How Much Sugar Is In Your 3-In-1 Drink Sachet?

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After watching the documentary “Fed Up” on the rising obesity crisis worldwide especially in the USA, I decided to take a nutritional peak at my own little “healthy and wholesome” meals that I eat. As highlighted in the movie, a lot of organizations that promote themselves as healthy brands with claims of 0% trans fats to high levels of good nutrition, seldom highlight anything about the sugar.

We all know processed sugar undeniably becomes fat in your system, kills your liver and your metabolism, and essentially a cruel ingredient that causes diabetes, cancer, and even heart attack.

Today’s food industries, restaurants to fast food outlets, are already serving food overloaded with sugar. Sugar is an addictive drug that perks you, and will always make you hungry fast and crave for more. It is common in our usual 3-in-1s. So, I checked my usual Quaker Oat 3-in-1 cereal drink, and although sugar is mentioned as an ingredient, they did not reveal how much sugar content it has.

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where art thou, my sugar?

I called up to Quaker’s customer service line, and the staff, even their officer, do not know how much sugar is in their 28g 3-in-1 cereal drink sachet. This is important, because in most cases, two sachets of Milo 3-in-1 chocolate malt drinks already exceeded the recommended daily sugar limit for women. Not even considering what one will eat the rest of their day, especially in cosmopolitan cities where we often eat out for lunch.

It is a scary thought and extremely irresponsible for many corporations to keep us in the dark about the sugar content in their products. However, I will still wait for Quaker (Malaysia) to call me back, with some answers.

Future Music Festival Asia At The Expense Of The MH370 Tragedy.

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“We miss it (FMFA) too. So much so that sometimes, the withdrawal is almost unbearable.”

I find the tone, info and excitement expressed in this article about FMFA troubling in many ways.

FMFA 2014 (Future Music Festival Asia) in Malaysia this year was cancelled on the 3rd day, after a 2 day run. A reason mentioned was the deaths of 6 attendees due to drugs. I will call it only a contributing factor, that highlighted the event.

The week before, MH370 disappeared. 239 lives from 15 nations are still missing. Families and friends have no answers. It has now been 236 days. Nobody has a clue what happened. There is nothing anyone can do but hope. All signs are pointing out that the plane will never be found again.

I am surprised that the organizers themselves did not take the initiative to cancel FMFA as a mark of respect on the MH370 loss, let alone glossing over the fact that drug use controls are still penetrable at rave events, and I will not even get into the business mentality that often forsakes the individual safety of rave party-goers.

Other events were cancelled that fateful month of March this year. Business campaigns were called off and corporate festivals were toned down or stopped altogether, at whatever costs it may have incurred. This included a huge concert affair, Twin Towers Alive, held in conjunction with the Formula 1 race in Sepang, Malaysia.

If today there are many clinging on to a festival taken off the Malaysian calendar, instead of the difficult wish that one day the plane will come home or there will be closure to the disappearance, then something is really wrong with our humanity. That we yearn for more celebrations in a time we should grief. 6 + 239 reasons are enough. People are loss. Instead of owning responsibility, they just want to dance.

Many learn the hard way that those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it. Forgetting what is importantly dearest to us and instead milking money out of people’s need for quality sound waves, show some people’s self-obsession ignoring other things that matter, like life, in the end.

March 2014 should be remembered for a very tragic aviation mystery, and f@(%!^g, nothing else.

(Or at least, remember 6 people who went to an EDM festival, and never come home alive to their families.)

The Coming Of Age Of A Transsexual Female (It Will Not Blow Your Mind).

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she belongs to the city.

and she belongs to the city.

An account of a 38 year old transsexual female, as far as she can remember, of how she come of age:

At 11 years old, a best friend went against this certain transsexual girl because she was girlish and tried to drown her in the school swimming pool. The discipline master at that time was also in charge of swimming lessons, thought she is “problem boy” and basically did nothing as he believed she is lying.

At 12 years old, her body was severely violated by two men when she was walking back from school.

