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Standing up for ourselves
Articles - Coming Out
Written by irene   
Friday, 15 June 2007 00:00

I was sitting in the auditorium of Peking University on a Sunday evening, and waiting for a film screening to begin. I glanced around casually while reading a book, and watched as the students entered alone, or in small groups, and taking their seats, chattering away or buried in their insatiable need to work on Mathematics problems constantly.

Two days ago, I was loitering around in the campus of PKU, and I got a pamphlet handed to me as I walked past an area full of bazaar stalls. I looked up, and saw a fair bespectacled boy smiling at me. It was a gay documentary film screening organized by the Red Cross Society in PKU. The guy assured that non-students are welcomed too, and so I made a mental note to attend. (Never mind that I would have to go alone, as my only possible companion would be on the train back to Shanghai by then.)

So here I am, sitting together with all the students, watching the jumbled conversations about casual sex and random relationships. The angle of the film wasn’t well-taken, and the entire editing felt too raw. I felt entirely perturbed by the generous portrayal of their drag antics, without making the effort to explore their mentality and their psychological needs.

During the Q & A session, there were participants raising various questions, from why the director decided to film this documentary to how he managed to join the gay community. My gaydar beeped occasionally.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 February 2010 23:26
The Piano Man
Articles - Coming Out
Written by (Guest Writers)   
Monday, 19 March 2007 00:00

I was surprised when I saw him sitting at the piano when I walked into church. His bright yellow shirt and flamboyant manner was shocking. I felt a strange and foreign kinship with him, yet I was confused as to why he was part of the worship team. He was totally gay! I attended a few weeks without sharing my thoughts with anyone else, but finally I nonchalantly asked a fellow church member if my suspicions were true. Her response was, ‘of course not dear, he’s a Christian’! I knew she was wrong, but I learned once again that I was treading on thin ice as a Christian and a closet lesbian. I was reminded how I should be and on the surface, no one could accept me for what I was.

I had ignored the fact that I loved women for years and years. I was too busy being the perfect daughter, the perfect student, and the perfect sister. I had to make everyone happy at all costs, so when the distraction of a confusing attraction crept its way into my mind, it was easy to push it away in haste without a second thought. The dreams I had at night of holding my best friend or touching a female classmate were easy to ignore too. I mean really, dreams are so confusing!

Add to the mix the unspoken rules of my faith and it was doubly important not to acknowledge the hidden feelings that dwelt subconsciously in my mind and heart.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 February 2010 23:16
It's not a choice
Articles - Coming Out
Written by (Guest Writers)   
Monday, 04 December 2006 04:38

What bothers me about the “it’s a choice” argument about homosexualty or homosexual “lifestyle” is the lack of empathy and the obvious ignorance on what living “the lifestyle” entails.

For whatever reason, people who make that argument seem to only see homosexuality as a sexual rebellion and a plot to overthrow tradition and social norms. It is as if gays and lesbians are deliberately antagonising the established rules, and not only that, but they enjoy doing it. Yes, we’re all thrilled and pumped up about it. What they don’t see is the painful process of self-doubt, self-hatred, and alienation, and when you’ve come to terms with those yourself, realizing that you will never be “normal”, that no matter where you go, you will never feel completely safe.

Some of us might have forgotten it; for some it might just be remembered as another glitch in the bumpy road to adulthood; but it’s an unmistakable darkness that we have all gone through. Some emerge from it with a few bruises, some with deep wounds, and some never make their way out.

Numerous studies have found a higher suicide attempt rate in gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered teens. Obviously because they’re just too excited about entering a world without sexual limitations, where pissing your parents off is considered to be cool.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 19:25
Women who hate women who love women
Articles - Coming Out
Written by AnJ   
Tuesday, 21 November 2006 04:39
When i was still in my undergraduate years, i had a good friend who doted upon me like a sister. She told me all she needed was a degree -never matter the grades- and she would get married and be a “tai-tai”. (A tai-tai is the wife of a rich man. A tai-tai does not need to work.) This same friend of mine later told me that in any leadership committee, it is best that girls do not take up more than half of the seats. Because women, in her experience, were incompetent. And woe to any club who has a lady-chairperson!- she exclaimed. *DOTS*

Women who put down groups of other women have always intrigued me.
You would think that being women, they would understand how things are like for women. They would see the stereotypes in place and how women still have some way to go in terms of equality.

But no… There is a surprisingly number of women out there who take in everything they have been told, without critical evaluation.

Women who endorse the following statements:
“A woman should not expect to go to exactly the same places or to have the same freedom of action as men.”
“Women  are unable to hold positions of power because they are overly emotional and illogical, desiring to gain too much control over men.”
“Men are less likely to fall apart in emergencies than women are.”
“Men and women have qualities that complement one another.”
“Lesbians endanger the institution of the family.”
“Lesbians tend to dress in opposite-sex clothing.”

