Thursday, September 20, 2007

Don't be a bonsai

Something big which happened in Singapore, which I think is worth mentioning is the coming out of a secondary school teacher in a well known school, Raffles Institution. He posted his coming out on his blog on the Saturday evening two weeks ago. On Monday, he was asked by the Ministry of Education to remove it.

I think I speak for all when I say that what he did was very brave and it was the right thing to do.

In fact, many of his students and parents of the students supported his move and his desire to be true to himself so that he could contribute more meaningfully to society.

Even though the article has been removed, this is the internet age we are talking about and it can still be found here.

What one student said:
I adorn a man with my respect when he shows me courage, and Otto Fong deserves it. I have never had the privilege of being taught by him but I know he’s a great man, and it will earn him nothing but veneration in my eyes to, so aptly put, come out of the closet.

The world would have been a more beautiful place, beseiged by less lies and less deceit. If people were more comfortable with being themselves. Proud of themselves. Less pain and less ignorance. Less hate.

There are more positive responses than negatives, from the comments I read from this site.

Yet, in today's newspaper The Straits Times, a front page read "7 in 10 frown on homosexuality, NTU survey finds".

The above survey also measured how religious a person was and how far he or she conformed to social norms.

No surprises in the conclusion arrived at: "intrinsic religiosity" - viewing religion as the primary driving force of life - was the strongest predictor of anti-gay sentiment. So did those who conformed to social norms.

Anyway, back to Otto Fong, the teacher who came out. He said
"I, Otto Fong, have always been and always will be a gay man. When you ask about my spouse, I will say he is a man. I am as proud being gay as you are proud being straight. I am not, as some people like to label gays, a pedophile, a child molester, a pervert or sexual deviant. I did not choose to be gay, just like heterosexuals did not choose to be straight. I am not going to hell (not for being gay anyway).

I am not going back in the closet. When you ask me who I am, I will answer: I am a son, a brother, a long-time companion, an uncle, a teacher, a classmate, a colleague, a part of your community, a HDB dweller, a Singaporean. And I am also gay."

Strong words, and how very true.

"Do you know what a bonsai tree is? A bonsai tree is an imitation of a real tree. It is kept in a small pot with limited nutrients, trimmed constantly to fit someone else’s whim. It looks like a real tree, except it can’t do many things a real tree can. It cannot provide shelter, it cannot find food on its own; its life and death are totally reliant on its owner. It is the plant version of the 3-inch Chinese bound foot for women: useless and painful.

Being in the closet, pretending to be straight, trimming our true selves to suit the whims and expectations of others, is just like being a human bonsai tree. By staying in the closet, we cannot even hope to be average, much less above and beyond average.

I felt that in order to reach my fullest potential as a useful human being, I must first fully accept myself, and face the world honestly."

Bravo, Mr Fong. Your bravery will definitely leave a mark in the society of Singapore and students of your school. Your courage is an inspiration to those who are still struggling with their identities, especially the teenagers.

Monday, September 17, 2007

In 200 words

I haven't fallen off the edge of the world.

Actually, I haven't had the mood to write even though I have quite a few things on which I would like to pen down since I came back from KL.

Perhaps I should do snippets of 200 words or so, instead of my usual long postings of at least 500 words.

Work wise, my manager is as frustratingly directionless as ever.

Over the past month, I was in the darkened cinema halls approximately 10 times - The Brave Story, Ratouille, The Bourne Supremacy, 1408, Dead Silence, Rogue Assassin, The Home Song Stories, Me ... Myself and The Invasion.

Of the above, the ones to avoid are Dead Silence, Rogue Assassin and The Invasion.

I was out clubbing yesterday and also last week. It was fun last week as it has been a while since I had done also. Yesterday felt a little tiresome, but still I had fun.

And I am going again next weekend. I am definitely not stepping foot into one for at least a month after that.

Things to look forward to:
1) Going back to KL end of the month to spend quality time with my boy and catch Ry perform.
2) My trip to Taiwan middle of next month.

Perhaps doing a snippet is the way to go from now on ;)