At 14 years old, she was brutalized and beaten up in high school for being effeminate on a weekly basis for a few years. The worst was when she was dragged into the toilet and had her head crashed against the wall until she fainted. Teachers took no action, but blamed her for “provoking the boys”.

At 15 years old, she was mentally poisoned by the church opposite the school for having “sexual bondage”, and began to blame her mother for making her this way, and stopped speaking to her for many years. She also blamed herself for her great sin and could not seem to “repent” from herself.

At 16 years old, she turned into gangsterism when she changed school, as a way to hide her identity from her previous school, and also as a step forward to try be more masculine, a boy for family, friends and church members. She started drinking, and got into vices. She barely scrapped through SPM level studies.

At 17 years old, she was excommunicated from her church for allegedly sexually molesting a deaf girl. Her innocence was known the same year; the church offered neither apology nor compensation.

At 18 years old, she was taken as a “toyboy” by a 40 year old woman. The church blamed her again. Ashamed to go back to the parents and with no friends, she decided there was no point being a boy.

At 19 years old, she went to Kuala Lumpur and began her first transition. There she befriended a businessman, who later “rented” her to other men for a few months. She attempted suicide for the first time. After surviving the attempt, she escaped back to her hometown Ipoh, vowing never to appear herself ever again.

At 20 years old, she tried to be a complete “he”, back in college with a girlfriend and part-time job at a paging centre. “He” was also a pirated VCD seller, and at night dealt with synthetic drugs for discos. This went on for several years until “he” started to get tired of night life and wanted a way out.

At 24 years old, “he” started work as an international student coordinator. “He” became a womanizer and slept with countless women for a few years until “he” eventually got exhausted and fed up with life with triads, and decided to go clean. “His” conquest on women continued, even while being with a girlfriend.

At 27 years old, “he” became a computer lecturer and decided to go serious and faithful with a lady.

At 28 years old, “he” met “his” dream fiancée and wanted to be the best “man” in her life. After leaving “him” with credit debt amounting to over RM 20,000 and cheating “his” parents as well, she broke up with “him”. The girl said she felt she was sleeping with a woman. “He”, later survived a second suicide attempt.

At 29 years old, “he” decided to be totally out as herself, who she is, sacrificing everything and started to settle into Petaling Jaya, permanently. She lost all her friends but a few, and her entire life as a person. But as she transitioned, she was not able to get jobs and hold on to her rented room, and she became desperate.

At 30 years old, she ended up a call girl for an escort website. While she had a few good clients, violent sexual abuse usually happened, and she was forced to submit. After a bad incident at a hotel in Damansara town, she called it quits, ending up in a mama-san Karaoke bar in Ipoh Street as girl no. 7.

At 31 years old, she started her first job being a proud woman, as a frame trading company sales person. She later stopped being a karaoke girl, and started to be an advocate for the transsexual and gay population. She was once arrested and brought to the Section 11 Shah Alam police station on suspected prostitution while hanging out with sex workers in Sunway City. Her car was also vandalized by transphobic elements near her home.

At 32 years old, she got married to an Australian man who promised her the world, and she left her whole life in her country to be with him in Darwin, only to be dumped by him few days before her SRS operation in Thailand with nothing. She returned to Malaysia and had to start life all over again after a year with him. With the help of some from the local LGBT community, she had some funds and went into NGO work.

At 33 years old, she got deeply involved with the Seksualiti Merdeka movement, and became one of the faces of the transsexual population. She also finally hit blessings with her first corporate job as the licensing agent for one of the biggest cartoon brands in Asia. At this time she promised herself whatever happens, to never go dump in life again, and her battle with herself and clinical depression begins.

At 34 years old, after a conversation with her mentor regarding her “incriminating” relations to the Seksualiti Merdeka movement, and taking advantage of a gay Muslim friend attempting to play her out, she bombed bridges with the movement, losing most of her LGBT friends, realizing separation was the only way to advocate for them, especially when she is starting to get noticed in the straight public life. She also made her first conscious choice to fight for a better tomorrow and attempted to step out to take part in society.

