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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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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.

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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

I am part of a coup d’etat!

I cannot believe Mr I-made-up-a-foreign-sounding-name from a country-that-nobody-has-heard-of wants my help! Oh, the honour. Oh the joy in reading emails from the distant cousins of Nigerian millionaires.

Hello,

I am Abou Lansana Konte, son of the former ( Recently Deceased ) President of Guinea Conakry, General Lansana Konte who passed away due to series of illnes such as diabetes, Leukaemia etc. I and my Sister, Zainab Lansana Konte and our Mother ( Mrs Mariam Lansana Konte) needs your urgent assistance to recover part of my late father’s assets both in the Bank and Security Company that are left behind here in Burkina Faso to be transferred/shipped under your name and into your care before it get discovered by the present military government who seized power through a bloodless military coup d’etat immediately after the death of my father.

I will present you as my father’s friend, his confidant and our foreign beneficiary. I will mail you further details after recieving your affirmative response.

Thanks and God Bless you.
Sincerely,
Abou Lansana Konte.
For the Family.

August 7, 2009 Posted by | Humour | , | Leave a comment

My New Workspace

Picture 1

That’s it. There are no other windows.

Because I realised my computer, while being my greatest ally, is also my greatest enemy, being a treasuretrove of distraction: Instant Messaging, Twitter, Facebook, Feed Reader, Online Shopping, Email, Other More Interesting Webpages. Hence as an experiment to make myself be more focused, I created a new working account on my laptop and only allowed myself access to the files I need. I’ve switched to Scrivener from Socialtext recently as my workspace (I just settle for remembering to back up my notes once in a while), so that goes well with my switch to this workspace when I need to – everything I need to look at is in a single window (I shall wax lyrical about Scrivener another time). When I need to, I use using Safari with none of my bookmarks or passwords, so that’s a step of convenience removed.

Hopefully this is going to help me remain focused through the 3-hour seminars that dominate my timetable for this semester. Before you ask, it is Comparative Constitutional Law, Islamic Law, Foundation of IP Law, Public International Law, Beyond Law and Economics: Regulatory Theory.

Lets see how long I can hold out on adding more distractions to this workspace. I might just lock out Adium and put parental locks on my usual haunts. Harsh measures? This is just one step on my slow progress to being a more efficient person, which I absolutely need to be this semester. As it is, I have already quit WoW months ago, before exams. Lack of time meant I didn’t reactivate it during the holidays. Today I made my quitting absolutely final by removing the software from my laptop, which means I can’t just activate my account and start playing if I ever get the urge (which, trust me, I have, so many times but kept resisting). Now if I want to, I have to hijack the home computer or reinstall on my laptop(which takes about… 6 hours).

And hopefully, this will also explain to my befuddled friends why suddenly I cannot be found online half the time, or why I dont reply to emails as fast. So, now, the only devil that can really tempt me now is watching TV shows, which, I can only do at home.

August 4, 2009 Posted by | Personal | , , | 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

Mandatory Update

Because I have been the laziest bum in the world when it comes to updating my blog, preferring to twitter my thoughts instead in micro-text forms that do not require thought and detailed arguments, without really checking grammar and syntax, and maintaining bothering to maintain a certain level of quality control. (Yes, you twitterati, you can follow me at twitter.com/pleinelune . Where else?)

Sometimes I forget I have a blog. Of course, its existence got rubbed in my face today when I went to visit my former boss at the law firm I was interning in. As I paused at the door and knocked, I noticed a Duplicity poster on his computer screen. Funny, I thought, he must be reading a Duplicity review. Then to the side of the screen, a familar tag-cloud, with words that really stick out, like “homosexuality” and “LGBTQ”. A green-white layout. The realisation crashes down on me like so many overstacked cartons at a supermarket.

He found this blog.

Now, I have nothing to hide, and I always took the brave risk that people I haven’t communicated my sexuality to, would find it and figure things out. After all, if he really wanted to, all he would have to do was do a google search before he hired me. That’s what being out means, you don’t care who knows. But I had not really made it an issue at my former workplace, since it was all so new, and I am a private person, and I did not know how people were going to react and treat me in a setting where I was the lowest on the food-chain. That applied not just to my sexuality and activism, but almost everything else related to my private life, that I did not talk to people at work about. The secretaries would constantly rib me about going out so often, wondering who I was dating. Nada, I still haven’t admitted that I do date.

(How did he find the blog, you ask? Oh, simple me, I added one of the partners on facebook sometime ago. See what new media does?)

Anyway, this is just to inform those of you who must be complaining about my lack of updates, that twitter might be better. I will still continue blogging, but with 5 modules this semester, on top of 2 research jobs, you understand why I won’t find the time.

August 3, 2009 Posted by | Personal | 1 Comment

Moral Absolutism and Religious Tolerance

A lot of things have clearly been pushing my buttons lately, so when this ridiculous letter came out, I just had to say something. Here’s another edition of a mangled letter to the forum which looks nothing like what I initially wrote. But at least the point is made.

MR GEORGE Lim in Monday’s Forum Online letter (“Let’s reinforce unity of purpose in fighting terrorism”) sayswe are not a morally relativist society, and argues that only good, absolute values exist in Singapore. How is that so when different religions have different ideas of morality and what is “good”?

