Tagged: singapore

Jenabi, Architect, Singapore

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
JNB, the Gay Men Project, photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Jenabi, in his own words: “At the age of 23, I accepted an offer to study in Krakow for a term and that turned my world upside down. I had never felt freer in my life – I knew no one and no one knew me. I allowed myself to be myself and uninhibited which went a little overboard at that time.

All my new friends were probably more shocked by the way I introduced myself as queer then the idea of me being gay.

Imagine, a conservative Asian man who came out with his eyes wide open, not blinking and whispered when I’m about to say the word ‘gay’.

However, it quickly struck me that this whole gay thing wasn’t going to be an issue as I thought! No one treated me or judged my abilities any differently. They probably love me more and are happy that I’m comfortable with myself. Lotsa positive vibes. My time in Krakow was magical and it was then I felt that I finally lived for the first time.

That was the first gift I gave myself after 23 years of living. I like to think I turned 1 y.o. that year ☺ It was my first step of self-acceptance.

When I turned 2, I was given another chance to study abroad in Copenhagen. I wasn’t as excited as last time but this trip I met a guy.

I’m usually very analytical and practical by nature, but with him, with his piercing baby blue eyes, his openness, and humor I could not resist this charming Viking descendant. Knowing that I had an expiry date in Copenhagen I still let myself fall deep into it. My time in Copenhagen was more like a fairy tale, lost in time, exploring the snowy city with him, on the bike by day and in his arm by night.

He was the second gift I allowed myself to fall into.

Cheers to uncertainty, spontaneousity and love.

We decided to make a trip to my hometown when my term ended, as a ‘best friend’.

Before going home, I planned a trip to Germany over Christmas knowing that he would be celebrating it with his family and I should not intrude. Something about Christmas in Hamburg, the Christmas markets, couples holding hands; the snow evokes a strong sense of loneliness in me. I saw Starbucks from a distance and immediately in my mind Starbucks = free wifi, I thought talking to a familiar voice would help until halfway through the conversation I blurted out.

Sis, u know the friend who is visiting next year? ya mum told me about it.

He is more than just a friend.

Dead silence. She was lost of words. What have I done? I assumed that she would be able to accept it. Everything from thereon went downhill and the news spread like a wildfire within my family. I was nowhere near to explain and was left no choice to leave it suspending mid-air. Nobody was happy about it and it was nerve breaking.

So it was official, I came out at the age of 3. Well to be fair, it wasn’t my plan to come out to the whole family. Thanks to my sis, I didn’t need to do it myself. However, coming from an Asian family, we are best in not talking about the issue and it became the taboo topic of the house that thou shalt not speak of!

I had a choice then. Either I could chose to turn away from my family and continue my solitary living or I could put my head down, be there until the wave past. Tough times … We all of us have a choice. But being gay..nope! Not a choice.

Unfortunately not all fairytales have a happy ending. My relationship with the Viking ended before I turned 5. We’ve been through a lot, up and downs, our silly travels and hygge-ing around. Thank you for all the unconditionally love, happy memories you left me with. Thanks for shaping me into a better man and making me believe in same sex love.

I’d experience love and being love.

I matter to someone and respected .

We built a life together in each other’s warmth and embrace.

The only thing is I share all of this with a man.

I am 6 years old now. Now that I am out on the other side, I’m glad I came to terms with myself. I can see the dark times in my early life, the utter confusion, the crippling self- hate moments. I was so upset and wanted to end it all. All is good now and will get better.

I long for the day when my family will accept me for who I am but we shall not linger on that thought too rigidly. We are not defined by our sexuality. We are much more than that; it’s just our natural attraction to a currywurst over a pink taco. Things will come into places over time. Don’t rush it.”

Jenabi, Architect, Singapore

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
JNB, the Gay Men Project, photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Jenabi, in his own words: “At the age of 23, I accepted an offer to study in Krakow for a term and that turned my world upside down. I had never felt freer in my life – I knew no one and no one knew me. I allowed myself to be myself and uninhibited which went a little overboard at that time.

All my new friends were probably more shocked by the way I introduced myself as queer then the idea of me being gay.

Imagine, a conservative Asian man who came out with his eyes wide open, not blinking and whispered when I’m about to say the word ‘gay’.