At 35 years old, after being cheated by the gay Muslim friend she trusted to leave her career to work with a fraud, she was jobless. Keeping the promise to her mentor never to be associated with negativity since she has a corporate profile, she took the best job in the worst situation, as a pub DJ in Damansara town on minimum wage equivalent to foreign workers. She had to depend on tips for meals.

At 36 years old, one of her copywriting clients gave her a call, and entrusted her as the marketing manager of his company. She landed a few high profile accounts, increasing her corporate clientele. Her former clients also engaged her for writing. Her social life among straight people grew plenty.

At 37 years old, she started to clear her rising debts, spending time only with meaningful people, learnt to be at peace alone, and most importantly gained the respect of the general public. It speaks a lot when there were pub raids and street roadblocks, but she was never disturbed by any authorities.

At 38 years old, she has been a MarCom Manager for more than 2 years and has other offers as well, but chose to stay with her company. She is winning the battle with clinical depression, earned a great amount of straight privilege, learning from great gurus and has inspiration with support by straight pals, some she took time to win over their scepticism first. She is erasing her credit card debts. Though she still has debts to pay and demons to fight, she will get better in time and at least she can finally see her future.

She feels comfortable and consistently jovial today, with friends who love her and who she can love, finding solace in herself, doing the things she loves to do, freedom to move about without fear, the majority recognizing her as a woman and a climate she has built by simply representing herself well, and most importantly, straight people accept her with pride, honour and dignity she deservedly earned.

This is probably a boring story, because when one reads through it, there is happiness and no more victimhood at the end. Because everybody needs to feel, and sometimes there are people who choose to look at the sexual violence and brutality because they are so used, they internalized it. For some, it is the only way to survive, because without it, they cannot drum up popularity and funds.

A normal life seems unattainable, and many need their suffering to gain attention. They become defined by their actions as victims; take away that and they become empty shells. They are putting themselves exactly where society want them to be, which is where they want to be. Perhaps some will find happiness in that box they marginalized themselves into. But there is more to life than that.

She is now a very different person than she was many years ago. And all that takes are just 11 principles that seem easy to digest, but in actual action is difficult to do. We have only one short life to make it extraordinary, and if we remain in the hole and refuse to accept what we could and should do, our lives will be stagnated in an endless circle and nothing ever gets done with no real results. These principles changed the lives of the people who inspired her and made her the survivor she is today.

1) never be a victim
2) own responsibility
3) cut off toxic people
4) never blame anybody
5) make the right choices
6) live life with no excuses
7) mix with the right people
8) know how to carry oneself
9) always experience new things
10) do not let anyone be a shadow
11) the present must not be the future’s regret

She only realized these at 36 years old, only then life began to progress. Well, better late than never.

An Important Message For Transgender Women Who Support Drag Queens And Extreme Cross-dressers: An Update Post.

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DTThere is a lot of discussion over this post at Rebecca Juro’s Facebook so I went to elaborate further my thoughts on the transgender people vs drag culture as I responded to all the comments given there with a post, which I believe states my position quite clearly…


Thank you for giving yourselves a change to discuss about this. Perhaps to make my thoughts clearer to you, I will try to respond to all the points made here.

- Drag culture is not gender identity. There is nothing to be imposed upon art performances. No gender requirements are needed to drag, because even transgender women, even women, even babies, can drag.

- Agreed, that transgender women do not have rights the way drag queens do. We must make the separation, because whether we like it or not, privilege counts. There is a huge difference of privilege when a drag queen goes to a ladies bathroom as a joke for one time, and trans women going when needed to, for life.

- Again, this not about shaming drag queens. This is about opening our eyes to drag culture. We have grown so inured to it that some even say “drag was how they felt most comfortable coming out” when she meant cross-dressing, not drag. Drag is acting, an expression, a performance. Not gender dysphoria.