Moral absolutism and religious tolerance cannot co-exist. If we are to be morally absolute, then there is no room for diversity or tolerance. For example, Mr Lim states that polygamy is wrong. Well, polygamy is allowed for Muslims in Singapore.

Also, religious freedom includes a person’s right not to be religious as well. If Mr Lim’s argument is to be upheld, what do we teach the children of parents who do not subscribe to a major religion? To describe a person who is non-religious as a heathen is wrong, and such a view has no place in a secular Singapore. It also contradicts Mr Lim’s calls for religious tolerance.

Indulekshmi Rajeswari (Miss)

And here’s the original:

I refer to George Lim’s letter “Let’s reinforce unity of purpose in fighting terrorism” on 20th July.
We can never overemphasise the need to remain vigilant against the threat of people who claim moral superiority over everyone else.
Firstly, George Lim says we are not a morally relativist society, and only good, absolute values exist in Singapore. I do not accept his unproven and extreme argument that we thrive on absolute morals. The fact is that different religions have a different ideas of morality and what is “good”. If we learn from our religious leaders, and since we are all learning different things, how do we draw the line between good and evil? Sure there are some overlaps, but there are differences. Moral absolutism and religious tolerance cannot co-exist.  If we are to be morally absolute, then there is no room for diversity or tolerance. For example, he says polygamy is a wrongdoing – whether or not he is right, he seems to be forgetting that polygamy is allowed in Singapore for Muslim men.

Secondly, religious freedom includes the right of the person to not believe in anything. What do we teach the children of parents who do not subscribe to a major religion? I take offence to his description of me as a “heathen”, just because I am not religious. He is creating dangerous boundaries between the religious and non-religious, setting this up as a war between the two sides. This is clearly against the Prime Minister’s objective to create a more harmonious society. Also, there is only one step from considering the non-religious as heathen, to considering everyone outside your religion as heathen. This attitude goes against his own calls for religious tolerance.

Thirdly, if I could remind George Lim teaching our children “values” through religion was already tried once in Singapore, through the Religious Knowledge program. This was wisely removed by the government after 6 years, as they acknowledged that the program was creating disharmony in a global and national climate of increased religious fervour.

Fourthly, abuse of human rights usually starts when one person or group starts considering themselves the morally superior group, and starts imposing their ideas on the rest. Do I need to bring up Nazis to make my point? I am pretty sure they thought they were being righteous, and exalting their nation.

July 22, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Religion, singapore | 4 Comments

Review: Duplicity

I have connections in high places a friend who works in media and gets free passes, so I got to see the preview of Duplicity last night at GV Plaza.  I went in with no expectations or idea about the movie whatsoever, and honestly thought that this was a romantic comedy that was going to leave a warm fuzzy feeling at the end of the night but satisfy little (like Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, which I saw last Friday). Then I saw the poster, and it said, “She’s ex-CIA. He’s ex-MI6”, and I thought, “Great, Mr and Mrs Smith 2.0”.

Continue reading

June 24, 2009 Posted by | Movies | , , , | 1 Comment

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

The Internship Debutante

So I started working a law firm barely 5 days after exams, as a intern, making my friends wonder if I was just a little insane. The last 5 days were spent shopping for officewear, watching TV, reading up on IP law and generally making the most out of my short time.

Internship so far has been good (all one and a half days of it) – I was thrown a case-file after the obligatory round of introductions, and I have been consumed with research on that. I am getting real work, and that is the important thing, as compared to many interns in big firms who are the equivalent of briefcase carriers and coffee-fetchers. I don’t regret going into a small specialised firm – the lack of other interns to socialise with is actually fine, because it helps me concentrate on work.

Now I just need something to get rid of this perpetual sleepy-bleary-eyed thing that seems to be endemic once I settle into a cubicle of any sort, making me wonder if the chairs are impregnated with a skin-absorbent tranquiliser. I strongly fear I am taking after the path of Rachel, who drank 4 cups of green tea day during exams and internship (I keep re-steeping the same bag all day). I have finally discovered which of the shoes I bought is actually comfy and stylish (hint: not the stilletos), and I figured out I need to sit properly or my skirt is going to ride wayyyy up. I am missing my music – when I study, music is my perpetual companion, all day, every day, but the computer doesn’t have a headphone jack in the front. Not to mention its other defects, the least of which being that it is a Windows computer.

Whatever Boston Legal told you about legal practice, don’t believe a word of it. In real life, going to trial can take up to a year as the lawyers correspond in their lawyerly fashion back and forth, trying to get something out of opposing counsel. The case I am working on, the writ was taken out a year ago, and there still has not been a real hearing except one to strike out the action. In real life, the paperwork for certain trials can fill entire shelves, all meticulously numbered and indexed.

In any case, I am relatively happy here so far, and I intend to make  the best out of my 2 months here – and it will most definitely be made if I manage to attend an actual trial for one of the cases I work on. *crosses fingers*

Let’s just hope that I remain this bright-eyed two weeks down the line. Unlikely, but hoping never hurt anyone.

May 12, 2009 Posted by | Law, Personal | Leave a comment