AsiaOne: Sex, drugs and the hard facts (Nov 9)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sex, drugs and the hard facts

In town last month to promote her work, Elizabeth Pisani, the London-based 44-year-old epidemiologist, is as unflinchingly honest in real life as she is in the book.
Tan Hui Yee

Tue, Nov 11, 2008
The Sunday Times

The speaker takes the microphone to address the handful of people at the corner of Page One bookstore. Please, he asks those milling around, take your seats for a session with the author.

No one stirs until a small, pixie-faced woman leans over the mike and announces: 'Sex and drugs in the corner! Sex and drugs in the corner!'

Peals of laughter break out. The seats fill up. The woman is Elizabeth Pisani. Her newly released book, The Wisdom Of Whores, gives an insider's view of the bloated Aids industry and it literally has a lot to do with sex and drugs.

In town last month to promote her work, the London-based 44-year-old epidemiologist is as unflinchingly honest in real life as she is in the book. The former Economist journalist, who spent more than 10 years tracking and fighting the spread of the disease in organisations such as the World Bank, UNAIDS and the World Health Organisation takes no prisoners as she attempts to pin down exactly what is wrong with the system.

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (Aids), she says, is 'completely preventable' with a condom and a clean needle. The HIV virus, which causes it, is spread mainly through sex, and drug addicts using infected needles.

But bureaucrats, religious leaders and politicians are squeamish about providing or promoting the use of the two relatively cheap items. Some even insist on making abstinence central to HIV prevention programmes.

'But discouraging sex is never a winning game. Sex is a lot of fun and people will go a long way to get it,' she says.

'Abstinence has no effect on preventing the spread of HIV. It sometimes delays the spread of HIV by about a year and a half, but it doesn't seem to have any effect at all on the overall levels of HIV.'

She also pokes fun at unrealistic pro-abstinence groups, one of which suggests on its website that people 'visit a nursing home' instead of having sex.

'Hmmm, visit a nursing home or have an orgasm? Now let me see...If we base our prevention programme around things which are so obviously absurd, we're going to get nowhere,' she declares.

'Absurd' is also the word she uses for the Singapore Government's move earlier this year to criminalise anyone who has reason to believe that he may be infected with the HIV virus and yet has sex with another person without first informing that person of the risk.

She says: 'I can't imagine a situation when you're in Batam for the weekend with your golf buddy and you're in the brothel, and you think: Oh, you know what, actually I won't have sex with this girl because otherwise if I don't tell my partner I might get into trouble. Or I will use a condom because otherwise...People don't think like that. It's impossible to regulate your way out of this problem.'

'Nothing,' she declares, 'gets in the way of common sense like erections and addiction.'

In her book, she suggests instead that the enforcement of condom use be put in the hands of those in power. The Thai government, for example, registered great success when it threatened to put out of business brothel owners who were lax in enforcing the use of condoms.

The scientist in her will not let political correctness get in the way of plain facts.

While she is derisive of religious zealots who try to paint Aids as a gay disease, she is equally critical of gay men who are lax in their use of condoms.

She writes in her book: 'HIV is not divine retribution for unprotected anal sex with lots of other people. It is simply a consequence of unprotected anal sex with lots of other people, in the same way that lung cancer is a consequence of smoking, and obesity is a consequence of eating fast food, drinking supersized Cokes, and getting in your truck to drive the 800 yards to church instead of walking.'

In Singapore, where heterosexual sex is the main source of HIV infection but gay sex accounts for the fastest-rising source of reported cases, 'the gay community should be very worried', she tells The Sunday Times.

'To say 'Oh, this isn't a gay problem' doesn't help reduce the stigma because in the end what you get is more disease.'

However, she notes that Section 377A of Singapore's penal code, which criminalises sex between men, makes it more difficult for gay men to seek the information they need to protect themselves.

Globally, the budget for Aids in developing countries has grown from a mere US$300 million (S$449 million) a year in 1996 to US$10 billion last year, but vast amounts of money are wasted because governments, for ideological or political reasons, are not focusing enough attention on the groups which need them most - gay men, sex workers and drug injectors.

For example, the United States, which budgeted US$4.2 billion for HIV in developing countries this year, does not allow federal funds to be used on clean needles for drug injectors.

Wastage also stems from the fact that many countries prioritise Aids treatment over other equally or more pressing health threats.

'Why should someone with HIV get free treatment when someone with lung cancer doesn't? The reason that distortion exists is because there is a massive international lobby for free HIV treatment. So developing countries, where a big proportion of the health budget comes from donors - and Indonesia is a classic case - very often spend a big proportion of their health budget on HIV.'

Asked about the provocative title of her book, she paid tribute to the transgender sex workers on the streets of Jakarta who provided her with the greatest insights after she went there seven years ago to work on HIV prevention.

She mentions in particular Ms Ines Angela, a sex worker in Jakarta who pointed out that surveys on sex workers were skewed because researchers were interviewing the least active individuals.

Ms Pisani relates, with a chuckle: 'She said, 'Any sex worker who is on the street talking to a research team is a sex worker who is not with a client... I'm never on a street corner, I'm with a client.'

'And I was like...she's right. Oh dear.'

After that, surveys on the sex workers were conducted through their internal hierarchies, with each district's leader gathering interviewees at her home in the daytime, when they were not working.

The other reason for Ms Pisani's choice of title is somewhat more grim. The budget to fight HIV/Aids worldwide has ballooned almost disproportionately in relation to the number of people suffering from the infection. The number of people living with HIV rose by 38 per cent between 1996 and 2006, but spending on HIV in developing countries surged 2,900 per cent over the same period.

This money, in turn, has attracted groups - some not entirely relevant to the cause - into vying for a piece of the pie.

She reflects: 'After nearly 15 years in this ever-better funded industry, more and more money is sloshing around, and more non-governmental organisations, United Nations organisations and international organisations are jumping into the cause. You see people bending over backwards to get HIV money. In the Aids industry these days, we're all whores.'

» Go to for more on Ms Elizabeth Pisani.

The Wisdom Of Whores. Bureaucrats, Brothels And The Business Of Aids, published by Granta, by Elizabeth Pisani, is on sale at $40.66 (with GST) at major bookstores

This article was first published in The Sunday Times on Nov 9, 2008.

Oogachaga's Upcoming Family Forum

Friday, November 7, 2008

*Me & My Family

Apart or A Part?*

Family is home. Family is where we develop our sense of self.

Does that change if …

you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (GLBT)?

your loved one is gay?

you are GLBT and have children of your own?

Join us and our panelists for an afternoon of lively conversations. Hear what
family means to them and share with us what family means to you.

Date: 29 November 2008, Saturday
Time: 2.30pm – 5.00pm
Venue: @ 381 Toa Payoh Lorong 1 (5 mins walk from Braddell MRT)

Admission is free

Register now at and bring a
family member or friend!

This forum is proudly brought to you by OC and facilitated by Leow Yangfa, a
social worker.

For map of the event venue, please visit

365Gay: Singapore gays plan massive rally (Nov 7)

(Singapore) Singapore’s LGBT community is planning a massive rally to celebrate gay pride and chastise the government for its tough stand on homosexuality.

The event will mark a loosening of tight controls on public demonstrations at Speakers’ Corner in Hong Lim Park.

The rally is the brainchild of Roy Tan, a gay man who works in the health care industry. Tan, 50, originally planned to hold the event next week, but postponed it until next year, saying there had been such large LGBT interest he would need more time to organize it. Tan also said that he will form a committee with a number of those people who have offered help.

But he said that the event will be restricted to people from Singapore. Tan said that if foreigners were involved, it would require a police permit which might not be granted.

He said he hopes to hold a pride march around the park and then have speakers who would press for the repeal of anti-gay laws in Singapore.

Last October Singapore’s Parliament passed a sweeping revision of its penal law, eliminating sodomy as a crime for heterosexual couples but leaving in place provisions that could send gays to prison.

Under the law, anyone engaging in same-sex sodomy could face two years in prison, although police say no one has been charged in recent times.

Last August, Singapore banned a gay pride event, saying it ran counter to the city-state’s public morals.

In addition, censors refused to allow an LGBT book reading event that was to have been part of the pride celebration. A human rights forum was blocked. And a photography exhibit of of gays and lesbians was closed by police hours before it was to officially open.

The Media Development Authority balked at a book by author Ng Yi-Sheng about a young man’s fictional sexual adventures with older men including military officers and government officials.

The authority said that the book went beyond good taste and decency and disparaged public officers.

The human rights forum was to have featured Douglas Sanders, a professor emeritus in law at the University of British Columbia, Canada, and Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University.

The forum, titled “Sexual Orientation in International Law: The Case of Asia,” was deemed contrary to public interest.

The censorship board ordered the photo exhibition closed because it showed photos of gay men and women kissing. The board said that the show violated Singapore law because it promoted “a homosexual lifestyle.”

Earlier this year, the government fined two television stations that showed gay content.

One aired an episode of a home and decor series called “Find and Design” that featured a gay couple wanting to transform their game room into a new nursery for their adopted baby.

The other ran a commercial that showed two lesbians kissing.

ST: California bans gay marriage (Nov 6)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

LOS ANGELES - THOUSANDS of gay rights supporters took to the streets of Hollywood late on Wednesday outraged that California had voted to ban same-sex marriages.

The historic presidential win of Mr Barack Obama, who promises to be far more socially liberal than his predecessor, was therefore a bitter-sweet moment for California's gay community as a simultaneous referendum went against them.

Voters approved the constitutional amendment by a margin of 52.5 to 47.5 per cent, according to near complete results.

Known as 'Proposition 8,' the proposal was trumpeted by conservative groups as the people's way of overturning the legalization of gay marriage back in May.

For the gay community, however, it was a bitter pill to swallow.

Angry crowds thronged the streets in central West Hollywood, the heart of Los Angeles' gay community, chanting slogans and waving signs.

'Stop the hate in 2008!' went one chant. 'Keep religion out of my Constitution!' was another.

