Test 2

Please select your preferred language.

請選擇你慣用的語言。

请选择你惯用的语言。

English
中文简体
台灣繁體
香港繁體

Login

Remember Me

New to Fridae?

Fridae Mobile

Highlights
Advertisement

More About Us

27 Mar 2012

We don’t have to live in fear: Malaysian gay activist

Pang Khee Teik, co-founder of Malaysia's only sexuality rights festival, Seksualiti Merdeka, writes in an open letter to the community after hearing from many that they were "doing just fine" but are now under scrutiny after Seksualiti Merdeka 'decided' to fight for LGBT rights publicly.

A message for LGBTs who say that LGBT rights activism is making things worse

Someone wrote to me saying: "According to many of my friends, they were doing just fine getting around under the radar until Seksualiti Merdeka 'decided' to fight for LGBT rights publicly. Now they blame Seksualiti Merdeka and its organisers for the scrutiny that they are being put through."

This is my response:

 

Pang Khee Teik (extreme right) with co-organisers and supporters of Seksualiti Merdeka in court.

Your fears are real. I have been there before. Always thinking twice for everything I did in case I get caught. At home, I was careful of calls I received. At work, I was careful of emails. I deleted all chats and online histories. After looking over my shoulders to be doubly triply sure no one was looking, I might have some relieve. I had to lie all the time. I had to get out of sight just for some human touch, I had to hide my love. And I feared that these few precious moments would be gone should people find out. So I maintained my silence. And with my silence, I surrendered my dignity.

 

But not anymore. That is why I can tell you this. It doesn’t have to be this way.

When we chose to trade in our dignity for the privilege of being left alone we will always think that this privilege is all we are worth. We live under the radar because we think under the radar is where we belong. We forget that life is for living, not for existing in the shadows.

We pay for these privileges with our silence, and this silence, while pleasant in times of innocence will render us unable to speak for ourselves in times of injustice.

This silence is what feeds the beast of oppression. While we live silently, those less able than us to hide will become victims at the jaws of the beast. You and I feed the beast when we chose to keep silent about injustice faced by others. We may be lucky to escape, but not everyone is that lucky.

LGBT children are kicked out of their homes, with nowhere to go they often end up selling themselves, for the privilege to survive. Transgender individuals are denied work, they are beaten up, sometimes by vigilantes, sometimes by religious officers, sometimes by police. All they want is the privilege to walk down the street without getting beaten up. LGBTs continue to be easy target for sexual abuse and are made to feel like it is their fault, so they never report it and they are denied the privilege of justice. Gay professionals from teachers to engineers to police are blackmailed at work, so they pay up to avoid being exposed, to keep that privilege to work. All around, many LGBTs, out of their love for their families, force themselves to separate from the ones they truly love and marry someone they don't, buying a lifetime of silence for the privilege of not being kicked out from the family. When all these privileges add up to zero, many young LGBTs attempt suicide as they contemplate a life without happiness and meaning. How many of us must suffer this way before we finally realise that our silence has allowed their continued suffering?

My friends, these are not new events. They have been happening even before Seksualiti Merdeka came about. We who have been working on the issue know these stories. They have haunted us until we became restless. Until we had to do something. So we became their voices.

The only reason you hear about it more and more is because we have put LGBT issues on the news. All around the country, people are speaking up about injustice. The news is being reported. We have broken the silence. But there is a price. Those who prefer to keep us silent are afraid we expose their hypocrisy. They will step up on their bullying.

We who have been silent are now afraid. We point our fingers at those who speak up. We say they made things worse. We say they made us live in fear.

BUT THE FACT IS WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN FEAR. We have just gotten used to it. The only difference now is that suddenly we are forced to confront our fears.

We live in fear because we don’t know how to live without fear. We are afraid to lose our privileges. It is a tragedy we have grown to like our crumbs. It is a tragedy we allow those we elect to run the system bully us and determine our small rewards for accepting their power over us. It is a tragedy we let them get away with taking away our voices. Don’t let them get away with it.

If we refuse to feed the beast, it will starve. Yes, it will get angry and it will sniff for blood. When we stop being afraid, the beast will find more ways to make us fear it again. It bares its fangs and howls louder. It snaps its jaws at us. It is afraid. Of us.

Together we can challenge it: starve the beast, change the system.

Being left alone is not our privilege. It is our right. Falling in love is not our privilege. It is our right. Expressing who we are is not our privilege. It is our right. Not being beaten up is not our privilege. It is our right. Not being punished for not hurting anybody is not our privilege. It is our right. Having a job, having a home, having friends, are not our privileges. They are our rights. We don't have to pay for these rights. These rights are ours from the moment we were born. Don't settle for less.

Seksualiti Merdeka hopes to empower all Malaysians to realise we deserve equality. The same rights as everyone. Like everyone else, we don’t have to be kicked out from homes, beaten up, arrested, fired from work, forced to marry, and have nowhere to run for justice. We certainly don’t have to be rehabilitated. There is nothing wrong with us. We don’t have to live in fear.

