I Will Survive 377A

IWS 377AI survived bullying.

Kenny, 17 years old, identifies as a bisexual teen, and is comfortable in his relationships with men as well as women. He is a student at a local polytechnic. After he came out to his friends in secondary school he was called names like “faggot,” and was even groped by another boy in class and humiliated in front of others. You can read Kenny’s story here.

Zakaria works as a civil servant in a government statutory board. He is 24 years old and grew up in a Malay-Muslim family. When he was in National Service, he was teased because of his effeminate behaviour, and was even sexually harassed while he was sleeping in his bunk bed. You can read Zakaria’s story here.

I survived religious oppression.

Mohd Ashraff is 37 years old. He works as a counsellor, and lives with his partner. When he was younger, he struggled with being gay and being Muslim. As he grew older, he has since learnt to reconcile his sexuality with his faith. You can read Ashraff’s story here.

I survived addiction.

Bradley was born in the United States of America and has lived for many years in Singapore, where he works as an English teacher. He is in his early 40s. While trying to deal with his loneliness and other personal issues, he resorted to recreational drug use and excessive drinking. He has since recovered, and keeps himself busy with work and volunteering. You can read Bradley’s story here.

I survived depression.

Lance is in his forties. He works as a consultant and often has to travel overseas for his job. While in National Service, he was diagnosed with bipolar depression, and over the years he’s had to be admitted into hospital several times and has even attempted suicide on a few occasions. His condition has since stabilised, and he’s worked in different jobs where his employers knew about his illness. You can read Lance’s story here.

I survived physical violence.

Wee Lee, 29 years old, works as a marketing executive, and has been in a relationship with his current boyfriend for many years. When he was younger, he was in a 4-year relationship with another guy who inflicted emotional, psychological and physical abuse on him. This included making belittling comments, preventing him from seeing his friends, slapping him in public, pushing him down an escalator, hitting him with bamboo poles and stabbing him with a knife. You can read Wee Lee’s story here.

I survived HIV.

Lester is 21 years old, and a student at a local university. He lives in an HDB flat with his parents and sister. As a teenager, he was constantly harassed by an older male sexual partner, and the police had to be involved. When he was 18, he became infected with HIV. He has now completed his university studies and working in his first full-time job. You can read Lester’s story here.

I survived suicide.

Tarry, in his mid-thirties, works in the IT industry. He likes to keep up-to-date with his electronic gadgets. Ten years ago, he received news that his then-boyfriend had jumped out of his flat and killed himself just before his birthday, without any explanation. Tarry is now working overseas and has a new partner, and regularly returns to see his family and friends in Singapore. You can read Tarry’s story here.

We have survived all this.

We will survive 377A.

*        *        *

If you’re still unclear about what is 377A, read this article on SgWiki for a start, as well as others by Yawning Bread and Fridae.

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I never gave up (excerpt)

Kenny, 17 years old, identifies as a bisexual teen, and is comfortable in his relationships with men as well as women. He is a student at a local polytechnic.

Bapok. Gay boy. Paedophile. Fag. Go date that old man.
In school they called me all those things, and “faggot” was a second name that I chose to ignore most of the time.
I came out as a bisexual to my friends when I was in secondary three, because I realised I liked boys as well as girls. That’s when it all started.  Because of that, I was jested, made fun of, insulted, pushed around and bullied almost on a daily basis in school. It was difficult for me because not many people could understand what I was going through. I was mostly on my own as I couldn’t yet come out to my brother, and I hadn’t yet decided to tell my mum. There were times when I would shut people off and took time out to be by myself, walking around Singapore, exploring and having time alone. I was feeling so down and I just wanted to make myself happy.
“Fag” was used on me so often I think I got immune to it.  For me, things in secondary school were much worse compared to what it should have been. I went to an all-boys’ mission school. As much as people might believe that mission schools are mostly gay-populated, the boys in my school weren’t very receptive of me.
For example, there was this classmate who thought I was hitting on him when I was just trying to be a friend. This was after I had come out to some people in school. After that he went onto Friendster and posted different bulletins describing how I would pay young boys to give me blow jobs, and how I would go into lifts and bedrooms with dirty old men and have sex with them. He even sent them out to his friends and got them to tag each other.
*    *     *
I often felt left out and ostracised. Out of a whole year in school, I was usually depressed for 363 days. Obviously, there were further cases of bullying.
There was this boy in school who was notorious for doing this and that with different boys in the toilets. He would sometimes come up to me and caress me in the middle of the school canteen. I told him to get lost and not to touch or even come near me ever again. It wasn’t genuine pity or sympathy he was displaying. Even if it was, I didn’t need it. I knew he was only trying to take advantage of me.
I also felt indignant. Another boy once tried to humiliate me in front of the whole level, while everyone was changing classrooms for Mother Tongue lesson. He called out to me,
“You gay right? You bi right? Come lah, I let you see my dick.”
I was really angry.
“If you dare to show me, I will dare to see.”
When nothing happened, I repeated my challenge.
“If you dare to show me, I will dare to see! Take it out! Didn’t you say you wanted me to see? Yes I’m bisexual, I dare to see. Not like I haven’t seen it before. Show me!”
Everyone was watching, including the teachers.  No one moved. They just stood and watched. He had nothing to say in response, so I added,
“Why, too small is it? Afraid I’ve never it seen before? I’m sorry, I’m not very interested in a schoolboy’s dick!”
Not only was I bullied, I was also molested. One of the other boys thought that he would have some fun with me by grabbing the front of my pants during break time, in front of lots of other students. When it happened I wasn’t shocked. I was repulsed and thought what he did was very childish.
*     *     *
Talking about all this anonymously allows me to share my side of the story without hearing judgements. When someone picks up a book and reads an anonymous story, they wouldn’t judge that person or think he did it for fame. They would just read it and understand what it is all about, that it is actually not easy being gay. Especially in Singapore, as I see discrimination everywhere.
I just want to share my story, as we all have our own stories. This was how I dealt with it. It doesn’t mean you have to give up. See what other ways there are to get around it.  Maybe there is another way to make it more bearable.
I just hope that anyone who is gay and facing life’s problems right now won’t give up, because I never gave up.
*     *     *
The above are excerpts from Kenny’s full story, which can be read in the book.