Protestor Jason Louis wrote the words 'I am a victim of H-8' (H for Hate) on his bare chest.

The referendum circumvents a California Supreme Court ruling in May that legalizes gay marriage by amending the state constitution to add the phrase, 'Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognised in California.'

The court's May ruling overturned an earlier plebiscite in 2000, when 61 per cent of voters agreed marriage should be defined as only being between a man and a woman.

Fearing that Proposition 8 could be approved, thousands of same-sex couples rushed to tie the knot since Jun, and especially in the last days.

The ruling now leaves thousands of gay couples in a legal limbo.

Those couples include some celebrity marriages such as comedienne Ellen DeGeneres who wed her long-time girlfriend Portia de Rossi in Aug.

'I feel anger, I feel frustration,' Mr Louis, 34, told AFP. 'I just got married last Sunday, we did it two days before the Election Day because I knew that Yes on Prop 8 it could win. Now we don't know what is going to happen, but for sure it will be a long, long legal battle.'

Police said at least 2,000 people gathered for the march, but the crowd continued to swell after that estimate. Protestors included families with children and clerics from progressive churches.

A lesbian couple planned to file a new suit to prevent Proposition 8 from being implemented.

'The new lawsuit will contain a new and controversial legal argument as to why Prop 8 is unconstitutional,' said their attorney Gloria Allred said.

Japanese-American actor George Takei, who played Mr Sulu in the long-running series 'Star Trek' and who married his longtime partner Brad Altman in Sept, said his marriage would remain valid no matter what.

'There's nothing in the language of Proposition 8 that says it's retroactive, so our marriage is going to be valid,' he told a local TV channel.

'But what we're concerned about is the young people of the future.

'Proposition 8 will eliminate in the constitution of the state their options of really being who they want to be.'

Takei and Altman were the first couple to receive a marriage license in West Hollywood when California began issuing them to gay couples on Jun 17.

Hollywood stars including Brad Pitt and Steven Spielberg as well as multinational companies such as Apple campaigned against the ban, with donations of up to US$100,000 (S$148,343).

But supporters unleashed a flood of hard-hitting ads especially targeting the Hispanic community and its traditional Christian and family values.

The Los Angeles Times reported some 18,000 same-sex couples married in the past four and a half months.

Arizona and Florida also passed similar referendums by large margins on Tuesday, stating that marriage was the legal union between a man and a woman.

The largest was in Florida where 62 per cent of voters approved the measure compared to 38 per cent against.

In Arkansas, voters approved a ban on couples who live together without being married, whether gay or straight, from adopting or fostering children. -- AFP

ST: Penang police raid gay parties (Nov 4)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Nov 4, 2008
Penang police raid gay parties
GEORGE TOWN (Penang): Malaysian police broke up four gay parties over the weekend and nabbed 70 people, some of whom were caught literally with their pants down.

Those detained included locals, Americans, Europeans and a Chinese national.

Police, in a blitz to weed out vice activities in George Town and in Seberang Jaya last Saturday, stumbled upon the parties specially organised for the men.

In the three-hour operation that started at 5.30pm, police raided a traditional massage parlour and a fitness centre in Midlands Park and two other fitness centres in Seberang Jaya.

The raiding party seized pornography DVDs, gay magazines, lubrication jelly and boxes of condoms found on the premises.

Police said the organisers had used legitimate businesses as their front to conduct the illicit activities in order to hoodwink the authorities.

George Town Deputy Superintendent of Police Gan Kong Meng said they arrested 29 men, including a Chinese national, at the massage parlour and fitness centre here during the 8.30pm raid. Many of them were naked when police walked into the joints.

The men, aged between 20 and 40, were arrested and questioned at the state police headquarters in Penang Road and were later released on bail.

'Those caught will be charged with gross indecency,' said DSP Gan, adding that police had raided the massage parlour and fitness centre five times in the past.

In Seberang Jaya, the police conducted the raid following public tip-offs and caught 41 suspects, including the Westerners.

The suspects were taken to the Seberang Jaya district police headquarters and had their statements recorded before being released on police bail.

Police are also looking for the owners of the two premises to prosecute them for allowing their premises to be used as vice dens.

There are no laws against homosexuality in Malaysia but acts such as sodomy and oral sex are illegal.


Sayoni Queer Women Survery 2008 Report

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sayoni proudly presents Sayoni Queer Women Survey 2008 Report (Singapore).



1.To gain some perspective on the actual needs of queer women, and what we
can do about them

2.To provide free and accessible information to researchers, and act as a
starting point for further research into the field

3.To ameliorate the dire lack of information on queer women in Singapore.
Currently, there is no proper understanding of how the women's queer
community functions, other than biased and disjointed personal views.

The survey is broken down into five main aspects. Questions in each category
are stream-lined and standardised for easy answering, by presenting most of
the questions as rating questions where possible.

1. Introduction

General background.

2. Family, Friends and Work

Questions on how out the respondent is in their various social circles, how
this group has reacted to the information, and the respondent's intention to
come out to that particular group.

3. Personal

Questions on a personal level relating to sexual orientation. Probes how the
respondents come to realise their sexuality, different aspects of personal
identity, and how their sexuality has affected them. Also includes
information on relationships of respondents.

4. Financial

Questions to ascertain the financial status of queer women as a community -
on income, occupation and industry, housing and car ownership.

5. Feedback on Sayoni and the community

Take note that the answers to these questions with the exception of two, are
not presented in this report as they are meant for internal feedback.

This survey was not carried out with a null hypothesis in mind, and much of
the information contained in this report is processed descriptive
statistics. Where possible, averages and trends have been pre-computed, and
presented along with a broad analysis of the data. This year, the data is
presented in a much more visual format, as opposed to raw numbers in the
pilot run of 2006.

In the report of 2006, the data was broken down across Age, Ethnicity and
Religion, as it is believed that these three different aspects affect the
average queer woman in her views and social situation with respect to her
sexuality. This year, due to the significant changes in methodology and
presentation, we have decided to omit the comparison by Ethnicity and
Religion, as the representation for minority ethnic groups is not high
enough to allow accurate comparisons.

Download the report here:

The Sayoni Admin Team
To Empower Asian Queer Women

ST: Gay protest postponed (Nov 1)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Nov 1, 2008
Gay protest postponed
Speakers' Corner event on Nov 15 postponed to cater to strong response
By Kor Kian Beng
SINGAPORE's first outdoor gay protest at Speakers' Corner in Hong Lim Park on Nov 15 has been postponed to early next year.

Organiser Roy Tan, 50, a Singaporean who initiated the event, yesterday cited the overwhelming response from the gay community as a key reason for the date change.

The event was being postponed 'to ensure that all interested parties - straight, gay and queer - have the opportunity to participate in this landmark occasion', he said in a statement e-mailed to the media.

Many members of the gay community have expressed interest in taking part, he told The Straits Times when contacted.

A number of those who are backing the event also want to help him organise it, said Mr Tan, who works in the health-care industry.

An organising committee has now been set up.

Said Mr Tan: 'We're postponing it so we can have more time to organise a better event.'

He declined to comment on a new date, the number of interested participants and organisers, and whether there would be changes to the programme.

More details will be released later, he said.

Mr Tan registered with the National Parks Board (NParks) in September to stage the Nov 15 event.

He will now let the Nov 15 date lapse and make a fresh application closer to the new date.

When he first registered to stage the event, which he described as a GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual) pride parade, he said it would feature speeches on gay rights.

Participants would march around the park with placards to protest against Section 377A of the Penal Code, which criminalises homosexual sex. There was also to be a public forum on the difficulties that gay Singaporeans here face.

Mr Tan said he was keeping the event as a Singaporeans-only activity. This was to avoid having to apply for a police permit, which is required if foreigners were to speak or participate in or organise activities at the park.

With the Government moving to relax the rules at Speakers' Corner as of Sept 1, applicants need only register online with NParks before they speak or stage a demonstration.

But they have to state the topic of their speech or demonstration, as issues such as race and religion remain out of bounds.

Time: The Gay Mafia That's Redefining Politics (Oct 31)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday, Oct. 31, 2008
The Gay Mafia That's Redefining Politics
By John Cloud / Beverly Hills

A few weeks before Virginia's legislative elections in 2005, a researcher working on behalf of a clandestine group of wealthy, gay political donors telephoned a Virginia legislator named Adam Ebbin. Then, as now, Ebbin was the only openly gay member of the state's general assembly. The researcher wanted Ebbin's advice on how the men he represented could spend their considerable funds to help defeat anti-gay Virginia politicians.

Ebbin, a Democrat who is now 44, was happy to oblige. (Full disclosure: in the mid-'90s, Ebbin and I knew each other briefly as colleagues; he sold ads for Washington City Paper, a weekly where I was a reporter.) Using Ebbin's expertise, the gay donors — none of whom live in Virginia — began contributing to certain candidates in the state. There were five benefactors: David Bohnett of Beverly Hills, Calif., who in 1999 sold the company he had co-founded, Geo-Cities, to Yahoo! in a deal worth $5 billion on the day it was announced; Timothy Gill of Denver, another tech multimillionaire; James Hormel of San Francisco, grandson of George, who founded the famous meat company; Jon Stryker of Kalamazoo, Mich., the billionaire grandson of the founder of medical-technology giant Stryker Corp.; and Henry van Ameringen, whose father Arnold Louis van Ameringen started a Manhattan-based import company that later became the mammoth International Flavors & Fragrances.

The five men spent $138,000 in Virginia that autumn, according to state records compiled by the nonprofit Virginia Public Access Project. Of that, $48,000 went directly to the candidates Ebbin recommended. Ebbin got $45,000 for his PAC, the Virginia Progress Fund, so he could give to the candidates himself. Another $45,000 went to Equality Virginia, a gay-rights group that was putting money into many of the same races.

