LGBT culture in Singapore

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Life in Singapore

There are no statistics on how many gay people there are in Singapore or what percentage of the population they constitute. Section 377A of the Penal Code (Singapore) criminalizes "gross indecency" between men which includes consensual, private, adult homosexual acts. The penalty is up to two years' imprisonment.

Singapore Gay Personalities[edit]

Historical[edit]

Paddy Chew[edit]

Main article: Paddy Chew

Chew was the first Singaporean to publicly declare his HIV-positive status, thus giving a face to an affliction which mainstream society considered remote from possible encounter. He came out on 12 December 1998 during the First National AIDS Conference in Singapore. He identified his orientation as bisexual. His plight was dramatised in a play called "Completely With/Out Character" produced by The Necessary Stage, directed by Alvin Tan and written by Haresh Sharma, staged from 10–17 May 1999. He died on 21 August 1999, shortly after the play's run ended.

Arthur Yap[edit]

Main article: Arthur Yap

Yap was arguably Singapore's finest poet, influential amongst the later generations of Singaporean writers. He won the 1983 Singapore Cultural Medallion for Literature. He died of laryngeal carcinoma on 19 June 2006, bequeathing $500,000/-, part of his estate which included his apartment off Killiney Road, to the National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCSS) where he was a patient. [2]

Contemporary[edit]

The following categorisations are arbitrary as most of the LGB individuals listed are active in more than one field. Transgender personalities and cross-dressing artistes are listed in the main article Transgender people in Singapore.

Arts Personalities[edit]

(see website), poet.
Main article: Cyril Wong
writer, poet and playwright. He has a weekly column on gay website Trevvy titled, "Iced Bandung".
Main article: Alfian Sa'at
(see careerblog, ), writer and performance artist. Ng is the author of "SQ21: Singapore Queers in the 21st Century" and Last Boy, a collection of personally written poems including gay-themed ones. He also contributes articles to Fridae.com on a regular basis (see bibliography) and is currently working on several plays.
Main article: Ng Yi-Sheng
(see Fridae profile), the highly acclaimed and award-winning enfant terrible of Singaporean cinema.
Main article: Royston Tan

Politician[edit]

Wijeysingha became the first Singaporean politician to openly declare that he was gay when he made a post on Facebook ahead of the annual Pink Dot SG event.[1]

Singapore Gay Resources[edit]

(See the main article Singapore gay venues: contemporary for more information, photographs and links. For a discussion of places where gay people used to socialise or cruise, see the article Singapore gay venues: historical).

Cyberspace[edit]

Singapore is unique in Asia in having very established LGBT portals owing to its high Internet penetration rates and the restriction on homosexual topics in print and broadcast media. These portals provide a large measure of support to the gay community, as evidenced by their enormous patron base.

  • Blowing Wind Gay Forum [4] - an online forum for gay men in Singapore started in 1997 to discuss any issues which concern them. However, it eschews political topics.
  • Fridae.asia [5]- Asia's largest English-language LGBT portal has grown by leaps and bounds since its founding in December 2000. It has achieved much of its mission statement of "empowering gay Asia" and is the most socially responsible commercial gay organisation in Singapore.
  • Gay SG Confessions [6], also known as 'GSC' - Started in February 2013 in the footsteps of a host of popular "confessions" websites, GSC is a Facebook page that hosts a collection of user-contributed stories by gay, bi, lesbian, straight, transgendered "and those who have yet to make up their minds" members. The page was a sleeper hit amongst the local gay community thanks to its novelty anonymous submission form, publishing over 500 'confessions' or posts in less than 2 weeks of its creation[2] and garnering over 10,000 page 'Likes' in slightly over 6 months. The site is run by an anonymous moderator, an account director in an advertising firm in his 30s who wants to be known only as "GC".[3]
  • Lesbian SG Confessions Started in February 2013, is a similar Facebook page to Gay SG Confessions that publishes 'confessions' anonymously.
  • Trevvy [7], formerly known as SgBoy - set up in March 1999, the site was originally known as "Singapore Boy Homepage" before it was renamed as Sgboy.com. It became known for its Singapore city guides, classifieds and online discussion boards which enjoy a high degree of participation and deal with a diverse array of topics. It also traditionally hosts a birthday bash every year to commemorate its founding. It is one of the most popular LGBT portals in Singapore and has managed to introduce a whole new perspective on Asian gay culture to the world at large. It underwent a makeover, rebranding itself as Trevvy.com in August 2006, shifting its focus to the more mature 25 to 40-year age group of the local gay market and expanding it user base regionally.

Non-Commercial/Non-Sexual Venues[edit]

  • The Free Community Church [8]

A non-denominational church which welcomes all people regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or economic status. It conducts Sunday services at 10:30 am.

  • Pelangi Pride Centre (PPC)[9]

Singapore's first GLBT Centre for sexual minorities used to operate out of Bianco (above Mox Bar & Cafe) every Saturday from 4-8pm. However, after the closure of these venues in April 2008, it relocated to a terrace house in Rowell Road, in the Serangoon area. Specially organised events are held every 2nd Saturday of the month. Email contact@pelangipridecentre.org for more information. PPC features an extensive library of local and international gay literature, whose catalogue can be searched online, and an archive of Singapore gay history and culture.

Arts Venues[edit]

The following list consists of exhibition and performance venues where many works dealing with LGBT themes or by LGBT arts practitioners have been held. However, they are not exclusively used for such purposes.

Founded in 1990 by the late Kuo Pao Kun, it is Singapore's first independent contemporary arts centre, centrally located in the civic district. Its sub-sections include a black box theater, a gallery, a dance studio, the Blue Room and two multi-function classrooms. It was the venue for the nascent PLU Sunday meetings in the early 90s. The historic PLU 2 pre-registration discussion was also held in the Blue Room in 2003.

  • A growing arts, entertainment and lifestyle block managed by Guan Seng Kee Pte Ltd, which houses the following establishments:
  1. Space 21: an unrenovated 1,950 sq ft (181 m2) art space and multi-function hall situated on level 3, the second home of Utterly Art.
  2. MOX Bar & Café (website) on level 4.
  3. Bianco (formerly known as The Attic).

The topmost floor is a vault-like loft under the same management as MOX Bar & Café. It seats up to 150 people and is suitable for exhibitions, fashion shows, and performances. It was the former location of the Sunday services of the Free Community Church (from 2002 to 2004) and Toy Factory Theatre Ensemble [10](from 2004 to 2005). Currently, it houses Bianco which contains a small bar and has an all-white decor. Dr. Russell Heng's talk When Queens Ruled! A History of Gay Venues in Singapore was held here on 16 August 05 as part of IndigNation.

It provides exhibition space and management services to local and Asian artists, and photographers. Utterly Art was the venue for the opening event of IndigNation - an exhibition of paintings by artist Martin Loh entitled Cerita Budak-Budak, meaning 'children's stories' in Peranakan Malay. The event was followed up with Contra/Diction - A Night with Gay Poets held on 4 August 05, Singapore's first public gay poetry reading session which was attended by over 70 people, with standing room only.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Gay Star News "Singapore Gay Men Jump At Chance To Confess Secrets", Gay Star News, 27 February 2013. Retrieved on 11 October 2013.
  3. ^ Asia One News "Many 'like' to confess online" "AsiaOne", 19 March 2013, para 14. Retrieved on 11 October 2013.

External links and references[edit]