“These people look like secondary school students!” exclaimed my friend as he looked at the crowd.

We were at Taboo, popular gay club on Neil Road, last night.

“Can’t be,” I responded over the loud heart thumping music, “they provide liquor here.”

But in my heart, I knew what he was talking about.  I haven’t been to Taboo for ages, at least for a few years.  The crowd of about more than a hundred, 80 percent guys and 20 percent girls, (yes, they were boys and girls, not men and women) looked hardly beyond their teens.

Many had waists as slim as bamboos and skins as taut as a baby’s round butt, note my tone of envy.  Of course, there were exceptions, more among the girls than the boys.  There were pudgy ones especially among the girls who didn’t seem to mind looking like they were bursting the seams of their tight micro-mini dresses.  Or the ultra slim girls with skirts so short, they threatened to move up, leaving too little to the imagination.  Among the boys, there were those with budging boy boobs and waists too.  The similarity is that they all didn’t seem very self-conscious, which I reckoned could be a good thing in self-confidence.  But most were….well, little boys.


The wonderful thing about it is that

the crazier ones made it their duty

to draw the quieter ones into their fun…..


I could see the party-goers who were comfortable with exaggerated gestures and voices, all trying to outdo and outperform the deafening music.  Then there were those who seemed rather out of place, quietly sipping on their alcoholic drinks on the side.  The wonderful thing about it is that the ‘crazier’ ones made it their duty to draw the quieter ones into their fun and as time near midnight, everyone seemed to be in a party mood, whether dancing or playing number games with their hands and fingers.  It was quite fascinating to watch them.

Another noticeable thing was that under the spell of the loud throbbing music, the intoxicating alcohol, the semi darkness with flashing strobe lights and smoke machine effects, it became legitimate to be letting loose and an excuse to be touching, hugging and kissing each other.  In abandonment, there were no inhibitions, everyone touching and willing to be touched.  One skinny guy with a chest tattoo had stripped off his top and was dancing on an elevated ledge but no one seemed to care.  Fortunately, no one seemed to be headed for the full monty and hopefully, everything would stop at just plain good fun and a way to release youthful energy.

In fact, the abandonment and acceptance of each other was so great that one group started moving closer and closer to me.  It had to be them moving, because I was perched on a heavy high stool and I couldn’t have been the one doing it.  For more than one moment, I became part of their group of about 6 or 7 boys.  They didn’t seem to mind that I looked more like an adult chaperon and carried on with their hand guessing game as naturally as if I wasn’t there, which was good because their game was quite interesting to watch.  But of course, I was the Daddy and naturally didn’t join in.


I was drawn into their infectious youth.


Although, I was old enough to be their father of all the party goers, for a moment I was drawn into their infectious youth.  Well, only for the moment, because when we left at around the bewitching hour of one, we saw the aftermath casualties of such parties.  Along Neil Road as we walked back to the car, we saw revelers vomiting, collapsed over the pavement.  Well, to me it’s clear – it’s wonderful to be young, but youth does have its consequences.

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Dictionary.com defines “irony” as “an outcome of events contrary to what was or might have been expected”.

Two situations involving the LGBT community happened recently.  The first was the outburst against the Disney remake of the original cartoon “Beauty and the Beast” which included a purportedly gay character and the second was the Singaporean authority’s disallowing of foreign sponsors and entities from financially supporting any controversial and contentious events which will cause dissension here. In this particular case, it centred around foreign multinational corporations supporting Pink Dot. http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/mha-says-foreign-sponsors-not-allowed-for-pink-dot-or-other-events-at-speakers-corner

Much Ado About Nothing:  Beauty and the Beast

If you think about it, the whole controversy started in the States and with Disney themselves alerting the public that it was introducing the first gay character.  The movie’s director, Bill Condon told Attitude, UK’s gay entertainment magazine that “one of the film’s characters, LeFou, who is played by Josh Gad, will have an ‘exclusively gay moment’ on-screen with villain Gaston (Luke Evans).”  One is never quite sure whether it was an intentional promotional gimmick – controversy sells or just an attempt to caution homophobic audiences.  Anyhow, the Christian right jumped right in with well-known evangelist Billy Graham’s son, Franklin warning and instructing Christians to boycott the movie. http://time.com/4691035/franklin-graham-beauty-and-the-beast-gay-character/  Question is how did he know about something that comes from a gay magazine which he supposedly opposes.   Singapore Christians jumped on the bandwagon with the NCCS (National Council of Churches in Singapore) issuing a statement advising local Christians to do likewise. http://nccs.org.sg/2017/03/14/nccs-advisory-disneys-beauty-beast-14-march-2017/


What was intended to start a boycott turned out to

inadvertently encourage it…..


