“I was on a lunch date with a friend. We were just sitting side by side at a café. I could tell that the staff members were getting increasingly uncomfortable with us. The manager eventually came over and said, “This is a family café. People are watching. You should leave.” I’ve heard stories of people getting discriminated like this but this was the first time I was on the receiving end of it. As far as I could tell, my friend and I were not bothering any of the other patrons. But the staff made it seem like our presence was detrimental to the image of the restaurant.
This is just an example of the kind of discrimination the LGBTQ+ community faces. It’s not the outright discrimination that anyone can call out. It’s a lot more subtle. Even something as simple as length of hair can change the way people treat you. For example, I used to have long hair, and the way people treated me then was different to how I’m being treated now that I have short hair. It’s very drastic. I mean, I’m the same person, but people somehow judge me on my looks and put me in a frame.
The issue here is that Singapore isn’t exposed enough. Many are not perceptive or aware enough. Singapore is very conservative. Even though it might look like we’re progressing, there are lots of people who are not voicing out or speaking up. They don’t say “no” to you, but they don’t say “yes” to you either. They just don’t want to be involved in the conversation at all.
We can learn a thing or two from Taiwan. They educate their youth on sexuality from the get-go. They explore topics like that in their books. They are taught that anything different to heterosexuality is not abnormal, let alone a sin. As a result, Taiwanese are more open-minded, and they discriminate less.
Having said that, the younger generation of Singaporeans are more open-minded. I think it is a generational issue here. I don’t blame them because they were brought up in a different era. And I know it’d take time for them to accept the LGBTQ+ community. But I do believe that more can be done when it comes to organising focus groups, seminars and talks so that everyone can have an open discussion on sexuality and gender identity.
At the end of the day, we’re all meant to be different. It is not easy to create an all-inclusive community. It is an evolution of human beings to actually learn to live together as one. We are different for a reason, and we should embrace that difference and understand each other. That will make the world a better place, and a kinder world to live in.”