Yes, it’s not easy being LGBT in Singapore. But while Singapore isn’t exactly a very gay-friendly place in 2016, it’s a heck of a lot better now than it was a few decades ago.
But don’t just take my word for it. Hear it from the following 5 Singaporeans over the age of 40 who will take you back to a time when the gay community was actively persecuted and the internet haven’t yet been invented.
1. Roy Tan (Gay): 58-years old
Without the Internet or any publication containing comprehensive information about the gay community, I did not know where to look for other homosexual men.
It was fortuitous that I chanced upon a Straits Times article one day which reported on public complaints about young boys holding hands at night at Hong Lim Park. My gaydar perked up instantly.
One fateful day, close to midnight, I approached a handsome, aloof, young man loitering around a cruising hotspot. He was later to become my very first boyfriend. He was eminently street-savvy and had an extensive knowledge of all the gay rendezvous in Singapore. Acting on his information, I explored these places in the coming months.
The venue that struck me the most was Marmota disco. When I first stepped though the entrance, I was overwhelmed at the site of over a hundred homosexual men filling the joint with many gyrating energetically on the crowded dance floor. I almost fell to my knees and cried. My fears of being alone and not finding another gay person to spend my life with dissipated immediately.
It was the first time I felt a sense of community.
2. Miak Siew (Gay): 41-years old
Much of my teenage years I was in denial. I thought, like many of the books I read back then said, that it was a phase. And I thought I would somehow magically snap out of it when I turned 21.There was no internet back in those days. It’s hard to imagine for many young people today. There is little access to information. I remember trying to find information in the school library and the national library from encyclopedias and books and many of them described it as a phase. The only presentation of gay men in the media that I saw were effeminate men – something I couldn’t identify with.Some time later, I went for the first time to a gay club – I saw gay guys who were older and I saw who I am, and who I can be. Not the stereotypical gay guy – but a guy who just happens to be gay.
3. Amy Tashiana (Transgender): 49-years old
When I was much younger about 8-9 years old, when I walked down under my flat, I was called names.
People back then were uneducated and there was no internet. So when they see something strange, they can’t understand. That was the most disgusting time I ever went through until I left home at 13.
Nowadays got internet, it’s better. People are more open about certain issues.
4. Bobby Luo (Gay): 45-years old
Me and my friends didn’t know what gay was. There were no means for me to classify this strangeness that I had felt.
We didn’t have any positive LGBT role models that was represented back. It was quite like a “gay shame” that was never spoken of , but something which we have to live with each day.
5. Otto Fong (Gay): 48-years old
It was a daily battle between feeling excited about men’s bodies and the fear that something was wrong with me.
There were effeminate boys in my school, and I prefer hanging with them than the jocks – we did not like the idea of balls flying in our faces. I could not relate to their effeminacy but I enjoyed their company.
I found a western book about sex for teenagers. Unfortunately, without Asian role models, I concluded that gays were only found in the West.
This kind of adolescent is very negative. Like a mice placed inside a maze that had no exit, my desires led me to dead ends and empty alleys.
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