Filed under: Newsworthy | Tags: Agenda, FAQs on Sexuality, Health Promotion Board, Homosexuality, HPB, LGBT, Transgender
Before I go off on a tirade, let me first acknowledge that yes, it’s been a long while since I last blogged. I blame a culmination of NS life sapping away at my creative energies and that so-called Fridae “reporter” who front-page outed me (my face photo, first real name initial – the works) without my consent and refused to retract his “empowering article” about me. Well what’s past is past (*ahem* Ng YS, you’re a fucking douchebag *ahem*), so let’s focus on what’s going on now.
No, I am not blogging about the recent closure of Play, my club of choice as a gay teen just starting out (ah, the surefire sign of aging – clubs from your yester-years start shuttering their entrances). By now, I mean the recent Health Promotion Board’s ‘FAQs on Sexuality‘ debacle and the ensuing petitions for and against what appeared to be a pro-homosexuality stance taken on by a government health agency.
While I was naturally delighted that after years of guerrilla campaigning for LGBT sexuality/sexual health (this has never been openly discussed in mainstream, “official” agencies prior to this), that there is finally an honest answer to questions from a source with considerably reputable provenance, I understand that such a risque move will make any religious conservative cringe. Therefore I was really not at all surprised that the religious right took up arms against potentially life-saving factual information, demanding it be taken down (one of the first instances I heard of this blowing up was when a friend forwarded me what was a call for action to sign the petition against the FAQ, being lobbied by local churches).
I am however very much intrigued by the counter petition that seems to have been drafted by a
16 14 year old. Asides from the fact that half the points don’t make much sense (or are actually downright wrong – no the scientific community has not yet come to a consensus regarding climate change, as ridiculous as that sounds), my main point of contention is the representation of the community in the petition. Whatever happened to the “T” in LGBT?
While I understand that the FAQ itself had no representation of our Transgender friends, which is a shame (I do however believe in baby steps), I find it a bigger shame that the creator of the petition had completely – despite most likely being a member of the LGBT community themselves – excluded the Transgenders in the community and denied them of equal representation (which is really what this is all about isn’t it, equality?). This needless and senseless exclusion not just baffles me, it dissapoints and disturbs me deeply.
As most of the talk is about fighting the homophobic agenda, it is easy to overlook the fundamental flaw in our counter-campaign… that it fails to be inclusive of the minority within our own community. To me, this is a sign of a battle already lost, as what are we, if not hypocrites, when here we are demanding recognition, inclusion and representation as a minority group, only to in turn exclude a key demographic which just happens to be the minority of minorities.
If we as a community cannot accept, cherish and stand for our own diversity with pride, then what makes you think that others outside the community will stand for this divided front?
Filed under: Uncategorized
Dubbed by a certain writer for a certain LGBT-portal as a “spokesperson” I have to quickly point out that:
1. I have never claimed to be a spokesperson for the topic of HIV, I’m merely another person sharing my life experiences semi-anonymously (I find that the reception to actual people with a face – or whatever’s not obscured – relating their experiences is greater than an organisation or faceless individuals behind pseudonyms).
2. I’m not ready, or even looking to become the next Paddy Chew – I ain’t nearly as selfless or “brave”.
I got a call from a friend this morning telling me, not only was I on the said LGBT-portal, my face was on it as a “click me” link as well. The writer had actually approached me for an interview, which I had declined. He said he would mention my work in his write-up. This however, feels more than a mention, as I’m the opening image to the story. It really brings to mind the 2010 reporter who went “fuck you, I got my story” on me… and people wonder why I refuse to do interviews and hold reporters with distrust, and instead speak on my own accord?
Make no mistake, I am wholly comfortable with my diagnosis, but while I have come to fully accept the disease I live with, not everyone echoes my stance. Such reckless reporting does not consider the implications with the individuals concerned, such as my current occupation’s reaction to such news if it were picked up by mainstream press. Also, I am a staunch believer in coming out at your own time. I fully believe that a HIV diagnosis, is a second “coming-out” for most gay men, and my stand on the issue is similar to the first closet you walk out from; it should be done at your own time. If you have to be dragged out of there, then chances are you’re going to find yourself sneaking into another recluse.