On Election Day that year, the Virginia legislature stayed solidly in Republican hands; the Democratic Party netted just one seat. But that larger outcome masked an intriguing development: anti-gay conservatives had suffered considerably. For instance, in northern Virginia, a Democrat named Charles Caputo (who received $6,500 from Ebbin's PAC) had beaten a Christian youth minister, Chris Craddock, by an unexpectedly large margin, with a vote of 56% to 41%. Three other candidates critical of gays were also defeated, including delegate Richard Black, who had long opposed gay equality in Richmond. Black had had no single donation as large as the $20,000 that Ebbin's PAC gave his opponent. "This was my ninth election campaign, and it wasn't unusual to have homosexuals involved," says Black, who now practices law. "But it was different, certainly, in degree. There had not been a concerted influx of money from homosexuals as a group before."

The group that donated the money to use against Black and the others is known as the Cabinet, although you won't find that name on a letterhead or even on the Internet. Aside from Bohnett, 52; Gill, 55; Hormel, 75; Stryker, 50; and Van Ameringen, 78, the other members of the Cabinet are Jonathan Lewis (49-year-old grandson of Joseph, co-founder of Progressive Insurance) and Linda Ketner, 58, heiress to the Food Lion fortune, who is running for Congress against GOP Representative Henry Brown Jr. of South Carolina.

Ketner's is something of a long-shot bid — her district has been reliably Republican for years — but recently Congressional Quarterly described her "suddenly strong run" against Brown as "the biggest surprise" in this year's House races. Ketner, who was invited to join the all-male Cabinet as a way of diversifying it, declined to discuss her role in the group.

Among gay activists, the Cabinet is revered as a kind of secret gay Super Friends, a homosexual justice league that can quietly swoop in wherever anti-gay candidates are threatening and finance victories for the good guys. Rumors abound in gay political circles about the group's recondite influence; some of the rumors are even true. For instance, the Cabinet met in California last year with two sitting governors, Brian Schweitzer of Montana and Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, both Democrats; political advisers who work for the Cabinet met with a third Democratic governor, Wisconsin's Jim Doyle. The Cabinet has also funded a secretive organization called the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), which a veteran lesbian activist describes as the "Gay IRS." MAP keeps tabs on the major gay organizations to make sure they are operating efficiently. The October 2008 MAP report notes, for example, that the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force fails to meet Better Business Bureau standards for limiting overhead expenses.

According to the online databases and, the seven members of the Cabinet have spent at least $7.8 million on political races since the beginning of 2004, although their true level of giving is doubtless far higher, since — which is run by the nonpartisan National Institute on Money in State Politics — does not capture all contributions to PACs (for instance, the Cabinet money that went to Ebbin's PAC in 2005 doesn't show up on the website). The Cabinet spends at least as much each election cycle as does the PAC run by the Human Rights Campaign, the world's largest gay political group. And yet the Cabinet has operated in stealth, without accountability from watchdogs. (The Cabinet does not subject itself to MAP analysis.)

Cabinet spending shows up in races all over the country where pro-gay candidates have a good shot. For instance, Bohnett, Gill and Van Ameringen have given $143,000 this year to New York Democrats, who are within two seats of controlling the state senate. A Democratic New York legislature would likely approve equal marriage rights.

The Cabinet's Gill and Stryker have seen their money achieve remarkable results in their respective states, Colorado and Michigan. (a project of the Pew Charitable Trusts) reported that in 2006, Stryker gave "at least $6.4 million to candidates or political committees in at least a dozen states, including Michigan, where he can boast that Democrats gained a majority in the state house for the first time in 12 years." Some Cabinet members also donated tens of thousands of dollars in certain Iowa and New Hampshire races in 2006, when Democrats regained control of both states' legislatures. Those states' Democratic majorities now ensure that, among other things, efforts to amend the Iowa and New Hampshire constitutions to ban same-sex marriage will fail.

And yet the Cabinet is noteworthy not only because its treasure begets political influence but also because its very existence shows how dramatically the culture wars — and liberal politics as a whole — have changed in the past decade. Next summer gays will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the 1969 Manhattan demonstrations that began when cross-dressers angry about police raids at the Stonewall bar began throwing bottles and punches. Today, though, the street movement is basically defunct. And increasingly, the center of gay power is moving out from Washington toward the interior — toward powerful foundations like those run by Stryker in Kalamazoo and Gill in Denver. Since the beginning of 2001, Stryker's foundation, which is called Arcus and has offices in both the U.S. and the U.K., has given away $67 million, about three-quarters to gays and about one-quarter to apes. (Stryker, who got a pet monkey as a gift when he was young, is a major donor to the conservation of ape habitats.)

The Cabinet is emblematic of a larger shift on the left since 2004 in the direction of big-money politics, a shift most clearly seen in Barack Obama's refusal of public financing for his campaign. The Cabinet is only one of several flush, members-only liberal groups that have formed since 2004, the most famous (and richest) being the Democracy Alliance, whose sponsors include billionaires George Soros, Peter Lewis (father of Cabinet member Jonathan) and Pat Stryker (sister of Cabinet member Jon).

That raises questions: What does a civil rights movement look like in an era of massive wealth? Can you still inspire a grass-roots movement when all the street troops know that the billionaires can just write bigger checks? And is it possible that the left has become a movement as coldly obsessed with money as it always assumed the right was?

Gays may see the cabinet as powerful, almost numinous, but its own members see themselves as largely unorganized and highly independent. "It's a group of people who like and respect each other and their opinions," Ray Mulliner, a longtime Hormel adviser, told me recently. "It's nothing more than like-minded donors getting together to share strategies." When I mentioned that similar organizations on the right had received press scrutiny — I was thinking of the Arlington Group, a coalition of movement conservatives — Mulliner angrily rejected the comparison: "You have no reason to be curious about this. You're going to write a piece that's going to start a fire that needs to get put out, and it's going to cost a lot of money to put it out," he said.

The Cabinet first came together three or four years ago, according to Van Ameringen, as a "meeting place" for donors who wanted to use their money with greater strategic acumen. Gill got the idea for the group after he and Lewis attended a Democracy Alliance meeting. The donors felt they could accomplish more for gays if they shared information rather than operate as "silo" givers. Some members were frustrated that the established gay movement in Washington hadn't made greater progress in a society rapidly coming to see homosexuality as a mere variation rather than a moral degeneration.

Today it's difficult to find a gay organization that has not enjoyed the Cabinet's largesse. In 2007, for example, Stryker's Arcus Foundation gave away $11.8 million as part of its Gay and Lesbian Program. The money reached both big-name groups like the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (which got half a million dollars) and little organizations like the Actors Theatre Co. of Grand Rapids, Mich., which got $25,000 to produce a play called Seven Passages: The Story of Gay Christians.

The web of connections among the Cabinet members is complex. All the other members have donated the maximum amount allowed to Ketner's congressional campaign. Gill, Lewis and Stryker employ political advisers — respectively, Denver attorney Ted Trimpa; Paul Yandura, who worked in the Clinton White House's political-affairs office; and Lisa Turner, a former political director for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee — who regularly speak with one another and with others who work for Cabinet members.

There's nothing illegal about the Cabinet's coordination of its members' giving, according to Lawrence Noble, campaign-finance expert with the Washington-based firm Skadden, Arps. The contributions would be illegal only if the members agreed to give up control of their donations entirely or coordinated them directly with a campaign. There's no evidence of either; several people associated with the Cabinet made clear that its members make their donations without anyone's review. And yet as the National Review's Byron York has pointed out, Americans were horrified to learn during Watergate that Richard Nixon's friend Clement Stone had donated an outrageous $2 million in cash to the President's campaign. Cabinet members have spent at least five times that amount in various races in the past four years; the Soros-backed Democracy Alliance has spent probably 50 times that amount.

Still, it's hard to argue that the left in general and gays in particular should sit on their hands while foes outspend them. Strategically, the Cabinet makes sense; most people who defend its secrecy offer a Machiavellian understanding of ends and means. "I could lose a lot of sleep about it, and I do wonder why they have abandoned [gay] organizations that have a 35-year track record in order to have their own operations," says a seasoned Washington gay activist. "But if that's the way the rules of the game are being played, I need to maneuver within what the realities are."

The larger question is what role wealthy groups like the Cabinet will have in reshaping the politics of the left. There's been a great deal of (largely self-congratulatory) talk among liberals about the progressive movement's success in using new technologies to harness the netroots, to use the fashionable liberal argot. But there has been less reflection about what impact the great gobs of Sorosian money will have on the movement. Michael Fleming, a Los Angeles political macher who advises Cabinet member Bohnett, worries that rank-and-file gay people — the ones who might have picked up a rock at Stonewall — are increasingly relying on billionaires to cut checks. "Where is the outrage?" he asks.

The answer is that outrage has given way to smugness, the kind of self-satisfaction conservatives displayed after electoral successes in 1980 and 1994. Groups like the Cabinet and the Democracy Alliance suggest a new kind of moneyed progressivism, one that shows little of the class discontent that animated earlier strains of leftist thought. Is this a sign of maturation — throwing off radical excesses — or capitulation, a surrendering to the idea that efforts to reduce the power of money in our democracy have failed? Probably a little of both.

For its part, the Cabinet seems poised to prod the gay movement into being sleeker, faster, more tactical. When the remaining veterans of Stonewall march down Fifth Avenue next summer, those shimmeringly romantic, slightly foolish days of 1969 will have never seemed so distant.

TNP: HIV Postive? You Deserve It (Oct 30)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

'HIV-positive? You deserve it'

Infected man's mum slams him when he reveals condition. He now hides it from friends and colleagues.

Sat, Nov 01, 2008
The New Paper

By Benson Ang

HE is gay and HIV-positive.

In 2004, one evening during dinner, he broke the news to his family. His mother and elder brother were present.

He was advised by his doctor to break the news to his family so that they could react appropriately in case of an emergency.

James (not his real name), 38, said he was shocked by their reaction at the dinner table.

His dejected mother, in her 70s, first stared at him and asked: 'How did this happen?

He replied: 'Through sex.'

She shot back: 'Then, you've only yourself to blame.'

His brother kept silent throughout the conversation.

