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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I’ve always believed in the ideas of fairness and equality, and would imagine days of vengeance and revenge on these religious homophobes. ‘What they did to me, one day, they will get in return’, that was what I envisioned in those dark days. I would imagine, how those who call themselves ‘ex-gay’ or ‘reformed’, those who promote the idea of sexuality change, would one day fall on their own swords. And eat their words because they will be proven wrong. Because I believed that suppressing one’s desires is unnatural and will one day lead to an internal implosion inside the person. In my head, all those ex-gays were wrong and one day they would know and I would bear witness to it. And I will be happy for I will be vindicated.

Well, those events happened 2 years ago. And 2 years hence, came the Ted Haggard saga and the seeming fruition of my fantasies. One of the biggest personifications of religious homophobia has befallen, because of himself. Just as I had envisioned and wished for. My proof has come.

But am I happy?

Do I gloat? I’ve had my wish. But it doesn’t satisfy. No. Instead, I feel empty and pity. Pity for those who build a trap for themselves. Pity for those caught up in the system, unaware of circumstances that caused them to think that way. They believe that they are doing the right thing. If you believe you are doing something right, who can blame you for doing it?

Moreover, I think my rage has mellowed a bit. Past hurt has served an important lesson to me. It taught me a lot of things. One of which is that, no matter what people say, as long as you are happy, you don’t have to do what society expects of you. After all, you are only responsible for yourself and your own happiness. Life is what you make of it. That’s why I’m not going to bother about what other people say about my sexuality. And in that same ironic sense, I will not enforce myself upon those who say they are happy ‘being changed’. Their happiness is for them to decide. Even though we may disagree on who’s right and who’s wrong, I believe no one is the wiser. Because like I said, life is what you make of it.

My ex-gay friend, I used to think of him with a bit of pity and disdain. These days, I am ambivalent and more neutral. Both of us walked along the same path once. I stuck to the road, he changed ways. And so our life journeys part and differ. But I’m not going to say I’m right. Or the better one. Because to do that, is to act like the very people who hurt me once. To enforce my views on people who are happy with their own lives, that is invasive and bigoted.

So when I heard of Ted Haggard, sure, it strengthens my belief that repression of your sexuality is wrong. But I’m not going to tell that to the ex-gays. I’m not going to shove it in their faces even though I know I’m highly tempted to do so. Tit for tat’ in vengeance of the past hurt they caused me. For they have chosen their own life paths, and no amount of ‘proof’ I give them will dissuade them. People choose what they want to believe. So I’ll just let bygones be bygones and continue as I am.

Let us not act like the ones who hurt us. Instead, say a little prayer for him.




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