Unbeknownst to the right wingers, not only did it not stop their flock from flocking to movie houses (pun intended), it aroused the curiosity of even those who would otherwise not even intend to watch it, to now make a beeline for the cinemas.  And by the way, those who watched the movie and focused all attention on identifying the gay moment were sorely disappointed.  Many reported not even knowing when it took place.

What was intended to start a boycott turned out to inadvertently encourage it and Beauty and the Beast was so successful at the ticket office, becoming one of Disney’s most profitable gambles.  Would this herald more gay characters appearing in Disney future projects?  A gay Lion King, perhaps?   Talk about irony.

For whom the bell tolls:  Pink Dot

From its earlier days of 2,500 attendees in 2009 to an estimate of 28,000 in 2016, Pink Dot has become a bone of contention in ‘conservative’ Singapore.  Many religious right wingers must have felt triumphant when the authorities announced last year just after the event, that foreign sponsorship of such public events would no longer be allowed without application which will most likely be turned down because of Pink Dot’s sensitive nature.

Without doubt, members and supporters of the event must have felt the blow in no small way.  The question on everyone’s mind was – does that toll the death knell on Pink Dot?

But in the fashion of jaw dropping irony, organisers of Pink Dot announced recently that they had raised 70% of their target with 50 local sponsors, up from the 18 corporate sponsors last year.  And the numbers are still climbing.  What was expected to be a blow on the event turned out to be the impetus for local companies to step up and rise to the occasion in support of what they believe in.


And local support for Pink Dot is surely an indicator of support.

More and more locals are showing an ability

to move on from the dark ages and embrace a new reality.


This has not only stopped the authorities from being able to do anything, it has gone on to show that the local support towards gay rights is indeed increasing.  And one of the things as suggested by the Prime Minister himself at a recent interview with Stephen Sackur from BBC (28 February 2017) concerning the repeal of 377A is that he is leaving until the time when “social attitudes change….” – looks like the government is leaving it to the people to decide when it will be ready to repeal 377A (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQIXa0tcvbI).  Sounds like it is a number game.  And local support for Pink Dot is surely an indicator of support.  More and more locals are showing an ability to move on from the dark ages and embrace a new reality.  Local corporate support for Pink Dot is a baby step but nonetheless a step in the right direction.

So what started off as a potential death blow has turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  No wonder there are people who are thanking MHA for what they did last year.

And so as Alanis Morissette sings in her song, “…isn’t it ironic, don’t you think…” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jne9t8sHpUc

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重温新的一张旧唱片 江边鸟著

友人去臺北倒數過年。托他買了一張舊唱片的三十週年紀念版。八又二分之一。這是臺灣著名唱片制作人李壽全發行的唯一 一張自己發聲唱歌的專輯。



從午夜十二點開始。將這本附送的册子。 一字不漏的讀完。 裡面都是當年那些曾經參與過上個世紀八十年代臺灣流行音樂跟當代文字和藝術工作者的回憶。讀着這些文字。彷彿隨着時光的河流。漂游到從前那段日子似的。


想起那個年代和那個阶段。發覺三十年已經過去了。没想到的是我居然也走完了前半生。我居然也走過了前半生。嘩然。回想着過去了的五十年光影。自己彷彿甚麽都没有做過。自己彷彿甚麽都没有得到過。。 。


有没有問過自己後悔嗎? 有没有問過自己遺憾嗎?目前的自己不想那麽婆媽。了解到所有得到過的東西反正早晚都會失去的。



Picture source: Picture source: http://www.kuwo.cn/geci/a_8440/

李壽全(生1955429日: 六十一岁)



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CELEBRATE.TAIWAN:  A look at the LGBTQ Human rights in Taiwan

Taiwan looks set to be the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage.

