"If only gay people could stop feeling guilty for being different" is my tag line in the recent Pink Dot video. Credit must go to Singapore filmmaker Boo Junfeng who directed the 2011 promotional video that has since attracted over 190,000 views since it was launched on YouTube almost a month ago. As I repeated the line a number of times in its filming and further reflected upon it, I was made more aware of its meaning and significance.
The situation on homosexuality will most certainly be more favourable if more from the LGBTQ (lesbian,gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer) community could with courage come out of their closets and take pride and carry no guilt about their sexual orientation. If only more straight people could comprehend the wide spectrum of human sexuality and regard homosexuality as normal and natural, and step forward to lend their support.
Pink Dot in its brief history has obtained credibility and gained favour. We are on the way to reach the tipping point just as the political rallies held by opposition parties have demonstrated in the massive crowds that participated in the recent elections in Singapore. I recall how in their earlier political campaigns, I went sheepishly to join the small crowds who were fearful of standing in solidarity with the opposition. Changes have occurred dramatically and people proudly gave their votes to the opposition candidates. The same is going to happen on the issue of homosexuality. It is really getting better and it is merely a matter of time.
In voluntary service to the LGBTQ community through Free Community Church since its inception over seven years ago, I have observed the people who were assisted in eradicating guilt and achieving self-acceptance. With fear and trepidation they appeared and discovered courage and liberation. I remember a lesbian teacher who pulled her baseball cap down to try to hide her face and now able to stand before the congregation to witness to Christian truth. Likewise, the gay university student who came by himself and sat quietly afraid to engage with others now sings in the musical team to encourage other worshipers.
It is striking that FCC singularly “affirms that same-sex and transgendered relationships, when lived out in accord with the love commandments of Jesus, are consistent with Christian faith and teachings. Indeed, we find discrimination based on negative judgment of others, fear of difference, and homophobia inconsistent with Christian teachings.” It is a strong statement on freedom to love.
LGBTQ need a secure place to help them to stop feeling guilty and build self-acceptance. Many others in society need a safe place where they no longer need to face discrimination and condemnation. The celebration of Pink Dot is a stage towards a society which is on the road to gay-affirming.
Self-acceptance is essentially what is needed for LGBTQ people. Why do we have to succumb to the dictates of cultural conditioning enforced by anachronistic religious teaching. Much has been attributed to what is taught about same-sex relations particularly in the traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Historical-critical studies of these religions and their sacred writings have shown how they themselves are culturally bound and historically related and each claim universal and timeless relevancy. History records that contrary to sacred texts, religions have rejected patriarchy, racism, slavery, and violence. Prejudice based on sex, race, sexual orientation and economic status are no longer just and valid. This came about through the fresh interpretation of the sacred texts from the perspectives of the feminists, racial minorities, poor, and queer people.
We do not have to bear the heavy burden of guilt that the conservative community has placed upon the shoulders of LGBTQ because of its minority and marginalised position. We all must accept ourselves by embracing difference and celebrating diversity.
Due to the inter-connected and globalised community we know now how a growing majority of people are gay-affirming even though LGBTQ remain always a significant minority of the population. That the numbers of LGBTQ people are not increasing proportionately is in itself is a mystery. We see an increasing number of those who understand sexual orientation and acknowledge same-sex relationships as natural and normal.
We are making progress in embracing differences. Each one of us is unique and different. A gay professor gave me a gift of a tee-shirt with the line: "Gay? Fine by me." I took a picture and published it in my memoir to declare my positive view on gays. Just last month I attended a retreat of Methodist pastors from Malaysia and Singapore. I took along a tee-shirt with the words "Same-same" in front and "but different" at the back. A number of the pastors recognised the statement that I was making and quietly agreed with it.
I did not realise that over forty years ago when I was the Bishop of The Methodist Church in Malaysian and Singapore, I was appointing gay and lesbian Methodist pastors and missionaries to serve faithfully in the churches and schools throughout Malaysia and Singapore. It was then an unwritten policy of "Don't ask, don’t tell." But it was known then and even now that they were violating the teaching of the Church which still regards homosexuality as a sin. That too is in the process of changing and rather rapidly. I am certain that there are a number of gay and lesbian clergy and laypersons who are serving in different religious institutions today.
This is an exciting time and we are being caught in the tide of diversity in the affairs of men and women, straight or gay. Each one of us is differently gifted and has a contribution to make in the human community both local and global. The appeal is to get rid of guilt. The call is for self-acceptance about who we are and what we can become. It is to maximise our potential and become that kind person who live and work in community which is mutually accepting, caring and supporting one another in the creating of a better future for all.
Those of you in the LGBTQ community who love and accept yourself and relish the freedom that it brings have a special responsibility to help others who are still struggling to resolve their gay identity. You are able to save them from their loneliness, suffering and misery.
Those of us who are straight should regard all people are of sacred worth who deserve respect and ought to have freedom to love and to become who they have been created to be – unique, different and distinctive.
Together we share the awesome task to shape a community which is more caring and compassionate, more free and just that strives for the well-being of all.
Participate in Pink Dot 2011: Support the Freedom to Love on June 18 and make Singapore more open-minded and inclusive Pink Dot.
Rev Dr Yap Kim Hao serves as Pastoral Advisor to the Free Community Church upon retirement from full-time Christian ministry. He was the first Asian Bishop of The Methodist Church in Malaysian and Singapore. Subsequently he served as General Secretary of the Christian Conference of Asia, an ecumenical organisation of over a hundred churches and national council of churches in Asia. He holds Master of Divinity and Doctor of Theology degrees from Boston University and was honoured by them with a Distinguished Alumni Award in 1988. He published his memoir A Bishop Remembers in 2006.
I would like to thank you for your kind words.
I don't understand why I get teary and bawling when I read this article. "Tears of comfort" came to my mind, I feel so relieved when I was crying, I could not fully explain it. Maybe it is because your words speak to the sense of loss from trying to live against a christian upbringing, mission school doctrines, cruel classmates, homophobic pastors that shaped my young mind with dread and guilt about myself, intolerant family.
After the tears, I felt tired and relieved at the same time. I guess it matters to know I am not a mistake, coming from a man of spiritual authority. I feel I can claim my past once again, able to stand a little taller knowing that I do matter and I am worthy as like everyone else.
Life is fleeting and your words lighten my continuing journey in it.
I can come home again.
and Thankyou so much Rev. Yap for Your kind and soothing words..., You`re really living angels on earth :)
I dont know why...my cock get hard with men only...hahaha:)
If only gay people could stop feeling different !
If we want the same right to love, why should we define ourselves as so different ?
Wouldn't we be more efficient demonstrating that we are the same at the end of the day ?
Where the gay-ghetto was an area of security, it seems to become in quite a few places an area of comfort.
Maybe the next hurdle, the next fight, the next step is to prove we are the same, not that we are different. And that there is neither shame nor pride, just the way things are....
Oh, well. at least he still beats ppl like TSM & TLA- those are some serious HARDCORE religious homo-obsessives we're talking abt lol. .
Why, Tom Cruise didn't get where he is today by being left-handed, did he? When Jesus lost it, and started throwing punches around at the moneylenders, he didn't swing from the left side, did he? When Homer picks up a cool, refreshing Duff beer, which hand does he use?
I want you all to think very hard about this, and, when you've stopped feel ashamed and guilty about your unconventional minority ways of living, you can join the Right way forward - the side that knows which is the Right hand to pull a glove onto first.
Regardless of who you are, whether your skin is black, yellow or white, whether you are male or female, young or old, and whether you read the Bible, the Koran or the Torah. If you read this, then please know that:
I live my life by the same universal values as you do.
I have the same needs and ambitions in life as you do.
I treat people like I hope to be treated, as do you.
I love another person the same way you do.
I grieve a loss the same way you do.
I have my own distinct personality, as do you.
I have my own style and preferences, as do you.
I have my own face, my own voice and my own body, as do you.
I am a unique, amazing individual.
You see, I am just like you.
I never had those sin or "guilty" sense.
