Miak, in his own words: “When I was growing up, I always wanted an older brother. I was the elder of two children, and I usually took the flak for anything that went wrong. I was the one who had to figure out what life has in store first – and then teach it to my sister. I wanted an older brother who would be the one who blazes the trail. Now that I look back, I wondered how that would turn out since I am gay.
My gayness makes me who I am. If I am straight, I would be married with kids, pretty high up the corporate ladder, and probably be someone who doesn’t give two hoots about other people. Because of my experiences growing up gay, being ostracized and discriminated against, as well as struggling with who I am, I developed a greater sensitivity to discrimination, injustices and other people’s suffering. I cannot help but get involved, and participate in what Adrienne Rich describes in her poem – to “reconstitute the world.”
(With regards to challenges and successes) Finding myself. Knowing myself. Overcoming myself. I won’t call it a success yet. Ask me again on my death bed
(With regards to coming out) I have many coming out stories – I am still coming out. I guess the most significant one is the one to my mom.
It was 1998 and I was in Finland on an exchange programme, and she sent me a letter with a clipping from the Chinese newspaper. I was interviewed by a friend who was a journalist and he wrote about people who were studying overseas. He ended the part about the article saying that what I found hardest to leave behind was my 爱人 (beloved one). She asked why was it beloved one and not “girlfriend.” I wrote a letter back to her in Chinese to come out to her.
She wrestled with it for quite a while – I was in Finland for half a year – and she still wrestled with it after I came back. Of course my parents embrace who I am now, and I cannot do the work I do without their support.
I don’t think there is a definitive description of the gay community in Singapore – I hesitate to generalize. In some ways we are very similar to gay communities worldwide, and in some ways we are different. The same issues that plague gay communities globally like drugs, racism, ageism also plague us. But we are also a very young community – there is much we can do to shape the future of what it looks like.
(Advice I’d give my younger self) From where I am now, I don’t want an older brother, or an older self telling me what I should or should not do. My mistakes, my failures, my hopes, my dreams, my joys, my despair all make me who I am. Perhaps just one thing – forgive myself a little bit more.”