- We are not against people here, rather a performance culture that is holding the trans population back from gaining their rights. Are we really so shallow to think that society would understand us more if we “sensitize” us by having someone express dressings and makeup to the extremes as our visible element?

- Most of the country would not know the difference until we start talking about the difference. Many times we blame the majority public for being ignorant about us. But we have to counter-voice that.

- I have mentioned this regardless of the RuPaul incident. Not after. I just felt the time is appropriate for people to see that the drag is just a drag, and the true person is still the individual with an intention to drag to pursue what he or she thinks is the perfect caricature of women to express in the general public.

- Women were not mentioned in this because for the sake of the argument, it has always been who represents transgender women. The most “cartoonish looking image” in the picture happens to be She-Lah, Malaysia’s most prominent and visible drag queen, claims to represent transgender women, yet as Edwin Sumun full-time (pun intended) is earning his bucks as an established VO Talent, actor, director, with all his male-privilege, with none of the classic bias, prejudice and discrimination faced by us all. And it is not helping, that he turns transgender experiences into comedy, which the media picks up as fun.

- I am not self-loathing. I have come many years to be able to admit this conclusion. Because we needed the numbers, we needed the access to male privileges gay drag queens have, we needed them, until the point that when you Google the any media in Asia, that caricature of transgender women, became the very item they love to report about besides sex workers. But we can empathize with sex workers, but it is another trouble when we are reduced as merely men in dresses with thick make up and big hair.

- Again, we look internally, wanting acceptance from places that offer drag culture, wanting to be part of the gay community that cross-dresses in public. Wanting to belong. But our lives are just not limited to a gay clubs, likewise our lives are judged every time we walk out as who we are to the general public. And some straight people are limited to watching gay men parade in costumes in gay pride as an explanation to who we are. We are not all minorities fighting for basic human right, because drag, again, is an art performance, not humans. Every living being can drag, men, women, black, white, yellow, gay, straight, dogs, cats, and even snakes. But not every living being is born transgender. Herein, lies the difference, one that we need to make the distinction especially to the public.

- How are the majority drag queens, who have male privilege and daytime careers, be oppressed?

- The fact that I am seen and “very homophobic” and “anti-LGB bigot” by some already proves what I am saying. The T as always been ignored because homosexuals and LGBs have privileges transgender women do not have, and when that is pointed out, hence, that person is a bigot. Drag queens who are gays will have their two hour of attention before they go on with their natural lives. They have the “right” to cross-dress because to the public, it is a show. But do the public know, we are not a show? Drag queens do trivialize our lives and experiences.

- Again, drag = gender? It is not. Drag is acting. A performance. Even my coin-box can drag. So can my Tupperware. It has nothing to do with gender expressions. Who we are in our gender is not defined by clothes and accessories, let alone how we do our hair? It is our feel, senses, pheromones, experiences, touch, how we see the world; that is our gender. Our womanhood or manhood. Please get it already.

- Yet another comment about the “gay club”, a place to belong, a “safe place”. Please, can we look outside the gay club already, and stop internalizing ourselves to the point only drag queens represent us in the media? The world is bigger than that, and all of us have the responsibility to improve our lives as we are the real representatives to the public as transgender women; to be part of society. There is a monumental problem when we attempt to intersect an art performance that is usually used for gay men as their emotional outlet and the straight public as to the example of transgender women, with the every single day experiences which has little to nothing to do with drag, but their own character.

- Gay males and drag performances are actually separate issues. Not all gay males will drag. In fact, not anyone will drag. And precisely, anyone’s dressings are not representative of any group, because it is just dressing! And again, drag is just acting, one that caricaturizes women, or in our terms, trans women. It is indeed similar to blackface, as I replied to a friend’s comment: “Tell a black person that black face is a front of their own internalized racism the way you implied here for trans women. And they will tell you that it is nothing to do with that, but the intention to caricaturize and made into comedy people’s real experiences, and what the public circle demands for entertainment with that form of performances.”

