by Wan Ling
If you ask me what I remembered most about last Saturday's Women's Nite, I would say it was the mini cupcakes... hahaha...
This year's session on coming out was done quite differently from last year's. It was more cosy and personal because we were split up into smaller groups right from the beginning. It was also helpful to be given hints on little slips of paper.
It was interesting to hear what coming out meant to each person. In my group, what struck me most was the part about coming out to parents. I believe most of us would like to share this part about ourselves with people who are dearest to us, and yet because of this closeness, we are afraid that they would get hurt should they learn the truth. The main reason why some of us were not out to parents was because we felt they would never accept it, although part of it was entirely due to our own fears. We all agreed that coming out had to be done at a proper time and place, and hopefully with proper support from close friends or family members.
I could not help thinking that we were like the X-Men. Some people think that we have a "disease" and have to be "cured". If our parents understand better what being gay means, maybe their reaction will be different. Maybe this could be a topic for future discussion?
In all, it was a pleasant evening, with a good mix of not-so-old aunties (that includes me!) and younger ones. It was good to meet up with everyone.
The reason why I keep going back to Women's Nite, month after month, is that it always challenges me to think. This month was no exception.
In our discussion groups, we talked about what Coming Out meant to us; who we're out to and who we intend to come out to in the future; is coming out even important for us at all; what are our reasons for choosing to come out.
There was also a role-playing scenario activity, where we were supposed to think of someone we plan to come out to in the near future, and role-play the coming out scenario. Though the real situation would never be what we expect it to be or can ever predict, I thought it was helpful just to give people the confidence that coming out is something surmountable. Sometimes, thinking we can is already taking that one giant step.
Though it's always great to meet people who have healthy self-esteems and proud gay identities, ever so often, I feel like there are those who seem to be tripping themselves up even before they start to walk. I do wish people wouldn't cling on to their fear and a certain victim status to feel entitled to a certain level of self-pity and hopelessness.
I really do believe gay people have a tendency to judge straight people even more than they judge us. Our aim is to normalize our gay identities- we're all the same people with normal lives. I'm not saying there will not be people who will indeed treat us differently, avoid us, want us to change. But why are we deciding on their behalf? Why do we have to pre-empt how differently people will see us after we come out to them?
For me, the best takeaway from the night was when someone who had just moved to Singapore five weeks ago, said that barely 50 years ago, women were being beaten, thrown out of their houses, raped because they dared to speak out and be brave about being gay. And those were the women who have made our lives easier today, and allowed us to come together that night for Women's Nite. She said we must not stop challenging the status quo in society, starting from the way we think to influence how people around us think.
That totally inspired me. I'm definitely not saying it's easy, but we must all strive to lead authentic, honest, loving lives with the people we love and whom love us. Thus, it is my personal belief that the people who simply refuse to even try to accept us, don't matter.
Oh, of course, who could forget the unanimous highlight of the night- the fantastic cupcakes!