Thursday, September 22, 2005

Gays love God

Remember the author I mentioned about last month, the one whom I met during my hike?

Anyway, I was wrong about expecting his interview to be published in the weekend edition of the Sun. Oyoung Wen Fong’s interview was published yesterday. It’s a half page article, under Lifestyle – Books.

Below is the full text of the article.

The right to love
Peter Yap

BEING gay is not a sin - that's what author Oyoung Wen Fong wants readers to believe in his latest book, Gays Love God. This, his second book on gay issues, reveals the struggles of gay Christians, their real life experiences and how a gay person holds strongly to his religious beliefs despite the many pressures put on him by society.

The book centres on four characters - a lesbian pastor, two gay pastors and a former priest in the US - who have made huge contributions in the gay liberation movement from 1970s till now.

The 35-year-old New York-based author once admitted that he was a homophobe until he learnt the reality of life the hard way. A couple of years ago, 30 people, including one gay couple, died in his church (in the US) when someone burnt it down. It was then that Oyoung realised that even gays can love, and that "their love was no less true compared to heterosexual couples".

His first book on homosexuality, the controversial God Loves Gays was released in January this year. When it was first launched here, it spawned a major debate between the author and members of his Christian community, who were understandably upset with the book's content.

Oyoung took their views in stride and was unfazed by the criticism. He knows his subject "inside out", thanks to his experiences with the gay community in the US, as well as his academic background in sociology and theology. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D in sociology and lectures at St Peter's College in New Jersey.

Despite "threats" from certain quarters, Oyoung, who comes from a strong Christian background and is happily married, continues to write articles in support of homosexuals. Still the touchy topic only appeals to certain intellectuals, and the curious reader (or Christian) among us.

Both books are written in Chinese and there is a possibility that the publisher, 3nity, may translate the text into English.

theSun talked to Oyoung, who is also the author of 10 other books, including Articles That You Never Read in Newspapers, Are All Bosses the Same, Different Voice and Critical Idea, Critical Thinker, about why he chose to write about gays.

Why did you decide to write books on this topic?
Gay theology is well established in the United States. I used to be against gays and follow everything in the Bible without questioning until I went to the US to study back in 1997. I learnt to look at the Bible from a different perspective. To me, there is not just one interpretation to the Bible. I believe one can make one's own choice and decision.

When did you come out from the closet?
You assume I'm gay, right? Actually, I don't want to talk about my sexual orientation. When I started to write about gay issues three years ago, I didn't want readers to make my sexual orientation an issue; I wanted them to look at my arguments instead.

What was the initial response?
A lot of people refused to look at the arguments, nor did they try to reason with you. They look at who are you and condemn you and your sexual orientation. I don't think it matters.

Have things changed?
Malaysians are not that exposed to the subject of homosexuality. The Chinese are quite supportive of my book, but some Christians have returned my books after having bought it. Some of them don't even read the books but openly criticise them and me. They say I'm not a good Christian and that I am possessed by evil spirits. Some of my friends are supportive of my arguments and books but don't come forward as they don't want to be labelled "gay".

Are you working on another book?
Yes, I believe people should be liberated... to be able to love and to be loved. So I'll keep writing.

What about gay marriages?
It's something that we can think about. We can review our definition of marriage. If you define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, then gay marriage is not a marriage. But you can still have another name to recognise their partnership.

Oyoung's two books God Loves Gays and Gays Love God are available at Popular Bookstores & Mentor Bookstores.

I am not at all surprised that when someone is pro-gay, he is automatically assumed to be gay too. Especially in Malaysia, when many pastors and priests still maintain their rigid views on homosexuality.

Even if there were, no one would dare openly speak up for the gay community in Malaysia, unlike Clarence Singam of Oogachaga and Alex Au in Singapore.

I am excluding the Chinese-speaking community here, because they do have someone – Eric Goh. He was the one came out on national television in April this year.

Recently, he also wrote a letter to Guang Ming daily, condemning a series of articles which they published. The two reporters visited one of the gay bars (Bliss, I think) and one of them was getting hit on and “persuaded” to go the gents.

Now, if only a certain someone, whose opinion was posted on the Cicak, would read his books. Or rather, simply read.


Anonymous said...

Oyoung's married to a man or a woman? The journalist simply wasn't clear on that.

Jay said...

Believe it or not, I know the journalist, Peter Yap. One of us summore!

Derek said...

anonymous: Heh, didn't realise that. ;P Very observant of you.

Oyoung married a woman.

jay: Your network of friends stretches far and wide.

Thus, I believe you.

By the way, is he cute? ;P

canardbidon said...

at the end of the day, it's still not easy being gay in malaysia lah! what i miss most about uni is having mates who happen to be gay to gossip with... seems to be that in KL any contact implies a move to the bedroom - or am i wrong?!

Espion said...

Hey you still have not told me what Oyoung said to you during the hike.

Derek said...

canardbidon: Welcome, darling. Glad that you have stumbled upon my little blog here. ;-)

I would say most contacts are sex driven. But of course, there are people who are not like that. They are just harder to find, that's all. ;P

Though I can give you some tips on this - yours truly *ahem*

espion: Nothing much further to add actually. Whatever he said to me was in the post.