- No one has to speak for me. But I urge transgender individual to start breaking free for the structures that are mostly created by gay men who are drag queens, or presume a socially constructed female identity, that locks us up into what we think transgender women are and where we belong. It is time we separate the drag from the human being. This is not about people vs people. It is about people vs a too commonly accepted part of transgender/gay culture that should be separated due to different needs and wants, but the same consequence in public, but we bear the greater risks.

- Do not let it be intersected forever. Break free. Make great friends to straights. Be nice to your co-workers. Help your family. Assist those who are truly weak. Be a good person. Shine as a cool person. That should be the measure of our character and personality. We must never, ever, let clothes define us, let alone dressings with the intent to shock and entertain, because at the end of the day when that is removed, it is only us, and the world.

Leona Lo’s Reverse the Tide of Fetishisation.

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okI am reminded of this piece which was published in Leona Lo’s blog on November 12th back in 2008. I was already enduring a bad separation from my ex-husband which took years off my life to recover, while I was struggling with low finances, as well as being evicted from my room and jobless for months.

My friends at Titled World helped me fashion a donation drive, which for me today was a bad mistake because my character was later attacked by supporters of Seksualiti Merdeka and some lesbian groups after I exposed their elitist exploitation and glory politics.

Those were the darkest days of my life. It was then in my mind I considered just giving myself up for sex. I was younger and slimmer, and I still had some value left in me. My pride went out in humiliation knowing I am weak and down, with nothing to lose.

But it did not happen. Because I read the piece below. It reminded me why I became an advocate for transsexual women. Why I must stand against PT Mak Nyah’s abetment of sex trade. The reason I must be a shining example of a transgender women who is not a sex worker.

I know sex work is a choice. There is always a small convenient excuse to indulge in it because it is easy. To borrow an adage, not choosing sex work is hard but actually choosing sex work is harder, because sex work is the exact position most members of society want to place transgender women to further marginalize them, or worse.

I may not be where I deserve to be today, but still I am much better off than I was in those days. I am proud to say, I am still standing. If I can do it, so can anyone. There is always a way.

Shemales, Tranny, Ladyboys – these are invectives flung about by hate-filled individuals, mostly men, to flay and dehumanise transsexual women. It does not help that disproportionate numbers of trans women are in the sex and porn industry, compared to their non-trans counterparts. In Singapore, Orchard Towers and Changi Village are considered “rites of passage” for trans women. Our Road to Santiago? No way.

Make a stand today against the porn industry and the sex trade. In Singapore at least, there is no excuse for turning to prostitution. If you need me to write a letter to or contact a potential employer to clarify your situation, I will help you.

Ours is already a difficult journey – don’t make it more difficult. The next time someone – and this could be your friend, relative or casual acquaintance – starts to make the trite association between trans women and the entertainment industry, do not sit there and just smile. Stand up for who you are – a wonderful being who lives her life with pride and dignity.

An Important Message For Transgender Women Who Support Drag Queens And Extreme Cross-dressers.

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(based on my thoughts in my FaceBook)

“The fact that I lost many friends here due to my stand on the transgender women vs drag queen issue, really shows how pathetic some transgender women had become when they cling on to their over-the-top cross-dressing gay friends as their salvation.

Instead of making heroes out of them, we must hold them responsible, and they themselves must learn to be accountable for consequences that impact transgender women whenever they visibly impersonate an extremist version of transgender women, that increases public bias and misunderstanding against transgender women, making womanhood all about clothes and turning transgender women’s lives into only gimmicks.

We do not condone slant-eye play. We are against blackface performances. We certainly should discourage drag queens.

After all, why does anyone need to drag for advocacy, let alone comedy? Think about it.”

DT

This Chinese Woman’s Simple Thought’s On ISMA.

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I look Asian? Definitely. Chinese? Maybe. Does it matter? No.

The recent rise of ultra-racist groups in Malaysia such as Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (ISMA) really leaves me puzzled as to how super shallow they define race as they parrot their hate towards the Malaysian Chinese based community. It would be so easy for me to respond to their lack of basic human respect and tolerance, but perhaps there are some things deeper to what race is, and these are my thoughts.