While I am keen on spreading hope, truth and humor as I’ve stated in my Twitter profile, I want to do it my way, at my time. This is exactly why I chose to write for an online-publication an entire continent away, and not one local or even regional. I thank everyone for the kind words and mentions saying how “brave” I am, but truth is, bravery and foolishness tread a thin line. I am not ready to come out of this second closet in full battle armor to take on a majority of people still mis-educated and holding dated and downright false notions about my disease. One step at a time, no point coming out now, in full battle-gear, to a fight I’ll probably lose today.
For now, my profile and all pictures have been removed, and I have requested for it to be pulled from the publishing site, and from my editor at the publication I write for. As I said.. dragging someone out of the closet can get them running back in. How’s that going to help a local community, already in need of activists?
Fridae editors has refused to withdraw the incriminating pictures which reveal my real name and profile photo the writer dug up from a Canadian HIV+ publication I write for, after explicitly stating my wish that it be removed, and having my editor write to Fridae to remove the screenshot (it was a screenshot of my profile from the site). The author has also responded, saying that this wouldn’t have happened if I agreed to speak and be interviewed by him. Also, my friend who did agree to the interview said he was not sent a copy to be vetted (as was previously agreed) since he would have objected to such identity-compromising information being published. Empowering Asia? I really think not.
Filed under: Uncategorized
“I had been fearing that I could be HIV-positive. About a year before, I took a free HIV test during World AIDS Day that came out negative, as it did the year prior. Two successive years of being HIV-free tend to make you feel invincible. A feeling that was shattered when my best friend who was every bit of as promiscuous sexually active told me he had herpes…”
Read the whole story in my road to diagnosis here.
Filed under: Newsworthy
I promised to upload this newspaper clipping ages ago, sorry I never got around to it until now…
My front page coming out with HIV. This was anonymous though, or so I was led to believe it would be. The reporter actually lied about a few things - that this will be a small positive story with a good message for World Aids Day 2010, and that my picture would be edited to obscurity and will be really tiny. End result? Front page full blown photo where I got people calling me to offer condolences (as though it’s the death sentence people still make it out to be). Lesson learned: never trust reporters. I guess they did stick to one end of their bargain, where they said the article would urge people to have safe sex… Just never expected they would do it by scaring the shit out of ‘promiscous’ people.
(Click for full screen – readable size)
For the record, I did not voluntarily come forth to tell the world my story, I was coaxed to do so by a certain local non-government organisation – and they assured me that they would protect my identity. Let’s just say they did as good a job in protecting me as a burst condom protects from STDs.
It’s that quick, this thing called time. It seems barely yesterday I celebrated turning 22, yet the calendar reminds me – it’s been almost a month. I say celebrate for formalities-sake, since really, which gay
boy man would cherish aging? Then again, it also seems like yesterday that I was willing time to fly by, to let me be of age, to be emancipated from the bonds and shackles of prepubescence and grow some facial hair. Lately all I hope is for time to slow down, at least enough to slow the growth of my stubble from needing daily shaving.
I do realise that this whole thing is pointless. It’s human nature to be discontent. To want what you don’t have, can’t have or will lose. Pointless as it may be, human nature is impossible to shake. It’s just there. At least for most of us mere mortals who’ve yet to achieve spiritual enlightenment like Budhha or whatever (the aid of illicit drugs for heightened sense of being do not count). I don’t believe in the concept of just ‘snapping out of it’, that the human mind and will is stronger than natural predisposition. If it were, gays could easily convert to being straight, cheats could easily turn faithful and love could be forgotten at will. This is not the case. If anything, the “cure” for this is to adopt a new nature. This is a process, that is not as simply done as snapping out of it, an adage most of us offer to someone as a supposed wake-up call to their negative frame of mind. Don’t ask me how though, if I knew, I wouldn’t be hypothesizing, I’d fucking be sorting out my own life.
Anyway, back to my point, which is nothing really, I’m 22. You may wish me a belated happy birthday but I would find it slightly inappropriate after my whole tirade about hating this whole process of not getting younger.
What have I got going for me? Let’s see. Since my last update, I’ve completed a course in para-counselling, but really, doubt it’s my calling (in the words of Rupaul, ‘if you don’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love someone else?’). In my case, just substitute love with counsel. I’m really, admittedly pretty messed up, and I believe that with every fibre of my being. Difference is, I conceal it better than most people in the psych ward. I’d quicker be jumping off a building than saving someone from jumping off one. One thing I did learn throughout the whole shebang was that I’m not cut out to be in the line of social work. Not when they place so much emphasis on personal well being, so that you can help someone else. You know that Matchbox 20 song, going ‘I’m not crazy I’m just a little unwell?’ I’m unfortunately, a little bit of both. Or so I believe. Do crazy people know they’re crazy? Would it be crazy for them to know? Or is insanity merely thinking you are instead of actually being?
