Archive for the 'on being human' Category

Torturing the poorest of the poor, in the name of law and order

“Does it still hurt?” I asked Rubio that Wednesday evening.

He nodded and asked me for some painkillers.

Over the counter, there weren’t a lot of options. I did the best I could for him.

“What about clothes?” I asked. “Do you have anything else besides what you’re wearing?”

“No, don’t have,” he said. “Everything gone.” Maybe they had all been thrown away by the landlord when he failed to return and pay his rent. Continue reading ‘Torturing the poorest of the poor, in the name of law and order’

Goat days

For a while, Daisy Hulou was good friends with Freda, even sending her a birthday card. But soon after, Daisy was seen being dragged into the bushes by Goat, the village head. We don’t know exactly what happened in the bushes, but immediately after that, Daisy asked Freda to return the birthday card she had sent. Freda asked her why she changed her mind, but she would not answer. She turned cold and uncommunicative.

Several months later, Specky told the village that the incident when Goat pulled her into the bushes was highly suggestive of rape. Continue reading ‘Goat days’

Haircuts, hotels and photo clubs

You reporters are missing the point — was what I felt on seeing that the chief angle of both stories in the Straits Times was how difficult it can be for teachers to maintain discipline in schools if parents did not cooperate. Yes, that’s a valid news angle, but surely the most striking thing about the story was that of a mother who takes her son to a hair salon for $60 styling jobs.

What kind of values does that instill in children? Continue reading ‘Haircuts, hotels and photo clubs’

Attitudes to creating non-standard families, part 1

It was a small survey about attitudes to adoption and having children by persons who are single or not conventionally married (as per current Singapore law), but I think it will take me five articles to present the results.

That said, it’s not as if it is such a significant survey. It’s certainly not representative of Singaporeans as a whole since it was conducted on this blog alone, and only open to responses for three or four days. As I mentioned previously, the readership of this blog has certain demographic characteristics — being generally more liberal is one of them. And so, the results are only suggestive of what this segment may be thinking. Continue reading ‘Attitudes to creating non-standard families, part 1’

Online|Offline: Video forum on xenophobia, part 1

Since the video is over 22 minutes long, I won’t be saying much in text. This is the first part of a discussion that was held on Sunday 24 June 2012 in a tiny room next door to a video arcade! Continue reading ‘Online|Offline: Video forum on xenophobia, part 1’

Crossing over from gospel to vanity

It would seem to me almost inevitable that if you were a preacher who went on and on about how, if you believe, believe, believe, you would be blessed with material riches, then you yourself had better live a life of luxury. If you didn’t, wouldn’t you run the risk that a member of your church might point to your lack of wealth and question your own piety? That might be a tad embarrassing.

Embarking on the prosperity gospel is to take the road to excess.

Continue reading ‘Crossing over from gospel to vanity’

Speech for Humanist of the Year 2012

Below is the speech delivered for the event on 23 June 2012 when yours truly was honoured by the Humanist Society (Singapore)  with the Humanist of the Year award. I was asked for something touching on “gay-rights issues/humanism/religiosity”.

Thank you very much for the honour. I think it’s very generous of the Society, though I would understand if it had been a difficult decision since I am a gay man. Some of you may wonder why it is such a big deal that I would open with a sentence about my sexual orientation. It is a big deal because the world in which I am living now makes it so.

But it shouldn’t be so, and it wouldn’t be so if we applied reason upon empirical knowledge, which is the very essence of humanism. To be gay is now known to be a completely natural phenomenon, inherently harmless. Continue reading ‘Speech for Humanist of the Year 2012’

Danger zone: home, part 1

In 2008, the Empire State Coalition of Youth and Family Services released the results of a census of homeless youth in New York City. They had counted 3,800. Yet, the city and state governments together fund only 250 beds in shelters for them.

Worse yet, the mayor of New York has proposed budget cuts that would reduce the number to 90 beds.

This is a problem that disproportionately affects gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth. It is estimated that they make up 40 – 50 percent of the 3,800 found in the census. Continue reading ‘Danger zone: home, part 1’

A mother’s job

Melina Waldo (right) noticed that her 19-year-old son had recently become rather distant. “I wondered what could be wrong with Craig,” she recalled. His grades were fine, so whatever it was, it probably wasn’t college-related.

She called her three daughters – Craig’s older sisters – who were then living together in Connecticut, and whom Craig had recently visited during a school break. Speaking to her eldest daughter, she asked: “Is he OK? Something has to be wrong.”

Her daughter said he was fine, but Melina wasn’t convinced.

“Is Catherine pregnant?” she asked. Catherine was Craig’s girlfriend (or so she thought). Continue reading ‘A mother’s job’

Love and survival through Khmer Rouge years

The above picture is of four women flanking a man in the centre. The women – constituting two life-long couples – were about to share their life stories at a workshop in Phnom Penh recently with about 34 gay activists from Cambodia’s Asean neighbours in the room (and about 50-60 more Cambodians).

I was among them, and I’m almost sure most of the Asean (Association of South East Asian Nations) activists found it hard to see these women, hailing from the deep provinces of Cambodia, as “one of us”.

Continue reading ‘Love and survival through Khmer Rouge years’

Later this year, Yawning Bread will mark its 20th anniversary




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