Friday, 1 May 2009

Why is the measure of love loss?

Beyond the ridiculous phrases being bandied around by Thio Su Mien and her followers, like “promoting a homosexual lifestyle”, as if sexual orientation is a choice, or worse, as if it’s a credit card to be promoted with freebies and loyalty points to be redeemed: portion of your Kingdom, scare tactics of Hell. Beyond the bigotry and homophobia and blatant lies being promoted, what the Aware saga demonstrates is that "Singapore" and "Citizenship" are defined not by those who practice them in everyday life, but by those who are in positions to manipulate social and sexual identities for personal and political gain. 

The ruling classes invoke the legendary Heartland against an emerging liberal middle class. And see how this Heartland comes alive!

And Aware's former leaders, in their reluctance to take an unequivocal stand – i.e. of course, lesbian outreach should be a part of any woman's support/outreach/activist organization – have allowed Thio and gang to dictate the terms of the debate: “Do we want to talk about/provide support to lesbians?” ("Yes! Go on! I dare you!")

And to regain power and authority, the former leaders seem willing to play into Thio’s hands. And with that, Thio could effectively manoeuvre Old Aware into at best an "inclusiveness" agenda, and at worst, a "hetero-sexist" one. And into a particular defeat. 

See how this heartland comes alive.

This is why, even if Thio and gang were displaced (they should be, and good riddance), the moral panic button so piously pushed by Thio will have prevented lesbian outreach for years to come. From now on, Aware’s education outreach programmes for schools will be even more closely monitored, despite this issue

But more importantly, this moral panic (together with all of us who have unwittingly participated in it) has created a demon – homosexuality – out of homosexuality, that can be, and will be, used to justify social control and the cavalier hardening of social mores. 

This is why, even if Thio and gang were displaced, they would have had achieved their goal. The Thios are good for this: dog whistle politics. They say/do all this stuff as NMPs, professors, lawyers, "human rights activists". Then the government steps in to calm and reassure. Key segments of the electorate are assuaged and satisfied that "Singapore is still conservative". Because this salves everyone's fraught, bigoted souls. And lesbians will continue to exist, to contribute to the country’s economic progress, to partake of Singapore’s culture of contentment. But are reminded to be invisible. Ditto the gays.

To those of you who say you cannot 'accept' gays and lesbians: Why? They're just like you - they live, they breathe, they fall in love. They wish for the little mercies that you receive daily. Love is love wherever you find it, in whomever you find. As long as it is true. Why should love be predicated on hate? 

And with this, completes an unfortunate chapter, if not a wholly disheartening tragi-comedy: the classic Eve Sedgwick’s epistemology of the closet. A never-ending closing of the circle. 

The biggest losers in this saga are not Aware, New or Old. Not the Thios. Not the gays and the lesbians. The biggest losers are the Thio-supporters, lay and religious alike: the so-called Anti-gays, the nicknamed “Heartlanders”. 

They who swiftly and dutifully respond when called. See how this heartland comes alive.

Because, guess, who’s the biggest winner of this all.

The Buddhists say there are 149 ways to God. I'm not looking for God, only for myself, and that is far more complicated. God has had a great deal written about Him; nothing has been written about me. God is bigger, like my mother, easier to find, even in the dark. I could be anywhere, and since I can't describe myself I can't ask for help.

-- Jeanette Winterson, Sexing the Cherry

Why is the measure of love loss?

-- Jeanette Winterson, Written on the Body

No comments:

Post a Comment