The question being asked is how this Asian country with a population of almost 20 million, predominantly Chinese in origins, presumably conservative with a majority Buddhist background, come to the fore on this long and arduous road.

Although there are many possible reasons, I see at least 3.


To begin with, 377A never existed in Taiwan.  “Same-sex sexual activity has never been stated as a crime in Taiwan, unlike many Western countries.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Taiwan) While Hong Kong, Singapore, India as well as other former British colonies had to fight this legal battle with different degrees of success, Taiwan was spared.  As a result, Taiwan skipped a step and could progress quite quickly to change the hearts and minds of the Taiwanese population, which is a greater hurdle than legislation.


As far back as 1983, the renowned and respected Taiwanese writer, Bai Xianyong (白先勇), wrote “Crystal Boys” (孽子)which had been made into movies and a more recent television series.  Readers and audiences were won over by the plight of Ah Qing (阿清), the young gay protagonist and his group of young gay men especially when very handsome actors took the roles in the TV series.  Then there was the cheerful movie Formula 17 (17岁的天空,2004) which showed that the gay life can be cheerful and optimistic in spite of….  Another noticeable trend is that Taiwan’s public TV station has broadcasted a lot of late night talk shows discussing the issue.  Even the ever popular Kang-Hsi Talk Show (康熙来了) was courageous enough to discuss the issues openly.  Of course, host Cai Kangyong (蔡康永), being openly gay himself helped in its persuasiveness.  Many of the talk shows, although claiming to be neutral had always at the end, tended to bend to supporting the LGBTQ rights in Taiwan. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiiVFqIsOUI 公共電視 爸媽囧很大 and others easily accessible on Youtube) Of course we must not forget Director Ang Lee (李安) whose 2 gay movies made world news and received accolades Taiwanese people are still very, very proud of.  We are talking about The Wedding Banquet (喜宴) and Brokeback Mountain, which went on to receive the Oscars and Golden Globes.


Famous supporters include Ah Mei (阿妹,张惠妹) and Jolin Tsai (蔡依林).  Ah Mei has always promoted equality of love, using the rainbow flag at her concerts and celebrating love by flashing couples in her audience kissing, even same-sex ones.  Jolin Tsai made the music video in which she is one half of a lesbian couple and kisses actress Ruby Lin(不一樣又怎樣 We’re All Different, Yet The Same https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7hHofDW2ts) Gui Yalei (归亚蕾), doyen of Taiwanese movies acted in the same video as the character in old age who cannot visit her gay lover as she lies dying in the emergency ward.  She is also the mother who comes to terms with her gay son in “The Wedding Banquet” and more recently as the mother who helps her gay son find a surrogate mum in “Baby Steps”(满月酒). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nfq9VjqOvMc


Two recent incidents have expedited the process in Taiwan.


Sometimes it takes a suicide.  The much politicized death of a former French lecturer, Jacques Picoux(畢安生)from Taiwan National University, who was so traumatized by the death of his partner of 35 years, Li Yanrong(李晏榕)’s death from cancer that he subsequently jumped to his death. http://www.upmedia.mg/news_info.php?SerialNo=5922.  The tragic incident was the trigger for many who felt that if Taiwanese law had allowed them the status of a married couple, things would have turned out differently.


The scandal involving anti-marriage equality proponent Zhang Shouyi (张守一), who was caught with his pants down.  Zhang is the Secretary General of Alliance of Taiwan Religious Groups Protection of Family (Hu Jia Meng 护家盟), a vocal conservative group.

He supposedly, while strongly opposing same-sex marriage, has kept a mistress with whom he has an illegitimate daughter http://www.chinatimes.com/cn/realtimenews/20161207001746-260405.  So it seems that to him, infidelity in marriage is fine but gay rights is not.  With this type of revelation, it remains to be seen how the Taiwanese public would view him and his strong homophobic convictions.


We wait with bated breath as the Taiwanese law makers debate the issue.  We wish Taiwan and the Taiwanese LGBTQ community the very best because they and their country deserve it, having worked so hard through the decades.

