questions from different angles and perspectives. Expect a night where we confront the dust bunnies under our carpet, and hopefully emerge with a better understanding of where we can head.

August 28, 2009 Posted by | Announcements, LGBTQ | Leave a comment

Family & Homophobia

Everyone knows about my love for babies and children. If someone hasn’t heard me go *squee* at a cute baby, they don’t really know me.

So when I heard my friends in New York just had a new baby, my ovaries were positively tingling (to borrow a mysogynistic phrase). K & T are the most loving lesbian couple I know (and will probably exist). They have been through a lot of crap from the beginning that has very little to do with their sexuality, but just the general way life tends to throw you smelly dungbombs. So to have gone through all that, and still be together, and happy, and in love, and have a happy family with two beautiful children… there is nothing in the world that gives my cynical hardened heart more hope than that.

There is also nothing in the world which intensifies my desire to have that family life, more than this happy story either. But of course, the problem being that it is probably not possible to have that life here. I don’t intend to hide my family or live a lie, like the local gay parents do, in fear of their children being taken away, just because they are gay.

What kind of twisted people would break up a happy family just because the parents are gay, in order to uphold their own ideals of what a family should look like? If the child is well-cared for, and lives in a happy loving home, there really is no ground for prohibiting gay parenting, in reliance of woolly unproven pop-psychology ideas of a child needing two parents of a different gender, or fears of the child “turning gay”. There is plenty of research which shows that children in gay families grow up just as well-adjusted as those in straight families.

What the conservatives and anti-gay people do not realise is that it is homophobia which destroys families, not homosexuality. When they beat the drums of intolerance, a parent in a home hears the beat and moves to reject his gay child who just came out to him. Family values are upheld by acceptance and love, not rejection and hate. If people think anti-gay vitriol does not have a negative impact, think again. When you say that gay sex is like sticking a straw up your nose, a teenager who is struggling with his sexuality hears it and hates himself even more. Yes, suicide rates are indeed higher in gay teens, and the reason isn’t too hard to find: rejection from peers and society.

So when you preach you have a right to spout anti-gay stuff and that we are restricing your freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Stop, and think, beyond the political ideas. Think about what you are doing to people. Think about what your words mean to a clueless parent, to a conflicted teenager. Think about the families and relationships you tear apart with your vitriol. Think about the effect of palpable hate surrounding you.

Because this isn’t just politics or ideology. These are lives. These are people.

August 9, 2009 Posted by | LGBTQ, Personal, Religion | | Leave a comment

Sayoni Coming Out Guide

Coming Out Guide by Sayoni

Sayoni presents the first ever Coming Out Guide in Singapore. Please provide your feedback on the guide.

August 3, 2009 Posted by | Announcements, LGBTQ | 2 Comments

My Letter to the Forum

This is possibly my first letter to the forum that has been published – albeit on the online edition. It has been soooooo edited down, it is not even funny.

See Forum letter “Supporting gay rights does not make one gay

I REFER to Dr Thio Su Mien’s letter on Monday, “Gay activists a key constituency of Aware”.

I was at the Association of Women for Action and Research’s extraordinary general meeting from start to end.

Gays did not comprise a numerical majority at the meeting. Being a supporter of rights for gay people doesn’t make one a homosexual, lesbian or homosexual activist.

I support the Palestinians’ right to live their lives without a wall dividing their communities, but that does not mean that I am a Palestinian. Nor am I a Palestinian rights activist.

I am not sure why Dr Thio calls the supporters of the old guard “sexually challenged”. Does she mean they are somehow physically or psychologically sexually impaired?

Just because I was a “vocal and vociferous supporter of the old guard”, does that make me sexually challenged?

Indulekshmi Rajeswari (Miss)”

See original:

I refer to Dr Thio Su Mien’s letter on 18th May 2009.

