Is Singapore ready for “a truly equal and inclusive” community? As Western countries have become more accepting of the LGBTQ community, Eastern countries still hold strongly to traditions and cultural customs. To better understand this, I reached out to Roy Lim (a dear local friend of mine), to hear his story about growing up gay in Singapore.
What does identifying as LGBTQ mean to you?
Well, aside from my genital preference……….it is about realizing who I am and being in-tune of what I want for myself. I am unafraid and confident in my own skin, and my sense of humor.
When did you officially come out as LGBTQ, and how did that change your life?
When I was about 18, I came out to my girl-friends in poly. It was quite a tell tale sign since I hung out and worked with women all the time in school and still managed to remain single.
I wouldn’t say it drastically improved my life. I just slowly started living less of a “double life”. The usage of “WAH THAT GIRL IS DAM CHIO” became much lesser, although I still use that once in awhile, but it’s more of a “girl” to girl compliment.
How did you know you were ready to come out to the public?
I have been pretty open about my sexuality for awhile now. I am quite an open book to all friends and family. However, I think it was in the recent years that I started speaking out more, creating awareness on and offline, bridging the gap and helping less informed individuals. As a millennial, I feel that it is important to start paving the way for the generations to come. It starts from now. It starts from you and I!
Who has been your greatest support since you have came out?
MY MUM. She is a kind, gracious and selfless individual who has supported me since day one. She has been my pillar of strength through the highs and lows, and has taught me to be the confident articulate man I am today.
What is the hardest part about coming out as LGBTQ in Singapore?
Scumming to societal expectations and the values and traditions that were built upon in our culture. People are generally fearful of the unknown and of growing up in a society where the boundaries of right and wrong were very clearly stipulated. Deviation from the norm is often seen as unorthodox.
In three words, describe the LGBTQ scene in Singapore.
Optimistic, Inclusive and Supportive.
What do you most and least like about the LGBTQ community in Singapore?
I love how there is a safe space for everyone. The bars are diverse in demographics, but you will still feel welcomed. People are there to unwind and be themselves. It’s nice to see that we have come a long way, especially with Pink Dot and what it has achieved over the years (I remember attending the first Pink Dot when I was 15/16… quite daring ah?).
I don’t have anything extremely negative to say about our community. However, if I have to pinpoint something, I guess it’s our “fear” of discussing or our tendency to avoid LGBTQ topics among our heterosexual friends.
How do you foresee Singapore’s LGBTQ scene in the next 10 years?
Honestly, we have a LONG LONG… LONG way to go in a bid to find our voice in the eyes of the “higher order” 😏. I have witnessed some baby steps, but we are still bounded by many “restrictions”. Firstly, we are surrounded by religious and traditional Muslim countries. Being that we value our political relationships, we can’t just rock the boat.
However, It is nice to seeing other Asian countries like Taiwan making significant progress for their LGBTQ community. The fact that they started the ball rolling shows us that there is hope for Singapore in the long run. I mean, I want to get married and have kids. I want to be hopeful that the government will start looking our way.
If you had the power to change one thing on behalf of the LGBTQ community, what would it be?
I hope to start by creating more exposure and awareness of our community within the education system and mainstream media. I feel we need to start by building a foundation of understanding in order to move towards acceptance.
Words of inspiration for people who are still finding themselves:
Take your time. Learn about yourself and find beauty in life. Discover your strengths and flaws, and the things that make you happy, because through that you will find those who are on a similar journey as you. These are people who will become your pillars of support for the many years to come. And DON’T TAKE LIFE SO SERIOUSLY! Live your truth, laugh and love with all your heart.
Top 3 – Fun Facts:
- The Great Escape – Patrick Watson (the music video is so abstract and moving).
- Blindsided – Bon Iver (Justin Vernon’s voice reeks of pain and sorrow. I love bathing in his sadness).
- Keep Your Head Up – Ben Howard (this song never gets old and it’s so feel good).
- ONE inspiration is enough for me and it’s none other than my mummy.
Places to hang out in Singapore:
- Dorothy’s – it’s a quieter bar in the heart of Chinatown. Go there if you enjoy people watching from the balcony!
- Loof and Smoke & Mirrors – great view of MBS!
- THE GYM! Weight training area, not anywhere else, I swear.
- Mee Rebus
- Mee Siam
- Truffle fries from PS Cafe
. . .
A huge shout of appreciation to Roy Lim for sharing his story. When it comes to portraiture, I love to be able to create and develop concepts that tell a story! To share your story and collaborate with me, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.