There was a deafening silence for the rest of the dinner, interrupted only by his mother's questions regarding the illness.


From then on, his family members were so frightened of the virus that they even washed and stored the plates and utensils he used separately and kept them in a different place.

James, who works in the service industry, said: 'I know that sharing cutlery cannot transmit the virus. But because they had not much knowledge of this, I just played along to reassure them.'

This less-accepting attitude towards HIV-positive people was revealed in a recent Health Promotion Board (HPB) survey. This is the first large population-based survey of its kind, according to HPB.

Since the first HIV case in Singapore was detected in 1985, only one person has dared to come out as HIV-positive. The late Paddy Chew went public with his condition in 1998 and eventually died in 1999.

Which goes on to show that even after 10 years, the stigma associated with HIV patients still hasn't gone away.

Said James, who works in the service industry: 'It was a double whammy - telling them that I was gay and HIV positive.

'I think my mum was just devastated and traumatised. It took several months before she came around to accepting my condition.'

A year later, he moved out of his family flat to his own three-room flat.

It took his family about two years to come to terms with the illness and be comfortable with mixing their cutlery with his.

His mother began talking to him more frequently and things went back to normal.

He said he tested positive for HIV in 1996 through unprotected sex with a former lover.

So how did he manage to keep this secret for eight years? He said: 'This is nothing. People have kept secrets for their whole lifetime.'

The only people who know about his illness are his family, partner, and the HIV-positive people he came to know through an Action for Aids (AfA) support group. James joined the group in 2002 when he started on his medication.

Why did he take six years to start on medication when he knew he was already HIV positive?

He said: 'I felt healthy and was ignorant of the disease at that time.

(Page 1 of 2)

'It was only when I had a chest infection in 2002 that reality hit me.'

He said he has not revealed his condition to any of his friends and colleagues, despite having lived with HIV for 12 years.

He said: 'Singapore society is still very unaccepting of gay people, let alone those with HIV.'

So why isn't he revealing his status?

He says he is just being 'practical', since in Singapore, there are no laws protecting HIV-positive people from discrimination by their employers.

This was verified by three lawyers The New Paper spoke to.

James said that employers who may not know much about HIV may just terminate such employees out of fear.

He claimed that some of his HIV-positive friends told their bosses about their condition, and ended up being sacked 'for the minutest reason'.

He takes anti-retroviral drugs at home instead: twice daily - in the mornings and evenings - to combat the spread of the virus.

He does not have full-blown Aids, but sometimes experiences side effects from his medication, such as nausea, diarrhoea and skin problems.

And although he shops, eats, sings karaoke and goes to the movies with his HIV-negative friends, most of whom are gay men, none know about his condition.

James said: 'I haven't got the guts to tell them. I just act buat-bodoh (blur) when the subject comes up, because I don't know if they can really accept it or not.

'I just don't see the need to tell them, especially since news tends to have a roll-on effect.'

James suspects that he contracted the disease through unprotected sex with a former lover.

'But I can't be sure, so I don't want to point fingers.'

A few months later, he became 'very sick', and had to be hospitalised for six days.

A blood test confirmed his HIV status.

Life goes on

'At first, I felt down. But life goes on.'

He says he does not want to 'perpetuate the cycle' with his current partner of three years, who is HIV-negative. They use condoms.

Prior to sharing his secret, James said he asked his partner leading questions to see how accepting the latter was of people with HIV.

James revealed the truth only when he felt it was safe, a few months into the relationship.

James said: 'My partner cried. But two weeks later, he told me, 'No worries. We will go through it together.'

'This made life much easier.'

Added James: 'I'll never have a job again if I were to come out publicly in Singapore. I'll have more to lose.'

This story was first published in The New Paper on Oct 30, 2008.

Pelangi Pride Centre presents "The Celluloid Closet" and "Sex Change Soldier"

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Details at a Glance

Event: Screening of "The Celluloid Closet" and "Sex Change Soldier"
Date: Saturday, 08 Nov 2008 (081108)
Time: 4pm
Cost per person: $6 (cost of 2 drinks and finger food)
Venue: Pelangi Pride Centre

RSVP - This event is by invitation only.
LIMITED to only 30 pax, prior registration is required.
For an invite - please email [pelangipridecentre at yahoo dot com]
with your name (in full), contact number, the name/s of your guests.

AFP: Malaysian religious council issues ban on lesbian sex (Oct 27)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Malaysian religious council issues ban on lesbian sex

22 hours ago

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) — One of Malaysia's highest Islamic bodies has
banned females from dressing or behaving like men and engaging in
lesbian sex, saying it was forbidden by the religion.

The National Fatwa Council late Thursday issued its ruling following a
two-day meeting that discussed recent cases of young women apparently
behaving like men and exhibiting homosexual tendencies, state news
agency Bernama reported.

Council chairman Abdul Shukor Husin told Bernama many young women
admired the way men dress, behave and socialise, violating human
nature and denying their femininity.

"It is unacceptable to see women who love the male lifestyle including
dressing in the clothes men wear," Abdul Shukor was quoted as saying.

"(Masculine behaviour) becomes clearer when they start to have sex
with someone of the same gender, that is woman and woman," he said.

"In view of this, the National Fatwa Council which met today have
decided and taken the stand that such acts are forbidden and banned,"
he said.

Male homosexuality, considered against the order of nature, is illegal
in Malaysia but lawyers say female homosexuality is technically
permissible as there are no provisions for it under the law.

The Fatwa Council does not have jurisdiction in civil law, but the
ruling appears to be an attempt to push female homosexuality towards

Islam is the official religion of Malaysia, where more than 60 percent
of its 27 million people are Muslim Malays who practice a conservative
brand of the religion.

ST: Islamic clerics issue fatwa on tomboys (Oct 25)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Oct 25, 2008
Islamic clerics issue fatwa on tomboys
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's main body of Islamic clerics has issued an
edict banning tomboys in the Muslim-majority country, ruling that
girls who act like boys violate the tenets of Islam, an official said

At a meeting on Thursday in northern Malaysia, the National Fatwa
Council forbade girls to behave or dress like boys, said Perak mufti
Harussani Idris Zakaria.

He said the council's ruling was not legally binding because it has
not been passed into law, but that tomboys should be banned because
their actions are immoral.

'It doesn't matter if it's a law or not. When it's wrong, it's wrong.
It is a sin,' he said. 'Tomboy (behaviour) is forbidden in Islam.'

Under the edict, girls are forbidden to sport short hair and dress,
walk and act like boys, he said. Boys should also not act like girls,
he said.

'They must respect God. God created them as boys, they must behave
like boys. God created them as girls, they must act like girls,' he said.

Council chairman Abdul Shukor Husin said the ruling was prompted by
recent cases of young women behaving like men and indulging in
homosexual behaviour, according to the national news agency Bernama.
He did not elaborate.

A well-known Malaysian Muslim actress caused an uproar last year when
she shaved her head bald for a film called Muallaf (The Convert).

Mr Harussani and other muftis urged Muslims not to watch the movie,
saying that the actress had violated Islam by making herself look like
a man.

It was not immediately clear what kind of punishment awaited those who
violate the tomboy edict, or fatwa.


Today Weekend: Malaysian clerics issue edict to ban tomboys (Oct 25)

M'sian clerics issue edict to ban tomboys

Weekend • October 25, 2008

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia's main body of Islamic clerics has issued an
edict banning tomboys in the Muslim-majority country, ruling that
girls who act like boys violate the tenets of Islam, an official said
on Friday.

The National Fatwa Council forbade the practice of girls behaving or
dressing like boys during a meeting on Thursday in northern Malaysia,
said Mr Harussani Idris Zakaria, the mufti of northern Perak state,
who attended the gathering.

He said an increasing number of Malaysian girls behave like tomboys
and that some of them engage in homosexuality. Homosexuality is not
explicitly banned in Malaysia, but it is effectively illegal under a
law that prohibits sex acts "against the order of nature".

Mr Harussani said the council's ruling was not legally binding because
it has not been passed into law, but that tomboys should be banned
because their actions are immoral.

"It doesn't matter if it's a law or not. When it's wrong, it's wrong.
It is a sin,"Mr Harussani told AP. "Tomboy (behaviour) is forbidden in

Under the edict, or "fatwa", girls are forbidden to sport short hair
and dress, walk and act like boys, Mr Harussani said.

Boys should also not act like girls, he said. "They must respect God.
God created them as boys, they must behave like boys," he said.

Council chairman Abdul Shukor Husin said the ruling was prompted by
recent cases of young women behaving like men and indulging in
homosexuality, according to the Bernama news agency. AP

HIV/AIDS Talk at Kampong Kapor Methodist Church

Women who Love Women Documentary Now Online!

Monday, October 20, 2008

If you missed the screenings at Pelangi Pride Centre, Singapore International Film Festival and Sinema, here's your chance to watch it!

Video at

Boston Globe: Connecticut Supreme Court legalises same-sex marriage (Oct 10)

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Boston Globe
10 October 2008

Connecticut Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage

By Michael Levenson and Andrew Ryan, Globe Staff

Connecticut became the third state to legalize same-sex marriage today
in a 4-3 decision by the state Supreme Court.

In an 85-page decision issued at 11:30 a.m., the court struck down a
law barring same-sex marriage, ruling that the state had "failed to
establish adequate reason to justify the statutory ban."

The justices noted in the majority opinion that they recognized "as
the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court did in Goodridge v. Dept. of
Public Health … that 'our decision marks a change in the history of
our marriage law.' "

The case, Kerrigan v. the state Commissioner of Public Health, was
brought by eight same-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses by
the Madison town clerk. They argued that the state's civil union law
was discriminatory and unconstitutional because it established a
separate and therefore inherently unequal institution for a minority
group. Citing equal protection under the law, the state Supreme Court

"In accordance with these state constitutional requirements, same sex
couples cannot be denied the freedom to marry," said the majority
opinion, which was written by Justice Richard N. Palmer.

