Dear Straight People,
Previously, we covered the story of Faliqh and Khalid. While their story is heartwarming, it is, unfortunately, not a reality that most of us enjoy. Getting into a relationship is but the first step into a noxious world of judgment and discrimination for many of us, and our next couple, Shireen and Yujing, are no strangers to this sad state of affairs.
On first meeting them, what struck me most was the chemistry that they shared. The subtle minutiae of gazing into each other’s eyes and being most relaxed when they’re snuggling up to each other – these all indicate a couple deeply in love with each other.
But they aren’t able to fully enjoy each other’s company, as their families don’t accept them. This is especially the case for Yujing, who came out to her parents but was met with rejection.
Struggle with familial acceptance
Yujing’s post-coming-out predicament is all too familiar to us. Her parents are committed to misunderstanding “what [her] relationship is about”, insisting that it’s “wrong”. In more extreme cases, some of our parents can and will take a step further and throw us out of our homes.
In light of this ever-looming threat, it is hardly surprising that there would be a faction of us who choose to keep the doors to our closets tightly shut. Shireen herself recognises the threat, especially following her mother’s proclamation that she would be the “biggest disappointment” to her if she turned out to be gay.
Looking at Shireen and Yujing’s struggles with their families has inevitably made me look upon my own. I have been blessed with the support of so many friends, yet the fact remains that my own family have not – and will likely not – accept me for who I am. Much as I wish this is a reality that I – and I believe many of you out there – don’t have to grapple with, it is what it is and all we can do is hope for the best.
Hopes and dreams
Apart from familial acceptance, Shireen and Yujing are also concerned with the future of their relationship. When asked about their dreams for the future, Shireen and Yujing unanimously agree on moving in together and living under the same roof.
Yet the cruel reality for them, and also for the rest of us in the LGBT community, is that this is not something we can readily enjoy. This begins from local laws in Singapore refusing to officiate our unions in marriage, in turn meaning that we are barred access to public housing before turning 35.
As Yujing puts it, “living together is easy and normal for a straight couple as part of their checklist of milestones”. This same privilege is not, much as I hate to admit it, made available to us LGBT folk.
I, too, wish to own a place of my own with whomever my future partner will be. Yet why must I wait for such a long time before I can secure a place of my own? What is it about my relationship that makes it any less genuine, less legitimate than that of a straight couple’s? How does my being sexually attracted to men make me any less worthy of building a relationship founded on love?
I believe many of you have asked these same questions at one point or another. Trivial the dream of owning a place with your significant other may appear to be, it’s a very big deal to many same sex couples out there.
Shireen and Yujing’s story isn’t new to many of us, for it presents the same reality we experience. The difficulties they face as a same-sex couple are universal, from being rejected by their families right down to sharing the simple dream of moving in together.
Despite these difficulties, there is at least room for a spot of optimism: the genuineness of the love shared by Shireen and Yujing. As Mulan puts it, their love is as “the flower that blooms in adversity”: it is the most rare and beautiful of all”.
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