Picture source:  https://www.facebook.com/TaiwanHotline/photos/pcb.10154391157829263/10154391153254263/?type=3&theater

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Picture source:  http://www.newnownext.com/study-suggests-having-gay-thoughts-is-an-essential-part-of-evolution/11/2014/ 

“You must remember this: A kiss is just a kiss.”  Or is it?  Recent incidents have shown that a kiss is more than a just a kiss.

Firstly, it was the undeclared kiss in the internationally renowned musical, Les Miserable (currently performing in Singapore).  The rouge kiss took place near the end of the musical when the drunk Thénardier, a minor rogue character, crashes Cosette and Marius’ wedding.  His song, Beggars at the Feast, includes the word ‘queer’ and the cast decided that to introduce a dramatic, funny moment, Thénardier should execute a same-sex kiss.  Taken in context, it was a kiss to humiliate and scoff at homosexuality and homosexuals.

But not everyone in the audience was laughing.  The kiss was all it takes for someone, presumably someone from the Christian right, who see themselves as the moral protectors and gatekeepers of the country, in the audience to complain and inform MDA of the infringement.  MDA, being MDA, of course promptly investigated and out goes the kissing with little loss except to the spirit of creativity and creative freedom on top of making us the laughing stock to the world.  It was a complaint which backfired and made the Christian right look silly and ignorant (Read Alfian Sa’at’s June 12th excellent Facebook piece).

The Orlando Massacre


Picture source:  http://graphics.wsj.com/orlando-shooting/

The second incident far outweighs the first in terms of proportions as well as serious impact on the LGBTQ community.  By now, everyone, well at least the majority, would have known about what happened in Orlando, Florida in the US of America.  Fifty people were killed and 53 injured at the gay club Pulse when a lone terrorist, Omar Mateen, opened fire at the largely gay clients.

News of this sent shock waves throughout the world and as we grieve together with the loved ones of the victims, the gay community is reeling from the sudden realization that safe spaces aren’t really that safe anymore.  In Singapore, where the weekend gay night scene is rather concentrated in the Tanjong Pagar area, the community would feel even more vulnerable.

Can something like this happen here in Singapore where firearm laws are strict – illegal possession of firearms is punishable by jail and cane and illegal attempts to use or using of firearms is capital punishment?

Judging from the hideous and bizarre support shown to Mateen online from homophobes in the US and as near home as in Malaysia, whether metaphorically or actually, we need to be cautious.

On the home front, a Singaporean has openly declared war in public space: “Give me the permission to open fire.  I would like to see these XXXX die for their causes” in protest against Pink Dot.



Picture source:  http://redwiretimes.com/singapore-in-brief/singapore-educator-and-consultant-calls-for-the-murder-of-homosexuals-to-serve-the-nation/



Do I think he will actually carry out his threat Orlando massacre style?  I think unlikely.  In part because he doesn’t look like a deranged killer, judging from his smiling face on the posts and largely because reports have been made to the police who have acted.  But then, Mateen didn’t look like a killer in the online photos either.



Picture source:  adapted from http://abcnews.go.com/US/polite-shy-troubled-sick-portrait-orlando-shooter-emerges/story?id=39812395







Anyway, the Singaporean guy has apologized for his remarks and whether it is sincere or not, I choose to believe that he will not act as he had threatened.  I choose to forgive and move on.  By the way, if we are talking about kissing, the chap has ranted about lesbians he saw kissing.

But his threat is a dangerous one, albeit just a metaphorical one.

The Mind of a Killer

The Orlando massacre must have started as a verbal threat.  After all, Mateen’s father claims that he most likely acted this way because he was angry at the same-sex kiss he had seen earlier.  He must have verbally ranted about it at home or at least to his father.  What started off as a verbal rant always has the potential of becoming reality in the hands of a disturbed mind.  We know from reports that the police were aware of Mateen’s inclinations but for some reason had decided to close the files.  I do not want to blame the police because I’m sure they had their reasons for so doing.  But the young man who had shown violence to his ex-wife was a ticking time bomb.  From anger at a same-sex kiss, it became an fatal attack on innocent party-goers at a gay club.