State Senator Andrew J. McDonald, cochairman of the state Assembly's
Judiciary Committee, said he believes that gay couples will be allowed
to marry in 20 days, barring attempts by opponents to delay the ruling
with procedural maneuvers. He said he expects the Assembly to update
the state's marriage laws when members reconvene in January, without
much opposition.

"I continue to expect a bipartisan effort to eradicate any remaining
vestiges of discrimination," McDonald said, hailing the ruling as a
"dramatic reaffirmation of Connecticut's commitment to civil rights
and equality for all of her citizens."

"The court has seen through many of the diversionary arguments of our
opponents," McDonald said, "and has firmly established that
discrimination in any context and in any form is unacceptable and

Peter J. Wolfgang, executive director of the Family Institute of
Connecticut, which opposes same-sex marriage, blasted the ruling.

"The decision is an outrage," Wolfgang said in a telephone interview.
"It is essentially a handful of judges acting as if they were rogue
masters usurping the democratic process in Connecticut and radically
redefining marriage by judicial fiat."

Wolfgang said that "our only shot" to stop same-sex marriage is to
push for passage of a ballot question that will appear before
Connecticut voters next month.

Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell said in a statement that she would
abide by the decision even though she disagreed with the court because
of her belief that "marriage is the union of a man and a woman."

"The Supreme Court has spoken," Rell said. "I do not believe their
voice reflects the majority of the people of Connecticut. However, I
am also firmly convinced that attempts to reverse this decision --
either legislatively or by amending the state Constitution – will not
meet with success."

Connecticut joins California and Massachusetts, which became the first
state to allow same-sex marriage in 2004.

In a scathing 25-page dissenting opinion today, Justice Peter T.
Zarella wrote that "there is no fundamental right to same sex marriage."

"The ancient definition of marriage as the union of one man and one
woman has its basis in biology, not bigotry," Zarella wrote. "If the
state no longer has an interest in the regulation of procreation, then
that is a decision for the legislature or the people of the state and
not this court."

In a dissenting opinion written by Justice David M. Borden and signed
by Justice Christine S. Vertefeuille, the judges wrote that, contrary
to arguments made by the plaintiffs, Connecticut's civil union law is
not discriminatory.

"The development of the law in this state dealing with sexual
orientation demonstrates that the legislature had no intention, in
passing the civil union statute, to encourage discrimination against
or to stigmatize homosexuals," the judges wrote. "On the contrary,
that history supports the conclusion that the legislature has been
working toward the eventual passage of a gay marriage bill, and that
the civil union statute was an important step in that process."

In 2005, Connecticut became the first state to establish civil unions
without a court order, but that measure did not end the same-sex
marriage debate. The eight gay couples who were denied licenses sued
the state Department of Public Health, which oversees marriage

Following the governor's lead, there appeared to be little appetite in
the Assembly to fight the ruling.

State Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, a Republican of Fairfield,
issued a statement today saying: "While I believe these decisions are
better left to elected representatives, it is ultimately the province
of the State Supreme Court to interpret our constitution. The Court
carried out that responsibility today and ruled that the institution
of marriage in Connecticut must include same-sex couples. Whether
people agree or disagree, we all need to respect the Court's decision
and abide by the ruling."

At the Family Institute of Connecticut, Wolfgang said that next
month's ballot question asked voters whether the state should hold its
first constitutional convention in 40 years. If the measure passes,
Wolfgang said, activists opposed to gay marriage will press the
Legislature to pass a constitutional amendment that would define
marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The measure would then
need approval from the voters, and the soonest it could be ratified
would be two years, he said.

"Our only shot is to get a yes vote on Election Day," Wolfgang said.
"That is our one opportunity to let people have the same remedy here
in Connecticut as they have out in California," where voters are also
scheduled to take up a ballot amendment next month that would ban
same-sex marriage.

Herstory Presents "Do You Know the Lyrics" (Oct 9)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

LOCATION : St James Power Station
3 Sentosa Gateway Singapore 098544
DATE : 9 Oct 2008
TIME : 9pm - 3am

@The Boiler Room
Herstory presents the first game show - DO YOU KNOW THE LYRICS? 6 Bold contestants take centrestage at The Boiler Room to challenge for $500 worth of CASH & Prizes. Come & support the contestants and watch them battle it out along side with Gino & Soul Kool Band. Semi Final round on 9 October at 11pm. See you @The Boiler Room!
Party Theme: Hip Hop & Funky!

Women's Nite 25th October 2008: So, what do you do?‏

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

You've heard such arguments before. You've heard that you:
grew up without a father figure
hate men
and threaten family values.

Ever felt the urge to fight such fallacies but don't know how? Come join us
at Women's Nite as we find out how to set the record straight.

Women's Nite October 2008
Saturday 25th October, 7pm
Venue (in Singapore) will be disclosed upon registration.

Limited to 30 invites, so please register with your full name, contact
number, the full name/s of your guests, if any, and the type of halal food
or drink you would be contributing to the potluck.

Although Women's Nite is open to women of all orientations, please let us
know if you are straight, or are bringing along straight guests, so that we
can be sensitive to the needs of all women present.

Please send your details to [women dot snite at gmail
dot com]

Registration closes at midnight 24th October 2008


About Women's Nite

Women's Nite provides a safe, neutral and alcohol-free space for lesbians
and bisexual women in Singapore to discuss the issues relevant to their

The event, held on the last Saturday of every month, was started in December
2003. Over a potluck dinner, we hold discussions on wide ranging topics like
self acceptance, homophobia, relationships and identity. We also invite
special guests to field questions on legal rights and sexual health, and
conduct art and dance therapy nights.

To check out the past months' events, or find out more, please go to
To get email updates on each month's event, please visit
women_snite to join our mailing list.

As far as possible, we would like to keep this space commercial free. To
advertise events and projects, please email us at

Today: Murder charge reduced against those in Orchard Towers brawl (Oct 7)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Murder charge reduced against those in Orchard Towers brawl
07 October 2008 2324 hrs (SST)

SINGAPORE: It was a night of revelry, as six friends – all gang
members aged from 17 to 28 – gathered at a pub in Orchard Towers on
November 23, 2007 to celebrate a birthday.

But the gathering ended in tragedy when a brawl broke out, and by 6am,
a 37-year-old stranger was pronounced dead after being kicked and
punched by the six friends.

The sextet – namely Ahmad Nur Helmy, Muhammed Ridhwan Mohammed Roslan,
Helmi Abdul Rahim, Ho Ching Boon, Lai Chee Kuen and Muhammed Suffian
Zainal – were collared in a matter of days after the incident, and
charged with the murder of Mr Suhaimi Sulong.

On Tuesday, they appeared at the Subordinate Court and pleaded guilty,
but to a lesser charge – voluntarily causing grievous hurt.

The charges were probably downgraded because the attack was not
premeditated, explained one lawyer.

With friends and family crowding the packed courtroom, all six
remained emotionless even as Deputy Public-Prosecutor (DPP) Samuel
Chua unveiled the gruesome details of the attack on Mr Suhaimi.

The fight took place at around 5am near Brown Sugar, a pub on the
second floor. According to court documents, the fracas began when Ho,
18, and Lai, who at 17 was underaged, left the pub after they spotted
police officers performing checks.

While they were waiting outside the pub for their friends to turn up,
Mr Suhaimi approached the duo and began making lewd comments and
offering sexual services. The teenagers decided to ignore him and head
back to the club.

At about 4am, Mr Suhaimi approached Ahmad Nur Helmy – the birthday boy
– while he was in the toilet, exposing himself to the 20-year-old in
the process. Angered, Ahmad summoned his friends and they confronted
the victim.

Eyewitnesses said the group began chasing after Mr Suhaimi while
shouting "jangan lari", which meant "don't run" in Malay. They also
asked Mr Suhaimi if he was a homosexual.

But when he didn't answer and tried to flee, Ahmad grabbed the
victim's T-shirt and began kicking and punching him.

Although the rest initially tried to break up the fight, they
eventually joined the fray and began throwing a volley of kicks on Mr

They then dragged Mr Suhaimi down to the first-floor entrance and
threw him into a taxi, court documents said.

By then, the victim was motionless and bloodied from the attack. He
had also sustained head injuries and was taken unconscious to the
Singapore General Hospital by ambulance.

The victim was pronounced dead at 6.02am and an autopsy later revealed
that he had died from blunt force injuries to his head and neck.

Over the next few days, police arrested his attackers. On November 27,
Helmi Abdul Rahim, 28, surrendered himself to the authorities.

The six men, all out on bail, are due to appear in court on October 28
for sentencing. All six face imprisonment for a term which may extend
to 10 years, and they may also be fined or caned.

- TODAY/so

Today: 'V' for Victory (Oct 5)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

`V' for victory
A lively, comedic takeon a quiet classic:
Mayo Martin

YOU'VE seen one, you've seen them all, the saying goes. Not so with
this version ofThe Vagina Monologues (TVM).

Despite this reviewer's initial doubts on the wisdom of choosing an
arguably over-exposed piece as an inaugural production for new
theatre company Zebra Crossing, director Loretta Chen has admirably
eschewed conventions for a unique take on TVM (which is not an easy
thing considering how notoriously hands-on the playwright Eve Ensler

Instead of three performers, there are nine. Sombre and minimalist?
No, thank you, we're having fun.

Hence, monologues are shuffled around, public service announcements
flashed onscreen along with video interviews of three prominent
theatre personalities on motherhood, a clinical "vagina workshop" is
re-imagined as an army bootcamp led by a hyperactive drill sergeant
with a French accent, shrill "schoolgirls" descend on the audience
waving their (unused) sanitary napkins, and, seemingly out of
nowhere, someone actually does a sexy pole dance. Naughty,
naughty ...

Barring uneven scene transitions, (opening night jitters, most
likely) TVM was without a doubt a lively theatrical ride. There was
a conscious effort to localise the experience, with phrases in
Tamil, Malay and Chinese dialects thrown around.