Hard to talk about issues

The personal, real-life stories in the book I Will Survive have raised issues that many of us may either have some experience with, or encountered in our friends or family members.

If you’d like some additional support or information, here are some local services based in Singapore (highlighted in red), as well as international resources, organised alphabetically by issue.

For a more extensive list of Singapore-based resources, please refer to the Resources tab. Please contact the Editor to let us know if you have any amendments to the listings, or suggestions for inclusion.

ADDICTIONS

National Addictions Management Service (NAMS)

We Care Community Services

BBC Health – Sex addiction

BISEXUALITY

The Bisexual Index

I think I might be bisexual, now what do I do?

What is bisexuality? (Psychology Today, 11 July 2010)

BULLYING

Bully-free Campaign

More students call for help against bullies (Channel News Asia, 8 May 2007)

1 in 4 secondary school students bullied (Sunday Times, 16 July 2006)

Schools take serious view against bullying (Ministry of Education, 21 October 2005)

Befrienders Worldwide – About bullying

COMING OUT

What if I’m gay? A coming out guide

Coming Out, Coming Home (Psychology Today, 23 July, 2010)

Support in coming out helps LGB well-being (Health.com, 20 June 2010)

National Coming Out Day

HIV/ AIDS/ STIs

Action for AIDS, Singapore

LiveLife

DSC Clinic

BBC News – The HIV/ AIDS Debate

NAM AIDSmap – Sharing knowledge, changing lives

The Body – The complete HIV/ AIDS resource

MARRIED & GAY

Married Gay

Married Male – Resource centre for the bi-married male

Gay Husbands, Straight Wives

Millions of women married to gay men in China (Fridae, 3 Feb 2012)

MENTAL ILLNESS

Community Health Assessment Team (CHAT)

Institute of Mental Health (IMH)

Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH)

Health Promotion Board (HPB)

BBC Mental Health

Befrienders Worldwide – About depression

PARENTS OF LGBT CHILDREN

SAFE Singapore (Supporting, Affirming, & Empowering our LGBTQ friends & family)

My Child is Gay (book by Bryce McDougall, 2007)

What to do when your child says “I’m gay!” (Psychology Today, 18 April, 2011)

PARTNER VIOLENCE

Promoting Alternatives to Violence (PAVe)

Another Closet (Australia)

RELIGION

As Salam – online group for queer Muslims

Free Community Church (FCC) – a diverse Christian congregation

Heartland – gay Buddhist fellowship

What does the Bible actually say about being gay? (BBC News, 23 October 2003)

To be gay & Muslim (AlterNet, 9 April, 2002)

Gay Muslims (Channel 4 documentary, 2006)

SUICIDE, SELF-HARM & SUICIDE GRIEF

Samaritans of Singapore (SOS)

Befrienders Worldwide – About self-harm

Youth Suicide – Gay/ bisexual men

TRANSGENDER ISSUES

Sg Butterfly – Singapore’s 1st transgender community portal

Transsexuality

WOMEN

Association of Women for Action & Research (AWARE)

RedQueen! – for queer women in Singapore

Sayoni – to empower Asian queer women

Women’s Nite – a safe space in Singapore lesbian & bisexual women to gather & discuss

Women who love women (documentary, 2006)

Disclaimer The information provided here is designed for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as (or be a substitute for) medical, personal or professional advice, or services. Any medical or other significant life decisions should be made in conjunction with a qualified professional, a list of which can be found under “Professional Resources”. The editor and any other companies or persons associated with the production of this website assume no responsibility for any omissions or errors contained herein and will not be liable for any complications, injuries or other accidents arising from or in connection with, the use of or reliance upon any information in this website.