We are not asking for more. We don’t need privileges. A system that grants privileges to some is also a system that deprives others. We are not asking for less. We don’t want to have to lie about ourselves and pretend to be straight in order to be given the same rights. It takes away our dignity.

So speak up about injustice. Speak up for love. Don’t deny each other’s realities. If you have not suffered discrimination, good for you. Don’t deny the realities of those who have. Use your position to speak up for those who have suffered.

If you have been living in the closet, start to think about the kind of future you want and work towards it. If that future includes living and loving proudly, prepare yourself for it. Read up, meet people, work with us.

Tell our politicians to stop minding our private affairs and start minding the country. Tell our leaders we want equality for all regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. Tell our friends and families not to be distracted from issues of corruption, inefficiency and mismanagement of the country. Register to vote. Get involved in fighting for our democractic rights, minority rights, human rights causes. Activate for changes in laws, policies and constitutions to protect our rights. These issues determine our future.

Fear is the tool of the tyrant in making us utterly alone and powerless. We are not alone. And we are not powerless. We must change our fear into outrage. For neither living with fewer fears nor living with more fears is any way to live at all. We must stand together. A future without fear is worth giving up a few lousy privileges for.

Malaysia

Reader's Comments

1. 2012-03-27 20:50  
I never read such a profound message.
He has a good head on his shoulders and LGBT citizens should listen to his advice, he's right.
2. 2012-03-27 21:24  
well said and written. thank you. our dignity is worth the fight. we won't settle for less.
3. 2012-03-27 21:29  
Silence=death. Always speak out against injustice.

And why the big silence on 377a in Singapore. Now 6 months since the hearing and still no report of a judgement or mention of the delay, not even from bloggers like Alex Au. How about some investigative journalism from Fridae on the apparent delay or don't they report on Singapore anymore?
4. 2012-03-27 21:55  
Thank you Pang, for your encouragement. Keep up the fight and good work!
5. 2012-03-27 23:24  
He wrote what we think so well.
Touched by this letter.
Never been bullied but there's becauz i am in the closet.Cant imagine how life would be if i post "I am Gay,seriously"on Facebook.
Needs a lot of bravery to be myself
6. 2012-03-27 23:28  
i'm right there with you...thank you so much for this article...love and peace.
Comment edited on 2012-03-27 23:29:37
7. 2012-03-28 00:24  
Never lose that "fire", Pang.

Your message was very empowering.
Love you guys for all that you've done!!!
Let's not compromise and start facing our fears, which we so often keep in our closets!! It's time!!
Comment edited on 2012-03-28 00:26:19
8. 2012-03-28 00:39  
Thank you all for the love. It's nice to see the fire spreading. If you like to be part of our movement, please join us in our Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/SMFestival/. Send me a message on Facebook to identify yourself so I can approve you to the group. Look for me under Pang Khee Teik (but I apologise I won't be able to add you as I have almost reached the silly limit imposed by Facebook!). Cheers!
9. 2012-03-28 06:51  
Oh hell.... got goosebumps while reading this letter!
well thought out, very powerful and encouraging!

big hug for the author!
10. 2012-03-28 09:00  
All LGBT remember to vote only for the opposition this coming election! We got to make Anwar Ibrahim our PM who promised to revoke all those antiquated and discriminatory laws that ostracise the minority....
11. 2012-03-28 09:38  
Fighting for gay rights and fighting for real democracy are the same fight - the fight for dignity, human rights and freedom for all Malaysians. Overcoming fear is the key. Last year we saw big protests to demand "clean" elections, which shows that social movements from below are possible in Malaysia, and most importantly, that fear can be overcome. The same will happen to the gay community there. Seksualiti Merdeka is a start. Good on you, and I totally stand with you!
12. 2012-03-28 12:30  
“我们不必活在恐惧中” “我们”?
文化的差异?“我们”无法同行……
13. 2012-03-28 21:33  
very inspiring article, i always admire your courage Pang, to fight for our future.
14. 2012-03-29 09:18  
... and in Malaysia the same conditions apply to women and children and the elderly and Indians and Chinese and Malaysians and whites and blacks and greys and immigrant workers and people of a lower class...and anyone else you can think of. Malaysia is discriminator's heaven and will remain so while there is so much insecurity in this society. Insecurity leads to delusions of superiority and to maintain that delusion you have to put everyone around you down. And Malaysians or all races are experts at repression, in fact they have deluded themselves into believing that repression = love. In this country, fear is the modus operandi for religion and government and parents and they will use fear and hate at every possible opportunity. to suppress and repress. So, Pang, to get more than a handful of LGBT Malaysians to stand up against their oppressors will take a major shift in social attitudes... more so than in most other countries
15. 2012-03-29 09:24  
... and to get that sort of change all you need to do is for Malaysians to start to thnk for themselves. But having an identity and opinions of your own and the ability the think independently and analytically is a TOTAL NO-NO in Malaysia. Society wants a country full of mindless dullards who cant think nor act for themselves. They have been working towards that goal for centuries and have succeeded beautifully
16. 2012-03-29 23:46  
Thanks for the awakening call. But may I suggest that you qualify the following by adding "many" in front of "LGBT", "Transgendered individuals", etc. since not everyone in such groups suffers as you describe:

