Friday, July 29, 2005

Black Beauty

In case you are wondering, no, this is not a title of a porn movie. Or erotic story.

Since two other fellow bloggers talked about farm animals recently, I thought I will jump in on the bandwagon.

This is a work of fiction. Any resemblances to actual person(s) are merely coincidences.

Once upon a time, there was a horse, which goes by the name of Silver. He was a very fine horse, handsome even, with a soft and beautiful mane and healthy skin which almost glows. Silver was a Hackney.

He had a good life. Everything that he ever wanted, he got them and they were the best – fresh green grass, clean and airy stable, juicy apples, crystal clear and sweet Perrier water, etc.

As such, he grew up in a life of luxury. He was grateful to his master because of that.

His master has always told him not to drink water from troughs. The reason was that water was not natural; the water did not form there but was brought from a river or lake or goodness knows where. As such it was deemed dirty and unhealthy.

This belief was further perpetuated as Silver mixed only with other well-bred horses. The other horses had never drunk from troughs either; but they expounded the same thing.

"Never drink from troughs. Trust me on this. The water is bad for you."

So whenever he was in town, he drank Perrier water that he carried from home.

One day, on one of the many trips to town that Silver went on once a week, the day was hotter than usual. By the time he reached town, his water canister of Perrier was almost empty.

His master went about with his usual business while Silver was not tied up. He was after all, a gentleman (gentlemount?) and knew how to behave himself in public. No running around or disturbing the peace. No swishing of the tail or making of weird neighing noises.

As the river was at least a mile away, Silver decided that it was not very wise to go in the scorching heat. And he was thirsty. Really thirsty.

There were quite a number of troughs and he badly wanted to drink from one of them, but he couldn’t. He just couldn’t.

He remembered his master’s advice. "Never drink from troughs. They are an unnatural source of water."

Silver couldn’t bite the hand that feeds him apples and carrots.

Besides, what would the other groomed horses say?

Nevertheless, all around him, horses were drinking from troughs and they seemed not to care. In fact, Silver has seen that many times; horses of all kinds, blacks, whites, browns, pink, spots, even striped (zebra?) - they just drank from troughs.

Why, he suspected that they seemed to be enjoying it too. To be free and without carrying the burden of imposed popular-belief restrictions.

Fulfilling the need to quench their thirst and even relishing the somewhat tasty water.

Silver wondered why he can’t be like them? Water – it is a basic need after all. Why should his master forbid him to drink? Water in a trough is still water, not liquor or poison.

Was there any difference between a trough-drinking horse and a Perrier-gulping one? Were the former less horse-like?

He didn’t think so. He hadn’t noticed any changes in them – they did not keel over or become less hung, from drinking trough-water.

Moreover, Silver hadn’t the courage to go near them to have a closer look – to verify that it was OK. He had only heard stories and tales; that what they were doing was wrong. But of course these were told by other groomed horses; never from the aforementioned horse’s mouth themselves.

He merely observed from a far; like a predator stalking its prey, but never going for the kill.

Pulling his thoughts back, he rationalised that his master must have his reasons. He was much older than Silver, thus should know better.

He has to be obedient, Silver told himself; well-bred horses have to. It was in the Charter of Good Behaviour for Distinguished Horses – Thou shall be obedient and serve thy master to the best of thy ability.

But deep down, Silver knew that it was alright – it was alright to drink from troughs, that the water was just like water from the river, that to extinguish one’s thirst was a right that no one should deny him.

Why should he keep up appearances, for the sake of someone else’s happiness and “face”? It is indeed noble to put other’s feelings and happiness first. It is even admirable to have people around him contented and he himself suffers in silence, than to make them otherwise, because of one’s actions.

However, doesn’t one’s own feelings and well-being count too? Is it not as important? What kind of life is that when you couldn’t do what your heart desire and instead be what someone else wants you to be?

He then remember another code from the charter – Never avoid the truth, just because it is painful. Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.

Besides, drinking from troughs would not change him in anyway. He was still himself; the Silver that everybody knew. The only change was that he let another part of himself be known.

Deep in thoughts, Silver didn’t notice that another horse was standing in front of him. It was black; his hair wasn’t as shiny and healthy as Silver’s. It was also obvious that he has lived many years and experienced an exciting life.

The black horse has only this to say, "You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection."

With that, he trotted away.

Silver could only stare and gape. Denying what he was, his identity, his need to drink, to himself and others; surely he didn’t deserve that?

At that moment, he knew what was the right thing to do.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

What is PT Foundation's Sunday session?

It is an avenue to know other gay people through activities and discussions. It provides a safe haven for gay men to interact and talk about issues which matter to them.

What is PT Foundation then? It is a community-based, voluntary non-profit making organization in Malaysia providing HIV/AIDS and sexuality education, prevention, care and support programs for marginalized communities, which include men who have sex with men (MSM).

Please refer to side bar more information.

It is not uncommon to feel awkward and shy meeting new people for the first time in an environment you are not familiar with. Especially if one is still uncomfortable with his own sexual orientation.

Those fears and worries could not be dismissed as unfounded. Living as someone you are not, for as long as you can remember; then an opportunity to meet other people like you and where you can truly be yourself, could be a frightening prospect.

On the other hand, and more importantly, isn’t that what you have always wanted? Or does it sound too good to be true?

"Living a day as yourself is better than thousands years of life, not your own," according to Keny de Persia.

Starting in August, the Sunday session takes on a new format which emphasizes experiential learning (a process by which the experience of the learner is reflected upon, and from this emerge new insights or learnings).

It will be based on the Queer As Folk programme. Beginning 7 August 2005, each Sunday Session will see the screening of an episode of QAF (US series), starting with Season 1, Episode 1.

I know many would have probably watched it. Even I did. But isn’t it better to watch it as a group, talk about it after that, make new friends and discover something about yourself, all at the same time? It’s like killing four birds with one stone.

Taken from PT Foundation’s website:

What makes this screening exciting is the games and exercises that we have lined up for you... experience what it is like to be ‘adonis’ Brian Kinney, the ‘boy-next-door’ Michael, the flaming Emmett and more!

The sessions will be fun, highly interactive, and we hope you meet new friends, and learn something of yourself in the process!

Admission is free, all are welcome. However, please be warned that the film contains nudity and explicit language, hence it is open only to adults aged 18 and above. Do not come if you will be offended by such content.

Should you want to know more about Sunday Session or the way to Pink Triangle, please don't hesitate to call our counselling line at 03-4044 5455 or 03-4044 5466 on Monday to Friday 7.30pm to 9.30pm and check out for our latest activity!


So mark your calendars and hope to see you there in two weeks’ time.

I am back

Not that I have been away.

If any of you have noticed, I haven’t been updating my blog as frequently for the past week. I was busier than usual with work and non-work stuff.

To make up for it, I have added two posts yesterday. One is backdated to Saturday, about my Wednesday’s meeting with some people.

I even had to take a raincheck on Will, though I am certain he would have found something or someone else to do. Oh wait, I meant someone else to hang out with.

On another note, I had made some changes to my sidebar and links. Do check them out.

I am uncertain who else reads my blog, besides my dear and loyal linked bloggers. Hopefully, there are some "newbies" who are just out or planning to. Or maybe you just need someone to talk to, about anything at all.

Do write me at derleekh@yahoo.com

To borrow a phrase from Frasier, "Blogsphere, I am listening."

Monday, July 25, 2005

Chilling Waterfall

My monthly hiking trip was yesterday. To be precise, it was more like jungle trekking, as the terrain was mostly flat. Our destination was Chilling Waterfall in Kuala Kubu Baru.

As the place is about an hour’s drive from KL, we gathered at 8.00 a.m. at the Kelana Jaya LRT station. There were 17 of us, the highest turnout so far.

Weather was good, although the sun could not be seen and there were some dark clouds which looked threatening. Those were probably remnants from last night’s downpour.

We reached the mouth of the trek about ten. To me, the trail was pretty unexciting. There were puddles of water and yellow mud on most parts of it. Flora is mostly shrubs which are thorny and they poked and scratched my lower legs as I trekked forward.

KC had told us that there would be six river crossings. As such, there were a few who wore sandals. I was wearing shoes (more comfortable mar) and clearly, it got wet very soon. That wasn’t the annoying part; it was the sand which got into the shoes, no thanks to the river.

I actually invited my best friend Vincent to come along, but he told me he didn’t feel like going, after finding out that it involved getting wet. Our phone conversation went like this:

"Yer, have to get my shoes wet."

"So what? It wouldn’t kill you."

"Don’t want-lar."

"Come-lar, it would be fun."

"It would be uncomfortable."

"You don’t hear me complaining. Please-lar, you are acting even more gay than me, complaining about wet shoes."

Understandably, he had to put on a macho front and agreed to go. But alas, he called me on Saturday night and said he couldn’t make it.

Probably I shouldn’t have coerced him by saying that him being straight, he has to act tough and all. Anyhow, he promised he would make it up to me.

After a little more than an hour, we reached the waterfall. It was beautiful, with water gushing from 20 meters (roughly) high. The water was cool and crystal clear, but not exactly clean.

There were four other people who were there; two guys and two girls. One guy was slim, wearing a white cap backwards, taking photos of his friends. The other guy (there is no other way pf putting this) was really fat, with breasts that were sagging, very similar to sumo wrestlers. The two girls seemed to be younger, in their mid teens and I didn’t pay much attention to them.

Slim Guy (SG) had his back facing us, so I didn’t get a look at his face. When I finally got to see his face, he did look kinda cute. The backward cap was still on and he wore a shirt two sizes too big.

Not long after, the four of them came out from the water and climbed onto a huge rock to laze around. Clearly, it was then our turn to get into the water. Some of us in the group couldn't wait; I didn't even see them go in but they were already in the water when I looked.

I was a little hesitant at first, as I can’t stand the cold and SG mentioned that there were leaches in the water. I was planning not to go into the water at all. But then come to think of it, I realised it was silly if I had trekked all the way there and didn't dip in.

Some of us frolicked in the water (and freezing our balls off) while the rest stayed on dry land munching apples, nasi lemak and Pringles.

The water wasn’t actually that cold; after I have soaked in it for more than ten minutes. But someone was visibly shivering from the cold, even though he has been in the water for a long time.

One of us, HK had gotten sand in his trunks. He was a distance away from us. Perhaps that explains why he actually took it off to get rid of the sand; we realized that a bit too late and none of us manage to snatch his trunks away. If we did, that would be interesting to watch. Heh.

From where I was, I noticed that SG has gone shirtless. Being short-sighted, what I saw was fuzzy and I can’t make out the details. And being able to control myself (ahem!) I didn’t immediately go to dry land to get a better look.

I think that, from the moment I knew he was shirtless till I left the water, a good fifteen to twenty minutes have passed.

Later, I was truly quite surprised by what I saw (after I had put on my glasses). Hmm .. the shirt that he was wearing did a good job of hiding what was underneath. His body reminded me a bit of Chris Evans’s.

He has some chest hair (in the right amount) and a treasure trail. Quite broad shoulders with nicely defined pectorals and biceps. Erm ... sadly his abs do not complement his upper body.

If any of you had been there, I am certain you would be staring at him too. He was still on the huge rock and I was about a storey lower on the ground. Someone in our group, Eric initiated first contact. This was what transpired (which I found out later).

Eric: So you are here with your girlfriend?
SG : Oh no. I am here with the Fat Guy and he brought the other two girls with him. I am not really close to the girls. What about you guys?
Eric: We are a group of people who are into hiking and outdoor activities. As you can see, we are all guys only, no girls.
SG : Interesting. I am in a group which does a lot of hiking too.

By then, it was almost time for us to leave. As usual, we have a group picture taken. Who else but SG who was the ideal person to do so?

We climbed up onto the rock and he stood below to take photos of us.

There were four cameras passed to SG. When he was done with one, another was passed to him. And there were a few of us who were left out and joined in later and SG had to take the photos all over again.

I reckon we spent about five minutes for the photo-taking alone.

I had a feeling it was done rather deliberately. Not that I am complaining.

A cute shirtless guy with a delicious body snapping photos of us, surely it wouldn’t hurt to prolong that as long as possible. One smart (opportunistic?) guy even took a photo of SG from our vantage point. Not sure whether SG realized that or not, but I (and a few others) did.

Though I am pretty sure SG wouldn’t mind either, as I sensed a bit of an exhibitionist in him. He seemed to be strutting around and posing whenever he could. Or perhaps that was his way to test our reaction?

As we were leaving, the one who snapped SG’s photo took the opportunity to ask for his email, on the pretext of sending him the pictures. That was pure genius. In addition, Eric had gotten his phone number earlier.

At that time, I still have no idea whether he was straight or not. On our trek back to the entrance, that was when I found out about SG’s conversation with Eric. So based on that, it seems to imply that he does play on our team or at least, both teams.

Of course I wasn’t the only one who was excited about this err ... news. Though there was someone who admonished and said, "Geez ... just because he is cute, you think he is gay." Though the evidence point to the contrary.

Someone in our group, who did not go into the water with us, pointed out that SG kept looking at us while we were in the water.

Anyway, after we came out from the jungle, we drove to Ulu Yam for lunch. We had the famous "loh mee".

Finally, I reached home at five.

Overall, it was an enjoyable trip, in more ways than I had expected. Can't wait for the next one, coz who knows, SG might join us.

[This trip was organised by LPG-Adventurer, which is a group of people interested in outdoor activities.]

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Reaching out and giving something back

I attended a meeting on Wednesday, initiated on the idea that youth group. The idea came from JK, who just returned to KL recently after spending a long period of time away in Singapore.

There were five of us, JK, VL, TB, RT and myself. One of the first few things that needed to be cleared up was the motivation behind our interest in doing volunteer work. RT, having been doing this for a long time, stated very clearly that volunteerism almost always goes unappreciated, as there would be people giving criticisms and ideas without first understanding the underlying reasons for your actions.

For myself, I have always been interested in giving something back for the community, especially the youth. Looking back, though I didn’t have a very rough time coming to terms with my sexual orientation, I think it would have helped a lot if I have someone to talk to or I knew someone else who is gay.

I was in an all-boys school since primary school. I hit puberty when I was eleven. After that, gradually, my classmates began to look more attractive. P.E. classes were something I looked forward to, for obvious reasons.

I still remember there was this one guy that I always hoped that I had a chance to see shirtless, if not, naked. It was indeed unfortunate he was shy and would always undress and dress very quickly. Hmmph.

In secondary school, my interest in boys continued. The environment I was in further provided fertile ground for me to ogle bodies, which were turning from boys’ to men’s.

Until then, I never thought of it as something unusual or abnormal. It was just something I like: seeing shirtless guys.

Being in an all-boys school, the guys have no qualms playing football or basketball, shirtless. All the better for me.

[I realise the younger me is beginning to sound like a pervert, but let me assure you that I was, and am, not.]

I got my first PC when I was in Form Two (14 years old). Search engine back then wasn’t as good (there was no Google), but I think Lycos provided enough links when I typed "naked men". That was when I found out about the words "gay" and "homosexuality" and what they meant.

The following year, the first chapter of the science textbook was about the human reproduction system. That was when it all began to fit in, the birds and the bees, although a bit of uncertainty and doubt have begun to surface about my interest (or lack of) in the opposite sex.

Boys being boys, sex is always an interesting subject. And fifteen was the time when masturbation and breasts were popular topics of conversation. They would gather and talk about some famous actress or singers who were pretty or well-endowed in the chest department.

Understandably, I was never interested in these round table discussions and thus, always left when these topics were brought up. Which was almost all the time.

Perhaps deep down I wasn’t ready to face the issue about my sexual orientation. I poured myself into my studies and school activities – editorial board, prefectorial board, washboard-abs ogling, debating society, etc.

I finally realised that I was deeply attracted to guys and have shown no real interest in girls (even though there was a girls’ school just across the road. And I always wonder why is there usually a girls’ school which is just a stone throw’s away from a boys’ school?).

In addition, I had my share of falling for my best friend and hoping against hope that he would feel the same way towards me.

Not surprisingly, I tried, based on what I knew then and could do, to change. I kept repeating to myself that I was straight and that I liked guys (yup, even before all these Neuro-Linguistic Programming stuff became popular).

I am pretty certain that most gay men who have ever thought of changing, would have tried looking at naked women and breasts and prayed desperately to be turned on, even a little. I remember staring as long as I could and even imagined what breasts would feel like in my hands; nothing happened and the attempt was such a big letdown.

Frankly, a woman’s body is just pretty ... unpretty to me. The chance of one turning me on is even lower than the probability of me striking the jackpot.

Having no one to speak or turn to, I pretty much focused on studying and passing exams. In retrospect, that was a wise decision. I think I would probably have succumbed to the ‘unhealthy’ aspects of the gay lifestyle. Indeed, I was young and inexperienced and could have easily been taken advantage of. Cue *bright doe-like eyes*

Which brings me back to my motivation of wanting to help the community. The internet is a good resource for information and all, but nothing beats talking to another person who completely understands you, who knows what it feels like to be in your shoes or maybe just to provide a listening ear.

Needless to say, this raises the question of how do we get to them? Or they to us? I have decided to do something for PT Foundation instead (refer to sidebar), starting with the Sunday sessions.

So wish me luck and the perseverance to continue giving and helping out.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Veering off the straight road

There is more gay-related news today in the Star. This time, it is about the Free Community Church in Singapore and how ‘free’ it actually is. Read all about it here.

Hmm ... there is so much positive news about gays in the newspaper for the past couple of days that I might as well become one.

Oh wait, I am.

If only it were so easy to change someone’s sexual orientation. At least, I think that is what the government and the conservatives believe. To them, the mere mention of the words homosexuality, gay, lesbian, condom, etc will influence the masses to indulge same-sex behaviour. Something like humans turning into wolves at the sight of the full moon.

What utter rubbish. Let's see them change straight men then.

Remember the time when 3R (a women's TV program) was not allowed to air the episode which talked about lesbianism, even though the producers were merely presenting the facts as they are?

In fact, during my final year in university, the student society that I was in was asked to facilitate a program. It didn’t strike me as strange then, but now thinking back about it, they were only twenty participants and all of them were soft and feminine-like.

Recently, I found out that it was not just my university which conducts these programs; there is another public university too. Furthermore, these courses are conducted in the open and are part of the official activities of the student's affair department of the university.

These programs are meant to ‘toughen’ up these people, to make them appear more masculine; in other words to have more society acceptable gender behaviour.

If my memory serves me correctly, last year there were letters in the Malay dailies which condemned these so-called ‘deviants’ and demanded that universities do something about them.

Of course, all those actions stem from the belief that homosexuality is something that can be changed. Not to mention the misguided perception that feminine guys are definitely gay and butch females are lesbians. Even learned psychologists are myopic, intentionally or otherwise.

The common argument goes that, even if someone is born gay, it doesn’t mean that he should indulge in homosexual acts. The usual comparison is with murderers and rapists; even if genes were the cause for such behaviour, surely no human being would condone these acts.

The logic is there, except that they fail to see one difference. Since when does being gay ever cause harm or hurt to another person? And why is homosexuality even in the same category as murder and rape?

Oh, the conservatives would say, it destroys the family institution. Which is a key basic unit of society, thus the country. A family must have a father and a mother.

I don’t really see how that argument can hold water.

What I do know is that, parents that openly display homophobic behaviour and discriminating remarks, leave their gay sons and lesbian daughters emotionally-scarred and repressed. There might even be deeper psychological damage(s) like depression, low self-esteem, substance abuse, internalised homophobia, etc.

Eventually, these will lead to distanced and strained relationships, thus breaking the family institution. As such, rejection of the truth and denial of the children’s sexual orientation are far worse perpetrators than the simple fact and existence of homosexuality.

Isn’t there a saying that go 'Only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches'? In other words, empathy.

Most straight people can almost never understand what it feels like to love another of the same-sex and how natural and instinctive that feeling is. How we would feel guilty doing so is only because the people around us say that it is wrong.

Why can’t conservative straight men get into their thick skulls that humans are different and they come in all shapes, sizes, colours and sexual orientations? That being different is not a crime or sin? That homosexuality doesn’t threaten their masculinity and patriarchal society?

I think deep down, they might actually feel that away. Doesn’t it make you wonder what is so great about masculinity, manliness, butch and everything else that straight men hold dear, if those things are so easily threatened?

Certainly many of you would have also noticed that most anti-gay rhetoric come from men. Males, who are not usually known for their ability to empathise. Not because they are not capable of doing so, but more likely, ignorance and unwillingness to try.

Just as women are generally less homophobic because they actually try to emphatise and then they do, surely men can too.

There are already fag hags, so why not fag stags?

[P/S The title of this post is taken from a close friend and credit goes to her, who spouted it right after I came out to her.]

The propaganda of conservative Christians

Dr Melvin Wong, who appeared in the Sunday Straits Times, was here in Petaling Jaya to give a talk about “The Reality of Homosexuality”, in (where else?) Luther House, early this month.

One of the LPG members, Eric, attended it and this is what he shared. I know most of it is a load of crap, but I think it would still be interesting to know how these Christian psychologist work and spread their propaganda.

======================
I attended the seminar this morning. Very misleading and full of nonsense.

Malaysian Care invited the speaker, Melvin Wong, a Hongkee who lives in San Francisco, a member of Exodus Global Alliance.

Well, what do you expect? He took 30 mins sharing his family travelling slides and talked about their holiday vacations (like Maria Von Trap's travel journal), showing his credentials as a psychiatrist and kept promoting his own website.

He victimized himself and all Christian voices being pushed aside by the 'politically correct' pro-gay voices in the US. I wonder since when gay people had become mainstream to suppress 'minority' people like him?

He said, 'A Christian may still struggle with evil desires (homosexuality), but they should not continue these practices.' Meaning, even people who attended his reparative therapy and failed, still can get married and have kids (as that's the duty ordered by God), just as long the person do not further engage in homosexual activities.

And he continue to say that even masturbation is sinful, as it dehumanises your life, it destroys the harmony of one's soul and body.

It was more ridiculous when he said that gay men are developed because a child is usually taken care and comforted by his mother when he fails in doing something, fathers do not express love that much or comfort his son like a mother does, that's why most of his male patients were longing for a man's hug and care, not so much of
sex (which he later contradict himself that gay men are only go for sex).

My oh my! Aren't we all taken care by our mother most of the time when we were kids? How come our siblings are not gay?

He further confused the audience with gender disorder and sexual orientation. Gay men are effeminate and lesbians are butch, because parents did not educate them well about gender role and image. So when a boy grows up he admires and is influenced by all the male models’ masculine figure in magazines and websites. As parents, you can prevent your child from becoming gay by stopping him to get all these materials. If a child's sexual orientation not being straighten when he was small, he will become a transsexual.

He said lesbians are not real homosexuals. They probably were dumped by men and find companionship in other woman. They are only emotionally attached to each other to seek for friendship and support. Is he trying to say lesbians do not engage in sex, that they do not engage in sexual relationships? Gay men seek only for sex and there's no true love among them.

He kept on saying 'change is possible' with the help of Christian groups, and not so much of the therapy itself. So is he trying to tell us that his reparative therapy is not effective, but group 'brainwashing' works? Well, who dare to say it doesn't work
while a group of people keep monitoring and focusing on you?

He criticised ex-ex-gay people, saying they failed to follow the 'change' program thoroughly. Therapy sessions have its own limitations (again implying his therapy is no good). These people lack of perseverance and will power to 'change', they did not control their attraction to people of the same sex. Change needs longer time, at least 6 years.

He later criticised pro-gay arguments based on the myth of:

1. Social justice and equality
He said pro-gay activits is hijacking Negro's discriminations. Racist is a different value totally. He said many gay couple fight for equality to adopt children, but a healthy family must have one father and one mother.(Can Muslims protest this? As he implied that polygamy is unhealthy, and married couples who do not want kids are unhealthy.)

2. Nothing wrong to Love
He said many pro-gays uphold love too high. He said in Cantonese, "Love is not 'Tai Sai'(Love is no big deal)". Even for straight couple, love should not be the main reason to get married, the main reason to get married is to reproduce. (I can't believe my ears! Help!!)

3. Bible does not condemn homosexuality.
He said Jesus also did not mention about buying lottery is bad, pornography is bad, one night stand is bad ... etc, does it mean that all these things are not sinful? He later showed many incorrectly translated Bible scriptures to say that homosexuality is condemned by God. (Frankly even I am not a Christian, I have seen some Mandarin translations, but his version was the first ever that clearly stated God condemns homosexuals.) He showed how pro-gay activists quoted from the Bible and proved that God does not condemn gays. He said that pro-gay activists are very smart, but he did not further respond to the argument, just skipping through without any answer or answered briefly that's God's secret. Finally, in order to safe his butt, he explained that he did not want to discuss further as he is not a theologian.

I had been informed that he would use this tactic to talk nonsense at the beginning and go very briefly at the end. Especially this end part is very arguable, he just skipped. He kept saying time is not enough. Well, in my opinion, if you have done many similar seminars, you should have a better control of your timing. This is merely an excuse and tactic.

After the break, in the second part of the session, he talked and held on tightly to Robert Spitzer's change of statement that sexual orientations can be changed. I personally think he treats this Robert Spitzer's change statement as his own 'Bible', as he talked for one hour on that.

He also showed some clinical study of those successfully 'change' from a gay person. During the Q&A session, I threw 2 questions to him on whether the 'change' was convincing, but he just manipulated and diverted the audience's focus onto other issues. He did not answer my questions.

I asked, "Since you said many gay people has successfully changed, how sure are you that these case studies were not bisexuals, who only discovered his/her opposite sexual attractions after the therapy, not change?"

His answer:
"Many of my patients were married, yes, they are bisexuals." And then he further explained what is bisexual to the audience... (I wonder did he understand Mandarin?)

My second question:
As the case study samples were taken based on 200 gay people with average age 43, those who claimed that, "no more or have less feeling towards same sex", could it be due to the declination of sexual desires at that age? Did their opposite sexual attractions apparently increased?

His answer:
Yes, men at that age sexual desires will decrease, I have a 50 year-old patient who had gone through the therapy for 3 years and he still didn't feel any change. I think the older you are, the harder you are to change. That's why I urge parents to detect your child's inclination and prevent him/her homosexuality to grow... bla bla bla

Again, he did not answer my question, but went on talking nonsense.

A friend just told me, "Only straight people who know nothing about gays would support or believe them. For gay people, we know who we really are. Don't worry about them, they do their things, we do ours. They are doomed to fail."

Monday, July 18, 2005

It was a gay Sunday Part II

The other paper was the Sunday Straits Times. In the Focus section, there was a hard-to-miss headline, which read “Going straight?”. Dr Melvin Wong claimed yes, through prayers and guidance. He is a clinical psychologist and theologian.

Excerpts, and my comments in brackets:
"Bisexuals can change. Gays can change, too," says Wong, chairman of the board of Exodus Global Alliance, an international Christian organisation which helps people who are "sexually broken".
(What about straight people? Surely they can change too, if gays and bisexuals can their sexual orientation?)

"The degree of change boils down to motivation ... how much the person wants to change."
(Obviously he conveniently forgot to mention about ex-ex-gays)

Wong claims that EGA has helped tens of thousands of gays and bisexuals change their sexual orientation in its 30 years of existence but he could not provide any supporting statistics. "We don’t keep statistics. We don’t believe in success rates.”
(Surely, statistics are the most reliable tool to convince others of your claims. Doesn’t it sound fishy if they don’t keep statistics?)


The full article can be found here.

Surprisingly (at least to me, as I didn't expect a Malaysian academician to be as logical and objective in this issue), his points were negated by Dr Ismail Baba, a Universiti Sains Malaysia associate professor, whose area of expertise lies in social work, human sexuality and HIV/AIDS education.

Excerpts, and my comments in bracket:
He said, "Since Dr Melvin W. Wong is based in the US, he should know that the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in the 1970s," (Bravo, doctor!)

"I don’t think you can change a homosexual into a heterosexual. If that theory applies, then we should also be able to change a heterosexual into a homosexual.”
(Applause, applause!)

"Wong says homosexuality is caused by distant fathers and sexual abuse, but there are many heterosexuals who have had distant fathers or were abused sexually. I think Wong is speaking more from the perspective of his religious beliefs."
(You are absolutely right, Dr Ismail.)


There was actually another article on the next page, titled 'Born, not made'. The article was about a book which blatantly claims that homosexuality is born, based on the scientific studies available. The book is Born Gay: The Psychobiology of Sex Orientation, by Glenn Wilson and Qazi Rahman

Actually, to me, there was nothing new. It was more of a compilation of the studies done so far which support the theory that homosexuality is nature. I have always found the theory that testosterone (or the lack of) during pregnancy, thus affecting the 'sex' of the brain, to be the most convincing.

For the full text, click here.

It was a gay Sunday Part I

Yesterday must have been “Homosexual Visibility Day” or “Let’s Be Out, Proud and Loud Day”. Two major weekend dailies have articles regarding us. And they were not tucked in one corner of the page.

Let me start with the Sunday Star.

I was flipping through the Star and one of the features was about fathers and how their children perceive them. The headline read ‘Teens grade dad a C-', based on a survey conducted by Reader’s Digest.

I didn't bother reading further, as another headline caught my attention - ‘Dad accepts son’s sexuality and still loves him’. For the full article, click here.

Excerpts:
My father met my boyfriend just before Chinese New Year, and was polite to him. The gesture meant a lot to me because it signalled his acceptance of my sexuality. Throughout my teenage years, I had thought that my father hated me for being gay.

I remember how his snide remarks about gay people would hurt me so badly. I’d stayed silent, void of all feelings except hurt, and just stared at the wall.

My father is the typical Chinese businessman – must have a good education, must have a good career, and must have face. He never talked much and was always busy with his work. He disciplined my brother and I with his belt.

I will always remember the moment my mom found out I am gay. We were on the highway , she stopped the car and broke down in tears. Looking at me in the eye, she said: “No matter what, you are always Mummy’s son”.


That is one cool dad. And I suppose mothers usually are the one who would love unconditionally, even though the truth is hard to swallow.

The other mention was in the Aunt Agony column called Dear Thelma. There was yet another mail from a gay man, after a break of two months from the last one. This time, it was from an almost 30-year old guy. The title was “Looking for love”.

======================

I grew up as a lonely boy, and lacked love and attention at home. Life was hard as my dad struggled to put food on the table. I understood the situation and except for real necessities like books and school fees, I wouldn't ask for money from my parents.

While in primary school, I grew fond of a popular teacher. I guessed he noticed it and started paying attention to me. It turned out that his interest in me was purely sexual in nature.

He asked that I performed oral sex on him and even though I knew it was not the right thing to do, I did it anyway just to be close to him.

Moving on to a boys’ secondary school, I became interested in good looking schoolmates but managed to suppress my feelings. My following sexual encounter did not happen until I was in college. I would have sexual fantasies with him but the morning after, I felt extremely guilty, confused and angry with myself. He tried many times to talk it over with me but I have refused to speak to him.

Ever since then, I have been struggling between what my heart desires and doing what I think is right. During quiet periods at the office, I became so lonely and depressed and resorted to gay chat-rooms on the internet to solicit sex with other men. For a while, I felt relieved, thrilled and excited, but it wasn’t long before I came to my senses and felt deeply ashamed of what I had done.

It's been four years I have managed to restrain myself from engaging in any sexual activities. I get on well with women but will distance myself if I sense any one showing interest. I can’t seem to accept their love and affection yet at the same time, I detest being a homosexual. I doubt if I know what love is even though I am approaching 30.

Confused


Thelma said:

How can you find love if you detest yourself so much? The guilt and shame, the choking rage, will always be a barrier to your quest for love and happiness.

Poverty and loneliness could have steered your need for love and attention. But homosexuality is a personal sexual inclination, the desire and love for someone of the same sex. Perhaps your first sexual encounter with a male had triggered such desires and subsequently, you find yourself drawn to men. But if you are uncomfortable and confused about your true needs, seek psychiatric help.

You are right to have stopped having indiscriminate sex with multi-partners for quick and easy relief. The emptiness after, the lack of fulfilment and the feeling of being used would have added to self-disgust and shame. But subduing your needs and desires, hiding from your feelings and having to keep the women at bay can be very tiring and self-defeating. You will soon want to give up on yourself, give up on love. Where is your zest for living, for enjoying life’s precious moments now?

Stop hating yourself. Understand your own needs without discrimination. Homosexuals are not diseased, abnormal creatures. They love, they bleed and they breathe as we all do. But perhaps you are truly not one. There are many guys like you who are able to change their sexual orientation after they have gone through group and self-therapy.

You also need to come to terms with the past and rest the guilt and pain. Understand that you were a victim of sex abuse. Your teacher was the callous perpetrator who had used your youth and innocence. Your college encounter was a test of your feelings and urges. Unfortunately, you found it difficult to accept and comprehend. So you started running from yourself, avoiding the truth and hiding in shame all these years.

Denial is more painful than the truth. When you have to keep away from love to avoid the pain, how can you be truly happy? You are afraid that you cannot love a woman as much as you fear you love a man. It’s time that you seek help and come to terms with your own sexuality.

Date some women, be friends with men. Let your heart decide. Do not be afraid anymore. Man or woman, there is no shame in love.

======================

I felt that Thelma gave a balanced and unprejudiced advice. Or at least as best as she could. She said that homosexuality is not the disease, but then went on next to say many guys like you who are able to change their sexual orientation after they have gone through group and self-therapy.

Clearly, she has been taken in by the reparative therapy propaganda.

But she redeemed herself towards the end, suggesting that Confused come clean and face the truth.

I also love the last bit. Man or woman, there is no shame in love.

How very true.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Absolutely a storm

I watched the Fantastic Four yesterday in GSC, One Utama. It was my first time there since the cinema was opened. I must admit, it is much better than Midvalley’s. The seats are huge and comfy and there’s so much legroom. No more turning my legs this way and that way when other patrons walk pass to go to their seats.

So let me give a short review on the movie. Just five words:

It’s not to be missed.

That is true, but I think these five words are more apt: Chris Evans is super hot. Another five: Watch it for Chris Evans.

The story is about these four people who went to space and an accident happened and they were exposed to cosmic radiation and they got superpowers blah blah blah ... I am sure you pretty much know that already. If not, just type Fantastic Four and you can re ad about it on more than 10 million websites.

It is very seldom that I do away with the story line when I review a movie.

Overall, I would say that the movie is faithful to the comic books. Too faithful perhaps. There were no liberty taken or changes; not as far as I could tell. Casting was excellent; now I can’t imagine anyone else playing Reed Richards a.k.a. Mr Fantastic (Ioan Gruffudd), Sue Storm a.k.a. Invisible Girl (Jessica Alba), Ben Grimm a.k.a. The Thing (Michael Chiklis) and of course, Johnny Storm a.k.a. Human Torch (Chris Evans).

Though I prefer Alba with black hair (she was blond here), like in Dark Angel.

As this is the first movie, some character development was necessary. In this area, Ben has the most – his struggle accepting his distinctive and unattractive physical appearance when the other three still have their normal human form. He felt he got a very bad deal and it was making him miserable. He wanted to be 'normal' again and have his wife, and life, back.

When he embraced his powers and realised how much he can do with it (in the movie, it was to save Reed), he began to enjoy life again and was not as grumpy.

Life is not about fitting in and be popular; you can be yourself and there are people who would like you, just the way you are.

Doesn’t that sound remarkably familiar? I think gays will know what I am saying and could easily identify with this character, famous for his "it's clobbering time" line.

Clearly, this doesn’t distract from the fact that Evans is still hot and gays would love to know him better.

The kinda-boring-without-much-sparks romance part was provided by Reed Richards and Sue Storm.

The movie doesn’t pretend to be more than what it is i.e. a clean fun superhero movie. It is not groundbreaking in anyway and didn’t add any fresh perspective to the comics. In fact, critics in the U.S have even panned this movie, saying:

"This new adaptation is sorely lacking in nearly everything that made FF such a blast. It's poorly acted, written and directed."
-- Rick Curnutte, THEFILMJOURNAL.COM (OHIO)


and

"A perfect storm of wooden acting, hackneyed direction, inane scripting and laughably cartoonish special effects produces a shapeless mess more wearyingly stupid than arch-villian Dr. Doom is evil."
-- Lou Lumenick, NEW YORK POST


Don’t let the critics fool you. They tend to look at movies differently than the general movie-going population does. Trust me, the movie is enjoyable and it is fun to watch, notwithstanding the scene with Evans prancing around in just a towel for about five minutes.

Before I forget, Victor Von Doom a.k.a. Dr Doom was played by Julian McMahon, of Charmed fame. My friend found him to be quite attractive too.

I would rate FF a 3.5, with an additional 0.25 for that fantastic body of Evans, for a total of 3.75 out of 5.

But, if you really want to watch an excellent comic book adaptation, go for Batman Begins, which I feel is the best comic-book-to-screen movie of the year (4.5 out of 5).

Thursday, July 14, 2005

War of the Worlds

Before watching the movie, I have heard of more negative than positive reviews of the film.

I thought, how bad can a Spielberg’s film be?

With that in mind, I really tried to like the film. But I couldn’t.

The story was about Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise), a father who was spending the weekend with his two kids, Robbie (Justin Chatwin) and Rachel (Dakota Fanning), as part of his custody rights. It was no wonder that he didn’t get full custody – Ray was an irresponsible man and he has a lot of growing up to do.

He didn’t know much about his children (Rachel: I'm allergic to peanut butter. "Since when?" "Birth.") and basically, didn’t give much of a damn. (Rachel: What will we eat? "Order.")

Forty five minutes later, the audience is supposed to believe that his paternal instincts kicked in when fearful and angry people were trying to get into the car and drive it away, with Rachel still inside? From wanting to dump the children back with their Mom in Boston and save his own ass, he became all concerned and worried about their safety?

I found the transformation a bit hard to believe.

I know Spielberg wanted human drama to be on centerstage and not CGI, but I didn’t feel for Cruise’s character. He was not compelling in his ordinary-man-turned-hero role.

Perhaps it was the fault of the script. Or the producer.

Whatever it was, the human element wasn’t anywhere as good as in Deep Impact, another end-of-the-world movie starring Tea Leoni.

The movie’s pace was uneven too. In the first ten minutes, the electromagnetic storm has happened. After that, Ferrier and his family kept running, stopping for a night at his ex-wife's house, continued running (still heading for Boston), crossed the Hudson River, repeat. In between, more scenes of destruction. The pace, till this point, was OK.

In the final half hour, there was a scene in Harlan Ogilvy’s (Tim Robbins) basement which was unnecessarily protracted. After that 20-minute scene, the movie ended with the aliens dying and Ray reunited with his ex-wife.

Nevertheless, the CGI was excellent and it offered a somewhat new portrayal of the destruction of cities.

Even though the alien invasion and mass destruction were secondary, there were a few question that came up in my mind. This was the narration at the beginning of the movie:

No one would have believed in the early years of the twenty-first century that our world was being watched by intelligences greater than our own. That as men busied themselves about their various concerns, they observed - and studied.

The novel was written in 1898 by H.G. Wells. If Spielberg has chosen the period setting as early 21st century, surely the story needed updating.

It goes without saying that I am a realist.

As such, it is inaccurate that no one would have believed in the early years of the twenty-first century that our world was being watched by intelligences greater than our own. I am certain there are thousands, if not millions, who have heard of Area 51 and read about UFO sightings.

[Though I don't think I am giving out much, but to those who have not read the book or watch the movie, this is a spoiler alert]

Secondly, even though the intelligent beings observed and studied, they must have not been paying much attention as they have missed the discovery of microorganisms by Antony van Leeuwenhoek in the 17th century, the Spanish flu pandemic in 1919 that killed 25 million people worldwide, the AIDS epidemic, etc.

Those are just two of my peeves. There were a few more like the inability of the tentacles of the tripods to detect heat or motion and the aliens being quadrupeds, which I shall not elaborate.

Suffice to say that, the science and technological aspects of the movie was largely inconsistent. Either the period setting or the story should have been changed.

The only good thing about the movie was Fanning. She was excellent as usual and she definitely can go very far in her acting career. Though I hope that her next role wouldn’t require her to scream as much.

This is not one of Spielberg’s better works. If you want something by Spielberg and has Fanning and other-worldly beings, but still with a lot of human drama, I would recommend Taken.

War of the Worlds could have been very much better. I would rate it 2.75 out of 5.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Tale of two cities

The last time I checked, the death toll stood at 52. It was expected to rise further.

Personally, I was initially quite surprised and thankful of the low number, when compared to the Madrid and Bali bombings, which were close to 200 deaths each.

Killing innocent people to make a point ("If you bomb our cities," Osama bin Laden said in one of his recent video tapes, "we will bomb yours.") or achieve an objective (pull out of Iraq, similar to Madrid) clearly won’t draw sympathy or support, but instead anger and revenge.

And what a stark contrast of reactions from the two leaders on opposite sides of the Atlantic. One was 'let's kick some terrorist ass' and another was to bring them to justice, as humanly possible.

Tony Blair reacted very level-headedly on this, when he said on Saturday that “the basic reasons for terrorism must be ‘pulled up by the roots’”, unlike another who put on his cowboy hat and said dumb things like the axis of evil.

It is painfully obvious that Bush's so-called war on terror is more bark than bite and he is firing his missiles into shadows.

I have read somewhere, during the US Elections 2004, that if Blair were to run for president, he would have won hands down.

Unless world leaders heed what Blair has said, the world will continue to be at risk of these terrorists. The human spirit is difficult to defeat and people will always bounce back from tragedy.

For sure, no one doubts that the bombings would be the last.

Recent investigations showed that the four bombers were suicide bombers and at least three were British born. From the reports, they were described as normal. One was “a keen local cricketer and sports science student, he lived with his parents” and another “a nice lad”.

It now seems like terrorism doesn’t have a profile, despite the search for one. It could be anyone and anywhere.

Monday, July 11, 2005

1, 2, 3 .... you're out

After the rant in my previous post, I have something interesting to share.

After everyone has turned up, yup, all five of us, instead of the usual nine, we proceeded to Madam Kwan’s. Four guys (YT, YH, KY and myself) and a gal (and no pizza place).

I know Madam Kwan’s overrated and overpriced, but I have not tried it and since someone else was paying, why not.

We started with the usual pleasantries. Needless to say, the topic of my trip to KK came up. So there I was recounting my climbing experience for the hundredth time. Not that I mind.

As always, conversation would somehow steer into dating territory. YT asked me about my girlfriend.

Some background information. A few months back when I was still going out with YF, oh wait. Actually it was the first time we met and we went to Port Dickson (PD). We spent the first time just the two of us. On the second day, I invited some of my friends to come over. The three of them were there; KY was not.

How do you explain going on a holiday with another guy? I lied of course.

When they arrived on the second day in the afternoon, I cooked up a story about a non-existent girlfriend who left in the morning, after staying for the first night. And that YF was her friend, but he was staying for another day.

So when YT asked about my girlfriend, I said we were no longer together. At the back of mind, I was contemplating of telling him about the truth.

Moreover, the other three have kept quiet because they knew about my sexual orientation. It also became to clear to me that YT didn’t have much choice about not accepting me, as I would have three other people who are. Muahahaha ....

I was thinking of an appropriate moment. I admit I was still hesitant, as I haven’t come out to a friend for a long time. OK, maybe two years is not that long.

After the food was served, and while chewing, I decided there was no better time than the present.

I said to YT (after I have swallowed, of course), you remember the guy who was with us in PD? My friend, YF?

He replied no. Well, not exactly unexpected, as YF was not a female.

‘OK, whatever. Actually, er ... 'my eyes were looking at SZ (the only girl there), ‘I have something to tell you ...'

I was getting nervous. Sigh, even though I have done it more than a dozen times, it still is never easy.

'I never had a girlfriend. I had a boyfriend at the time. It was YF.'

'You had a boyfriend?' he repeated, and quite loudly too. I didn't look around to see who else have heard, so as to appear nonchalant. He was shocked or at least, pretended to be. He skitted closer to SZ and pretended to be disgusted.

Five seconds later, he moved back to his original position.

'I am fine with it. I am not homophobic, just racist.'

Yeah, thank you very much for coming out about your coloured view. But this is about me. I mean, isn't being gay supposedly more sinful and thus, a bigger deal? Hmmph.

He added, ‘So do you like YH? I think YH is gay too, since he hasn’t shown sufficient interest in girls.’ YT was back to his usual playful self again.

Looking at YH, who was sitting across from us, I answered no as I am 100% sure (I have somewhat hit on YH before and then asked about his sexual orientation). Also, he is not my type anyway.

I told him, ‘The reason I told you is I don’t want you to ask me to introduce girls to you anymore. I don’t know that many girls. Of course, I also don’t want to hide it from you anymore. And er ... I have told the rest a long time ago, so you are like, the last one to know.’

‘Never mind. Perhaps you can tell me what kind of guys you like, so that I can introduce some to you?’

Needless to say, he was taking it very well. In fact, too well. If I knew this, I would have told him earlier.

‘You mean you know other gay people? I thought I would be the first ...’

'Yes you are. But who knows, I might know more in the future, right? No harm knowing more gay people ... '

'Er ... right.'

'I am wondering why you like guys. What’s the reason, huh?'

'It’s biological. Just as you like girls, I like guys. You can’t really explain why you like girls either, right? It’s just genetic.'

I left it at that, as the environment wasn’t right for me to explain further.

One person less to masquerade. Indeed, life is good.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Of dinner plans and wristbands

On Friday, I went out with a few of my university course mates for dinner. Which nearly didn't happen. It was a belated birthday dinner actually, for SZ. There are nine of us who would usually turn up for such dinner gatherings.

The plan was to have dinner in Midvalley. As it is usual for us to chat and catch up with things, we tend to stay long after dinner in the restaurant doing just that.

So there I was cracking my head on which eatery in Midvalley would be suitable. None that I can think of. As such, I told SZ that we should change the venue.

She agreed. She said that we could meet in Wangsa Maju, which is near her house, and have dinner there. Then we could go somewhere else for a drink.

She decided on that, at 3 p.m. Friday.

I finished work at 5.30. I called KY and told him that I would be going over to his office so that we could go to Wangsa Maju together.

I planned to leave my office at 6. Just as I was about to leave, SZ called to say dinner plan is cancelled. Some of our friends couldn’t make it. I was like, wtf?

I told myself to relax. *deep breaths*

With nothing else planned, obviously I had to go home. It was too late to make other plans with other people anyway.

As I was walking to the bus station to catch the bus, my mobile phone rang. KY said that the dinner is back on again. He told me to call SZ if I wanted to get clarification or someone to cuss.

I felt like driving a bus and ramming into someone.

Anyway, I changed directions and walked to the train station to get to Midvalley. It was close to seven now.

I knew they would be late. It was Friday and traffic is usually worse the day before weekends.

As I was walking, I saw this booth with huge pictures of faces of men. The pictures showed till the neck level. Some of them were obviously shirtless when the pictures were taken.

And then I remembered that there is an exhibition promoting cancer awareness among men, organized by the National Cancer Society Malaysia and Topman. They were selling specially-designed wristbands for RM10.

I asked how much actually go to NCSM and they said all of the proceeds. Had to make sure mar, before I parted with my money, as usually that is not the case.

The wristband is kinda different, it is not the rubbery or kind, but (I think) made of cotton-polyester and is adjustable. I got a red one.

Speaking of wristbands, I have something to say about them. If I am not wrong, these wristbands were started by the Lance Armstrong Foundation, a charity for cancer, to ‘raise awareness, funds and even spirits'. They were yellow and they have the words ‘Live Strong’. Soon after, many other colours began to appear, like white for the ONE campaign.

Nowadays, everywhere I turn, I see people wearing wristbands in all sorts of colours – blue, red, orange, etc. Yes, I know they double as fashion accessories too. But really, I am more concerned about the loss of its original intent – which is to raise money for charity. I doubt many know what organization or cause the colour of their wristbands represent. Why, I don’t think they even bought them from charity organizations either.

Which is rather unfortunate. Charity or social-causes organisations should have seized the opportunity to do so.

Anyway, I just felt like venting my frustration. About indecisiveness and last minute cancellations. Some people think that the universe revolves around them. It doesn’t; other people have a life too.

[I just received an SMS from KY. It says 'Tomorrow we celebrate SZ birthday at Midvalley, 7.30 pm. Any queries, please refer to SZ or ML'.

Aargh. Not again! They better not cancel! If it did, someone, someone, might just get hurt.]

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Results time

The exam results were released this morning.

I was expecting to pass. As I have mentioned, this is the third time I took this paper. I can’t possibly do it again, if I were to fail.

The pressure is there. If I passed, I will continue. If not, it is time I bid farewell to this profession.

A little more info here. The exam has forty multiple choice questions and the pass mark is not fixed. In the past, number of correct answers needed to pass ranged from 21 to 24.

Which means that, if the passing mark was determined to be 24 and someone has 23, he fails. The grade would be 5 (0 to 5 is fail, 6 to 10 means pass).

How do the exam board arrive at the passing mark? They have to ensure that exam takers actually know their stuff and didn’t get a 6 just by guessing. So in every exam, the passing rate (number of people who pass out of the total who took the exam) is between 30 to 40%. It could be lower, but seldom more than 40%.

We have an online forum where exam takers discuss everything under the sun, though mostly exam-related topics. There is this guy who goes by the nick of Brute who has taken this paper at least five times.

I am not sure how many, but it could be ten. He said that for the past five sittings (including this recent one in May), he got a five. Before that, there were a few lower grades.

There is a running joke on how the board sets the pass mark. To quote someone that goes by the name of Roto, ‘They set the pass mark based on how Brute performs. He gets 24; pass mark is 25. He gets 20; pass mark is 21.’ Brute’s pass mark + 1.

Just imagine. He has taken it so many times that he could practically do the exams without studying (actually not really; there are many formulas to remember and practise does make perfect).

There was another who passed on his or her seventh attempt.

It does say something about Brute’s perseverance. Which I deeply respect and admire.

And which I do not have.

Even though I don’t know him, I feel bad for him. Heck, a lot of people in the forum do. Luck just doesn't seem to be on his side.

Taking the same exam and failing for the umpteenth time. It is like pulling a knife out of your chest and when it is almost out, the knife is pushed back in again.

You think that is exaggerated? I don’t think so. He knew he has 24 correct answers even before the results were released. All of us thought he would pass, based on the past pass marks.

The pass mark was 25.

For someone who is married like Brute with kids, balancing work, family and studies is not easy. He is lucky to have a very supportive and understanding wife; she has even encouraged him to go for it again.

I know life is unfair, but it shouldn’t be like this.

I hope he doesn’t give up. He is this close to passing. Always missing out on one question.

I wish him all the best and may he pass the one in November.

Though if I were in his position, I wouldn’t give myself the same advice. I am not strong enough to take so many stabs.

I don't mean to be cocky, but it would be a surprise if I hadn't passed. And I would be utterly devastated. And would give up.

I have 26 correct answers.

Now you know why the somber tone of this post. Perhaps I need more time for it to sink in.

Friday, July 08, 2005

I, version 2.0

I have wanted to put this in words for the past few days but never got around to it. Something that has made its presence felt as I was writing the post titled You live, you learn.

I didn’t give much thought to it as it was Friday and attributed it as TGIF-feeling.

On Wednesday, I attended a gathering of the KK hike group cum farewell for our group leader Eddie. It was held at this obscure (to me) place called Café 69. Yup, obviously it is a gay-friendly place.

There were about thirty of us. I got to know a few new friends, as it was attended by Eddie’s other friends as well.

The feeling resurfaced. I realized I was in a good mood. Cheery.

I was happy to be there, excited to meet new people, basically enjoying myself and having a good time. Which is quite different from what I usually feel. Even though I am not naturally an extrovert and sometimes I have to make myself go out there and be friendly, I was totally at ease.

I realised that I have been feeling much better about things in general, after my KK trip. Life hasn’t change, but it does seem to be better.

Nevertheless, things have looked better for me. Life doesn’t seem as bad, not that it was before this.

This got me thinking of the reason. Is it because of the wonderful KK trip with seventeen other beautiful souls?

In part, I would say yes. I know, I know, I have been going on and on about KK. But as reflected in my postings, the people I went with was the reason the trip was so memorable.

Yes, I met someone special. Or at least someone who makes me feel special.

I believe I know myself quite well. Not completely but enough to understand why I do the things I do, think the way I think and the reasons I perceive things the way i do. Basically, how I function and my outlook on life.

In the daily grind of life, we get so caught up in work and doing things that we forget what living is all about.

‘Action speaks louder than words’, so the saying goes. But often words are just as, if not, more powerful than action. Indeed, sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me is not entirely true. More often than not, harsh words are etched in memory and the pain lasts longer than any physical wound ever will.

But I digress. Just as people use words to put someone down, words can also lift another’s spirit. More so if they are spoken from the heart.

I don’t usually get a lot of compliments, but if they come my way, I do appreciate them. They are great ego and confidence boosters. It doesn’t harm to have a few of these every once in a while.

And it has been a long time since I get any. Not that, but compliments.

In fact, it is not just the words. I can truly feel the warmth and care permeating from my computer screen as I read his emails.

If you remember, I spoke fondly of one of my group members from the KK trip, LP. We have been keeping in touch.

It is a good to have someone who really appreciates me and could see me for all my strengths and weaknesses. Someone who looks out and wants the best for me. Someone whom I know I can count on, all the time.

I believe that LP and the knowledge of what he is to me are the reasons for my change to a more confident and upbeat person.

For that, I am extremely grateful. It has been my pleasure and good fortune to know him. Life does seem rosier.

The point I am getting at is that, I am no longer insecure and desperate for someone I can call a boyfriend to be in my life.

Whoa ... even I surprise myself sometimes.

Coming back to the gathering on Wednesday, I felt like I was a different person. Chatting, laughing, making friends; I was comfortable and having fun. And I don’t think it was because of the cocktail they served.

What accentuated the fact was that, I didn’t want to go just the day before. The reasons were firstly, the people who are important to me won’t be there and secondly, monetary (hey, I have two more expensive dinners this week). As such, I thought that I would probably not enjoy myself.

Of course, this does not mean that Eddie is not a friend and his going away does not matter.

But then, someone texted me in the evening and I changed my mind.

So there I was, instead of feeling obligated for being there (which would be my usual mood), I was feeling good.

It just occurred to me that it could also be due to the hike itself. Telling people I have reached the summit of Mount Kinabalu (though not too difficult), elicited expressions of impress and gasps of amazement.

OK, there weren’t actually any gasps.

Anyway, I think the achievement gave me a sense of anything-is-possible and life-is-more-than-just-whatever-that-I-am-doing-now-and-there-is-still-
so-much-more-to-do-so-get-out-there-and-do-it.

Not that I didn’t know that before, but it is good to be reminded occasionally.

On the contrary, I could be reading too much into it.

Still, life is better, because I feel better about myself.

I have evolved.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Sherman's Lagoon



Even turtles are looking for sex.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Sex or long term relationship?

This is my reply to espion, in response to his comments to my earlier post.

I hate it when someone accuses or generalises. Or pretend he understands me when he doesn't.

First of all, your definition of love is different – agape or divine love, defined as self-sacrificing love; charitable, selfless, altruistic, and unconditional.

It must be pointed out that this kind of love is difficult to achieve. And that kind of love is different from passionate love or eros.

I believe what you have written is better articulated here, in your blog.

Still, I find your accusations interesting, though quite unfounded.

Are you saying that straight guys date girls just to have sex? Finding a life partner is not part of the agenda?

And even if they do, it doesn’t apply to us? Gay people do not look for a long term partner?

That is indeed a very prejudiced and cynical view.

As for me, I am a practical person. If I had wanted sex, I would not go through all that trouble of a relationship. ONS is so much easier and less of a hassle.

I never had sex with YF. When we broke up, do you think that I was heartbroken because I never got laid, or more because of emotional attachment and the dependency of being cared for and loved?

In addition, I suppose that many people equate sex with love. Even I do. People seek love, but how do you show love? Lovey-dovey words and chocolate or a diamond ring are never enough.

What is considered the ultimate act of love between two people? Sex.

It is true that sex is no longer sacred in this day and age. But how many people actually try to ascertain and analyse that what he feels, is actually love and not lust or infatuation, before having sex?

How many, when in the heat of the moment, consider that he might regret it afterwards?

Just like your example, it is so easy to succumb to sexual desires. Especially when both persons are heavily groping and kissing. That is only human.

Truer still if both are males. It is biology.

However, this does not negate the fact that one, or both of them, may have wanted something more. It doesn’t mean that they forgot about searching for the right one.

If not, why would there be breakups? Exactly because they have not found the right one and thus continue searching.

A reality of many gay relationships are the short live spans. Or as you called it, ‘extended ONS or sex-buddies’.

Just because they have sex and then break up doesn’t diminish the fact that there might be something deeper between the two.

According to Stenberg,

'Consummate love is the only type of love that includes all three components--intimacy, passion and commitment. Consummate love is the most complete form of love, and it represents the ideal love relationship for which many people strive but which apparently few achieve. Sternberg cautions that maintaining a consummate love may be even harder than achieving it. He stresses the importance of translating the components of love into action. "Without expression," he warns, "even the greatest of loves can die"

So if, for now, you are with someone who cares and loves you and you believe that you have gotten that someone special, sex is almost inevitable.

Unless you are really cynical, you can think that they actually go through the process of finding someone and the whole relationship thing so that there really is something deeper, thus they feel better when they have sex.

I beg to differ. I believe there are people seeking for the bigger picture, that someone special. The destination, so to speak. Including me.

Along the way, the people that they thought are the one and thus have sex with; that is the journey.

Sex is an ingredient of a romantic relationship (Stenberg’s Triangular Theory of Love) Surely, having sex in a one month old relationship doesn’t negate the fact that some people are searching for a LTR.

Or perhaps you think that long term means something like three years, after which you can have sex?

It’s like shopping. Let's say I was looking for the perfect shirt. I see something I like. I would then feel the fabric and look closer at the design. Then I stand in front of the mirror and put the shirt in front of me to gauge whether it fits or matches.

If I think it does, of course then I try it on. This is analogous to having sex. Surely, trying on is part of the process. The shirt might look good in front of the mirror, but nothing beats trying it on for yourself.

Sex is not the most important part in a relationship, but it is still essential.

But if someone is looking for sex only, why even bother with getting a closer look? Wouldn’t he just grab the shirt and go straight to the fitting room?

When someone starts saying you can love someone without consummating it, I think that is highly doubtful. That is not romantic love. The desire to have sex with the person you love is part and parcel of being human.

You said it best with 'So when I hear some gay says he is seeking LTR, I never assumed that he seeks love, or, conversely, to presume he seeks sex, in an acceptable context, and/or companionship, until and unless proven otherwise.'

Then why did you make that mistake?

Monday, July 04, 2005

New dad thinks baby might be gay

Taken from the Onion.

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SCOTTSDALE, AZ—Citing "something vaguely effeminate" about his eight-month-old son Michael, first-time father Joe Oebrick, 32, reported Tuesday that he suspects the infant may be a homosexual.

"I love my son," Oebrick said. "But, you understand, I'm worried, too."

Among the many "small signs" that suggest that his son may be gay, Oebrick cited a home video in which the toddler crawls across the living-room carpet of the family's suburban Scottsdale home, wiggling his hips from side to side.

"I don't think it's normal for a baby to move like that," said Oebrick, wincing as the infant paused and flapped an arm in the air. "Don't you think that's a little strange?"

According to Oebrick, Michael has an excessive fondness for bright colors and "things that sparkle."

"Sequins, glitter, feathers," said the recent father, listing some of the things that Michael likes. "And he really likes flowers."

According to Oebrick, Michael is fussy during meals and picky about his clothes. When he hurts himself, he "cries like a baby." Additionally, the toddler has a "very strong attraction" to a stuffed lion with a rainbow-striped mane, an apparent preference for bottle-feeding over breastfeeding, and an evident love for bouncing up and down in his jumper device "like some guy at a club."

New to parenting, Oebrick said he is "plagued" by demanding responsibilities, unexpected expenses, and "a million tiny things" that indicate that his infant son might be a homosexual.

Oebrick said he doubts that strangers can even tell that Michael is a boy when they first meet him, but he acknowledged that this is not his biggest concern. According to the recent father, his most urgent concern is the confused baby's constant need to suck on a pacifier.

"That can't be right. Can it?" Oebrick said.

Oebrick said he first began to worry about Michael's sexual orientation when the boy was two months old.

"He would giggle constantly," Oebrick said. "And he had a very weak handshake."

Oebrick recalled the first time he saw his newborn child smile.

"Obviously, I was thrilled," Oebrick said. "But the thing is, he kept on smiling. He'd smile through breakfast, he'd smile in his car seat, he'd smile at strangers. It was excessive. It was around then I started to think, 'What if Michael can't help himself?'"

According to Oebrick, there were several months during which the infant's head would wobble if it wasn't supported by an adult.

"He was always swinging his head around," Oebrick said. "Our pediatrician told me it was normal, but it seemed pretty... well, gay."

Oebrick's worries were renewed last month during a Memorial Day cookout, when Michael "seemed too interested in my buddies," staring at them for long intervals.

"My friend Ben was bouncing Michael on his knee, and he was giggling and drooling like crazy," Oebrick said. "That didn't bother me so much, but when Ben put him down, Michael started crawling after every other guy at the party, giggling and grabbing at their pants legs like crazy."

"It was like he was the belle of the ball," Oebrick said. "When Rob played peek-a-boo with him, he got so excited he actually wet his pants."

Oebrick repeatedly said that, no matter what his son's sexual orientation, he refuses to be a "distant father."

"My dad was rarely around," Oebrick said. "He was always either working or drinking with his buddies, and that left my mom to raise me and my sisters. It won't be like that for Michael. He'll have a strong male role model. It looks like he's really gonna need it."

----------------------
This is how my letter to him would look like.

Dear Mr Oebrick,

I can understand where you are coming from. Let me assure you that your child is so obviously not gay. Before anyone starts throwing their pink bunnies or collection of Mariah Carey CDs at me for being a traitor, allow me to explain.

Mr Oebrick, I am sure you are a decent and good man, but growing up in a society with a strong Judeo-Christianity influence bordering on conservatism would have definitely make you a very strong, macho man, albeit somewhat thick like a brick (Oebrick?). Though I salute your perseverance in not giving up on the baby.

There was no mention of a wife, so I would assume you are a single parent.
Without a wife or another maternal figure around, it is definitely difficult to differentiate what is gay or not.

With a few clicks of the mouse (not the furry type), it was easily determined that babies like bright-coloured and shiny things. Why, they even have favourite colours.

Being the traditional male that you are i.e. not very observant, I don’t suppose you have noticed that sweets are often wrapped in such paper? How babies would usually reach out and play with a woman’s earrings and jewellery? And how shows like Teletubbies and Barney have grown-ups in horrendous colourful suits acting really silly?

Oh wait, Barney doesn’t count; he is gay.

By the way, I think that flowers fall under the category of bright-coloured objects too, no? Unless they have died or wilted, of course.

Actually, what I found more curious is, why are there a ‘stuffed lion with a rainbow-striped mane’ and ‘sequins, glitter, feather’ lying around in the house? Where do you even get that lion anyway, from ‘Gays-R-Us’?

In case you haven’t notice, eight month olds are babies. They can’t talk or form words yet. All they do is cry. And cry. And cry some more. Like a baby. I don’t know exactly what you were expecting them to cry like. Banshees?

Regarding your ‘most urgent concern is the confused baby's constant need to suck on a pacifier’. To quote from this link,

‘.... babies suck on a pacifier for most of the day, and some children suck on them all the way up until they are three years old’. While pacifiers can be a pain, and it can be hard to break a child from it, it is at least better than thumb-sucking (it is even more difficult to break a child from the thumb, because you can't just throw it away).'

I seriously doubt that he is learning, sorry for being crude here, to be a cocksucker. If sucking a pacifier leads to that, the gay population would definitely be much, much higher.

About the Memorial Day incident, it seems to me that you seldom, almost never, bring Michael out of the house. If indeed that was the first time in a crowd when there is a celebration going on, it is not strange, in fact perfectly normal, for a baby to get excited to meet new faces and sounds and explore the place a bit.

In addition, he could be behaving like he did because:
1) you have never, ever bounce him on your knee
2) you have never, ever play peek-a-boo with him
3) you have started hiding the lion with the rainbow-striped mane
4) he is not getting enough attention and care from you, that he has to resort to and pulling other men’s pants legs to get some TLC
5) he needed to check they were real and wondered how long you were going to keep all those hunky men from him

Michael certainly lives a very deprived life at home.

Besides, have you seen a baby who starts bawling and wailing when bounced on the knee? Mopes when playing peek-a-boo? Just sit there and not explore in a new environment? In other words, un-baby like and instead scowl like an alien bent on destroying the Earth?

And the giggling? What is wrong with that? You mean to say that straight babies don't giggle and they pout instead?

What the heck is wrong with you?

Before I end, I would like to applaud your decision to not be a ‘distant father’, typical of many gay son-father relationship. But I bet you know that already.

And strong male role models? Yeah, that would probably help. Better still, ignore the ‘role’ part.

I hope I have put your mind at ease. Your baby is definitely not gay, though I am not so sure about you. As they say, it takes one to know one.

The gay baby expert
Derek

Reports in the China Press

Should have posted this earlier, but still, it is not too late.

This is a message from the LPG group. As there are eleven parts, the final one will be on the 13th.

Dear all,

On 27th May, Miss Moo from China Press interviewed some of us and the report is now being published in their Section D. The first part today (3rd July) is quite positive.

Please help to tell your friends who read Chinese about this. The series continue everyday, so there will be all 11 parts.

Give your comments, good or bad to Miss Moo. Tel: 03-22896156.

Friday, July 01, 2005

You live, you learn

In one of my conversations with LP, I was telling him about my dating experience with YF. Being the astute person that he is, LP asked me something which got me thinking.

The question was, ‘How could you let him do that? How could you let him get away with that without doing anything?’

To put things in context, I have to be the bad guy again and spill all the beans.

The thing I was referring to is his roving eye. To be more specific, he was very much attracted to another friend of mine, AC. In YF words, ‘He is super hot.’

You see, YF and I was having lunch in a shopping mall when I decided to drop by and say hi to AC, who was working in one of the retail pharmacies. That was the first time YF set eyes on AC. Though I didn’t have the chance to formally introduce them to each other, as AC was busy attending to customers.

After leaving the pharmacy, I had to spend the next thirty minutes listening to the word ‘hot’ repeated a hundred times.

Firstly, I don’t mind my boyfriend expounding on the attractiveness and exquisite beauty of another guy. We men are visual creatures anyway. But there is a limit. And definitely thirty minutes is well over the limit.

Secondly, I don’t mind introducing my friends to my boyfriend, even the cute ones. Trust is important in a relationship, is it not?

Even so, the proper way should be through me, as I am the mutual friend to both. Not for my boyfriend to go find out more information on his own.

I admit it was my fault and perhaps it was taken as a sign to go-ahead, as I gave YF AC’s online personal nick when he asked for it. Not very brilliant of me, eh?

YF then went on to get to know AC online, pretending to be a stranger. They exchanged about two dozen emails between them. Not much of a consolation, but YF promised that he would show me their correspondence, when the time is right. And he did.

After YF identified himself as my friend (notice it is not boyfriend) and he even gave his number, he went on to say ‘I think you are the hottest person I have ever seen. I love the way you type, so cute, so my type. Oh, but this doesn’t mean that I like you.’

Yeah, right. I love every little thing about you, but it doesn’t mean I like you.

Needless to say, I was extremely hurt and disappointed when I read all the messages, the above being one of them. I should have probably ended the whole thing right there and then. It would have spare me some heartache, as the breakup was a week later.

But I didn’t.

Although I was angry, yet when I spoke to him about this on the phone (he was in Penang), I tried to be calm (I don’t know why I even tried - the anger was after all justified).

Even without me trying, the anger slowly dissipated when I heard his voice.

Anyway, I think that is enough context. That is not what this post is about anyway.

It’s about me being different when I was with him. Giving him so much leeway and trust. Bending my values and principles. Doing things I wouldn't usually do. Closing one, no, almost both eyes actually.

Looking back, I think the problem was the overly unhealthy need to please the other and thus giving in too much (though I realise one should not be keeping score on how much he has given).

In other words, I was desperate. I didn’t want to be single again. I wanted someone whom I can call a boyfriend, no matter the circumstance.

I guess you would have guessed by now. The root cause of the need to please another? One word: insecurity.

Yeah, I was insecure. Like a small child who wouldn’t let go of his mother’s hands in the shopping mall, afraid that he would never find her again amongst the crowd.

A relationship very seldom works when one is insecure. Insecurity breeds a sense of dependence. And repression. Repression of all the negative emotions like hurt and anger, which one day would be unleashed. In an ugly way.

Not a surprising revelation or anything, but it does make me wonder. Why was I insecure? In pretty much everything else, I don’t lack confidence. I always speak my mind and not afraid call a spade, a spade.

Sigh.

Another ingredient in the recipe for failure: desperation. Being single absolutely sucks. Or at least that was what I felt at the time.

I started work last June and I consciously decided to not look for anyone special. Heck, I even stopped meeting people. Not an entirely logical decision, but I thought it was best at the time.

After settling down in the work place and after my exams in November, who should come a-calling but YF? Talk about the right timing.

Perhaps the planets were in the right positions or my office desk is arranged facing an auspicious direction or I gave up my seat for the pregnant lady in the bus. Whatever it was, I was almost instantly smitten and a relationship just started.

Someone once said that one should go into a relationship with both eyes wide open (not just the mouth). I can’t agree more.

When a relationship is still young and one is in love, he wears rose-tinted glasses. Reality sets in only much later.

How many people you know who analyse and look deeper and think longer before committing to a relationship? For many of us, including myself, we feel that matters of the heart ought to be ruled by the heart.

But experts say they should be ruled by the head; a lot of breakups due to incompatibility and mismatch could then have been avoided.

I know it is easier said than done. When one is drunk with the elixir love, it is hard to think straight and almost anything goes.

At the end of the day, I am a little wiser now. Though all these will not mean anything if I do not remember the lessons learnt and thus repeat them when the next young gorgeous person comes along.

Writing this reminded me of this song, You Learn, by Alanis Morissete (I feel she writes better songs when she is angsty).

I, recommend getting your heart trampled on to anyone, yeah
I, recommend walking around naked in your living room, yeah

Swallow it down (what a jagged little pill)
It feels so good (swimming in your stomach)
Wait until the dust settles

You live you learn, you love you learn
You cry you learn, you lose you learn
You bleed you learn, you scream you learn

I, recommend biting off more than you can chew to anyone
I certainly do
I, recommend sticking your foot in your mouth at any time
Feel free

Throw it down (the caution blocks you from the wind)
Hold it up (to the rays)
You wait and see when the smoke clears

Wear it out (the way a three-year-old would do)
Melt it down (you're gonna have to eventually, anyway)
The fire trucks are coming up around the bend

You grieve you learn, you choke you learn
You laugh you learn, you choose you learn
You pray you learn, you ask you learn
You live you learn


Yup, I have lived and learnt.