July 1999

Red hair, green eyes, webbed feet


    

 

 

  Five of the women in the first interview -- see the article "(Oh no!) I'm gay!" -- continued with the second interview, about being out to straight persons:

Yawning Bread : Each of you has come out to a few straight persons. Tell us about the first few that you came out to …

Jane Duan : They were my closest straight friends. One - we've known each other since we were in primary school. The other one was a secondary school mate.

Just Me : hmm, my close friends…

Tula Dew : … my family

Jewel Moon : Leona, a casual friend from secondary school -- not close and thus not emotionally risky for me… Aishah, an old friend from secondary school, used to be close and kept in touch. The risk here was that she was of the same religion and was in the close-knit, gossippy Malay social circle, people who knew me but with whom I never choose to hang around much.

Redqueen : [In my case,] a student from aerobics class and drinking buddy, let's call her Vicky, she's a married woman; my staff at work; and another married female friend of mine, Ivy.

Yawning Bread : And you have this other friend ….

Jewel Moon : Hwee Suan, a friend who was in charge of a project I was in, at NUS …

Yawning Bread : How did that happen? Did you plan it?

Jewel Moon : It accidentally slipped out. We were gossiping about another lesbian couple while we were working front-of-house for one of her plays. I was not fully 'present' and thus wasn't really aware of what I was saying, and I heard her ask me, "why, you not sure (about your own sexual orientation) ha?" and I answered "ya, kind of..." without even thinking. But it was the first time I'd admitted it out loud, and I was thus very relieved.

Yawning Bread : Tula, you're out to your family. Was it planned?

Tula Dew : They knew, I guess, from the books that I had in my room. I never did plan to tell them but eventually they sussed it out. I guess being my family they would know these things.

Jane Duan : I just told [my two friends] straight. In a way I planned it 'coz it happened at a time when I was very happy I had just met my current girlfriend whom I am ready to commit myself to for life. It also happened that I think they are mature enough to accept it. After all, I don't question their sex life and neither should they question mine.

Jewel Moon : I decided to tell Leona 'coz I desperately needed someone to talk to about my feelings for [this other gal] Wei Mei. Leona was a safe option, since she didn't really know my close friends whom I value dearly, and my relationship with her was one that wasn't too close...as in, I wouldn't be devastated if she were totally disgusted and never wanted to see me again.

Yawning Bread : And Aishah?

Jewel Moon : Telling Aishah was part of a larger decision of mine to come out to my closer friends, just take the risk and see what comes of it. I was tired of hiding and lying and making up half-truths. The decision must've had something to do with the fact that I'd just returned from my 6 months in Canada, where I was out to everyone and loved it, and also the fact that I was at a point where I was happy with myself, even happy that I'm gay, and felt emotionally healthy enough to come out.

Redqueen :  First of all, I got my head shaved, sort of like making a statement, yes I know, stereotyping, but it helped with my coming out. I did plan to tell my friend Vicky and got myself all worked-up, just to tell her I am a lesbian. She was pretty cool about it, it caught me off-guard, we are still good friends.

With my staff, it wasn't planned. One of them was going on about how ALL lesbians and gay-men come broken homes, while we were having lunch in a group. Of course I had to say something, so that became an OUTing session for me.

With Ivy, I came out to her over an email.

Yawning Bread : Why did you want to do that?

Redqueen : With my friends Vicky and Ivy? Because they are both really special people in my life and I think that it's important for me to let them know. Also I wanted them to hear it from me rather then from someone else.

Yawning Bread : Your friends … do you remember their first words in response?

Jane Duan : The first one ….she was kinda shocked. I could literally see her trying to resolve her emotions inside her. Then she said, "Actually I've always suspected it. But it's difficult when I hear the truth." And then we kinda talked about it for quite a while.

Redqueen : Vicky was rather cool about the whole thing, after telling her, she said: "So what? You are still my friend."

Jane Duan: The second one … she smiled and said she's happy for me. Although she was a little shocked, she composed herself. She said she's open about it 'coz a relative is like that too. We ended up talking about myself and then about her relative.