I am known from school as a banana, yellow on the outside, white in the inside, describing my person as being Chinese only on the outlook but almost entirely Western within. Obviously, I read, write and converse in English pretty well, but I still struggle daily while conversing in Cantonese, and I do not read and write Chinese words. When I learn new songs, I have to depend on available pinyin translations.

I am not exactly that Chinese. I do not have classic slant eyes. And growing up in a Malay school, I am actually more Malay than Chinese. And I do not even look entirely Chinese, due to the fact of my upbringing, and more so how environment changes the texture of our skin and how our body adapts to the climate here, which is why Malaysian Chinese folks look different in comparison to people from China.

So the crazy statements made by these insane people from ISMA are astounding. Let alone the fact that I know friends who have Malay and Chinese parents. Does that mean their child is half native half “intruders”? Or is their child lesser than Malay for having Chinese blood? And what exactly makes Malays superior, when everyone is born with gifts to this big world, and regardless of race, superiority is up to the individual?

And as individuals, regardless of skin colour, we all have choices that are not representative of what we are, and what we do should define us as individuals regardless of race. There are essentially the basic human principles of doing the right thing and doing things right as a human being. And if one may argue there is no right or wrong, there is ultimately, good or bad, undeniably. And what this ISMA is doing, is painfully very, very bad.

Imagine this scenario; I call anyone who comes from out of the Klang Valley as trespassers. I say that the migration of people from Perak is a mistake. I deny that people from Perak contributes most to the economy and the growth of Klang Valley, citing the KL folks as contributors too. That Perak people were imported to dispossess KL folks’ “birthright”. Then I label Perak-ians as extremists for not embracing modern living.

Do I not sound utterly ridiculous? Because we are our own individual members of this state called Malaysia. The same way we are citizens on this crummy rock in space called earth. Hence, to draw new lines on this earth and build a box on it, then creep and live inside it while shouting to everyone out of the box as “outsiders”, is essentially what ISMA is doing. In other words, Abdullah Zaik is nuts, and whichever idiot follows him is even more nuts.

Funnily enough, ISMA and their ilk are marginalizing themselves by wishing for less friends to hang around with, wanting to be by themselves, and after placing territorial lines forsaking the Chinese, they call Chinese people ungrateful. For what? It really sounds like a sociopathic group. We thought after the MH 370 tragedy opened Malaysia up as a mere peanut in the eyes of the world, even extremists would wake up to the faux superiority.

It is such that irks me. To espouse a sense of entitlement is an admission to one’s lack of passion and willpower to achieve anything and everything without excuses. To accuse others of attempting to take away any entitlement is confessing that others have passion and willpower to get where they want to be without handouts given to them. It is so easy to be lazy, yet be jealous of those who work their guts out.

We are all called by the universe to do good for each other, and to try live together and be with one another, however difficult. Justice is the opposite side of harm, and when ISMA harms what love binds us together as a humble country with great food, incredible beaches and a beautiful Klang Valley skyline which is built by all races of Malaysia, can we say ISMA is far from superior, or rather very insecure hateful bigots?

I say yes, because we will all live and die one day, and we will have our celebrations and regrets, and while they try to seek ownership of this land, they will one day realize there are leaving this world with nothing. Their distortions will count for nothing, their instigations and provocations meaningless. We all have only one life to live; do they seriously wish to live with such bigotry? They seem that foolish.

Where Is Leona Lo?

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When I first became an advocate for transsexual rights in 2007, Leona Lo was the one person I really looked up too. She was a lone, strong and distinct voice amongst elitist transgender groups bent on exploiting transgender issues for popularity and internal political mileage, similar to the ones we have here in Malaysia.

She was sincere and true to her wishes to share her story to highlight the plight of transwomen in South East Asia, and yet kept a reasonably low profile for all her exploits. She had a heart for the population.

