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Old 08-03-2009, 10:17 AM   #1
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Default Is it ever ok not to be 'out'?

This is something i have been thinking about for a while now. I have always thought that it is better to be out about your sexuality because i think if it is something that remains hidden then acceptance can never really be achieved.
I have a friend though, who works with vulnerable children. She choses not to disclose her sexuality to them, the main reason being that they are there to help the child first and foremost and their sexuality could get in the way of the child accepting them.
I think at first i thought, well who cares. People should just be ok about gay people and if they are not then thats their problem. When i thought about it i realised that many of these children are quite uneducated and once trust has been established lgbt awareness could be taught.
I was thinking about other reasons when its ok not to be out.
I have been pretty lucky because the work i have chosen to do has always been very gay friendly. I have worked within the music industry and in the theatre. Even when i taught kids theatre arts i was always out as being gay- I reasoned if they or thier parents had a problem with that there was plenty of other places they could take their kids- It wasn't an essential or exclusive service i was providing.
Also, although my 'comming out' to my parents was very traumatic, i was in no real physical danger. This is another occassion where i think it is preferable to 'be in' -If you think you are going to be in danger.
Any thoughts about this or experiences to share lgbt people??
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Old 08-03-2009, 12:02 PM   #2
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In Singapore where I grew up, homosexual acts are still illegal. (Fun fact: oral and anal sex is finally made legal for heterosexual couples in 2007 but NOT for gay male and implied lesbian couples) LGBT groups are not allowed to formally register as a society, pride month events are restricted and heavily scrutinised by the police, gay clubs and saunas get raided frequently for "drug use" while hetero clubs notorious for party drugs almost never get raided, discrimination and hate crimes are not illegal and a large part of the population are still ignorant and homophobic.

All males 18 and up are also subject to a compulsory two-year conscription. As part of the health check, you are required to declare if you have "social problems" like "homosexuality". If you choose to out yourself, you will be subjected to a lengthy psychiatric evaluation involving your parents (note that traditional Chinese/Muslim Malay families are generally extremely conservative and likely to disown gay children, especially males) and then declared to be "unfit for combat" along with people who are physically and mentally handicapped. This will also something that has to be declared and will be questioned by all future employers, so almost all gay folk keep a low-profile in the army. One guy didn't, and this is his experience (1, 2).

The same "questionnaire" is sometimes given out at job interviews too. People in civil service, be it soldier, police officer, school teacher, doctors and planners are especially advised not to declare their sexuality. My friend who was a high-ranking army official was nearly discharged for not censoring his personal blog, and there are cases of teachers who have lost their jobs simply for preaching tolerance even if they do not explicitly state their sexuality. Those in high-ranking positions also tend to lie low because their sexuality can make them the target of blackmail.

Soooo yes, most of my friends there, even the queer activists are NOT out at work and many are NOT out to parents. There are too many depressing stories of queer youth getting disowned, deliberately abused for "family honour" and losing a job they are more than competent at for what is most probably discrimination. There are also a reasonably high incidence of public harrassment and even actual hate crimes, particularly towards effeminate men, butch women and same-sex couples so people tend to be extremely discreet. Offenders get away with such a light slap on the wrist too, ugh.

Last edited by Cors; 08-03-2009 at 12:10 PM.
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Old 08-03-2009, 01:28 PM   #3
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Cors, I have a family member who lives in Singapore whom I suspect is gay. She is about as 'out' as one can be in Singapore without being subjected to legal forms of harassment. I know that she is having a very difficult time, but she has a number of other issues that are probably contributing to her difficulties. I believe that her parents know; she's lived in the family home with her female lover, but they are otherwise very discreet. I'm saying "I think" and "I suspect" because we've never had a conversation about it. It just seems very obvious to me, just in watching how she relates to her female friend and how tense her parents seem about the situation - or rather, about how we might react to it, when we are visiting. It's obvious to me that they love their daughter and want her to be happy. I've known her since she was 15, and I picked up the vibe pretty much from the moment we met. I have always been curious about how she reconciles her orientation with the overt discrimination she would face if she lived her life as she no doubt wants to. I've often wished I could have a conversation with her, but I'm not sure how to broach the subject. Last year, one of our family members circulated a chain email, copied to her and all other family members, about signing a petition to ban some kind of performance that was to take place in Singapore because one of the performers is gay. I replied, with a CC to everyone he'd addressed, and said that I wasn't comfortable with receiving homophobic emails, and that if any judgment was to be done, I'd prefer to leave that up to God (whom I believe to be about as real as the Easter Bunny, but it was my not-so-subtle way of getting a dig in about religious intolerance). My husband was appalled ... not at my opinion, but that I'd express it so openly to his relatives, who he felt certain would not understand. Interestingly enough, I got several responses from people who thanked me for what I said. Unfortunately, nothing from her, though.
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Old 08-03-2009, 02:16 PM   #4
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I know a couple of Indian lesbians in Singapore who nearly got forced into arranged marriages when their families found out and quite a few who are still in danger of that, so her parents do seem very tolerant by allowing the "friend" to live in their family home. No doubt she would have been told how to behave in front of everyone else though, thanks to the silly obsession with "face". I have been out since 14 and while my parents are not exactly accepting, they are more concerned how I am supposed to conduct myself in front of their conservative church friends and relatives - act straight at all times, tone down my looks (hiding my many piercings, tattoos, even wearing a wig when I had short "dyke" hair), bring a masculine gay male to act as my boyfriend for functions and the like.

It is awesome that you responded to your husband's family (the lack of drama is surprising too) and that a few people even thanked you. I am sure your possibly gay relative is happy too, but she might just be too used to not speaking about her own sexuality. Granted that her parents can't enforce whether she does or not, but she might just see their tolerance of her "friend" in exchange for her not stirring the pot as a reasonable compromise. I do wonder why she doesn't move out of the family home though. Granted that moving out before marriage still tends to be frowned upon by the older generation, but the relative freedom should be worth it.
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Old 08-04-2009, 03:19 AM   #5
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These are really sad stories. I had an aquaintance, by which i mean he wasn't a really close friend but we used to hang out in the same gay pub every weekend for about a year when we were both about 17/18. He was from a muslim country and his parents found out he was gay and took him back home on the pretence of a holiday and kept him prisoner for about a year. We didn't actually find this out until he had managed to escape. They had arranged a marrage for him and everything and had tied him up to stop him escaping. He basically had to chose between family and sexuality. At the time i knew him he had 'chose' sexuality but i didn't see him much after this as i'm not a scene type person so i don't know what happened to him. It just really makes me feel lucky that i have the legal rights here to enjoy my sexuality. Well, to just be allowed to be myself. I feel so bad for people elsewhere who have to hide such a bit part of themselves.
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