Do you really know them when you don’t know them?

By Perry Tan

Chances are, every single one of us has come into close contact with LGBT ( lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) persons in our lives, be it a teacher, classmate, colleague, fellow NS man, etc. Funny thing is, those of us who are not blessed with a keen sense of intuition won’t even know they are LGBT. They could be deliberately invisible, or we could be blind to their existence. 

On more than one occasion, I came across scenarios where people who were uncomfortable with LBGTs were unknowingly interacting with LGBTs in their social circles. And because they didn’t know, these interactions tend to be nothing extraordinary. I find that both amusing and sad at the same time, and I always asked myself: would these interactions be any different if they knew?

Look back to your Primary School or Secondary School days. Everyone will recall that in a class of 40, there was bound to be a few kids who were different. Girls who were tomboyish and preferred trousers to skirts; girls who preferred to rough it out with boys; boys who were less assertive and more effeminate; boys and girls who did not seem interested in the opposite sex. These kids were usually subjected to ostracisation, taunts, ridicule and sometimes bullying. Butch. Ah Kua. Bapok. Sissy. Faggot. We’ve heard them all. Hell, some of us may even have used them, in our youthful ignorance.

As adults, if you manage to trace old school friends, you’d almost inevitably find that some or most of those “different” kids are now openly LGBT.

Do you really believe it’s a “choice”? Who in the right mind would “choose” a LGBT “lifestyle” and subject oneself to a lifetime of social ridicule and misunderstanding, and a sexuality that is illegal in the eyes of the law?

When you use the term homosexual “lifestyle”, do you know what goes on in the typical day or weekend of a LGBT person? Do you think it is any different from yours other than what happens in the bedroom, which really, is no business of yours, as what happens in yours is no business of theirs.

When you attempt to understand the root causes of homosexuality, do you reference the fields of biology and psychology or do you interpret literally from an archaic tome? Do you talk to LGBT folks or do you talk to straight people who hold strong anti-LGBT views?

When you express the fear that your kids would be converted into an alternative sexuality, have you come across any evidence, scientific or anecdotal, that a person has turned gay because of peer influence?

When you make reference to that one or two cases of successful “conversion therapy” that someone told you about, have you fact checked with the huge body of knowledge which clearly evidenced that conversion therapy is ineffective at best, destructive at worst?

When you assert that every single of them are who they are because they were scarred by some unspeakable, traumatic sexual assault, do you personally know of even one LGBT person who is close enough to share with you his / her experience and feelings living as a LGBT person in a majority heterosexual world?

The real assault they endured was from a society which did not know better, from friends, family and fellow human beings who did not understand, empathise and did not accord them the very basic right to be themselves.


This post was first published on Perry Tan’s facebook. We thank him for allowing us to publish here in full.