"LGBT children are kicked out of their homes, with nowhere to go they often end up selling themselves, for the privilege to survive. Transgender individuals are denied work, they are beaten up, sometimes by vigilantes, sometimes by religious officers, sometimes by police. All they want is the privilege to walk down the street without getting beaten up. LGBTs continue to be easy target for sexual abuse and are made to feel like it is their fault, so they never report it and they are denied the privilege of justice. Gay professionals from teachers to engineers to police are blackmailed at work, so they pay up to avoid being exposed, to keep that privilege to work. All around, many LGBTs, out of their love for their families, force themselves to separate from the ones they truly love and marry someone they don't, buying a lifetime of silence for the privilege of not being kicked out from the family. "

Malaysia's political future is at a crossroad. If the disgruntled voters want to make a real change to your country's future, then register to vote in the coming GE. There'd never been a better opportunity for telling politicians what ordinary folks including LGBTs that "enough is enough" than in this era of Youtube, Facebook and Twitter.

And, political development in Malaysia is important to LGBT communities in not just there but the entire region, including Singapore. I urge all LGBT Malaysians to step forward and fight for the change that not only you, but we in Singapore and elsewhere in the region hope to see.
17. 2012-03-31 04:31  
These people who fight for LGBT rights are so brave.
18. 2012-04-02 23:00  
i feel so tired living in fear... I was with a french guy that i like,,,and we were in a hut built beside the swimming pool in my condo at night,,, when we he sat next to me really close with his arm around me,,,i kept staring around just to make sure there is no one around,,,as im worry that people might call the police and we will be in so much trouble...
Feel so exhausted with this kind of life...
19. 2012-04-03 12:02  
crazy country a good reason to hate Muslim religion
20. 2012-04-06 09:36  
[quote]Tell our politicians to stop minding our private affairs and start minding the country. Tell our leaders we want equality for all regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.[/quote]
Dear Pang,
Have you seen this latest from the Department of Information Malaysia / Jabatan Penerangan Malaysia's Facebook account? Link here: http://www.facebook.com/#!/penerangan
[quote]Berkuatkuasa serta merta, stesen radio dan televisyen diminta menghentikan rancangan yang menyiarkan watak pondan, lelaki lembut serta watak yang bercanggah dengan norma masyarakat beragama kerana dikatakan menyokong dan meningkatkan gejala Lesbian, Gay, Biseksual dan Transeksual (LGBT) ketika ini.[/quote]
My translation:
"With immediate effect, the radio and television stations are requested to stop programmes which broadcasts transsexual, 'soft men' natures as well as characters which contradicts religious societal norms as it is said to be supporting and heightening the problem of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual for now".

And the comment from their moderator:
[quote]Jabatan Penerangan Malaysia ‎:) katakanlah apa saja, tetapi tindakan mengutuk Jabatan Penerangan bukanlah sesuatu tindakan yang bijak. Facebook page ini bertujuan menyebarkan maklumat kepada rakyat Malaysia yang semakin hari semakin aktif dengan facebook.
Jika ada yang tidak menyukai status ini, minta maaf. Moderator hanya menyampaikan berita dari sumber (BERNAMA). Terima kasih. [/quote]
My translation:
"Department of Information Malaysia :) say whatever, but the action of criticising the Department of Information is not a wise action. This Facebook page is to disseminate information to the citizens of Malaysia who are increasingly active with Facebook.
If there are those who don't like this status, apologies. The Moderator only conveys news from the source (Bernama) thank you."
Comment edited on 2012-04-06 11:25:37
21. 2012-04-06 14:24  
Latest update: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2012/04/06/dept-barring-pondans-post-a-mistake/

22. 2012-04-07 14:30  
Thank you Pang for expressing so well the need to struggle for equal rights. Good luck with it to all gay guys in Malaysia!

This is only life, it's short and meaningless especially without dignity and a cause worth standing up for. So, take your predicament of being born gay as an opportunity to make a difference for yourself and others like you. You have to take what is rightfully yours as nobody is going to give it to you. Don't be afraid any more. Start changing your ways from little steps and you'll see your world doesn't cave in and with every little battle won your strength will grow. Be proud and Shine!

Please log in to use this feature.

Select News Edition

Featured Profiles

Now ALL members can view unlimited profiles!

Languages

View this page in a different language:

Like Us on Facebook

Partners

 ILGA Asia - Fridae partner for LGBT rights in Asia IGLHRC - Fridae Partner for LGBT rights in Asia

Advertisement