Growing up in an ultra-conservative household, homosexuality or “being gay” was never mentioned. Heck, the word “sex” was never even uttered. To my parents, these things just never existed.
My first brush with homosexuality was when I was studying in an all-girls secondary school. Girls at the height of raging teenage hormones had to find an outlet to relieve their sexual curiosity and the only people in close proximity were other girls. I, myself, had a fair share of crushes and attraction to other girls in my school.
After I left secondary school, I attended a co-ed school and now had interaction with boys. That ended my sexual attraction to girls. Yes, I realized I was straight after all.
However, like all heterosexual people, I don’t usually give much thought to the type of discrimination that gay people face in Singapore where it is still illegal to be a homosexual. Even in countries that allow for same-sex marriages, I dare say it is still impossible to completely stamp out discrimination.
Discrimination was never an issue to me when I was growing up. A study stint in Spain took care of that. I was discriminated against for being of a different race in a predominantly white country. Although no physical harm actually came to me for being Asian, I still received race-hate messages – and they were a tough pill to swallow. I was judged solely on my skin colour and it had a profound effect on me. I am a person, not a skin colour.
Now that I have kids of my own (I have three sons), my biggest challenge is not to insulate them from homosexuality but to teach them about equality and human rights that every human being should have, regardless of one’s sexual orientation, race, personal background or vocation in life.
Educating my boys about homosexuality and that it is okay for same-sex-couples to be in love is important. I don’t want them to think that there is anything criminal in being homosexual.
But what irks me are parents who are shocked and disgusted when I tell them that I would not treat my boys any differently if they turned out to be gay. In fact, I will love them more to make up for the discrimination and hate that still exists.
I took an interest in politics and am a member of the SDP because I know it is not right to discriminate based on sexual orientation or, for that matter, on any other reason. For all my gay friends, I look forward to the day where we can all live in equality. Hopefully, the next generation will not suffer the same discrimination as the present one.
We must not forget what we pledge: “To build a democratic society, based on justice and equality…”
Frederique Soh is a member of The Women Democrats.