Besides Saas Rogando Sasot, she was one of the best advocates in the Far East. Many times she would stand up where it was impossible for others. She opened her life so that others may be able to open theirs with less troubles.

Following her blogs, first Wo-manly and then Leona’s Blog, gave me a spark of the daily doses of possibilities in my journey as a transsexual woman. Her views on the need to differentiate cross-dressers with transsexual women, her thoughts on life and her surroundings, her incredible marathon journeys, and many other stories, served as inspiration for many like me.

I related to her in so many ways, and the first time I met her at Annexe Gallery, Central Market, KL – pure magic. There in front of me, was a true woman, without the overly-soft behaviour that is often the habit of the community, and none of the vanity botox and breast enhancements.

A transsexual woman with so much aura, she did not need to compensate it by under-dressing to exert sexiness like most transgender women do. And most distinctively in the Ah Qua Show (a stage act based on her autobiography), she performed her art without drag, while many transsexual women and gay men seem to need over-the-top make up and dressing for any performances.

A few will try begging to differ, however the fact remains; she is truly remarkable, a woman that is so far ahead of the transsexual and transgender community, trying to pull them back into society to experience the world, but for their stubbornness bred from elitism and herd mentality.

She is a natural woman. An icon of what a transsexual woman can be and can accomplish. One that has earned some place in Singaporean society, amidst the current crazy intolerance and ignorance of Singaporeans. She is my symbol. She is my heart.

Breaking her own principle, she helped me financially. She emailed me many times in my grief to never let myself fall. She soothed me in her conversations and made me feel less like a depressed retard and more of a decent human, and from that moment I realize, I am never alone. With her, I believe I can be much better than what my doubts limit me.

Later on, in a message to me in LinkedIn, she said she would like to end all future correspondences. It broke me. I cannot imagine how I feel losing her. Someone who slams passion down my throat, empowering my lungs to breathe in life.

But somehow, I knew the day was coming. Because as an advocate for a population that is too negative, hurt and buried in victim mentality, it somehow is a lost cause with little change to see for the future. Her last few blog posts before she deleted her blog indicated an intention for silence. Perhaps, I could understand.

This week, I finally learn to accept that she is gone, god knows for how long or will she be back. With that, like she told me a few years ago, it is time for us to share our own stories. I will share mine, especially to the general public, for them to see that we are much more than what society think we are. Leona Lo, wherever you are, you are one of the most beautiful women in my life. Take care.

Joseph N. Goh’s Celebrating LGBTQ Identities, Attractions and Expressions in God: A Response to Pastor Edmund Smith.

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image from sarahmelnychuk.blogspot.com (note: i do not believe in symbolism such as the lgbt rainbow flag. however in respect to this article, i am willing to make this one exception.)

Edmund Smith and Real Love Ministry are no strangers to those familiar with the ex-gay movement in the Far East. Like his counterparts, Edmund Smith ignores the validity of homosexuality by exploiting his heterosexual self, wife and children as proof of his ex-gay-ness, and along the way he also added the title “ex-transsexual”, parroting a gross revision of what is known as Gender identity Disorder by confusing it with his cross-dressing habit which ended after his boyfriend asked him to be a full man.

A peak into Christianity Malaysia shows he has been active again in the last few years, going to churches around Malaysia, preaching on the “sexual brokenness” of LGBTs, while continuing weird and at times comical attempts to rebrand his drag persona into a medical condition (transsexualism) then claims to be out of a “lifestyle” (for real?) and somehow relate it back to homosexuality (what?).

I will definitely be writing an open letter soon on his blatant misrepresentation of transsexuals, which is a concern because what he preaches is against all medical and health stances, as he took three distinct unrelated issues – homosexuality, gender identity, sexual identity – and mashes them up to whatever he wants to call them to fit his story, trivializing the sufferings of those born transsexuals, who have to endure physical stress of the brain sex being at odds with the birth sex, into a mere cross-dressing issue.

