Test 2

Please select your preferred language.





Remember Me

New to Fridae?

Fridae Mobile


More About Us

9 Jul 2003

how do we celebrate?

Fridae's op-ed columnist, Alan Seah, outlines the recent events on the global gay front, the Singapore PM's revelation that the government has been 'quietly' allowing gays into its ranks and looks forward to Nation.03, the community's biggest and most significant party of the year.

On June 26, the United States Supreme Court overturned America's sodomy laws, and gays and lesbians poured into the streets of the country's cities to celebrate. Overnight, together with millions of other American gay men and women, they were no longer considered criminals for how they expressed their love.

Photos from Nation.02
This landmark ruling came just a few weeks after an Ontario appeals court also made history by opening the way for Canada to end its ban on marriage between partners of the same sex.

The result was that there was much to celebrate at the many gay pride parades across America, which typically take place at the end of June to mark the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots that had erupted in the summer of 1969 in New York City.

The times they were a-changing, and freedom-loving Singaporeans rejoiced for their North American compatriots - while lamenting that here in the Lion City, it was business as usual. No enlightenment, no changes, no good. But then, to our surprise, along came some 'mouth-to-mouth' for our half-drowned hopes, straight from the lips of our very own Prime Minister.

For those of you who missed this unexpected twist in our government's stand on homosexuality, the leader of our land basically said that it was ok to be gay. Government was now selectively and 'quietly' allowing gays into its ranks and as PM Goh said: "So let it evolve, and in time the population will understand that some people are born that way we are born this way and they are born that way, but they are like you and me."

What followed was a flurry of articles in the local press. Some of them quoted additional notes of caution from the Prime Minister's Office; that it didn't mean we were going to be allowed to have parades, and that "homosexual acts will remain an offence". Others, like a very surprisingly supportive editorial from the Straits Times (which has also tellingly replaced usage of the term 'homosexual' with the more politically correct 'gay'), seemed to welcome the move.

Also heard was some fair and constructive criticism of the Prime Minister's comments from the few quotable members of the gay community. The most pertinent of these questioned why the government was only claiming to act for an economic cause.
Call me a hopeless optimist. But I see the whole affair as a breath of fresh air. Implicit in Prime Minister Goh's message are a few uncannily enlightened statements that give cause for enthusiasm: that our government is preparing society for a certain positive evolution in mindset towards gay men and women; that they understand that being gay is not a 'perversion' or a 'lifestyle' but very likely a biological phenomenon; and finally (and very hopefully) that gay men and women will one day be equal citizens in Singapore.

Photos from Nation.02
In the eloquent opinion written for the majority of the American Supreme Court Justices, Justice Kennedy said that America's founders framed their Constitution the way they did because they "knew times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress."

Let's hope that sooner than later, our government will look at our laws and see them as unjust and archaic. That they will feel the need to lead society - certainly something they have never been accused of under doing - not only because it is good for 21st century capitalism, but also because it is a fundamental right of all individuals to be able to love whomever they want.

Gay men and women in Singapore have never had their own 'Stonewall' and have never, as an effective group, agitated or marched for our rights. But that is not to say that there's nothing to be proud of.

Many have done their bit.

They've done so by coming out to colleagues, friends and family. By establishing gay bars and clubs, gay circuit parties, gay chat rooms, even gay saunas - and filling them to the rafters. By fearlessly creating gay art that has helped define the modern Singaporean-gay identity. By flexing that mighty pink dollar and opening doors by making ourselves desirable to businesses. Most importantly, they've done so by loving this country, staying put and not quitting.

In other words, gay men and women here have built themselves a community and a culture, despite the odds. And finally, this country is coming to its senses and starting to acknowledge that that its gay citizens are relevant. While we can't spontaneously congregate on street corners or parade down the Padang (yet); come National Day 2003, we will have both venue and occasion at the community's biggest and most significant party of the year - Nation. Where this year - perhaps for the first time ever - gays and lesbians can finally begin to be proud, not just to be "born that way", but also to be Singaporean.


Reader's Comments

Be the first to leave a comment on this page!

Please log in to use this feature.


Select News Edition

Featured Profiles

Now ALL members can view unlimited profiles!


View this page in a different language:

Like Us on Facebook


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