This post is from a friend of mine, a Singaporean friend who is gay. His struggle, and that of his community, remind me forcibly of the struggles that we face here in The Bahamas. It is the same and not the same, because here, too often, the voices and sentiments of bigots prevail. It takes courage and principle to stand up for what we say we believe in, if we indeed do believe in democracy and equality. Sometimes I feel we lack both. But I want to encourage all activists. What you/we are doing is important and necessary. Keep doing it. Here’s why, from the other side of the world.
We speak up so that you can understand us better, and the struggles we go through. We speak up also because we have been told for so long to keep quiet. To hide who we are. To repress who we are. It takes courage for us to identify as LGBT. Many of us are in the position to share our stories and write about our experiences, but many of us suffer in silence because we live in a conservative family or community, or in poverty, or in shame, convinced that our sexuality is a curse. It takes unseen courage for many of us to attend Pink Dot. To take the MRT and endure curious stares and judgmental comments. To know that the authorities are keeping a wary eye on our actions and putting up barricades around our bodies. Many of you came to Pink Dot to support us.Many, many of you expressed your support on social media for my wearing the tank top, and helped the news go viral. That took courage too. Your courage gives us courage.
[Actions supporting equality do not need to be pro-anything. They need] only to be fair. … [E]qual treatment, not special favour, is exactly what [we’re] asking for. It’s too easy to favour the complaint. That was what the [Singapore] National Library did a few years ago when they removed the children’s books about non-traditional families from the children’s section because of some complaints. It’s much harder for an institution to take an impartial stance and adjudicate the merit of the complaint.
… When we were in school we recited the National Pledge every morning, and so, every morning we pledged ourselves “to build a democratic society based on justice and equality.” The writers of the pledge knew that equality is an on-going project. We were not equal then and we are not equal yet, but we can work towards equality. Gay rights are not just for the LGBT community; they are not special privileges for a vocal interest group. Gay rights are part of our national project of building an equal society. They are, right now, a key test of our will and means. I ask you, Straight People who are more than straight people, to support the struggle for equality with all the love you have for Singapore.