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Queer issues in Singapore
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Being Queer in School: A Poem by Xiu Wen

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All The Hues Of Youn

by Xiu Wen

I first met you1
in the first English class
of our first year in secondary school.
You1 were giving a presentation
about yourself1
and, in those 4.8 minutes,
I concluded that I loved you1.

The first few months
of crushing before being crushed
were soft, full of giggling confessions.
You1 felt new; the rock that broke
the pane of mundane heterosexuality.

You1 made me want to come out,
write novels and poems about
youngsters and strangers
and estranged single mothers who needed
to meet someone like you1.
To make them feel warm and safe
and proud.

I guess it was an unfair shade
to impose onto you1.
You1 were a mule to my thoughts,
my moments of self exploration.

Yet I wonʼt deny that you1 left too soon.
I spent the next few years quieter,
questioning whether you1 were
no more than an exceptional illusion
that there was even a pane to be broken.
How that pane maybe have just been my cornea.

Without you1, I felt like an imposter;
a grey sheep painted rainbow.
As if my feelings alone werenʼt enough,
I need proof, case studies, quotations in MLA format
for my word; my place in this community To mean anything.

=

After you1, there were a hundred others.
At first, bearing slight resemblances to you1,
however, soon the face of you changed.

It grew kinder, sharper, lighter, darker.
Hairstyles changing everyday,
even occasionally being straight.
You became platonic, romantic, religious, atheist.
You taught me how to love
beyond queer indie rom-coms
of two hot girls kissing in a garden.
To love even the straightest hair
without needing to plan
a bold confession and a future together.
To turn romantic feelings into platonic ones
that were easier to swallow.

=

And then you2 came along.
I didnʼt let my feelings get the best of me,
but you2 made me want to be better,
to live and love without fear even though
you2 couldnʼt completely allow yourself2
that love either.

You2 fear the judgement,
not of your2 validity,
but of your2 identity.
Your2 emotions constantly on the DL,
toned down to a soft buzz.

The writing I write around you2
is experimental, pushing boundaries -
not just of society,
but of this community,
of this idea of validity.
It cautiously measures risk
and pours it down the drain.

And who knows?
Itʼs only a matter of time before
rejection rears its head,
forming yet another step
forwards in this adventure.

But I tell myself not to fear is
because beyond these
white-washed walls,
the laws of math still apply and
-∞ < youn < +∞


Xiu Wen is 16 years old and is currently an aspiring writer that hopes to broaden the art and writing scene in Singapore. For the past three years, she has struggled with her identity, even when she is surrounded by supportive friends and family. She think there is an underlying pressure to fit yourself into a label and be a representative for the queer community, in your daily life and in your writing - even if you're just a teen trying to figure it out.

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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.