"Keep away from people who try to belittle you..." - Mark Twain
For those who honestly do not feel guilty you have gained self-esteem and naturally feel normal. As a heterosexual I don't have to deal with the guilt issue. But for the greater number of LGBT persons society including the church has laid a heavy burden of guilt upon your shoulders. I hear your cry and feel your pain. Be assured that your Creator has knitted you in your mother's womb and each differently gifted, and wants to empower you to accept yourself. Stop feeling guilty for being different and support one another in striving and shaping an inclusive society.
Peace be with you.
-That I don't feel hate for anyone?
-That I don't ridicule or condem someone for the way they were born.
-That I don't feel animosity toward anyone that doesn't think like I do?
In fact, come to think of it, I'm quite proud of me.
There's a far greater population out there that should feel both guilt and shame.
Check out Dan Savage's talk excerpt: Pro-Gay Christians Need to Stand Up to Christianist Bigots at
The 'Weinerlogue' is funny too.
You know what? I see a lot of people venting out against the mainstream for discrimination and homophobia, and rightly so. We shouldn't apologize for being different. I can't speak for everyone, it gets weary to keep hearing such hurtful things even though I stand up to them e.g. petitions, write-ins.... I think acknowledging them will only stengthen and heal me.
Of course, true strength comes with experience, as with time, and being through it all, I appreciate kindness and support from strangers, who have nothing to do with my life, to be shown to me. I am just at that stage where I really look forward to falling autumn leaves, or olive branches, but definitely meditation. Namaste.
" "Sexual orientation is not a matter of choice, it is primarily neurobiological at birth." So said Jerome Goldstein, director of the San Francisco Clinical Research Centre, addressing 3,000 neurologists from around the world at the 21st meeting of the European Neurological Society (ENS) in Lisbon last month....."
The so called guilt of being gay has it's roots in the religious system practiced globally.
To me, some churches and other religious organizations are starting to open their conditional doors of acceptance, simply because they've been losing worshippers and thus revenue.
Just like a ruling political party suddenly tries to change its image.
They are NOT doing it out of kindness or empathy, they do it to try to gain back their control over society.
It's just a way of compromising for survival of an outdated (right brainer targeted) political system, that instills guilt in followers for being non-conformists, inorder to convert/ farm them.
We don't need the acceptance of people who are bastions of such discriminating/ phobia instilling beliefs.
Ontario 2001- The high rate of suicide among homosexual adolescents and youth is a phenomenon which has only recently been studied.
2009-Isolation, rejection lead many gay youths to attempt suicide.
A survey recently found that gay children are four times more likely than straight teens to commit suicide.
Nine out of ten gay teenagers also said they had been the victim of bullying.
Perhaps some of you might say that you do not need acceptance of the society. That is a good for you but how many kids out there growing up being guilty or at least feeling guilty for being gay?
Christian no christian, push the cause of guilt or not pushing cause of guilt, Pastor to sit down with Methodist Vivian or not sit down with her..it doesn't matter. For a former bishop to step out to support us in this video is something worth our praises. Lets not push the blame to anybody but support the cause and also supporting the people that support the cause.
I can only hope that this attempt to suddenly play Mr. Nice will not end up in the 'keeping the enemy close / come-closer-so-I-can-slap-you-harder' game .
I grew up in a picturesque, small country village, from which, everybody went to Church and everyone knew everyone else's business.
I'm completely straight acting and a big guy, so I never had any trouble with bullying, I was good at sports, was a "straight-A's" student and I always had girls hanging off me.
Being gay in that atmosphere was very painful; during my teenage years I had a two year relationship with a Chinese guy (his parents ran the local takeaway) we were caught by his parents and to cut a long, sad story short, I never saw him again :(
I had to put up with endless questions about girlfriends et.c. I even dated a few girls just to keep my family happy.
I studied hard, managed to get a good education and escape that village; I've never looked back.
My experiences through childhood and manhood have taught me not to trust any religion and especially senior figures from those religions trying to soften their image and being all inclusive when, in reality, they have a big book somewhere that says homosexuality is a sin.