That said, the flashy approach tends to occasionally distract,
diffusing some of the more intimate, disturbing moments of what is
by nature a confessional piece of text.

Despite a few over-the-top moments, new talent Eleine Ng showed a
flair for the comedic with her scene depicting the various ways of

Soul singer Asha Edmund's own spiels on, er, hair "down there" and
how to pronounced "c**t" were tight and snappy. Transsexual Elnina
recounting a transformative experience was a bit too dramatic but
intense, nevertheless.

My favourite was veteran actress Loke Loo Pin deadpanning her way
through a monologue as a dignified old lady recounting her first
sexual awakening. Too shy to even say the word "vagina", she flashes
a "V" sign instead — which could very well stand for the
word "victory", too.

While Chen's approach was a little too much for a play whose power
lies in the intimacy that monologues offer, we're inclined to give
it a "V" sign for being fun and, more important, fresh.

The Vagina Monologues runs until Oct 12,8pm, at Drama Centre
Theatre,National Library. With 3pm matinees.Tickets from $17 to $57
at Sistic. Rating: R18.

ST: Joy and tears of being women (Oct 4)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Oct 4, 2008
Joy and tears of being women
From first menstrual cramps to love and sex, this feminist play is
fun-filled and thoughtful
By tara tan

Zebra Crossing
Drama Centre Theatre @ National Library
Last Thursday

This is Dim Sum Dollies-meets-Oprah - stories about love, family and
sex doused with tears and showered with laughter.

Eve Ensler's landmark play, The Vagina Monologues, played here by nine
women, is a series of vignettes that grapple with female issues from
domestic abuse to the first menstrual cramp.

Directed by Loretta Chen, this play had no qualms about its anti-men
slant: Father figures or male lovers are largely absent in this play.

Powerful feminist statements were made, such as chanting a certain
derogatory word (that rhymes with 'aunt') to reclaim it as a word of

Although the pacing in the first half was jerky, it hit a home run
with Loke Loo Pin's monologue, Because He Liked To See It. Playing an
elderly woman coming to terms with her vagina, a word she can't even
bring herself to say, Loke's deadpan humour - delivered with
impeccable comic timing - was a lethal combination.

Another very funny scene was between a lesbian sex worker (played by
Sabrina Chong) and a geeky girl on the cusp of sexual discovery
(Eleine Ng) with their inventory of orgasmic soundtracks.

In another scene, transsexual Elnina's brutally honest telling of the
trials and tribulations she endures was heartbreaking. The inclusion
of this monologue, taken from another of Ensler's plays, added a
significant dimension to this work.

Elizabeth Tan's young girl who goes through childhood sexual abuse but
finds salvation with an older woman in The Coochie Snorcher That Could
gave me mixed feelings, however.

Presented as a Dear Diary monologue, the text was hard-hitting but Tan
seemed joyfully detached from her past. Having said that, the actress
later put in an emotional turn in the role of an abused wife.

However, the series of short monologues sometimes felt too abrupt,
with its transitions shaky and irreverent. The music was also often
overly sentimental.

It did not seem as hard-hitting as previous versions staged in
Singapore. For instance, the scene dealing with genital mutilation was
played out with a video on butchery and accompanied with statistics.
In Li Xie's The Vaginalogue in 2003, which was based on the same play,
Li carved and sewed up a hunk of raw meat on stage, a visceral image
that is seared in my memory still.

Kudos to Chen for letting her nine performers' individual
personalities shine through. Most women would be able to identify
facets of themselves in them.

Also, intriguing directorial decisions gave this piece an added edge,
like how wealthy socialities laughingly exchanged stories of spousal
abuse at a lush party.

The Vagina Monologues is an enjoyable, fun and thoughtful production,
a should-see for women and their men.

watch it


R18 (Adult Content & Strong Language)

Who: Zebra Crossing
When: Till Oct 12, 8pm (no shows on Monday), Sat & Sun matinees at 3pm
Tickets: $17 to $57 from Sistic (log on to or call

RedQueen Celebrates 10 years!

*where - Pelangi Pride Centre
*when - 4th October 2008
*time - 8.30pm

*for women only

*by rsvp only

*please rsvp to [redqueen underscore at hotmail dot com] with your
full name and a contact number.


Herstory Newsletter

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Herstory @The Boiler Room
09 Oct 2008
Herstory presents the first game show - DO YOU KNOW THE LYRICS? 6 Bold contestants take centrestage at The Boiler Room to challenge for $500 worth of CASH & Prizes. Come & support the contestants and watch them battle it out along side with Gino & Soul Kool Band. Semi Final round on 9 October at 11pm. See you @The Boiler Room! You know you won't want to miss this.

Collect the NEW Herstory Party Card
Never miss a great party again with this newly launched Herstory Party Card.
Specially for all Herstory Parties Supporters, collect the NEW Herstory Party Card and claim your perks.

Herstory has lined-up a year's worth of great fun and surprises for you. Collect a stamp each time you attend our Herstory party. Every 3 stamps will entitle you to a FREE entry to our party. Get all 9 stamps and you will receive a fabulous mystery gift! (It's so good that you must own it, serious!)

Party on grrls, and we'll see you there.

Sign up for 1 Year of Herstory BLACK to receive:
Privilege online surfing
Herstory Black Membership Card valid for 1 year
1 FREE Party Entry Pass
Roxy beach bag
LePride's Car Decal

Don't miss Herstory Grrls Only Party happening at ZOUK and The BOILER ROOM at St James Power Station on 2nd Thursday of every month.

Whether you want to sit and chat or dance and cruise, you're guaranteed to find something you'll like at Herstory Party. See ya..

Herstory - DO YOU KNOW THE LYRICS? starts at 11.00pm
Performance by Soul Kool Band at 11.30pm

Party Theme
Hip Hop and Funky!

Programme Highlights
Chillout 9pm-10pm
Showtime - DO YOU KNOW THE LYRICS? 11.00pm
Performance by Soul Kool Band at 11.30pm
Chart Topping Hip Hop and Sexy R&B Dance Music 12am-2.30am (by The Boiler Room resident DJ)
Pop Hits Dance Music till 3am (by The Boiler Room resident DJ)

Drinks Promotion
One for One on all standard housepour 9pm-10pm

No Cover Charge
Applies to all members/non members
Herstory Members - $5
Non Herstory Members - $10
Entry for men - Subject to Approval at Door ($15)
POLICY : Mainly womyn with men as guests

Table Reservations
SMS: +65 91700517

St James Power Station
3 Sentosa Gateway
Singapore 098544

Harbour Front Station

9pm - 3am
Every 2nd Thursday Monthly

BlogTV Episode 5: Am I Gay? (Sept 30)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

From the BlogTV website

Episode 5: Am I gay?
Catch it on Tuesday, 30 September at 8:30 pm on Channel NewsAsia

When you were 16, perhaps younger, and beginning to understand
yourself better – what happens when you find that unlike your
classmates you are different? You're not attracted to the opposite sex?

A poll was conducted in 2007 and of the 187 secondary school respondents:

* 33% felt that homosexuality was wrong
* More than 35% felt that homosexuals were responsible for passing AIDS
* 42% blamed gay people for paedophilia

This poll raises the issue of whether there is enough frank talk about
homosexuality among younger students. Is the topic of homosexuality
still taboo in schools, and are schools doing enough to educate
students about their sexual orientation? Or is it a case of 'if I
don't talk about it, it ain't there.'

This week BlogTV turns the spotlight onto sex education. Is it enough
to just discuss safe sex? Should we not be discussing all the
different sexualities as well? How educational is our sex education
system anyway? And seriously, should teachers be teaching sex amidst
history, English literature etc?

We ask these questions and more as we attempt to answer the question
that might occur to every adolescent at least once - am I Gay?

With our guests, we look away from excuses and seek answers to see if
our education for youths needs to be revamped to include alternative

You can also catch a repeat of the programme at these following times:
30th September, 11.30pm
1st October, 1.30pm
2nd October, 5.30pm

ST: 8 questions with... Loretta Chen (Sept 29)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Sep 29, 2008
8 questions with... Loretta Chen
Wild thing
First, an Annabel Chong play. Now, The Vagina Monologues. Loretta Chen
is big on taboos
By tara tan

Theatre director Loretta Chen, 31, is a political animal who pushes
boundaries on and off the stage.

Her controversial play about Singaporean porn star Annabel Chong, 251,
got people talking when it was staged in April last year.

She is also an active member of the Young PAP and posed questions
about censorship to Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew at a youth dialogue
last year.

Chen was recently nominated by DrTeo Ho Pin, mayor of North West
district, to be in the North West Community Development Corporation's
executive committee.

Her current project is Eve Ensler's feminist play, The Vagina
Monologues, which opens on Wednesday. The play also marks the
inaugural show of her new company, Zebra Crossing.

Here is a little-known fact: She is also the baby sister of television
actor Edmund Chen.

'As a 10-year-old, I used to tag along to all his filming sessions,'
chuckled Chen, who is 14 years younger than her brother.

'That was what got me hooked on performances: seeing my big brother
turn into someone else on screen.'

Born to a clerk and a housewife, Chen, who grew up in a two-room flat
in Tanglin Halt, calls herself 'a complete accident'.

'My dad was 41 and my mum was 39 when they had me. Eric, my second
eldest brother, is only three years apart from Edmund,' said Chen.

She went on to study theatre studies at the National University of
Singapore, where she now teaches part-time while pursuing her
doctorate on queer performances staged in Singapore.

In 1999, she headed to University of London's Royal Holloway for her
master's, before starting on her doctorate at the University of
California in Los Angeles where she lived for over two years.

She returned to Singapore in 2002 and went on to garner a Life!
Theatre Awards nomination for Best Director for Ten Brothers, a cheeky
retelling of a Chinese folktale about 10 siblings who each possesses a
different superpower.

1. What draws you to controversial plays?

I am drawn to material which is overlooked in mainstream society and I
question why people react to it that way.

The contents often centre on fascinating personalities such as strong
women, as well as issues I feel very much for.