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 19:25
My family: Not chosen
Articles - Coming Out
Written by (Guest Writers)   
Saturday, 18 November 2006 04:40

It would be easy for me to say that family is chosen, not given, and that wherever I feel comfortable is where home is. But they’re there, and there’s no where else I can belong to, whether I want to or not. Maybe in some ways I’m in a lucky position to say such a thing: my family didn’t turn me away when I came out, and they still love me as they always have. I don’t have to go search for another place, another home, because mine’s still there for me. But my family is not the most progressive one you can find. While my parents are very liberal minded in many ways, in others they are still quite conservative. They retain the traditional Chinese family values, and addition to that they are faithful Catholics. I won’t pretend that my coming out didn’t cause any emotional conflict for them both, and I can’t ask more than just acceptance. I have that and I am grateful for it, but though terrible it may sound, sometimes I wish they had reacted more extremely.

See, my problem is I have to walk the line between respecting their beliefs and their hope for me to find my way to be happy, and just to ignore their idea of what my happiness is and look somewhere else for guidance and recognition.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 19:24
Coming out… an ongoing process.
Articles - Coming Out
Written by AnJ   
Monday, 09 October 2006 04:41

Coming out is not about lesbians only.
Coming out requires giving others a better understanding of double standards, of the concepts of diversity and the freedom to live in harmony with one another. It is about crossing boundaries… whether racial, religious, gender.. or sexual orientation.

After the forum organized by Sayoni during IndigNation, some people gave this feedback: The coming out stories are too rosy. They cannot identify with it.

Yes, coming out is a long-drawn process. Things don’t change over night…
The thing about people is..
They may understand what you are trying to say at that point in time; they may see the logic behind your stand.
But old habits die hard… and i find myself repeating when they automatically fall back on stereotypical cruel jokes on the queer community.

You see… our mind is filled with schemas. Which are elaborate networks of inter-related information. As people grow up, people group information together. Ideas like “lesbian” and “gay” elicit other ideas like “ephemeral relationships” and “bad”. So, each time we reason with someone, we are modifying the schema. But it is difficult to modify the entire schema at once.

Plenty of people have come up to me and gave me lines like: “You are so lucky that your mother understands.”

Yes, she understands. But no, she does not completely understand.
She understands that love is regardless of gender. She understands that straight relationships do not promise happiness, and that gay unions can provide sweet and loving companionship.
But there are certain mentalities that she holds on to… such as homosexuality is a hot trend. A trend that people can “catch” and precipitate the demise of the human race. And thus, flowing from this line, we should not allow gay people to be open about their sexuality.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 19:24
A life without compromise – Chapter 2
Articles - Coming Out
Written by (Guest Writers)   
Monday, 02 October 2006 04:43


I came out at 32 on Sept 10th 2001, right before the dreadful landmark Sept 11th terrorist attacks in the US. I remember this not as a delusion of grandeur but only because it was pointed out by my best friend who reacted to my disclosing e-mail aptly as “more drama than Sept 11th”. Strangely, I also saw that as privately significant because it made me realize how fragile our lives are and just living in the shadow of my true identity would only be selling myself short of what was left on earth.

So I strengthened my resolve from that day on, having come out to myself first, then to my closest and dearest friends, even to my ex-now-gay boyfriend, that I would have to make a significant paradigm shift (yes, I am truly indoctrinated in corporate-speak!) In a word, I knew my life from that day would be different.

Years later and it has been nothing but a confusing flux of changes, sometimes even to the point of breathless chaos.

The first day when I admitted that I am gay was well, rather exciting, almost as exciting as say acquiring a new pair of kickass shoes which you just couldn’t wait to show to the world. Well, I suppose I was overcompensating as a late-bloomer of sorts so the first thing I did was to hunt down every possible form of gay literature, media and even fashion statements. I e-shopped with a vengeance and ran up a sizeable bill within the month just from the sheer excitement of reinventing myself, atoning for my decades of homophobia by being exaggeratedly proud of my homosexual identity. I was what you might call a ’screaming ranting dyke’, for want of better phrasing.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 19:23
A life without compromise – Part 3
Articles - Coming Out
Written by (Guest Writers)   
Friday, 29 September 2006 00:00


A year later and I shelved those disturbing feelings because I found that evasion was often the most convenient resolve. However, it was almost part of some divine will which I would, at different points of my life, meet an individual who would rekindle these extinguished embers.

M was a junior during the freshman orientation which I was part of the executive commitee. The first thing I noticed about her in that sea of gormless faces was an inexplicable aura of inner peace, which I so jealously yearned for myself. She radiated her calmness from within in the way she spoke in her impeccable diction accompanied by a serene smile.

At first we only had brief encounters over dinner in the communal hall till she decided to pay me a visit at my dorm room to discuss an interview she needed for her course of study. Along the way we discussed religion and I confided my faltering faith to which she displayed an immediate understanding which moved me.