However, it quickly struck me that this whole gay thing wasn’t going to be an issue as I thought! No one treated me or judged my abilities any differently. They probably love me more and are happy that I’m comfortable with myself. Lotsa positive vibes. My time in Krakow was magical and it was then I felt that I finally lived for the first time.

That was the first gift I gave myself after 23 years of living. I like to think I turned 1 y.o. that year ☺ It was my first step of self-acceptance.

When I turned 2, I was given another chance to study abroad in Copenhagen. I wasn’t as excited as last time but this trip I met a guy.

I’m usually very analytical and practical by nature, but with him, with his piercing baby blue eyes, his openness, and humor I could not resist this charming Viking descendant. Knowing that I had an expiry date in Copenhagen I still let myself fall deep into it. My time in Copenhagen was more like a fairy tale, lost in time, exploring the snowy city with him, on the bike by day and in his arm by night.

He was the second gift I allowed myself to fall into.

Cheers to uncertainty, spontaneousity and love.

We decided to make a trip to my hometown when my term ended, as a ‘best friend’.

Before going home, I planned a trip to Germany over Christmas knowing that he would be celebrating it with his family and I should not intrude. Something about Christmas in Hamburg, the Christmas markets, couples holding hands; the snow evokes a strong sense of loneliness in me. I saw Starbucks from a distance and immediately in my mind Starbucks = free wifi, I thought talking to a familiar voice would help until halfway through the conversation I blurted out.

Sis, u know the friend who is visiting next year? ya mum told me about it.

He is more than just a friend.

Dead silence. She was lost of words. What have I done? I assumed that she would be able to accept it. Everything from thereon went downhill and the news spread like a wildfire within my family. I was nowhere near to explain and was left no choice to leave it suspending mid-air. Nobody was happy about it and it was nerve breaking.

So it was official, I came out at the age of 3. Well to be fair, it wasn’t my plan to come out to the whole family. Thanks to my sis, I didn’t need to do it myself. However, coming from an Asian family, we are best in not talking about the issue and it became the taboo topic of the house that thou shalt not speak of!

I had a choice then. Either I could chose to turn away from my family and continue my solitary living or I could put my head down, be there until the wave past. Tough times … We all of us have a choice. But being gay..nope! Not a choice.

Unfortunately not all fairytales have a happy ending. My relationship with the Viking ended before I turned 5. We’ve been through a lot, up and downs, our silly travels and hygge-ing around. Thank you for all the unconditionally love, happy memories you left me with. Thanks for shaping me into a better man and making me believe in same sex love.

I’d experience love and being love.

I matter to someone and respected .

We built a life together in each other’s warmth and embrace.

The only thing is I share all of this with a man.

I am 6 years old now. Now that I am out on the other side, I’m glad I came to terms with myself. I can see the dark times in my early life, the utter confusion, the crippling self- hate moments. I was so upset and wanted to end it all. All is good now and will get better.

I long for the day when my family will accept me for who I am but we shall not linger on that thought too rigidly. We are not defined by our sexuality. We are much more than that; it’s just our natural attraction to a currywurst over a pink taco. Things will come into places over time. Don’t rush it.”

Alexander, Coordinator, Singapore

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Alexander, in his own words: “Being a gay transgender man in Singapore has its challenges. When you’re younger, people don’t take you seriously. They just think you’re a ‘tomboy’ and that it’s just a phase. You have complete strangers staring at you sometimes, and your identity as a gay man who was assigned female at birth is questioned when you come out, and then dismissed as something that you’re “too young to know for sure”.

As a child, I would adamantly refuse to wear dresses and remotely ‘girly’ clothes and would cry at the idea of wearing them, but I was forced into them regardless. When introduced to my parents’ friends, I would correct my them when they told their friends I was their daughter by saying “I’m your son”. I remember being lectured by my mum when I was ten, and I was told not to call myself their son because it hurt their feelings.

My parents never brought up the subject of LGBT people, and LGBT issues weren’t discussed in school. The only source of information we had in secondary school was the internet, and at the time, mainstream media still had limited portrayal of queer people, which was largely based on stereotypes. I navigated through my early teenage years trying to conform to heteronormativity, but deep down I knew that something wasn’t right. I hated what puberty was doing to me, and each day in the shower served as a reminder that I wasn’t male. When I started being attracted to other boys, I was even more confused, but came to the conclusion that it would be easier to just try being a girl instead.

