To empower queer women towards greater involvement and presence in the community
Advocacy for LBTQ women's rights at CEDAW
Sayoni was at the United Nations in Geneva in October 2017 to bring Singapore LBTQ women's issues to the forefront. The CEDAW Committee heard our concerns and raised recommendations related to LBTQ women in their Concluding Observations for the Singapore government.
Sayoni is a Singapore-based feminist, volunteer-run organisation that works to uphold human rights protections for queer women, including lesbian, bisexual and transgender women. We organise and advocate for equality in well-being and dignity regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity/expression and sex characteristics.

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Why they came out:

"I want affirmation, want to bring the relationship to another level. I don't want to substitute girlfriend for friend. I feel like I'm being true to myself. I feel like I'm being authentic, and to the person I'm having a relationship with as well. Whether it's friends or colleagues, I don't have to divide the self into two parts."

"I don't have to lie. I affirm who I am. Right now at this point in life, if you can't deal with it, it's your problem and f*** you."

"Feeling scared and being in fear is tough. Being rejected and giving you stares is also tough. But you reach a point where (not coming out is) harder. I decided to put the cards on the table. You decide whether you want to reject or not. But it's very tough. It might take years."

The aftermath:

"She went on this tirade. I could not reason with her. After a while, she just calmed down and never brought it up again."

"When I'm hurt I can't talk to my family. I'm an invisible person in the house. They see me yet they don't see me."

On why there is still good reason to come out:

"For me it's about giving those people, the homophobic, a face they can put to it. That is, for me, the important thing to coming out."

"There still are instances where people say they've never met a single gay person in their entire life."

"It is important to put a human face to the monster people think exists. If I'm being threatened at being outed, I wouldn't even be able to contribute to the community."

"It's not us bringing the (gay rights) issue forward but the friends and family we come out to. My friend is excluded, so I feel excluded as well."

Why they react the way they do:

"If we come out to our parents, they feel responsible to guide us."

"It is seldom a pleasure for those you come out to. For others, it is a complexity."

Redefining "coming out":

"I think the reason I told my parents is that I want to go home. Being in a queer relationship means I have to go out all the time. I feel nomadic. I have to move from place to place to feel comfortable."

"Coming home is more appropriate in an Asian context than coming out. My mother said she still struggles. She's still doing research (on gayness)."

For another take on the event, check out Ian Johari's reflection on the IndigNation blog.

Singapore's pride festival has not yet ended -- Contradiction 8: Our Very Own Literature is happening next Saturday (25 Aug), with more details on the event page.


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