Wednesday, November 14, 2007

There are gays, and there are gays...

(Unpublished - Nov 10, 2007)

There are gays, and there are gays... and there are non-gays who are sick of other non-gays hating the gays...

Dear Editor,

I refer to Andy Ho’s article ‘There are gays, and there are gays...’ (ST, Nov 10).

Identity politics, a tactic Ho associates with the gay lobby here, is required to break the heteronormative hegemony in Singapore. We have a rigid and deep-rooted structure which not only under-privileges sexual minorities, but also legitimises homophobia and stigmatism. The domains involved are that of the social, political and the media, all of which are hesitant to exercising any form of social responsibility in accomodating sexual minorities.

Invisibility is a problem for the marginalised here, and this is exacerbated by poor coordination and mobilisation within the sexual minority community. This is also not helped by the rejected attempts to register the group People Like Us.

It is too early to link the uncivil threats to Thio Li-Ann to the militant turn of identity politics. In every community, there are black sheep who may inadvertently undo the hard work done. Furthermore, we cannot be fully sure if the threat came from within the gay community or not.

Singaporeans still have not learnt much from the 377A debate. The media portrayal of and perceptions toward sexual minorities have still not changed. Most still believe that the interest in gay rights only exists within the gay community; that the agenda is confined to a specific group. Ho’s article confirms this. There are a lot more straight people out there who support gay rights than we can imagine, but they lack visibility and are shackled by socio-heteronormative stigmatism. Structure impinges on their freedom of expression and what is worse is that they internalise the hegemonic ideology, because for one, they have too much to lose as a Singaporean.

What we should equally be wary of are the militant moral crusaders, who attempt to champion public and sexual minority as one singular and universal virtue. This is based on the assumption that society is and should be homogenous, a truly malicious threat to the diversity we have fought so hard to uphold. Moral crusaders are more of a minefield for the government than gay people.

The stumbling block for gay rights in Singapore is the vicious cycle of homophobic (mis)information, hardline religiosity and uncompromising hetero-essentialist supremacy, causing sexual minorities to have lesser amount of rights compared with the rest of the population, despite having to have the same amount of obligations. There is no social justice in a land where there are rights-obligations imbalances across communities. The first step of society is to start viewing sexual minority persons as human beings and cease the politically and religiously-charged dehumanising labelling of gays, lesbians, bisexual, transgender and queer persons.

Ho Chi Sam

Response from ST:
Thank you for writing to us. We do appreciate your making the effort.
We receive up to 70 letters each day. Limited space means we can publish only about a dozen every weekday. This means having to make often-difficult editorial judgments on which letters to publish.
We regret we are unable to publish your letter.
If your letter relates to a matter under the purview of a government department, you may want to visit for a list of officials to contact.

Yours sincerely
Ms Noor Aiza
for Forum Editor
The Straits Times

My thoughts:
Though it may be a standardised response, at least they made the effort to give me some direction. To be honest, I really need the direction. Which "official" should my letter address? MYCS? MDA? MICA? Law Ministry? Home Affairs? Can someone provide me with some guidance?

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