At first I was afraid…

On 24 August 2013, an event called “To Russia with Love” was held at Hong Lim Park, where some 100 or so Singaporeans came together to show our solidarity for the persecuted LGBT communities in Russia.

Here is a video excerpt of my reading at the event, titled “At first I was afriad, I was petrified…”, which also happens to be the opening line of the classic Gloria Gaynor disco number “I Will Survive.” Special thanks to Roy Tan for filming and editing.

At first I was afraid, I was petrified (after Martin Niemöller)

Leviticus came for my brother
Because he was laying with another,
And called him an abomination and a sinner.
And I didn’t speak out because I was a believer, I was afraid.

Then Hitler came for my sisters and brothers,
Because they were a threat to the master race.
He put the degenerates into gas chambers,
And I didn’t speak out because I was patriotic, I was afraid.

Then Putin came for more brothers and sisters,
Because they were spreading propaganda.
He kidnapped and raped and killed them,
And I didn’t speak out because Russia is so far away,
And I don’t drink vodka anyway.

And then Lee came for me,
Because what I did was unnatural and illegal.
And then I was afraid, I was petrified,
As there was no one left to speak for me.

I Will Survive with Music – 10 August 2013

Following the book launch in May, a community reading session in June, and a successful Indiegogo campaign which raised funds to send more than 100 copies of the book to social service professionals working in the community, we now have a reading-cum-music session.

Come join the editor of “I Will Survive: Personal gay, lesbian, bisexual & transgender stories in Singapore”, Leow Yangfa, and his musical guest, Lokies Khan, for an evening of stories, personal sharing and familiar tunes, to celebrate the triple occasion of IndigNation, Hari Raya Puasa & National Day!

A limited number of copies of the book will be available for sale at the venue, and the editor would be delighted to sign autographs!

Date: 10 August 2013, Saturday

Time: 8:00pm – 9:30pm

Venue: Artistry, 17 Jalan Pinang (off Victoria Street), S 199149

Admission is free, sign up now at the Facebook event page.

More about, Lokies Khan, singer & performer:

Singing from the age of four, Lokies Khan’s love for music has always been prominent. He had a 5-month residential stint at Speakeasy,and has also performed in other well-known venues, including Home Club, NUSS Guild House, FIVE Izakaya bar, Temasek Club and Hatched. Influenced by a broad spectrum of music, he cites Alicia Keys, Ella Fitzgerald, Lana Del Rey & Christina Aguilera as his biggest influence in his artistry.

Lokies’ voice has often been described as unusually intriguing. With his versatility, he blows away with strength, mellows down low, demonstrates eccentrics with his range & softens with gentleness. And when he isn’t singing, he moonlights as a DJ.

Click below for a clip of Lokies performing Kylie Minogue’s “I Believe in You”.

This event has been granted an Arts Entertainment Licence by the Media Development Authority (MDA), with a rating of R18 (Homosexual theme).

Afternote: Here is a video clip taken from the event, where I introduce Lokies, followed by his performance of Gloria Gaynor’s disco classic “I Will Survive”.

Why Pink Dot is Home

We all have homes to go to, don’t we?

It could be in Ang Mo Kio, Bukit Timah, Choa Chu Kang, Dover Road or Eunos Crescent; it’s where you grew up, it’s printed on your NRIC, or a place for bills to be sent. More importantly, it’s where you can just be yourself.

Or can you?

Many of us look forward to going home at the end of the day. To see our loved ones, to catch up with a favourite TV programme, or cook a nice meal. Yet for some, it means facing family members who don’t understand or accept what it means to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning.

For children and young people, home should be a place of safety, where they can grow and be nurtured. And sadly, some are hurt and abused by the very ones who have been entrusted with their care.

Parents remind their teenagers to “come home early”. But if you’re being bullied in school by your peers for being different, the last thing you want to do is face the shame of being unable to tell the ones you love what actually happened.

Home for some is a state of mind, to be found in one’s faith and religion. And when centuries-old scriptures condemn you for being who you are, where then is that peace to be had?

You might be reading this in the comfort of your home, on the MRT or bus, or just wishing you had some place you could go where it’s really home: a place where you’re taken seriously, where you can connect with someone honestly, where you can decide what you want to do, and where you feel safe. Above all, home should also be where you belong, where you’re accepted, and where you feel love and are loved.

For those who believe in having a place that you can truly call home, come down to Pink Dot and make yourselves comfortable, because everyone present truly wants to be there.

For many who may not yet be ready to come out to those around you as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, it’s OK. Come home to Pink Dot, for you will find acceptance among many like you, and many others who are different from you, because that’s OK too.

For the 5.3 million of us here on this little red dot – in Sengkang, Tiong Bahru, Ubi Avenue, West Coast, Yio Chu Kang and everywhere else in-between – perhaps it’s time to celebrate a place we can all call home.

Leow Yangfa is editor of the book I Will Survive: Personal gay, lesbian, bisexual & transgender stories in Singapore, published by Math Paper Press. He is also the deputy executive director of Oogachaga Counselling & Support, an LGBTQ-affirming social service organisation, and has been going to Pink Dot every year since it started.