Keeping Singapore's LBQ Spaces Alive

Written by editor on . Posted in Events

Panelists speaking at Sayoni's event at independent bookstore The Moon.
By Natasha Sadiq

On 28th October, almost 60 women turned up to attend a panel discussion organised by Sayoni titled "Where Are All the LBQ Spaces?". The event was held at The Moon, an almost ethereal café-bookstore initially conceived of by its owner as a space for women, by women.

The panel comprised four speakers: Kim from Two Queens Asia, Norah from She+Pride, Tiffany from The Bi+ Collective and Alina from Sayoni, and the session was moderated by Leanna, a Sayoni volunteer. Here are three highlights from the discussion:

1. There is no one way to define and construct LBQ spaces

When the speakers were asked about why their groups were formed, a common reason was echoed: to create safe spaces for LBQ women. However, their motivations differed.

Sayoni was formed just as online communities appeared. Its online forums allowed LBQ women to communicate in relative anonymity, which then provided a platform for women to safely take their interactions offline.

For Tiffany, The Bi+ Collective was initially a way for her to make friends. She built a community where she could meet individuals who were like her, without having to feel like she was not gay or straight enough. Two Queens was formed simply for women to have fun through parties, and not necessarily discuss cerebral or existential issues.

It was not just the reasons behind the creation of these spaces which differed. During the Q&A session, an audience member suggested that LBQ spaces do not necessarily have to be rigid in form. She introduced the concept of collaborating with adjacent spaces, somewhere that is physically near to an LBQ space but not exactly like it. It may be more sustainable to go beyond creating exclusive LBQ spaces and look into how conventional spaces can accommodate LBQ women, she said.

2. The only way that LBQ spaces can be kept alive is for people to occupy those spaces

A considerable segment of the event revolved around understanding why LBQ spaces are so limited, and why they were disappearing. Norah said that people in the United States were open with their sexuality, and may not need a physical safe space. She also suggested considering the possibility that women do not spend as much as men. Indeed, spaces devoted exclusively to LBQ women have to maintain a balance between restricting their patronage and being economically viable.

Kim added that although Two Queens is a commercial entity, it does not make a lot of money. As the "scene" changes and LBQ women express different tastes and preferences, the financial viability of LBQ spaces is also affected. Tiffany expressed similar concerns, saying that The Bi+ Collective relies on limited contributions. One solution presented by Alina is to ensure that temporary spaces like the Internet thrive, despite limited permanent physical spaces.

Whatever its form, a space can only serve its purpose if an occupant engages and negotiates with it. For this to happen, we need to show up. Kim talked about her experience having organised an all-girls’ party at a club, which was eventually attended by only 50 ladies. It was not the most encouraging experience. In this case, two is not company, and three sure isn’t a crowd (neither is 50!).

An LBQ space does not exist in and of itself. LBQ women’s experiences also help to define the space. Participating in dialogues and indicating our interest on Facebook is important, but what is critical to the survival of LBQ spaces is for us to actually be present.
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3. Visibility is not just about being out, loud and proud

Norah emphasised the importance of visibility. For example, She+Pride’s events are held in public spaces. She said, “People cannot see us as scared… we cannot be hiding.”

Indeed, some of us are more comfortable with our sexuality. But others may not be. LBQ spaces are important not just as political acts of protest but also as spaces for affirmation and healing. As one audience member mentioned, LBQ women do not have to say anything in these spaces, they can just “soak in the atmosphere”.

Norah’s notion of visibility still applies. Visibility isn’t just about coming out and staying out. Visibility is also about easing into yourself as an LBQ woman. It is primarily about seeing yourself, and not necessarily being seen by others. LBQ spaces would fail to serve their function if we are not visible to ourselves.

However, visibility is important not just for the community but also those outside of it. Though a painful process, visibility helps to develop acceptance in society. Visibility is also important because without it, there is no way to catch the attention of those who need LBQ spaces most. Kim spoke about how Two Queens has had to tread carefully when it comes to marketing its all-girls events. From her experience, there are people bent on ensuring that public spaces are free of the “gay agenda”.

At the core of it, a space is only what we make it out to be. As Norah said during the discussion, it is not fair for the community to rely on the same people to maintain LBQ spaces. Hence, it is important for us to strengthen the existing spaces that we have. It is not just a question of how many LBQ spaces we have, but more importantly, the degree of our interactions with these spaces.

Sayoni Camp: An Enduring Journey Crafted for Women by Women

Written by sayoni on . Posted in Sayoni Camp

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This year, Sayoni Camp offers the opportunity to get in touch with yourself and start a journey to becoming your intrinsic, authentic self.

Do the words authentic self, emotional self, life position, resilience, well-anchored, contentment and presence stir something in you? If so, this camp is for you. Get to know the self. Be empowered with insight into how you have been automatically operating. Transform your current life position and get to a place you desire to be.

Self-discovery is also about fun. We promise excitement and loads of laughter if you are willing to come play with us! You will be in the company of like-minded women in an atmosphere created for self-discovery. Previous campers have raved about the surprises and joys they have experienced – you can too.

This camp will be led by two facilitators and supported by volunteers who are devoted to the empowerment of women. Much effort and heart has gone into planning this to create a safe, conducive environment for your fun and growth.

Click here to find out more about the camp! Sign up before 30 June 2016 to enjoy an early bird discount.

Playing Parts, Women's Parts: A Review of The Vagina Monologues

Written by sayoni on . Posted in Events

This post is by guest writer Jennifer Koh, about the activist reading of Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues presented by Etiquette and Sayoni at The Arts House on 10 May 2013.