2. I hear you are quite superstitious. Is that why you are dressed in
all white today?

Yes, my geomancer told me it is my lucky colour. I just thought, what
the heck. I bought a white car, lots of white clothes, then white
shoes and white bags to match.

When I was harbouring thoughts of starting a theatre company, I got my
fortune told in a temple in China that said I should start my business
with my close friends, which I did.

3. Why name your theatre company Zebra Crossing?

(Laughs) I have a theory for that. We spend a lot of time on the road,
where people have little patience or much space.

At zebra crossings, however, traffic ceases to exist and only people
matter. No matter how important the driver is or how big the car, you
have to stop for the pedestrian.

Zebra Crossing will produce all sorts of theatre, from Broadway
musicals to newly commissioned works.

4. What does theatre mean to you?

When I was studying in California in 2002, my partner committed
suicide. Theatre, in a way, helped me deal with this very difficult
time. I was able to look at it as if it was a scene from my life's play.

Sometimes, when something melodramatic happens to you, you need to be
able to distance yourself and look at it with some objectivity.

5. What was your childhood like?

I grew up in a working-class family but I always had enough even
though we were not very rich. The house was full of love.

I never felt poorer than my classmates, who were always jetting off on
holidays to the United States or Europe.

I had nice pencil cases and birthday parties at McDonald's. Thinking
back, all these must have cost my parents quite a bit but they gave
them to me so I was never in want of anything.

6. What do you think makes a strong woman and do you think of yourself
as one?

To me, a strong woman is someone who says she can do anything she puts
her mind to. Sometimes, it takes more strength to be able to say you
are wrong or you are not good at something.

As a director, I rely on my collaborators. I have ideas but need
talented people to carry them out. We directors are useless without
them behind us.

7. What made you join the Young PAP?

If you want to make a change, you have to actively make it and that
means working within the political avenues.

Some people get quite disheartened, cynical and feel powerless because
they keep criticising from the outside.

I say: Jump in and fight for what you believe in. Theatre is a great
platform for me to be politically aware and socially involved while
still being creative.

8. Complete this sentence. If I could live my life all over again,

Not change it at all. I needed to go through my life the way I did.

On a lighter note, however, I wished I went for my bunion operation
earlier. I am going for it next month but now my feet look funny.

book it

(Rated R18 for adult content and strong language)

Who: Zebra Crossing
When: Wednesday to Oct 12 (except Mondays and Sundays) at 8pm.
Matinees on Saturdays and Sundays at 3pm
Where: Drama Centre Theatre @ National Library Building
Tickets: $17 to $57 from Sistic (log on to or call

TNP: 'Hong Lim Green' to turn somewhat pink (Sept 26)

Friday, September 26, 2008

'Hong Lim Green' to turn somewhat pink
Organiser plans gay pride parade at Speakers' Corner
HONG LIM Park (once called Green) is open for demos of all shades and hues (except unlawful ones, of course).
By Andre Yeo
26 September 2008

HONG LIM Park (once called Green) is open for demos of all shades and
hues (except unlawful ones, of course).

So it is no surprise that the gay lobby here wants to use it in
November to make a statement.

Riding on the new, relaxed rules on protests at the park's Speakers'
Corner, Mr Roy Tan, 50, is planning a gay pride parade. But the
response to it has so far been uncertain.

Mr Alex Au, 55, one of the leaders of gay advocacy group, People Like
Us, likes the idea but he questions if it should be called thus.

He said: 'I am sceptical of calling it a parade if they can't walk
down the streets. A parade requires linear movement.'

Ms Jean Chong, 32, a lesbian who is self-employed and also from People
Like Us, said she was aware of the parade but was not sure if she
would be attending.

She told The New Paper: 'I think most of them (the gay community) are
standing on one side and thinking about it.

'Most don't see Hong Lim Park as a big step towards more freedom. It's
a form of tokenism.

'On the one hand, they feel they want to support it (the parade). But,
on the other hand, they are against the concept of Hong Lim Park
because you should have the right to demonstrate anywhere.'

Following Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Rally speech
to slowly liberalise the political scene here, rules were changed such
that from 1 Sep, public demonstrations can now be held at Speakers'
Corner as long as they do not touch on race or religion.

Organiser Mr Tan, 50, who works in the healthcare industry, said: 'I
thought it would be good for someone to organise the first pride
parade and, hopefully, it would be the first of many and be part of
the cultural landscape.'

Mr Tan said that even if he were the only one at the park for the
event, he would march round the place holding a placard on Section
377A - a section of the penal code that criminalises gay sex.

Mr Tan said he would be marching three times round the park singing We
Shall Overcome, a civil rights anthem, to represent the struggle for

He expected people to come but he did not think many would be marching.

He said: 'Many people are not prepared to do it at the moment. The
first step is the most difficult one.'

The management of Speakers' Corner used to be under the police, but
now comes under the National Parks Board (NParks).

Demonstrators only need to register on the NParks website.

Yesterday, an NParks spokesman confirmed that it had received a
registration for a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual pride parade
at the Corner on 15 Nov.

It is slated to last from 3 to 7pm.

According to the NParks website, Singapore permanent residents can
also take part in a demonstration at Speakers' Corner and are required
to apply for a police permit only if they want to organise a
demonstration themselves or to speak at the Corner.

Foreigners will have to apply for a permit to conduct or take part in
any activity at the Corner.

Women's Nite 27th September 2008: Don't Shy, Just Ask!‏

Saturday, September 20, 2008

What do gay women look like?
Where are good places to meet other women?
Help! I'm in love with my best friend, should I tell her?

Brimming with questions but can't find the answers?

Join Women's Nite this month as we take a shot at them. We promise no quick
fixes but lots of fun as we figure them out together!


Women's Nite September 2008
Saturday 27th September, 7pm
Venue (in Singapore) will be disclosed upon registration.

Limited to 30 invites, so please register with your full name, contact
number, the full name/s of your guests, if any, and the type of halal food
or drink you would be contributing to the potluck.

Although Women's Nite is open to women of all orientations, please let us
know if you are straight, or are bringing along straight guests, so that we
can be sensitive to the needs of all women present.

Please send your details to [women dot snite at gmail
dot com]

Registration closes at midnight 26th September 2008


About Women's Nite

Women's Nite provides a safe, neutral and alcohol-free space for lesbians
and bisexual women in Singapore to discuss the issues relevant to their

The event, held on the last Saturday of every month, was started in December
2003. Over a potluck dinner, we hold discussions on wide ranging topics like
self acceptance, homophobia, relationships and identity. We also invite
special guests to field questions on legal rights and sexual health, and
conduct art and dance therapy nights.

To check out the past months' events, or find out more, please go to
To get email updates on each month's event, please visit to join our mailing list.

As far as possible, we would like to keep this space commercial free. To
advertise events and projects, please email us at

ST Forum: Corporate Social Responsibility (Sept 18)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sep 18, 2008
Let's get down to business
THESE articles in The Straits Times deserve commendation: Miss Li
Xueying on religious diversity last Friday ('Tackling religious
taboo'), Mr Wong Kim Hoh on transsexuals ('When papa became mama',
Sept 6) and Miss Tan Hui Yee on migrant workers ('Standing up for
foreign workers', Sept 10).

They are expressions of corporate social responsibility of your
newspaper and are in line with the goals of major corporations,
business tycoons and religious leaders. Your publication is
world-class in promoting social responsibility in this part of the world.

It's time Singapore incorporates social responsibility in our culture.
We have read much about our necessity to import foreign talent so that
Singapore can become a financial, medical and research hub, and make
its contribution to the global society. While appreciating foreign
talent with great skills, we must not ignore foreign workers with less
skills who work among us here.

The construction industry is highly dependent upon workers in this
region who come here to work in tough, physically-demanding
conditions. They build our buildings, lay our roads, clean our
environment and yet find it so difficult to rest from their daily
labour with proper housing. Our domestic workers have left their own
homes and family to work in ours, looking after our children and aged
parents, and yet do not have a fair contract and time to rest.

People with different sexual orientations are being discriminated
socially and economically even though they are our own fellow citizens.

Foreign sex workers come here to secure an income to feed their
families in their poor rural societies. How do we show kindness, care
and concern when we turn a deaf ear to the cries of such people in our

Some corporations and a few churches are actively engaged in the
alleviation of poverty, elimination of HIV/Aids - especially in the
African countries - and reduction of global warming. Our own business
establishments need to exercise corporate social responsibility.

Each of us can make a difference and work together to build a kind,
caring and compassionate society.

Rev Dr Yap Kim Hao

TimeOut Singapore Listing of Pelangi Pride Centre

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The folks at Pelangi Pride Centre offer a neutral and friendly space to explore your sexuality. With regular talks, screenings and other group activities (we're not talking swinging parties here), they also operate a resource library devoted to HIV education and GLBTQ issues. Books may be borrowed for a small, returnable deposit. Newly relocated to DYMK (9 Kreta Ayer Road)!

For more information, email

Your FAQs answered :)

Hi all

Thanks to everyone who has popped by PPC@DYMK the last 2 Saturdays to hang out and chill with us :) We are also glad that there have been new users of the library, we hope you have a good time exploring our collection!

To address some of your FAQs:

1) Does PPC loan books out?
YES! We do :) Just pass us your details and a $10 book deposit (you can take 2 books out for 2 weeks - so that's $20 book deposit) and when you return the books in 2 weeks time, we return you your $20 (in short, it's free if you return the books, PLEASE return the books so that our collection doesn't deplete!)

2) What if I return my books late?
Just a $2 fine (per book) for each week you are late. We use the funds to purchase plastic wrap, labels and to patch books. No, it doesn't come into our pockets!

3) Where can I find your library catalogue?
Visit to navigate our library catalogue (yes just like a "regular" library).

4) What are PPC's operating hours?
Saturdays, 4-8pm, we would love to open during other hours but being volunteer- run it's hard to get the manpower to staff the library during the week.

