A common experience among gay people is that of an adolescence feeling all alone. You know you have certain feelings and interests, but nobody around you displays the same. Nobody you know ever mentions these. Instead, you quite quickly realise that the gossip you overhear, the visual and cinematic representations you encounter every direction you turn, even the well-intentioned questions you get from uncles and aunts, refer to some other romantic interests that you’re supposed to have but do not.
Within a young person’s limited world of school, family and extra-curricular activities, a sense of being alone and of being marginal become central to his identity. Continue reading ‘The loneliness of loving Berg’
When Manny Pacquiao, reversing his apology, approvingly cited the Old Testament’s sanction for the killing of gay people, there followed considerable condemnation. But nowhere did I see anyone calling for him to be prosecuted or censored by the state, either for hate speech or for inciting murder.
When the Catholic Church voiced its discomfort with a performance by Madonna, the organisers quickly removed a song segment from the programme, no doubt with state censors leaning on them. Continue reading ‘Holy murder of freedom of expression’
Published 25 December 2013
art and entertainment
I look forward to this being a great play in its version 2. Version 1 contains promising seeds.
My take-away from this play, written by Wong Souk Yee and directed by Peter Sau and performed 20-21 December 2013 at the University Cultural Centre, is this: When a state has acquired instruments of non-democratic control, merely changing parties in government is not good enough. It takes a revolution to clean up its act. Continue reading ‘Theatre review: Square Moon’
Here is the film Boy (2008), by Filipino filmmaker Auraeus Solito. It had been selected for inclusion in Singapore’s 2009 International Film Festival but was one of two festival films banned by the Media Development Authority (MDA), the Orwellian-named department of censorship. Do note, it’s 1 hour 19 minutes long.
Continue reading ‘Watch a banned film today’
Published 24 October 2013
art and entertainment
Cycle – rattan/bamboo weave sculpture by Sopheap Pich, exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2013
I love speaking with bright young people. Tonight, a student at Yale-NUS College asked me a question — one that I don’t think anybody else has ever asked me in all my long years. She asked my opinion whether every young person should do art. I’m not sure if she meant art as a subject in school or as a hobby. Doesn’t matter though.
Without hesitation I said Yes. Very much a Yes. Continue reading ‘Knowledge economy? Then value art’
Guest essay by Tania De Rozario
Tania De Rozario. Still from video: Roy Tan
When I was first asked to present my personal thoughts on the “The Future of LGBT and the Arts in Singapore” at IndigNation 9 (August 2013), I was stumped where to start. Both our arts community and queer community are so diverse: At what points do they intersect? What concerns do they share? Is the issue queer artists or queer art? Does the latter even exist?
I’ve been working in the creative industry for just over a decade and yet still do not feel as though I have satisfactory answers to the above questions. So the first thing I did was run the brief by a number queer people across different creative disciplines: “What are your concerns with regard to the future of LGBT art-makers and art-content in Singapore?” Continue reading ‘Re-setting the standard, the Great Work begins.’
The scene in the picture above, taken at City Hall metro station, is not that remarkable now. It might have been so ten years ago, but queuing to board is beginning to catch on. As is standing on the left on escalators.
Social graciousness and civic responsibility are slowly inching forward.
I must admit that for a long time, I have been skeptical that Singaporeans would ever change. Our rude, selfish behaviour seems ingrained in our DNA. With intense competition for scarce resources (e.g. seats on trains), the rational response should surely be to remain pushy. Add to that our deep reluctance to speak up when we see others behave uncivilly, and there is nothing by way of social penalty. Continue reading ‘A bit more graciousness and civic consciousness or just as bad as ever?’
The title of the film left my friends perplexed. “I have no idea what it’s about,” said one. “Is it about transgenders?” ventured another.
“I hope it’s not a celluloid version of a circus freak show,” hazarded a third, with extreme wariness. Continue reading ‘Cinema: Menstrual Man’
“Controversial — that word has been used a lot,” says Kenneth Teng of his friends’ and peers’ somewhat nervous response to news that sexuality would be the theme for this year’s Perspectives Film Festival.
“Another term used was ‘sensitive topic’,” he recalled. Clearly, it is a subject that Singaporeans are uncomfortable with.
It was especially interesting to hear of these responses from Kenneth and Sophial Foo, joint Festival Directors, because both are still students at Nanyang Technological University (NTU). The cohort they are referring to are people roughly their age; young people whose internet-rich environment is filled with tremendous sexual diversity, or so one might have thought. Continue reading ‘Perspectives Film Festival hopes to spark a better discussion of sexuality’
Young filmmaker Boo Junfeng posed two questions to Lawrence Wong, the incoming Minister for Community, Culture and Youth during a phone-in chat last Friday evening (14 September 2010). The minister’s responses don’t inspire much confidence. Continue reading ‘New ministry, old ideas’