From the bottom of my heart, “Thank you” to the people of New Zealand

Like many people around the world, I am deeply moved by the display of humanity by New Zealanders in reaction to the terrorist attack that happened recently in Christchurch.

That city had already been hit hard in February 2011 when a 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck. 185 people were killed, 6000 injured and around 170,000 buildings were damaged. Till today the country’s earthquake commission is dealing with thousands of claims from that earthquake.

Almost two weeks ago on 15 March, Christchurch suffered another tragedy when a 28-year-old Australian terrorist and white supremacist, wearing military-style clothing and bearing semi-automatic weapons and shotguns, attacked worshippers during Friday Prayers at Al Noor Mosque. He then drove away to Linwood Islamic Centre located five kilometres away to carry out another attack. 50 people died and another 50 injured. Police stopped and arrested the gunman before he could move on to a third location to continue his killing spree.

The rest of the world is just as shocked as New Zealanders themselves that this has happened in their country, long considered a very safe one. Prior to this, the worst public shooting was in 1990 in the seaside township of Aramoana where a verbal dispute between neighbours ended up with one of them fatally shooting 13 people. However, experts say that right-wing extremism has been growing in New Zealand in recent years.

*

I keep reading in the news about the action from the New Zealanders in response to this horrific tragedy. I feel it’s truly exemplary how they have come together, how even in their shock and grief they still express so much compassion and unity, and that the rest of the world can learn so much from this.

We have to remember always that when terrorists attack us, (them and the war-mongering powers-that-be that sponsor and support them including politicians, and journalists, social media activists, and others who benefit from chaos) whether they call themselves Muslims or Christians or whatever, that the purpose of their cowardly attacks is to divide us. To ultimately bring fear and suspicion and hatred so that we turn against each other. They are such a tiny minority and they need many more supporters if they are to further their agendas, and so they continue to kill the innocent to continue trying to sow hatred to try get more people to their side.

Unfortunately there will always be people, a few we might even know, and who are supposed to be educated but who are still stupid enough to fall for the con of the terrorists. These people claim to hate terrorists but are actually serving the objectives of the terrorists by making disdainful remarks about an entire religion or community. Of course, there are also people who already hate certain religions and communities and are using terrorist attacks as excuses to further the spread of their hate. It’s encouraging therefore that they are in the minority. It’s encouraging that with every terrorist attack there are more expressions of support to both victims and the community being put in a bad light because the terrorist is said to belong to it. Nobody with a shred of common sense and decency is going to let these terrorists win by succumbing to the hate they are trying to create.

New Zealand however has taken the response to deny terrorists their objective to a whole new level, and with action as well, not just thoughts and prayers. The world is watching their leaders especially their Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern with admiration for her exemplary and firm leadership, as well as regular Kiwi folks who have displayed so much strength and solidarity.

Even Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been heavily criticised for showing at his political rallies parts of a video the terrorist took during his attack, made an effort to single out Ms Ardern for praise. (At least 3 Turkish citizens were among the wounded in the attacks. On top of that, in the hate-filled manifesto the terrorist had written, he had called for the assassination of Mr Erdogan along with others such as Sadiq Khan the mayor of London, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.)

In an opinion piece for The Washington Post, Mr Erdogan wrote that:

all Western leaders must learn from the courage, leadership and sincerity of New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, to embrace Muslims living in their respective countries.”

I think the Jordanian Prince El Hassan bin Talal, who was in New Zealand and visited Christchurch (two Jordanians were among those killed) expressed it best in an interview with Radio New Zealand when he said:

“It is simply impossible not to take heed of the goodness, of the kotahitanga, of New Zealanders.”

“And I think that a world at war with itself can only find serenity in the example of the compassion and the love that New Zealanders have shown.”

A quick online check of what kotahitanga means turned up unity and solidarity in Māori, the language of the indigenous population of New Zealand, also called Māori.

*

There are so many instances of how the New Zealanders, leaders and the public alike, acted so admirably in response to the tragedy. I can’t possibly list them all but here are some of the ones that have particularly stayed with me:

ORDINARY FOLKS EXPRESSING SUPPORT

Linked above, CNN World reported how various communities were helping others, including the Te Atatū Baptist Church in Auckland which announced on Facebook that it was opening its doors to Muslims because mosques had been closed.

As a Muslim I am heartened and thankful the article also mentioned that Muslims have shown heart to others as well, for example raising funds for their Jewish brothers and sisters after the terrorist attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in the U.S. last October.

I read on Mothership website of the two New Zealanders, remarkably beautiful souls, who separately visited two different mosques to express their support and sympathy on Saturday 16 March, just a day after the attack. Both the mosques have posted about the visits on their Facebook pages.

On Al-Huda Mosque’s page, its chairman Azman Kassim posted that a New Zealander lady named Mrs Kim Forrester, visited the mosque and apologised on behalf of her countrymen for what happened and prayed for the Muslim community. Mr Azman said she need not have apologised and expressed his gratitude for her gesture.

The second New Zealander is an unnamed gentleman. He is pictured below in the Facebook post by Masjid Al-Falah, with flowers he had brought and a note in the bouquet. The mosque said in the post that the gentleman offered his condolences and thoughts, and that he was deeply affected by the tragedy and wanted to express his support for the victims.

The story on Mothership featured the note in the bouquet. It was in both Māori and English and read:

“Kia Raha, Ria toa, Ri a manawanui

Be strong, be brave, be steadfast

E Ihowa Atua, Te aroha noa,

O Lord God, care for us”

Buzzfeed News wrote how just three days after the attack, on the first day school reopened since the attack, thousands of students from various schools in Christchurch gathered at Hagley Park, near one of the two mosques where the shootings took place. They went there after school, bearing candles and flowers for a vigil to pay their respects to the dead and to share how the event had impacted them.

One of the students at the vigil named Heneli remarked:

I’ve never seen so much support from outside of communities. I just love it, to see that everyone’s here, showing their respect.”

And another named Vitorina said that:

“Even though we’re different ethnicities, different cultures, different religions, we care. As one, we all came here, we showed that we cared for Muslims.”

Later that week on 22 March, thousands of the public gathered at Hagley Park to show solidarity with the Muslims. Radio New Zealand’s website wrote that:

Men in suits, women wearing headscarves – some for the first time – patched gang members, toddlers in pushchairs, and hundreds in the traditional dress of a culture less familiar.”

At that same gathering that took place on a Friday one week since the terror attack, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said to the attendees:

According to Muslim faith, the Prophet Muhammad, sallahu alaihi wasallam (peace be upon him) said, ‘The believers in their mutual kindness, compassion and sympathy are just like one body. When any part of the body suffers, the whole body feels pain.”

“New Zealand mourns with you. We are one.”

*

VOLUNTARY GIVING UP OF GUNS

Even before the ban on semi-automatic weapons announcement that came on 21 March, the terrorist attack in Christchurch had moved some Kiwi gun owners to give up their weapons of their own accord such as the following two:

Both persons above have had to put up with pro-gun critics and trolls on their Twitter accounts regarding their decision, but there are also many people supporting and thanking them.

*

GUN LAWS

Impressively, it took Ms Ardern just six days since the attack to announce a ban on semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles, announcing as well that a buyback programme will be launched to take existing weapons out of circulation. This ban was also supported by the country’s opposition party whose leader, Simon Bridges, said that it is in the national interest to keep New Zealanders safe.

This action was stunningly decisive and firm enough to draw praise from two American politicians who lamented that this is the kind of leadership the U.S. needs to protect its people, including schoolchildren. Bernie Sanders, a Senator and presidential candidate tweeted:

While Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Congresswoman for New York, made reference to the horrific December 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting where 20 children and 6 adult staff were fatally shot:

New Zealand is said to have an estimated 1.2 million guns registered to civilians. With a population of about 4.8 million people, the ownership works out to about 1 gun for every 4 people, or about 26.3 firearms per 100 people. In comparison, this is far better than the U.S. which is said to have more guns than people with about 120 firearms per 100 people. However, Australia fares better than New Zealand with almost half the number of firearms per capita with about 14.5 firearms per 100 people.

(On a side note, my mind is ALWAYS blown all over again EVERY. SINGLE. TIME I think of how much smaller the population of countries like New Zealand is compared to Singapore. We have 5.6 million people on our tiny island, so tiny we nicknamed it our ‘little red dot’, while New Zealand, the whole of New Zealand!, has only 4.8 million. These numbers make me feel even more confined and claustrophobic, not to mentioned annoyed, when I’m out amidst human congestion!)

(However, in the spirit of always having gratitude for the things to be grateful for, and this is a MAJOR one, we don’t have guns in the hands of the public. Phew!)

*

THE NEXT STEP: WORKING TO PREVENT SIMILAR TRAGEDIES

And now Jacinda Ardern has also ordered a royal commission, the highest level of independent inquiry available under the country’s law to investigate how the tragedy could have happened, and whether the police and intelligence services could have done more to prevent it from happening. The formal inquiry is also to look into the issues of the accessibility of semi-automatic weapons and the role of social media in the attacks.

*

Linked above is the full list of the 50 killed in the attack.

*Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un*

*

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Thanks to an Instagram post by Pink Dot, I find out that today is Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Screenshot_20181120-204939.jpg

According to the Human Rights Campaign website,

Transgender Day of Remembrance is an opportunity for communities to come together and remember transgender people, gender-variant individuals, and those perceived to be transgender who have been murdered because of hate.

Its Wikipedia page says of its origin:

Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender woman, to memorialize the murder of transgender woman Rita Hester in Allston, Massachusetts, and it has slowly evolved from the web-based project started by Smith into an international day of action. In 2010, TDoR was observed in over 185 cities throughout more than 20 countries

On that Wikipedia page it is also stated that the Canadian province of Ontario passed the Trans Day of Remembrance Act on 12th December 2017. This officially recognizes TDoR and even requires its Legislative Assembly to hold a moment of silence every year on 20th November.

My respect for Canada just grows and grows. They are truly a progressive and compassionate nation.

*

On the Human Rights Campaign website, there is a list of women who were murdered in the past year, Memorializing 2018. There are listed under country, alphabetically, with information like this:

Carolina/Camila Angulo Paredes
Buenos Aires, Argentina
29-Dec-17
shot

or

Unknown Name
Manaus, Brazil
31-Aug-18
stabbed

Shot, Stabbed, Unknown, Stabbed, Decapitated / Dismembered, Beaten, Shot, Shot, Tortured, Unknown, Tortured, Stabbed, Beaten, Stabbed, Shot, Beaten, Throat Cut, Suffocated, Beaten and Hanged, Burned, Run Over by Car, Shot, Shot, Beaten, Strangled / Hanged, Shot, Stabbed, Beaten…

And it goes on and on and on. And that’s just the Memorializing 2018 list.

I can’t help but wonder how many of these sick acts were done in the name of religion, by horribly misguided sick f**ks. Many, I suspect.

*

I remember what happened to Sameera Krishnan in Malaysia last year, and looked for her name in the Memorializing 2017 list. And there it was:

Meera
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
23-Feb-17
Victim was shot and stabbed

2016-02-malaysia-asia-lgbt-sameera

The late Sameera Krishnan

Sameera was only 26.

Rest in Peace, brave, beautiful soul.

*

I can’t help but think of Aleesha Farhana as well, who passed away on 30th July 2011, also in Malaysia. She was not murdered, but I take this occasion to remember her too. She died of a heart attack, at only 25.

n_3ashraf

The late Aleesha Farhana

*al-Fatehah*

According to an article from Malaysian newspaper The Star, Aleesha and even her parents had been subjected to ‘scorn, ridicule, and cruel taunts‘. And like her, ‘an estimated 50,000 transgender people in the country are shunned by society and are often abused.’

To read my post back in 2011 which included something about her, click here.

*

Related:

Doing it better, by Blush, for World AIDS Day 2013

Fight AIDS not people with AIDS tumblr_lvj7bzsecH1qg60n9o1_500

Image from the tumblr blog Support Humanity. Click to go there.

Today 1st December is World AIDS Day.

I read on The Online Citizen that Action For AIDS Singapore has commissioned and released a song called Doing It Better and its music video to commemorate this special day, the organisation’s 25th Anniversary, which is also the 25th Anniversary of World AIDS Day. Performed by Blush, a pop group executive-produced by legendary American producer Quincy Jones, it also features new rapper Russell Curry.

From the Online Citizen post:

Speaking of the collaboration that went into creating the Doing it Better video, Professor Roy Chan President of Action for AIDS said: ‘The video we have is a wonderful example of the convergence of ideas and collaboration of effort to address HIV among young people. It harnesses a talented pop group – Blush, a creative team of song writers and producers, with images of young multicultural youths in a setting that is ubiquitously identifiable for many in Singapore and the Asia-Pacific region. The video is a winner on so many levels.”

Extending his influence to this collaborative effort is Quincy Jones, the celebrated music producer says: “The fight to combat and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS around the world is one that can never be abandoned.  As a lifelong advocate of using music and the arts to bring forth awareness and positive change for mankind, I am enormously proud that Blush is using their talents to help carry forth this message of safety and responsibility on World AIDS Day.”

Related:

  • TimeOut Singapore: World AIDS Day: For the 25th anniversary of World AIDS Day, Natasha Hong recommends five ways to get involved through Action for AIDS Singapore.
  • Action for AIDS Singapore
  • Action for AIDS Singapore: Facebook
  • Facebook for Be Positive, a campaign that aims to reduce stigma and discrimination and increase the acceptance of persons living with HIV.
  • worldaidsday.org

Police officers in Pune offered roses to Gay Pride parade participants

Someone needs to make this a winner in some Photo of the Year competition somewhere. It’s amazingly beautiful. I have John Lennon’s ‘Imagine‘ going on in my head now. I’ve never come across anything that did that to me before.

Pune Police 1483296_560621710682585_175786681_n

Photo by Deepak Kashyap, via gaylaxymag.com. Click to go there

It is one of two photographs from an article on Gaylaxy Magazine (love the name) by Dhrubo Jyoti, where I was led to by Gaybros.

Pune, India’s eighth largest city and situated in the western state of Maharashtra, celebrated its third Gay Pride parade last Sunday the 24th. The parade had more than 150 participants and gays joining the march was not just from the city but from other remote districts as well. Dhrubo wrote that:

… the highlight of the event was the support extended by the city police, in particular the cops at the Faraskhana police station. The police officers under Inspector Bhanupratap Barge distributed roses to the queer pride, signaling an offer of friendly cooperation with the queer population.

How brilliantly gorgeous is that.

I was trying my luck on YouTube to see if I could catch a video of the parade in Pune, and came across another heart-warming thing below. By the way, the beautiful human being Inspector Barge mentioned in the quote above is also featured in the video, at 0:53.

According to Wikipedia, when it comes to Gay Pride events in India, Kolkata (also known as Calcutta) held the first one in 1999. On 29 June 2008, it also held coordinated events with the Indian capital New Delhi and two other cities, Bangalore and Pondicherry, with the city of Chennai having its event the very next day. Later that year Mumbai held its first ever formal pride parade, to demand that India’s anti-gay laws be amended. A high court in Delhi ruled on 2 July 2009 that homosexual intercourse between consenting adults was not a criminal act. Attendance at the Pride parades has been increasing significantly over the years.

Stereotypes are just stereotypes

This is a funny and thoughtful segment from American satirical TV program ‘The Daily Show‘ hosted by Jon Stewart. I came across it via Gaybros some time ago. I meant to note it here earlier but got busy and forgot all about it. Thanks to my blogger friend Cindy Knoke who mentioned stereotypes in a comment here, I’m reminded to do so.

In the U.S., the states of Mississippi and Alabama are projected by adorable and openly gay statistician Nate Silver to be the last two states to approve gay marriage. But Nate Silver did not visit those states to research his theory. So reporter Al Madrigal went there to see if he could be right. As the show narrated, “it was time to see which one of these backwoods, inbred, homophobic states will swim the longest against the tide of history.” And he had a hilarious method of gauging this.

After interviews with representatives of the two states who heartily upheld the view that their states are indeed largely anti-gay, two stuntmen were employed to pose as a gay couple and engage in public displays of affection.

It’s a nice reminder that sometimes we make generalizations about whole groups of people, including by country, race and religion. We know it’s stupid and unfair, but sometimes we still do it because it’s the easy and convenient thing to do. I like how the exercise makes the point that stereotypes are just that, stereotypes, in such a funny and entertaining way.

Thanks to steffpfunk who uploaded the above video to YouTube.

Related:

Gay couples in the United States who choose to say ‘I don’t’

An interesting article by Ms. Cara Buckley in The New York Times about some gay folks including long-term couples who choose not to marry, not even in the 14 states there that now allow it.

Some of the reasons mentioned or indicated by those interviewed are:

  • It carries with it legal complications and financial burdens, including potentially higher taxes in joint filings.
  • The risk of the torturous experience of divorce, especially for those who are themselves children of divorce, who may already view marriage as not being the key to happiness.
  • It goes against their beliefs, religious or otherwise.
  • They already feel married. A couple says: “We are in all senses married, and it isn’t going to change anything in terms of how we feel about each other.”
  • Marriage may be considered an outdated institution by some, one that forces same-sex couples into the mainstream.
  • Some see marriage through the lens of a feminist critique of marriage, which considers it “not as a freedom to be gained but as an institution that has historically oppressed women”.
  • Marriage is inherently unfair. It privileges couples and stigmatizes singles.
  • It should not be a prerequisite for obtaining health care and deeming children “legitimate”.

An interviewee raised her concern that as gay marriage becomes more and more the norm, relationships of gay couples who choose not to marry, even though deeply committed but just not traditional, will be further marginalized, even by other gay people.

The article also contains a quote from one of my favourite film directors John Waters, which made me smile:

“I always thought the privilege of being gay is that we don’t have to get married or go in the Army.”

My favourite quote from the article, though, came from Mary Bernstein, a 50-year-old University of Connecticut professor who also authored “The Marrying Kind?”, a book on the marriage debate in the gay rights movement. She said of her relationship with her partner of 15 years, 61-year-old Nancy Naples with whom she is raising twin 9-year-old daughters:

“Some people feel the need for external validation. For us, I don’t think we could be more committed.”

tumblr_mqez63lYVr1saks2ho1_400

Image via manguitored.tumblr.com. Click to go there.

(Via Gaybros)

Gaybros

Alex DeLuca is the founder of Gaybros. The following quote is taken from the 0:40 mark of the video above:

You know, I think over the course of the past decade or so, being gay or bisexual has become increasingly more acceptable. But the challenge is that, it has done so with a very narrow definition of what being gay is. So for guys like myself, who like sports and Xbox and paintball, they don’t really fit this definition. And I think a lot of young men out there, are afraid to accept who they really are, because they feel like if they do they’ll have to change. When the reality is, they don’t. And that was really the driving force behind the creation of Gaybros.

I first came across the term ‘gaybros’ in the comment section of a post in Towleroad, probably about a month or so ago. Unfortunately I didn’t think to save it, and I can’t find it now. I guess the term was brought up with regards to the person discussed in the post, but I do remember the commenter also remarking that ‘gaybros’ had yet to be featured or discussed in Towleroad.

My curiosity was piqued, quickly turned to fascination, and as I read them and about them more and more, to admiration. And a bit of envy. I could have really used such a support group when I was in my teens and early twenties. I’m glad for the members of this group that they have one another, and I hope the movement and community will continue to grow and eventually spread beyond the United States and Canada to the rest of the world.

What is it?

‘Gaybros’ is a interests group founded in January 2012 by 23-year-old Alex DeLuca who lives in Boston and works in social media marketing and PR. Alex launched the group on Reddit, a social news site where registered users submit content, and other users can then vote on the submission to determine its ranking position on the site’s pages and front page. Content entries are organized by areas of interest called “subreddits”. ‘Gaybros’ is such a subgroup. From their ‘about us‘ section on Reddit:

Gaybros is an online men’s interest community that aims to build a brotherhood around shared interests, promote self acceptance, and bring people together. We talk about, well, guy stuff. Sports, cars, video games, military issues, working out, gadgets, gear and more.

They have 27,259 subscribers at my last visit today. I think most are young, college-age and other men in their twenties. About 75% of their members are between 18-35. Within a year they attracted over 200,000 unique monthly visitors and 2 million monthly page views. As of May this year, the figures are 350,000 and 3.5 million, respectively.

enhanced-buzz-29938-1359592669-4

They have gatherings in various American cities as well as Toronto, Canada. Photo of a meetup in Boston by Alex DeLuca. From Buzzfeed. Click to go there.

What makes a gaybro?

In his e-mail interview with Buzzfeed, which was my first source learning about gaybros, Alex explained:

Gaybros gather around traditionally masculine or male interests, but more than that a Gaybro is someone who doesn’t fit the narrow definition of what “gay” means as promoted by popular culture. In our group we have athletes, tradesmen, Soldiers, farmers, and everything in between. What brings us all together is our desire to promote self acceptance and building an inclusive and supportive community where people are free to be themselves.

A list of ‘rules’ on their Reddit page includes one that suggests not to bother asking what a gaybro is, as “no single answer can satisfy the question.” Probably a wise move, considering the accusations they received that they hate and exclude effeminate gays, and are divisive to the gay community. They probably got fed-up of trying to pacify the unhappy and insecure detractors who for whatever crazy reason, choose to take the interests of other people as an affront. If anyone is interested enough to know what is a gaybro, or care enough to make remarks about them, he or she should just read and follow their Reddit to directly learn more about them.

Allegations of being against effeminate gays.

To me, this is ridiculous. They welcome all, including men who identify themselves as effeminate and even women. Spend some time reading their Reddit and realise the community is obviously about interests, not mannerisms.

From the Gaybros’ FAQ page:

… Some of us actually prefer them as partners due to the interesting juxtaposition of personalities and characteristics. We may not be effeminate ourselves (though some of us may be), but that doesn’t mean we think any less of those who are.

Sometimes people think a distaste of shallow and/or bitchy people who happen to be effeminate is a distaste of effeminate people, but that is an incorrect generalization. More masculine guys can be just as shallow or bitchy, it is not a result of ones masculine or feminine characteristics.

That is so sensible and true. Give me a flaming fairy too as a friend anytime, all bitchy and fabulous and breathing out snark like a dragon exhaling fire. At least with them its what-you-see-is-what-you-get. I’ve met way too many masculine guys, whether the yuppy professional type or the gym rat, who at first seemed so decent and cool, but at the first sign of displeasure, can be so vicious and queeny in their own way. Ugh.

Related articles

And below is a discussion by The Young Turks. Cenk Uygur is not there but Ana Kasparian is. I love those two. They are such compelling presenters. I’m always interested in what they have to say. And the Dave Rubin guy is hot. He makes me think of a younger Bill Paxton.

Pink Dot 2013 campaign video

I just saw this earlier today. It’s really sweet. I’ve always liked ‘Home‘, one of our National Day Parade songs in the past. For this video it’s sung by the composer himself, Dick Lee. It serves the stories depicted in the video really well. And it’s a lovely video, start to end.

From Pink Dot, where the video was posted a month ago:

In a shift from the short film format characteristic of the previous two iterations, this year’s campaign video examines moments poignant and painful, as seen through the eyes of three protagonists in portrayals based on true-to-life experiences. Set to the heartwarming lyrics of one of the country’s most recognisable songs, ‘Home’, written and sung by the multi-talented Dick Lee, the video – sharing the same title as the song, and directed by acclaimed homegrown filmmaker Boo Junfeng – touches on issues faced by LGBT people in Singapore, including love, family acceptance, transphobia and personal loss.

Pink Dot is happening this Saturday. According to its Facebook of the organiser, the event is open at 5.00pm, with the concert starting at 6.30pm.

1001324_10151754536198304_1609979721_n

From the Facebook of Pink Dot SG. Click image to go there.

With regards to the weather on that day, the organiser also advises:

Looks like we may get clear skies this Saturday in Singapore! With the favourable forecast in wind direction, we will proceed with all our plans for #PinkDot2013 on June 29! However, do keep yourselves subscribed to this page ( Pink Dot’s Facebook)  should there be any last minute changes. More importantly, we hope that the fires in Sumatra will be put out soon, so that our friends in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia will be free from haze, whichever way the wind blows.

Ambassadors for Pink Dot 2013

Hot damn, Mark Richmond looks hot now, I have to say. All beefy and brawny like that. Yummy. And that dazzling smile and that dimple! Whoa. Funny I never thought of him as cute before. But maybe it was because he was younger, and younger men just don’t register in the radar of my brain cells. I’ve always been into the look of ‘older’ men. By the way, he’s got pretty face and dimple and bushy eyebrows and cleft chin. WTF, how many good-looking features can get squeezed onto one face? So unfair.

And Ivan Heng looks delectable. Check out those lips. He’s got sexy face. He makes me think of Alan Cumming, somehow. They have the same vibe, and amazing talent. And check out his veiny solid forearms at 0:53 of the video. Yummy. Lucky pink plushie, he looks damn pleased with himself, I want to slap the smug look off his face.

With the gorgeous Michelle Chia, the trio are the ambassadors of Pink Dot, annually held at Hong Lim Park, Singapore, since 2009. The organizers of the movement write in their ‘about’ page that:

Pink Dot Sg is a non-profit movement started by a group of individuals who care deeply about the place that LGBT Singaporeans call home. It is a group for everyone, straight and gay, who support the belief that everyone deserves the freedom to love. With openness and acceptance, we hope to bring LGBT Singaporeans closer to their family and friends.

Pink is the colour of our ICs. It is also the colour when you mix red and white – the colours of our national flag. Pink Dot stands for an open, inclusive society within our Red Dot, where sexual orientation represents a feature, not a barrier.

Another remarkable thing is that the home-grown event has inspired people around the world to organise their own Pink Dot event. Its Wikipedia page lists the cities that have held gatherings.

For Singapore this year, it will be held on the 29th June. To find out more about the event, check out their site here, and their Facebook page here.

Pink Dot

Image from Pink Dot SG’s Facebook. Click to go to source.

Fundraising campaign for S377A constitutional challenge

bc008292-b707-4e8f-a7c1-eddf47ad6218_630yahoo_couple1

Kenneth Chee (left) and Gary Lim. Image from Yahoo! News Singapore. Click to go to source.

I read in Yahoo! News Singapore earlier today that there is a fundraising thing going on for Kenneth Chee and Gary Lim. That’s the outstandingly brave couple of 15 years who last November filed a legal challenge in the High Court against a law, Section 377A of the Penal Code, that criminalises sex between men.

The High Court ruled earlier this month that the law still stands. Kenneth and Gary have decided to move forward and file an appeal. The Yahoo! article states that ‘the Court of Appeal is the highest court in Singapore, and its decisions are final‘, and that:

Mr Peter Low, lead counsel for the case, said in a media statement on Thursday, “The Judgment of the High Court upholds an archaic piece of colonial legislation which was enacted and retained with the dominant purpose of criminalising the sexual behaviour of consenting gay and bisexual adults, and continues to make criminals out of gay and bisexual men in loving relationships, even in the privacy of their own homes”.

“In so doing, the High Court is essentially saying that such targeted discrimination is perfectly acceptable… With the greatest of respect, this cannot be correct in law or logic. We have our client’s instructions to appeal.”

The team behind the fundraising for the appeal states on the campaign page that:

The cost of mounting a constitutional challenge adds up to a substantial figure. As friends of the couple, we are helping by raising funds for their legal challenge and seeing them through this long and difficult journey.

We are members and allies of Singapore’s LGBT community who are deeply moved by the couple’s courage. Among us are individuals who are straight and gay, and we do not believe a person should be fearful of being imprisoned because of his sexual orientation.

Gary and Kenneth have bravely stood forward on behalf of all LGBT people in Singapore. Let us come together and show the couple our support.

The funds to be raised is targeted at US$150,000. When I last visited at 8pm of Saturday 20th April, it had already crossed over the halfway mark at a collection of $76,817, and this with 58 more days to go. The campaign page stated that “In the event that fundraising is in excess of the expenses of the constitutional challenge, surplus funds raised online will be donated to LGBT-related causes in Singapore.”, so it would be great if that’s the case.

I think it’s great there’s this campaign going on, allowing us folks, gay bi straight trans or whatever, to participate even in a very small way. These two heroes are fighting for the rest of us. I don’t know what various tribulation they are going through for this, not just financially but in their personal and professional life. I can’t begin to imagine.

Of course I hope they succeed in their appeal to overturn the anti-gay law. But at the same time they are already winners in my eyes, regardless of the outcome of the appeal. They can already look in the mirror and hold their heads up high.

For the campaign’s page at Indiegogo.com, click here.

Gary & Kenneth – 15 years from Equality SG on Vimeo.