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Queer issues in Singapore
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Being Queer in School: The Five Stages of Gay Grief

by Una

“Problem: homophobia; Solution: don’t be an asshole,” said Una during a class discussion in school.

“Problem: homophobia; Solution: don’t be an asshole,” said Una during a class discussion in school.

Denial and Bargaining

I went to an all girls’ Christian secondary school. When I was in secondary one, I remember walking to the school gates when a fellow student caught my eye. I thought, hey, I wonder how it would feel to press my lips up against hers?

I was startled. What did I just think? Did I think —

And kiss her lips! And her lips! And her lips! I bet they would be soft and supple…

It was official. I was going insane. A part of my brain was screaming for me to stop having such sinful thoughts. I had always been a devout Christian; Why would the devil tempt me now? The other part was imagining how soft a girl’s lips would be. In the end, I pushed it to the back of my head and tried to forget it.

It only got worse, and every day there was a new girl my brain wanted to try kissing, imagining the silky press of her lips against mine. Yet I still thought I was Miss Immovable Heterosexual. After all, I had a crush on a boy once —didn’t that count for something?

Anger

We had to do an ‘Issues Investigation’ as part of our Social Studies syllabus. “Find a problem, produce a solution,” my teacher said, “if your group members have opposing views, then that would be even better!” 

“Problem: homophobia; Solution: don’t be an asshole,” I suggested to my group mates. My friend, whom I knew was queer, laughed. The others, not so much. But it was okay opposing views were good for our project. 

“Well… I think it’s okay to be gay — just as long as you don’t act upon it,” my other friend said brightly, as if she had just produced a view born from good critical thinking. 

Don’t act upon it — what kind of bullshit logic was she trying to use? Don’t act upon it? And what? Die repressed? I was furious. Couldn’t stop shaking. She was my best friend in school—how could she? Of all people? She was someone I thought was the kindest person in the world, and yet she had to say that to me

That day, I felt such an intense betrayal that our friendship has never been the same. There was now a thick, rainbow wall between us that would prevent us from having a true, deep friendship I thought we would have forever. 

A little dramatic, I know, but I wrote a poem about it that day. I am not a good poet, but I was so furious and my thoughts were too clunky to express in prose. It had not been the first time she had expressed such homophobic views, but this was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

She often used the Bible to justify her homophobia. I had struggled more with reconciling my sexuality and Christianity than accepting my sexuality, so any use of the Bible for homophobia immediately pissed me off to no end. 

Depression

Every time my teacher mentions 377a in class to spark up a debate, my skin buzzed and my hands shake from the adrenaline coursing through my veins. My voice trembles and my face feels like it is on fire. 

Some of my classmates like to say, “It could be worse.” A lot of people say, “It could be worse.”

“It’s not like the police are going to barge into gay people’s houses to see if they’re having sex, right?” They laugh. But that isn’t the point. 

It really could be worse, I think. I should be grateful. 

But why should I be grateful for something that should already be a given — something everyone except people like me get to have ‘unconditionally’? 

I shouldn’t have to be thankful for being treated like a ‘normal’ person. 

In spite of all the support from my friends — IRL & online alike — I couldn’t help but wonder how my family would react when I tell them I’m bisexual. 

I’m telling them someday, when my education has been paid for and I am financially stable. It shouldn’t have to be like this — I shouldn’t have to hide who I am from the people I love the most — but that’s life as a closeted queer in Singapore.

Acceptance

I have just entered junior college. Two weeks ago, I started dating a girl, my ex-classmate. It’s going great and I couldn’t ask for anything better, really. 

I have also become closer to God after reading the Bible through the queer lens. It’s quite interesting how many verses could apply to being queer — and how some very famous biblical characters could actually be queer. 

Una loves reading queer literature and history. The number of times she has had to tell her parents that she isn't a lesbian has exponentially grown over the past two years, making it almost a bi(heh)-monthly occurrence at this point. 


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Being Queer in School is a series of community submissions that seek to explore what it means to be queer in the Singapore education system. If you have anything to share with us, submit to us through e-mail.