Redqueen : And here's Ivy's response: "Red hair, green eyes, webbed feet - to me, you will always be you!

Tula Dew : My aunt wasn't surprised, she knew. She said that I should try men before I decided that I was really a dyke.

Jewel Moon : Aishah said, "Really?" with a mildly shocked, unbelieving, but smiling expression on her face. She said she was shocked, surprised, but stated that this new info won't change anything between the two of us. Then she wanted to hear my story, and said she understood now why I was having such a hard time being home in Singapore, and mentioned that the religion factor will be very difficult for me to reconcile. She showed concern in asking if I had support, people I could turn to if I needed to talk. And she warned me, saying I should be careful who I come out to, for instance, she warned me against coming out to a particular old friend who is very pious and religious and knows my mom. We parted outside Burgerking with a hug which she initiated. 

Yawning Bread : Have they completely accepted the fact? Or are they friendly, but avoid the subject? Or have they become more distant...

Tula Dew : My aunt is pretty cool about it. She is open to it (I'm really lucky) and she accepts my partner. She is in a way sad that I am not straight but she knows and respects my decisions.

Jewel Moon : For months after I told Leona, I felt our relationship getting slightly closer, I could confide in her about Wei Mei and we had nice chats whenever we bumped into each other on campus.

Hwee Suan's been really great to me, she's a good friend whom I can moan to when I'm depressed and she tries to help me out. She doesn't bring up the subject, but I do, and she doesn't flinch or back away when I talk about it, instead she's provided me with a refreshing, wiser, more mature, outsider's point of view.

Jane Duan : [My two friends] are still in contact. The first one has accepted the fact, [though] perhaps she's a staunch Christian and that has somehow affected how she has accepted it.

Yawning Bread : Which is how?

Jane Duan : We did not talk about it anymore after my coming out. Neither does she ask about my girlfriend. So she's friendly, but avoid the subject.

The second friend is better. We're closer than before and she often asks me how's it going etc. In fact she wanted to meet my girlfriend.

Yawning Bread : And with your two friends?

Redqueen :  Oh yes, we are still good friends, we call each other at least once a week, try to meet up for a meal or drinks at least once a month.

Yawning Bread : The staff?

Redqueen : I've left the company since, so no contact with them. 

In general, do you think Singapore parents are able to adapt to the fact of a lesbian daughter?

Just Me : Some parents are open about it. Readily accepting the fact. I have friends whose parents totally support both parties' relationship and even offered to get the engagement rings as gifts.

Jewel Moon : I think few Singapore parents can adapt, even fewer want to, and I think very few will accept it, much less appreciate their lesbian daughter's sexual orientation. There aren't resources like PFLAG here, plus the general consensus of society still seems to be that homosexuality is BAD and nobody should suggest otherwise until society itself changes its views. A vicious circle if you ask me.

Yawning Bread : Do you know of any instances where parents got violent or otherwise cut off the daughter from the family?

Just Me : I don't know of anyone who is cut off from the family. A few were discovered by their parents and were forbidden to look for the other party.

Jane Duan : I do know of instances of friends' friends who were thrown out of the house and had no contact with their families.

Redqueen : I know my Dad would get violent and cut ties with me if I was to come out to him. Incidentally, I told my brother and he's pretty supportive. I guess Mom knows but we've never talked about it.

Tula Dew : I think that Singapore being a conservative Asian country will have problems. parents still expect that their children, daughters especially, to get married, and to marry well and to have many children. Being a dyke negates all that. and yes I do know of a situation where a friend has been disowned on the basis of her sexual preference.

Jewel Moon : Fortunately, I haven't actually heard of any horror stories of Singapore parents getting violent or cutting off relations, although I did hear a few when I was in Canada.

Jane Duan : I think the conservative society in Singapore will not accept it in general. Especially when the government has always slammed us whenever they can and the Straits Times always publish "bad" news about homosexuals but never good deeds. All this kinda further condition our conservative parents that being lez or homo brings shame to the family. It doesn't help either that family in the eyes of the government is man + woman + children + grandparents. No mention of single aunties and uncles.

© Yawning Bread 


 

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