I was at the AWARE EGM from start to end. Firstly, possessing a much better “gaydar” than Dr Thio Su Mien and being much more familiar than her with those people who call themselves gay activists, I can confirm that the hall was not full of them. They were definitely present, but they were nowhere near the numerical majority nor a chief constituency.
Secondly, being a supporter of rights for gay people neither make one homosexual/lesbian nor a homosexual (rights) activist. I personally support rights of the Palestinians to live their lives without a wall dividing their communities – a somewhat controversial position (depending on who you ask) that makes me neither Palestinian (unless my parents have lied to me all my life) nor a Palestinian Rights Activist.
Thirdly, there is a line between “gay-neutral” and “promoting homosexuality”. A dictionary can easily help divine the line between the two, should anyone be confused.
Fourthly, I am not sure why Dr Thio calls the supporters of the old guard “sexually challenged”. Does she mean they are somehow physically or psychologically sexually impaired? Is Dr Thio secretly the physician for all these “vocal and vociferous” women, in order to know this intimately personal information about them? I was a “vocal and vociferous supporter of the old guard” – have I been sexually challenged all this while and did not know about this until a lawyer mass-diagnosed me through a forum letter? I am very confused, and somewhat insulted.
Fifthly, anal sex per se is not against the law – the old s377 of the Penal Code was repealed in February 2008. Unless there is a top-secret statute that makes it illegal (which only Dr Thio seems to know of), I believe consensual heterosexual anal sex is very much legal now. Perhaps Dr Thio refers to s377A – that would refer to all sexual contact between men, not just anal sex.

May 23, 2009 Posted by | LGBTQ, Politics, singapore | , | 4 Comments

A Declaration

This has been itching at me for some time, but due to exams and other things, I didn’t get to say it. This is directed at Thio Su Mien’s statement in the media that lesbians are all abused and broken and in pain.

I am not broken. I am not in pain. I have not been abused. I grew up in a stable heterosexual two-parent family, who both love and want the best for me. True, we have our disagreements, like any other family – but that does not detract from the fact that I grew up in the most traditional household possible, protected and loved. I grew up in fracking India, for god’s sake, and I didn’t hear the word “homosexual” until I was 14, way past the age I already had feelings for girls. No man has ever broken my heart, or turned me down.

You do not, even for a second, “understand what it is all about”.

May 6, 2009 Posted by | LGBTQ | 2 Comments

Civil Engagement in a Civil Society

A lot has happened over the AWARE saga, and because of exams, I have not been able to do a commentary on it. Not that there would be a lot for me to say, every possible angle has been thoroughly canvassed by the bloggosphere and media. It is really quite clear that I do not support the new exco after them using such shady methods and knowing their background. I do not find my confidence in them bolstered after the revelation that Dr Thio Su-Mien is behind it. I have already had a run-in with her daughter, Dr Thio Li-Ann before, as some people would remember – and while I disagreed with her and found her remarks in parliament insulting, I was one of the first ones to stand up and say that she should not be fired or receive death threats because of what she said. My principles, or stance, have not changed. I believe, and still believe, in civil, dignified debate, not name-calling or personal attacks.

So, whoever send that death threat to the new exco – cut it out. You are making us look bad. While I have strong doubts about the veracity of the said death threat, or even any real intention, I am going to treat it as real for the purposes of this discussion, and repeat, once again, that no one, NO ONE, should be doing anything remotely despicable. Having said that (and this is directed at you, new exco) receiving death threats does not make your cause a noble one (Harvey Milk got death threats on a regular basis, and I doubt you are going to agree his cause is noble).

Secondly, as to Josie Lau’s job. I have absolutely no idea what DBS is doing to her position, and frankly, I don’t care. While the revelation that she is the one who led DBS-FOTF linkup is infuriating but not surprising, I believe that issue has already been dealt with and buried. DBS has learned its lesson. But this new saga really has nothing to do with them. I know some of us already cancelled our DBS accounts after the FOTF saga – and now there is a new call from Mr Wang to cancel our DBS cards so that Josie can get fired.

I have to say, this is not a strategy I am comfortable with, or will ever endorse. Boycotting a business that might support an anti-gay cause is one thing, but trying to target it at a person is not acceptable unless she’s a mass murderer/fraudster etc.

Josie is as much as human being as the rest of us, and she has a family to support too – two kids, in fact. She has the full right to have a career and do things outside this career, and express her own views. As do any of us. How would any of you like to be fired because you supported a gay cause? What if all the fundies called in and boycotted the business/company you worked for, just to get you fired? Her job performance has nothing to do with her beliefs – DBS can decide whether to keep her on or not.

I will not, and cannot, endorse such a blunt tool tactic. That’s going too far. Not to mention it will only backfire on us, because we are going to look petty and undignified. Let’s try to do justice to YawningBread’s assertion that we are a mature bunch on this issue.

Not to mention I do not want to hear the new exco play the victim again. It is kind of getting tiring, really. Morever, when they play the victim, they avoid the real issues and hard questions. They are already good at that, lets not give them more opportunities.

April 26, 2009 Posted by | Announcements, LGBTQ, Politics, singapore | , , , | 1 Comment