What does it mean for Singapore?

  1. We need to be more vigilant to possibilities of this sort of things happening here. Although we have strict firearm laws, there are people here with access to them and past incidents have shown that it is possible that some of them may use them in the wrong way.
  2. As the culture war wages on, the government needs to be cautious to ensure that the polarization in terms of LGBTQ issues does not escalate into such violence.
  3. The government needs to recognize that what happened in Orlando is a hate crime against the LGBTQ community and not just a general case of terrorist violence. It has serious impact here because although the repeal of 377A is nowhere in sight, while promising that the police will not act against the gay sex done in private, the government needs to protect and ensure the safety of the community who are also citizens of the country.  (Read Bryan Choong’s well-reasoned open letter to the government on Facebook).
  4. The LGBTQ community here needs to be vigilant. It is better to act swiftly if something seems out of the ordinary than to wait and see or worse – to be in drunken stupor.  The night scene at Tanjong Pagar has shown caution cast to the winds as revelers party into the weekend nights, often spilling onto the roads, drunk and oblivious of their surroundings.  Such wanton abandonment spells trouble if no one is alert enough.  We should also alert the authorities to any potential threats including online ones.

And yes, finally, DON’T KISS IN PUBLIC.  Such public displays of affection can lead to disastrous violent consequences.

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IT’S NOW A PINK SEA: Waves made at Pink Dot 2016

ambsheader (1)

Picture Source:  http://pinkdot.sg/

Paerin Choa in his press release explained the decision of the organisers of Pink Dot not to focus on the number turnout. Having attained the attendance of 28,000 last year, an exponential growth from the 2,500 turnout at the first Pink Dot (2009), numbers have already played their role in the indication of the success of the event.  Paerin did, however, reveal that the event “has already exceeded” Hong Lim Park’s “capacity”.

I think that the departure from the growing dot might have intentionally or unintentionally changed the visual profile of the by-now uniquely Singaporean export to countries as far as Hong Kong, Japan (Okinawa), Canada (Montreal and Toronto) and USA (Anchorage, Utah and New York).  Info source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pink_Dot_SG Judging from the way the climatic form up at the event for the photo and video taking, it must have been quite evident that the image is no longer of a dot, however, big it has grown.  We were all told to gather into the part of the park i.e., the grassy parts where the freedom of speech has been legally allowed.  There was no mention of a dot.  And from the resultant picture it is no longer one.  More appropriately, it should be termed a sea….a sea of pink.

I’m just wondering whether it was a deliberate allusion to the Red Sea of the Judeo-Christian faith where Moses, their leader led the pre-nation of Israel to the Promise Land escaping from their Egyptian overlords.  This time it is not red but pink.  And what a beautiful sea of bobbing pink placards it was.

And the Pink Sea was making waves.

Wave #1:  Celebrating Our Everyday Heroes

The focus on ordinary people who became extraordinary heroes was a wonderful deviation from the introspective focus on the gay individual, putting emphasis on those around them who selflessly supported and cared for them:  the caring assistant pastor who reached out to a member of her flock on the brink of suicide, the mother who suffered the double whammy of not only having a gay son but knowing that he is HIV+ and of course who can forget the inclusion of the transgender shelter and the vision of a transgender and her departed sister to house members of their community who have nowhere to go.

Wave #2:  Don’t Rain on My Parade

Finally, I’m reminded of the song by one of my favourite divas of all time, Barbra Streisand.  Just before the Pink Dot, religious right wingers had gathered to pray not for fire and brimstone; no, no, they were more merciful than that.  Instead, they prayed for rain on the event.

Well, their prayers were indeed answered: it did rain, in fact all morning in many parts of the island.

However, nearing the start of the event, the rain had reduced to a small drizzle not even needing an umbrella.  A blessing in disguise?  I believe so…..it was not so overwhelmingly hot as in past years – the rain having actually cooled the place up considerably.


So would the annual event be renamed Pink Sea.  No idea…..but seriously we’ve grown to love the existing name.

Viva la Pink Dot.

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学著宽心 学著观心 林北著













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