After finishing my GCE ‘O’ Levels, I was fortunate enough to cross paths with another trans man. We both worked part-time in the same restaurant and were of the same age. He came out to me one day over a text conversation, and I realised that his life growing up was very similar to mine. The only difference was that he liked girls, and I liked boys. That alone still made me question my identity, but after thinking about it for a while, I realised that if there were gay cisgender people, gay transgender people could exist too. Thrilled at how I had finally discovered my identity, I came out to my close friends and classmates in the polytechnic, but the thought of coming out to my parents and their potential rejection still frightened me. One day, I knew I had to stop hiding from them, so I came out to them that year, two days before I turned 17. Needless to say, they were shocked and distraught. They weren’t ready to accept me as their son, and they said that I was too young to know what I wanted. They still thought that it was just a phase.

Of course, the journey of transitioning still wasn’t smooth after coming out. There have been times when I felt that life as a trans man wasn’t worth living, and I had contemplated suicide. However, in the recent years, I’ve been lucky enough to meet people that have been so open-minded and accepting, and their support has brought me through the hard times to a better place in life. However, I know that there are trans youth out there who do not have proper support in their circle of friends, which is why I started volunteering with The Purple Alliance and helped to start a casual support group for trans* people in Singapore. It’s been almost two years since I started volunteer work, and I have grown a lot as a person in this period of time.

The LGBT community in Singapore is more diverse than one might think it is, but it is still largely segregated. When people think of LGBT rights, most tend to think about Section 377A of the penal code and marriage equality, but in reality, there is so much more work to be done. There is still discrimination within the LGBT community, and some people are still not educated on issues transgender people face. Hormones for trans people are hard to acquire and surgery is expensive and not covered by insurance. However, recently there have been more people speaking out for the transgender community. Things are changing, and as the years go by, the LGBT community will be closer to becoming one.

I recently turned 20, and looking at how far we have come as a community and how much more we can and will progress, I’m glad that I didn’t decide to end my life. If I could go back in time and talk to my younger self, I would say, “Stop poking your head out of the big window and calculating how long it will take for you to hit the ground. Things will fall into place in time. You’ll witness plenty of great things in the years to come, and you will be a part of it.”

Miak, Pastor, Singapore

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
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.”

Nathan, Nurse, Singapore

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Nathan, in his own words: “Being gay to me means being human and being happy. I think the only thing that is different about ever being gay is that we love people from the same gender. But other than that we breathe and live just the same as anybody else.

Being gay is a process of life. You grow, you learn and you make your decisions. It ultimately means I am who I am and nothing in the world is ever going to change that.

When I was young I was always teased for being different. It came to a point where I started doubting myself and even concluded that I was an abomination. But over time when you get to meet people from various walks of life and of course upon coming out, I realized what a fool I have been. All those self-inflicting mental torture was not necessary.

I am also a nurse. I take pride in that now and look forward to assisting people as much as I can. I think one of my biggest achievements would be volunteering with The Purple Alliance in their health sectors. It’s because of such voluntary work that I have come to love what I do even more.

I believe I had to come out multiple times in my life. The first was when I was in polytechnic during my final year in nursing school. I used to get questions of whether I was dating a girl etc. I get very nervous when I lied but I still played along with my group of friends, until I realized whom am I kidding. So one day whilst waiting for the train ride back with my group of close friends I just blurted “I am gay”. What shocked me was their non-reaction. They were totally cool with it. We actually started being even closer after that.

My second time coming out was to some of my family. I just told the mom one day as she was asking if I had any girlfriends yet again. She started crying, but eventually she reassured me that she loves me no matter what. Well I guess that was what I was looking forward from her. As for the rest of my family I told and some took it well, some didn’t. But well! YOLO!

The gay community in Singapore is vibrant. You really get to meet many different kinds of people here. There may be some hate within the minority groups itself, but I believe with a little bit of love any form of boundary can be broken. There are many forms of stereotypes formed by the supposed main stream society in Singapore but I thing as a community we are breaking these stereotypes one by one. Who would have thought years ago that we would have our very own gay parade of sorts called Pink Dot. I think as a community, we allow each generation to grow thus making life a little bit welcoming and happier for the next generation.

I would definitely tell my (younger self) not to doubt myself and not to subject myself through whatever I did previously. I would definitely tell myself that it would get better each day and that everything will be alright. Life is too precious and beautiful to let negativity come in its way.”