Till then, I shall swallow my justifiable anger for the time being *inhale*; it is my pleasure to present to you an authoritative theological perspective from a friend Pastor Joseph N. Goh, in response Edmund Smith, in the light of the latter’s latest sermon. Pastor Joseph shares his thoughts as “an accessible, and a theologically- and pastorally-meaningful response to Pastor Smith, with the hope that it will help both LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ Christians see that there are alternative ways of understanding LGBTQ persons in relation to the Christian faith, scriptures and theology.”

Well Pastor Joseph N. Goh, over to you:-

Pastor Edmund Smith and “A Homosexual Lifestyle”

My reflection is conceptualised as a response to a sharing by Pastor Edmund Smith on February 23, 2014 at the Community Baptist Church at Kota Damansara, Selangor, Malaysia, on “how God restored his identity as the son of the Living God from a homosexual lifestyle.”[1] This sharing was subsequently published in the Malaysian Christian news website Christianity Malaysia on March 5, 2014.[2] Smith and his wife, Amanda, are “the founders and directors of Real Love Ministry (RLM), an organisation that trains individuals into becoming Befrienders for the Marginalised Communities.”[3]They lead a church called RLM Fellowship, “to cater mainly for [sic] the sexually broken and Befrienders to sexually broken.”[4] Their project can be summed up in “Smith’s message to sexually broken people (SBP) … that ‘change is possible and he is a living example what the Creator God has done in his life.’”[5]He advocates a ‘conversion’ for “lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transsexuals,”[6] individuals whom the news report identifies as “the sexually broken,”[7] and on par with “compulsive masturbators, prostitution involvement, porn addiction, and all the other sexuality issues.”[8]

My reflection responds to the major points which were reported from Smith’s sharing, but also to numerous verbatim quotes from Smith himself within the news report. I feel for and respect Smith’s honesty, vulnerability and courage in sharing his life, particularly the sufferings and confusion he underwent as a child. Nevertheless, I feel that it is necessary for me to express my disagreement with some of his points. Throughout the news report, Smith refers to “a homosexual lifestyle”[9] as sin, conspiracy with the devil, and against God’s plan. Moreover, he asserts that an abandonment of “a homosexual lifestyle” is possible due to the grace of God, and quotes from various scriptural passages to substantiate his points. In this reflection, I offer alternative insights and interpretations in response to Smith’s various ideas of “a homosexual lifestyle” in Christianity Malaysia. After a brief look at lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning (LGBTQ)[10] persons and the Bible, I respond to Smith’s discourses in various sections of this reflection by discussing themes of God’s gift, God’s transformative love, and Churches and LGBTQ Christians. My reflection is not meant to be a highly academic project or a personal attack. Instead, as a queer-gay Christian man and ordained minister, I try to provide an accessible, and a theologically- and pastorally-meaningful response to Pastor Edmund Smith’s sharing. It is my earnest hope that this humble reflection will help both LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ Christians see that there are alternative ways of understanding LGBTQ persons in relation to the Christian faith, scriptures and theology.

LGBTQ Persons and the Bible[11]

Christian scriptures have often been used against persons whose “sexual orientation or gender identity or gender expression”[12]challenge and transgress heteronormative socio-cultural expectations, [13] namely LGBTQ persons. The use of Christian scriptures against LGBTQ persons is often referred to as “textual harassment”[14] or “bible bashing,”[15] and the scriptural references used are frequently cited as “clobber passages.”[16] Yet, as LGBTQ Christians who cherish our faith, many of us have learned that those who use the Bible against us often overlook the socio-cultural contexts of the Bible, and understand the Bible only through singular, heteronormative ways. Scripture scholar Mary Anne Tolbert reminds us that Bible writers “participate[d] in cultures that were deeply patriarchal and nationalistic.”[17] Due to the socio-cultural conditions at that time and as a matter of ‘survival,’ these writers rejected “the supposed sexual, religious, and social practices of outsiders or foreign colonizers was as much a political statement bolstering group survival as it was a religious belief.”[18] