Thursday, February 15, 2007

Something to warm the cockles

Yesterday was Valentine's Day and everywhere I went there were straight couples all around. And of course, there were also the ubiquitous sight of straight men holding flowers.

What's so special about a day where bloody everyone else is doing the same thing? Ain't love supposed to be between two people, something personal to be shared between two people?

Oh wait, I forgot. These are straight people. They love to conform to the majority. They like to show the world when they have a girlfriend / boyfriend through grand weddings and celebrations.

They're just suckers waiting to be milked to the max. One meal on Valentine's is equivalent to at least three meals on a normal day. Flowers cost 5 times more. Restaurants throw out the usual menu and have Valentine dinner sets.

I am not trying to be cynical or anything, but I think it's just plain silly. I am being pragmatic, that's all.

Anyway, this is something taken from Trevvy, which I think is way cool and to be consistent with the post title.

On some Saturday nights, observant patrons of Taboo – one of Singapore ’s foremost gay joints – will notice that a youthful-looking girl with a winsome smile is the last to leave the club. No, she’s not the janitor. She’s Amy Chia, and she’s waiting for her husband to finish up so that they can leave together. You heard it right: husband. Just last Tuesday, Amy registered her marriage to Deren Teo, one of Taboo’s bartenders.

What a cool queer tale. It was a star-crossed night in late 2005. Amy was bar-hopping along the Tanjong Pagar stretch, Singapore ’s gay district, something she does quite regularly. “I have many gay friends,” she explains. “And I like clubbing in gay clubs because we’re all like sisters. In straight clubs, whenever guys come up to you, more often than not they’re trying to hit on you.”

How ironic that she should be dragged to Taboo by a friend, where Deren was mixing drinks behind the counter. “I was a bit drunk then,” Amy confesses, “but I still noticed that this guy was making eyes at me!” She grabs Deren’s arms affectionately.

“I thought she was quite chio”, Deren acknowledges with a bashful smile. (Chio is the Hokkien word for “pretty”.) “So when she bought drinks, I peeked at her credit card to find out her name.”

Noticing the sparks between them, their friends tried to bring them together. Though they were physically attracted to each other – making eyes at each other in the club from across the bar – things didn’t work out that night. “You must realise that I was half-drunk!” Amy laughs.

Mutual friends saved their budding romance. As luck would have it, Amy’s friend was dating Deren’s colleague. Permission was asked by proxy for her number. This permission was freely given by Amy, who found Deren “very cute”. They arranged for their first date, which was held at – you guessed it – Taboo. After a fruitful night getting to know each other in the company of many mutual friends who functioned as “mei niang” (Mandarin for “matchmakers”), they headed back to Amy’s apartment for a few drinks.

Love was quick to blossom between the two, but Amy is quick to clarify that there were “no fireworks”. Instead, theirs is a sweet tale of familiar love, filled with such sweet treats as telephone calls till daybreak. “It was nothing phenomenal,” Amy admits, “but our lives just grew together.” Deren continues: “We’re just very comfortable with each other. I love Amy’s company.”

When quizzed about them, Addie Low, manager of Taboo, reveals that they were very discreet about their courtship. “I didn’t know till six months later!” Addie complains in a mock-offended tone. “But I’ve come to realise they’re very suited for each other.” It is with his blessings that they move into their conjugal life: for the marriage registration ceremony, Addie stayed up the entire night before to personally design the flower arrangements.

Although Deren is now a married man, he has no plans to discontinue working with Taboo. He started bartending with Taboo four years ago, when he was still a student at the National University of Singapore. “My family knows that I work in a gay bar. They’re okay with it,” says Deren. “And of course Amy is okay with it.”

“Most of our good friends know about our story,” Amy points out. “In general, many straight people can be very homophobic, or have typical conservative misconceptions about gay people. But when they say something that is extremely offensive, I will put them in check.” Deren, for his part, invites his straight pals to Taboo so that they can check out the gay scene. “Most of them are actually very interested about gay things,” says Deren, “and they leave with a good impression of gay people.”

Gay men and straight men have more in common than you think. “Sometimes girls come early, and sit at the bar. When my staff members see a girl that they like, they will suddenly become very flirty and coy,” laughs Addie. “Their coyness will override their manliness.” According to Addie, Deren’s boyish looks and guileless charms have won him scores of admirers, many of whom sit at the bar to flirt with him. But Amy won out over the rest.

Amy and Deren plan to take it slow in the coming few months. They haven’t ruled out the possibility of holding their banquet at Taboo. “But we’re completely broke!” they lament, referring to their recent purchase of a flat in Bishan. So if you see them around in Taboo, don’t hesitate to offer them a hongbao to show your support for this unconventional couple.

It’s the same old story, just with a different setting: boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy marries girl. The rest, as they say, is history. And it’s good that in a gay bar, at least some of us – albeit the straights – are finding love. And if you’re alone this Valentine’s: remind yourself that if a guy and a gal can get it off in a gay bar, a guy and another guy can do it too.


William said...

It's time to test out whether gay guys can find love at straight bars!

k.t.x said...

darling, i aint no conformist, but happy Val's day nonetheless...and gong hey fatt choy babe.

Derek said...

william: Hmm, that could happen! I'll let you know when that happens ;P

keatix: Hey, Happy CNY to you too! May the year of the pig brings lots of joy and success to you.

Have a safe trip home! ;P

thompsonboy said...

It's nice to do silly things...sometimes.