So many questions… but one that itches to be asked is – where is my place then? I’m quickly losing interest in the diploma I completed before that too, in media. As much as I have snazzy projects under my belt, some awards and accolades – it really seems like a dried-up well to me. I find it hard to draw joy out of imagining and conceptualising to create something. Certainly not when focal points of my work lately have been drab and even sometimes depressing, a rather unfortunate reflection of my current state of mind.
Back to my question. Where is my place? Well, the Singapore Army has decided that for me, for the next 2 years come April. They have finally approved my request to serve the armed forces. After half a year of waiting for my appeal to opt into the army, it’s finally happening, and this time, I’m not sure if I really want it. I’ll be completely honest – I’m scared to death.
I can look past the fact that I am a homosexual serving the army, as can most (we do live in the 21st century after all). But to be gay, and HIV+, that’s like a double whammy worthy of unprofessional medic gossip in the hands of the less professional young recruits who have access to medical details. I’ve been told word in the army spreads quick, but I really needn’t be. I know news this hot travels, fast or otherwise. As far as I am aware, I am the first person to be HIV+ and actually opting to enter the army instead of choosing the proffered mandatory exemption from an otherwise compulsory nationwide draft. If this is not tabloid fodder, then I don’t know what is.
On the bright side, I am really pinning my hopes on this to change my life for the better in some sick military-conditioning kind of way.. or at least give it some direction. Like driftwood out at sea, I am currently direction-less, just going with the motion, taking each wave as it comes. If this impending tsunami doesn’t wash me inland to shore, I really don’t know what will.
Filed under: Uncategorized
When I was younger I remember constant dreams of flying, a reflection of my life’s ambitions to soar. Lately though, in spite of antiretrovirals that induce very lucid dreaming, my feet have remained firmly grounded. The uninspiring connotation is immediately apparant – my hopes have been pulled from the skies, rooted to the ground. How can someone with HIV dream, when he lives by numbers? Or so some they say, and so I sometimes believe.
The rhetoric has been repeated enough – it’s not the end of the world. You might still live life like a normal person; more or less. Just add constant medication, the side effects it brings, and constant monitoring of your health. Normal enough, I tell myself, until I remember the uncertainty of it all, when I’m reminded that my living normally remains a “might“, not “will“.
If normalcy itself is uncertain, what gives me the audacity to go beyond? My yearning to fly oft seems like it will only come to fruitition when my ashes get scattered in the wind. At times, sadly enough, I do believe that this picture is the most plausible.
It is a belief I fight from rooting on a daily basis. It is a belief that people around me reassure me, is not true. But what do they know beyond their kind words? I don’t claim to know anything, and I really don’t – what more people who aren’t walking in my shoes?
I realise, the scariest thing is, no one really knows anything. What lays a few years, months, even weeks from now. Will I see myself back in a hospital bed, too weak to move, too helpless to think, to tired to cry? Will I face nurses so detached and desensitized that you’re just a numeral, a lying statistic who’ll form part of a paycheque?
I don’t want to be grounded, especially not to a hospital bed, around others, who’re as sick as they are afraid of asking – will I make it this time?
At the end of the day, science only knows so much. They get answers through the routine set of bloodworks, and act to cure what ails you. That’ll get you through, they say. Sure, I’ll make it – at least physically. Weary bodies, they recover. Medications make all things better. All – but my spirit, my soul, my resolve. Each passing day it is chipped at – as much from words as to what remains unsaid. From people around me, and more importatly, myself. My self-discrimination that’s unrooted by my fear. My self-disgust that my predicament keeps near.
I don’t want to die scared, alone and hating the life I had. The first step is to bury my self-reservations and doubt. When that fails, I take solace in musings to myself when I’m down that everyone really dies alone, everyone is scared of their own ticking time, and death is never certain for anyone.
The smile that creeps into my face at the thought is always enough to get me through another day. Maybe, just maybe, I’m not so different after all. After all, I’ve yet to see people around me fly.
Filed under: Originals
That unsafe cock could land you in this tail: