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

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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
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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

And that’s how real men do it, part 2

Too damn cute! A newscaster in Ireland, with a nicely manly voice, merrily powdering his face.

From Gawker, seen via Tastefully Offensive. Youtube video posted by Kathy Gill.

Immediately reminded me of this guy in the same situation last year.

Friends of Dorothy, unite!

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From the tumblr site ‘These pics are made for tumblring’.

Just came across an article on Yahoo! Singapore called ‘Behind the doors of Singapore’s gay night club scene’, written by Sheila Sarvananda. Interesting read.

I haven’t gone clubbing for ages! Well maybe not exactly ages, but just three or four years ago haha. Just not a nightspot person.

And another funny thing is that it took a foreigner, a friend all the way from Canada who was visiting for work, who introduced this local to the club he last went to. That was Taboo, one of the clubs featured in the article. I liked Taboo. Went there a few times, including to take a Thai friend visiting here as a tourist. He liked it heaps too.

I don’t remember Taboo as a club with a dance floor back then, although it did have a resident DJ playing loud throbby dance music. But I remember it still being very loungey and relaxing, with a big outdoor space out front with lots of seats. They have moved apparently, according to this directory listing on Fridae.asia. Anyway, to learn more about it, their website is here.

And posted by Singaypore, (which I just discovered now, looks interesting so going back later to look-see more) here’s a video I came across on YouTube; one of those male beauty pageant things I guess.

Ooohh… so many gorgeous guys. That’s nice.

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But poor Dottie looks scandalized! Or maybe just impressed like I am. From the tumblr site ‘I’m Only Dreaming’.

Another joint here in Singapore introduced by the Canadian friend as well was Backstage, located in Chinatown. That was definitely more of a chill-out bar. I remember it as a very pleasant place to just hang out and chat with friends, even when it was packed. I liked the seats out at the balcony.

The website of Backstage is here, where it’s described as ‘a cozy bar for friends of Dorothy’ lol.

So there’s that friends-of-Dorothy term I came across yet again, which I didn’t hear of before this evening writing for this post. Hmmm. During ‘my time’ (oh Gawd first time I’m saying ‘during my time’, so now I officially start to feel old…at 39) I heard us referred to among ourselves as PLU, if I’m not mistaken. That’s ‘People Like Us’. Which has a quaint sweet ring to it, doncha think. But ‘friends of Dorothy’? That just has to refer to Wizard of Oz (1939), I guess? I think it’s cute, but are there no straight guys who like Wizard of Oz LOL? Not even remotely? Not even as a kid? Who care to befriend Dorothy too? Poor Dorothy, forever alone f** hag haha…