5) How can I help?
Donate $ to help with the running of PPC, we take any amount of $! The $ will be used to purchase new books as well as to offset our operating costs such as patching books, upgrading our computer system and so on, we are also always on the lookout for volunteers so if you can spare a Saturday a month, please let us know!

6) How can I contact PPC?
Email us at

Take care everyone and see you on the 20th!
The PPC Team

PS: Don't forget to sign up for our upcoming event on the 2nd Saturday of October - Leona Lo will be at PPC!

"Our Sexualities, Our Genders, Our Bodies ~ Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender RIGHTS!"

The International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) is inviting you and your group to be part of the 16 Days of Activism Campaign from November 29 to December 10 to celebrate,

"Our Sexualities, Our Genders, Our Bodies ~ Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender RIGHTS!"

IGLHRC is partnering with LBT groups from the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia to plan this campaign. Our goal is to defend the right to sexual and gender diversity by highlighting lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LBT) activism and linking the 16 Days to launches of Yogyakarta Principles (YyP) in Asia, which will culminate on December 10 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. On this day we will also be commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR60).

This will be a wonderful opportunity to network and collaborate with seasoned and new LBT groups and individual activists across the region.

Your group can be part of this event in numerous ways.

The 16 Days of Activism Campaign will produce an LBT banner to celebrate Asian LBTs' struggles, victories and aspirations in reclaiming and defending LBT rights. The LBT banner will consist of a central image of the dandelion dispersing rainbow seeds in the air. Colorful and creative banner panels from participating LBT groups in Asia will surround the dandelion forming a vibrant banner that truly represents Asian LBT activism.

Panel contributors will be given the freedom to produce a panel that represents issues and/or images of LBTs in their country—be it about your organization, your local advocacy campaign, or issues you face. The more creative, the better – write a poem, a song, make a photo montage, or paint a message. The possibilities are endless.

A two-person video team will document the linking of the banner panels and the journey of the Asian LBT banner through countries in Asia before reaching its final destination in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

The 16 Days of Activism Campaign will produce a video that will showcase the various activities and images of Asian LBTs in their respective countries.

The Asian LBT video documentary will be a collection of footages of LBT activism in the region - launches of the Yogyakarta Principle (YyP), anti-discrimination campaigns, images and interviews of LBT activists regarding their experiences in fighting violence, homophobia and discrimination, and comments from LGBT-supportive allies from non-governmental organizations (NGOs), government institutions, and human rights commissioners about struggles, successes and plans in defending LGBTI rights in Asia.

Snippets of the video and the LBT banner journey will be screened during the festivities on December 10 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The final video documentary will be available in time for screenings during the 2009 International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO).

December 10, 2008 is a day to remember for it marks the end of the 16 Days of Activism and the day to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Spearheaded by Indonesian LGBTI activists, the December 10 festivities scheduled to take place in Yogyakarta will combine activism, creative performances and fun in one event.

Come to Yogyakarta — March and join the parade along with other LGBTI activists, mingle and connect with old and new LGBT co-activists and invited representatives from the United Nations, human rights defenders and representatives of friendly Human Rights Commissions.

Please don't hesitate to contact us so that we can plan together and make this a truly regional event!

In Solidarity,
Ging Cristobal
Project Coordinator, Asia Pacific Islander Region
gcristobal@iglhrc. org / Campaign from

Ging Cristobal
Project Coordinator, Asia Pacific Islander Region
International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC)
U.P. PO Box 333, UP Campus, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines 1123
TF: +632.441.0283 . mobile #: +63.926.684. 3831
email: gcristobal@iglhrc. org .

KKMC and TRAC Board of Outreach and Social Concern presents "Churches Living with HIV/AIDS


Kampng Kapor Methodist Church (KKMC) and the TRAC Board of Outreach and Social Concern will be organizing an HIV Awareness Seminar entitled “Churches Living with HIV/AIDS” on 25 Oct.2008 from 2 to 5.30pm at KKMC.

On that day, KKMC will launch a book entitled “Overlooking the Overlooked” mainly based on the papers delivered at our HIV/AIDS Seminar with the same title, organized on 29 September 2007. The publication of the book was sponsored by the Chen Su Lan Trust and will be a gift to the Christian Community to raise consciousness of the issue of HIV/AIDS. Dr Yap Kim Hao‘s “compassionate outreach to people living with HIV” will be acknowledged in the foreword of the book.

We have put together exciting topics and speakers for the coming HIV/ AIDS seminar, “Churches Living with HIV/AIDS” – 25 Oct. 2008:

1) From Breaking The Conspiracy of Silence to Sharing a Spirituality of Life
Rev Dr Donald Messer,
Executive Director

2) Spiritual and Holistic Approaches to
the HIV/AIDS Crisis
Centre for the Church and Global AIDS

3) How A Church Without Walls
Embraces the Outcasts
Mr Jeremy Choy,
Board member of City Harvest
Community Services

4) Hospitality and Acceptance
for the marginalised
Ms Geraldine Subramaniam, Administrator
Ministry of Catholic Aids Response Effort (C.A.R.E.)

5) How to Care for People
Living with HIV
Ms Ho Lai Peng,
Principal Medical Social Worker,
Communicable Disease Centre
Tan Tock Seng Hospital

Thank you.

Still in One Peace
Gabriel Liew
http://www.kkmc. California's top Episcopal bishops oppose gay marriage ban

Saturday, September 13, 2008

California's top Episcopal bishops oppose gay marriage ban

The state's six highest bishops go on the record against Prop. 8, the fall ballot measure that would reverse the California Supreme Court's decision to allow same-sex couples to marry.
By Duke Helfand, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

September 11, 2008

California's six most senior Episcopal bishops Wednesday unanimously declared their opposition to a constitutional amendment on the statewide November ballot that would ban same-sex marriage.

The bishops argued that preserving the right of gays and lesbians to marry would enhance the "Christian values" of monogamy, love and commitment

"We believe that continued access to civil marriage for all, regardless of sexual orientation, is consistent with the best principles of our constitutional rights," said the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.

Bruno, flanked at a news conference by fellow clergy members and gay and straight couples, added: "We do not believe that marriage of heterosexuals is threatened by same-sex marriage."

By going on the record against Proposition 8, which would reverse the California Supreme Court's decision in May to legalize same-sex marriage, the bishops waded into a volatile political and religious controversy.

Gay marriage has strained the Episcopalians' international body, the Anglican Communion, with hundreds of bishops from Africa and elsewhere threatening to break away over attempts to change church doctrine and practice.

The issue has created theological fissures in other Protestant denominations, including Presbyterians and United Methodists, with some Methodist ministers in California pledging to perform wedding ceremonies in defiance of their national church.

Proposition 8 supporters, intent on protecting what they call a 5,000-year-old tradition codified in the Bible, are mobilizing forces across several religious groups.

The Protect Marriage Coalition announced plans last month for 1 million Catholics, Mormons, Jews, Muslims, evangelical Christians, Sikhs and Hindus to plant 1 million "Yes on Proposition 8" lawn signs in their frontyards. In addition, the coalition is sending volunteers door to door to speak with voters and planning an advertising campaign, to begin as early as the end of this month.

"Marriage is an institution for a man and a woman," said Jeff Flint, the campaign's co-chairman. "The institution of marriage around which society is constructed means less when it's not the traditional definition."

But in a joint statement, issued Wednesday at the diocesan headquarters in Echo Park, the six bishops said that "society is strengthened when two people who love each other choose to enter into marriage, engaged in a lifetime of disciplined relationship building that serves as a witness to the importance of love and commitment."

The statement was signed by Bruno and Bishops Marc Handley Andrus, Barry L. Beisner, Mary Gray-Reeves, Jerry A. Lamb and James R. Mathes. (Three assistant bishops -- Chester L. Talton, Sergio Carranza and Steven Charleston -- also signed.)

The bishops concluded: "We believe that this continued access [to marriage] promotes Jesus' ethic of love, giving and hope."

While the Episcopal leaders agreed on the need to preserve the right of gay and lesbian couples to wed, they disagreed over how, and if, to conduct weddings, in light of the church's Book of Common Prayer, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

According to the joint statement, some of the six bishops believe it is appropriate to allow priests to officiate at marriage ceremonies and pronounce blessings, while others want to wait to hear from the Episcopal Church's governing body, the General Convention. It meets next in Anaheim in July 2009. (At its 2006 meeting, the General Convention passed a resolution opposing state or federal constitutional amendments that prohibit same-sex civil marriage.)

Mathes, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego, said the Episcopal Church must alter language on same-sex marriage before priests begin officiating.

"I just don't believe we have been authorized to do them," Mathes said. "I am not keen on unilateral action."

Andrus, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California, said he encourages couples -- straight or gay -- to marry in civil ceremonies and then receive a blessing in church. The compromise stops short of priests performing the rites of marriage for same-sex couples.

Andrus, whose diocese covers the Bay Area, said this practice allows him to honor the rights of gay and lesbian couples while keeping his diocese tethered to the Anglican fold. "We have recognized that we as a global body need each other," he said. "This diocese, by its faithfulness to the larger body, could serve as a catalyst for change."

The conflict over Proposition 8 is unfolding amid a wrenching dispute over homosexuality in the Anglican Communion, which has 80 million members worldwide.

Conservative bishops from Africa and other regions have balked at reform efforts by more liberal leaders, primarily from North America. The election of an openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson, to the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire in 2003 intensified the conflict.

Several hundred conservative bishops and archbishops boycotted the once-a-decade Lambeth Conference of Anglicans, held in July.

A month before that meeting in England, the conservatives met in Jerusalem. They decided to remain within the global communion but proposed a new council with the authority to create alternative provinces in places where church authorities failed, in the conservatives' opinion, to follow the Gospel.

Episcopal leaders in California believe that acknowledging the rights of homosexuals to marry does follow the Gospel.

"We're talking about our friends, our neighbors," Abel Lopez, a priest with All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, said at the news conference with Bruno. "These are people in our own families . . . people who deserve the [same] rights as anyone else."