As the weeks went on, M made it a point to come over every time she saw a light in my room (cliche, I know) even on occasions when I was too busy with an assignment to be good company. She would sit on my bed and stare into a vacuum which I could not comprehend and ever so often drop a bombshell line like, “You seem to need a lot of love” which completely threw me from an appropriate reply. She was unnervingly perceptive and sometimes she would make an observation which reached the darkest depths of my soul.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 19:19
A life without compromise – Part 5
Articles - Coming Out
Written by (Guest Writers)   
Monday, 25 September 2006 00:00


Two years later and I commited it to matrimony, saw eight years and two children through with him. Unfortunately, as in many things, I would be lying if I said that the questions about my inclinations had completely gone away. In fact, I found myself still deliberating the polarities of my sexual orientation even while married. One encounter with a colleague at the school I was attached to for practical orientation still rings clear. Her name was Shirley and she sat beside me in the office and initially we started out as two people sharing very common experiences and wavelengths. We found that not many of our co-workers shared our sense of humour, let alone visions in life. I was gradually drawn to her chirpy and positive personality and she my open-mindedness and laconic wit. We looked forward to seeing each other for a brief hour or so because we were in different sessions (hers morning, mine afternoon). But everytime we shared a moment, it seemed to make our day because it assured us that there was still some sanity in the midst of bureaucratic hogwash.

The day I left we shared an awkwardly pleasant encounter. We had sneaked off for some ice-cream and we talked about nothing significant until she hinted how life would be tedious without her verbal-sparring partner. I knew that I would miss her too but not until a week later when I returned for a farewell gathering in the school. I found myself unusually excited on my way there but when I got there, I made it a point to avert her gaze and proceeded to sit at a few tables away. She seemed to notice this and later remarked that I was aloof and had so quickly forgotten her, and added that she had broken out in rashes that morning for no apparent reason and hinted that it was from excitement at seeing me. With that remark I felt strangely warm and fuzzy because of its closeness to my thoughts.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 19:23
A life without compromise – Part 4
Articles - Coming Out
Written by (Guest Writers)   
Saturday, 23 September 2006 04:53


I was starting to really plunge into the absolute abyss of self-doubt by the time I was 20. Taking a vacation job as a fitness instructor only served to open more avenues to explore my nagging questions. As a fitness mentor to several women every week, I found myself deeply gratified by my new position. It was a combination of egocentricity and the Svengali-ishly rewarding sensation of being these women’s ideal physical form. They would hang on my every word and depend on me to make their otherwise mundane work day a little more bearable with my light-hearted aerobics sessions. One particular student in her mid-20s caught my attention because she was not only at my class punctually but regularly. Although there were other instructors at hand, she would wait for my later class even if she had arrived at the gym earlier. She also encompassed what I would define as a beautiful woman – big hazel-shaped eyes, well-chiseled cheekbone structure and most importantly, an alluring smile which left me wondering what was behind it sometimes. I found myself looking forward to her attendance and even slighted if she didn’t turn up. The day my hamstring injury rendered me immobile in the middle of class, she quickly rose to the moment and offered to lead it for me with my verbal instruction (how bizarre). And when I had to quit as a result of that, she stopped attending and to me that was a coincidence I appreciated with private gratitude. We rarely spoke but it was that quiet acknowledgement of mutual admiration I’ll never forget.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 19:22
A life without compromise – Part 2
Articles - Coming Out
Written by (Guest Writers)   
Tuesday, 19 September 2006 00:00


By 17, I was beginning to handle my sexuality with greater confidence and assurance. I found myself increasingly drawn to the male gender and even ventured into a serious relationship with a senior at junior college. I was convinced then that a girl was a social misfit if she couldn’t nab herself a man. I thought then that all the initial oddities of my sexual orientation were part of a passing phase in early puberty. However, these confirmations did seem rather unsatisfying as I found that in moments of soul-searching honesty, I actually did not comprehend the intricacies of love and the sexual politics of heterosexual relationships. I was, at the risk of sounding cliche, in love with the idea of being in love. This explanation sums up all future encounters with men in the years which followed, especially in the face of pressures of dating in order to avert the stigma of being misconstrued a social pariah.

At 18, having gone through a couple of disenchanting associations with boys, I began to unleash the constraints of my inherent inclinations which I had kept in denial for a few years. For a good while I reviled these irregularities of $my inner psyche whenever I found a female attractive, but then another person would cross my path and re-awaken these repressed emotions.

This time it was a young teacher, not particularly attractive by commercial standards but she had an aura of serenity and self-possessed poise which drew my admiration, I fancied then that every nuance of a glance, smile or even a pat on the shoulder as a hopeful reciprocation of my affinity towards her. She seemed to me then to prolong our encounters at the corridor, or project meetings which we were mutually involved in. In my own egocentric reasoning, she seemed to treat me with special interest which I found gratifying, sometimes to the point of thrilling distraction. It did bother me that only once did a male affect me the same way when I was 14, but since then the same emotion has never re-surface. I found myself writing poetry and music more easily and needless to say, I was inspired to write a couple of songs about her. And the songs which I wrote before about men were often about the futility of love or the breakdown of relationships, which in comparison only served to ascertain that the female nature drew stronger emotional responses from me.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 19:17
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