I am honoured to have been invited to speak at this year’s Pink Dot as part of a new segment called “Community Voices”. This is what I said:
When I was in secondary school I was among the fortunate few to have friends who were gay. Some of whom I knew were gay before they knew or cared to admit.
My father was the most concerned, of course, and told me he was worried that I would get affected or influenced – in his own words, “you spend so much time with him, you become a gay then you know”.
I said, “Pa, look at me, I can’t dress to save my life. I wish I could be influenced”.
Then came National Service, the 2 and a half years that was meant to make men out of boys. Interestingly, it was also where I learned how brave my gay army mates were, and how they stood the tallest among the fighting men in my combat unit.
Not only did they endure the physical duress of training, they took the insults – being called Chow Ah Kua, Bapok, Faggot – any derogatory term for a gay man, daily. It was only after my unit became operational that the tables turned somewhat.
The best GPMG gunner was gay. 2 of my company’s best platoon sergeants were gay, and the guy that broke another soldier’s leg during unarmed combat was one of those Chow Ah Kuas.
These NS boys were tortured and I cannot begin to imagine the torment they must have endured, having to hide and deny who they were.
Things are ever so slightly better these days. There’s this civic event right here that celebrates and affirms the right to love, regardless of orientation, even if some people don’t, and even if there is an unjust and unconstitutional piece of legislation that doesn’t.
My hope is that it doesn’t stop here. And I will support this celebration and affirmation until it becomes a right under the laws of this otherwise dynamic country.
I say this because my family and I count ourselves the luckiest people. It’s not because we probably have more gay friends than straight ones. But it’s because many of our gay friends have shown us the ability to sustain love above all manner of obstacles, objection, ridicule.
And more importantly, they love my wife, my son and myself for who we are.
We are without doubt blessed by their friendship, and our family cannot do without their love.
I am glad that we are raising our son amongst friends who share the same family values. That two people can love each other regardless of gender, gender identity or labelling.
If this is the “gay lifestyle”, then my family and I will wholeheartedly promote it.