 

The Vagina Monologues


All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one [wo]man in [her] time plays many parts [...]

- William Shakespeare, As You Like It (Act II, Scene vii)


How many names do we have for the vagina? Thirty-nine at my last count, according to the rendition of The Vagina Monologues presented by Etiquette and Sayoni, staged at The Arts House on 10 May 2013.

This was a community reading that brought together 16 women of different ethnicities, sexual orientations and occupational backgrounds, all of whom are active in civil society, to stand in solidarity as part of V-Day 2013, an annual global campaign to raise awareness about gender-based violence and raise funds for local beneficiaries whose work addresses gender-based issues.

Etiquette SG x Sayoni present The Vagina Monologues

Written by sayoni on . Posted in Events

Last year's reading brought down the house, thanks to our talented activists and enthusiastic audience. This year, Etiquette SG will bring The Vagina Monologues to greater heights together with Sayoni at The Arts House Chamber (i.e. where parliament used to sit).


The Vagina Monologues

Description
In this rendition of Eve Ensler’s iconic
The Vagina Monologues, 14 Singapore-based woman activists from myriad sectors of civil society come together for a community reading of the script.

In the tradition of V-Day, an event aimed at bringing to light issues pertaining to violence against women, this event is an amateur reading meant as a platform for the voices of non-actors and to reach out to local communities.

The women reading this version of the play work in various fields of social change that span issues of gender equality, sexual violence, animal welfare, queer rights, migrant worker rights, sex worker rights, issues of media representation and issues pertaining to the death penalty.


Get your tickets from Bytes! We hear they're selling fast, so don't wait too long!

Sayoni's "Airing the Closet" at IndigNation 2012

Written by editor on . Posted in Events


Sayoni organised a talk show event on coming out at this year's IndigNation, where invited guests Bian, Caryn and Jin spoke on the topic together with Valerie, our host and moderator. The audience were active participants in the show, coming forward with their own stories and sharing a tapestry of different perspectives.

Here are some notable moments from the evening, seen in quotes from the speakers and participants.

 

18 women (a V-Day poem)

Written by alina on . Posted in Events

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This post is by guest writer Bianca, written in celebration of V-Day 2012 Singapore, held at the Arts House on 22 April. V-Day is a global activist movement to stop violence against women and girls through the use of creative events to promote awareness and action.

 

18 women

In swashes of pink, red and black

Red shoes, or black or barefoot with pink painted toes

Red roses, pink hairclips, lipstick, rouge, glitter

On sacred stage

Eager to show, talk, listen, laugh, moan, cry

To tell the story on sacred stage

V-Day Singapore Presents "The Vagina Monologues"

Written by alina on . Posted in Events

Update: Tickets for this event are sold out! Thank you for your support. For those going, we hope the performance makes an impact.

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[Click here for bigger version]

 

V‑DAY Singapore presents Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues at the Singapore Arts House!

Comprising Sayoni and friends, V-Day Singapore joins the global effort to stop violence against women and girls. The ‘V’ stands for Valentine, Vagina and Victory over Violence. Further information about V-Day and its other campaigns to end violence against women and girls worldwide can be found at www.vday.org.

Post-SlutWalk SG event in collaboration with Sayoni: Courage Unfolds

Written by sayoni on . Posted in Events

courage

 

Last year, SlutWalk Singapore planned to screen the documentary Courage Unfolds together with Sayoni as part of our fringe programme. However, due to the noise SWSG started to make, MDA approached us and told us that the film had to be rated by the Board of Film Censors, despite it being a private event. We have finally paid for, and received the license to screen this film.

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Courage Unfolds is a video highlighting the struggles and triumphs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activists in Asia and promoting the use of international human rights law as a tool for social change. This video was co-produced by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and Lesbian Advocates Philippines (LeAP!).

Pinkdot 2011

Written by sayoni on . Posted in Events

 

In exactly one month, on 18 June 2011, Singaporeans will, for the third year running, gather at Hong Lim Park to form a human pink dot in support of the belief that everyone deserves the freedom to love.

 

Top 5 Reasons You Should Join Sayoni Summer Camp '11

Written by Sayoni Summer Camp on . Posted in Sayoni Camp

 

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Sayoni Summer Camp '11 will be happening on Labour Day weekend, 29 Apr - 2 May 2011.

For those who are still considering whether to join us, we have asked previous campers what they have gained from the camp and put together the five reasons you should do so.

1. The Bonds Formed

Participants from both camps have formed lasting friendships that extended far beyond the three days they spent together. The camp's self-development workshops provide unique bonding opportunities so that women can grow together and learn about themselves and the community.

Sayoni Summer Camp 2011

Written by Sayoni Summer Camp on . Posted in Sayoni Camp

Sayoni's queer women's summer camp is back for its third year! This year our camp will be held during the long weekend of 30 April (Saturday) to 2nd May (Monday, a public holiday).

Interested in spending a long weekend in the company of interesting women? Do you enjoy guided workshops about topics close to our hearts? Games in a glittering pool with beautiful women? Or waking up to delicious breakfasts in a gorgeous beach resort with your newfound friends?

At our summer camp, you can have all this and more. SSC'11 has an exciting line-up of activities for the fresh campgoer or the returning cool camper.

 

More details can be found at http://www.sayoni.com/ssc11

Early Bird Special until 14 Feb. Reserve your place early to avoid missing out!


 

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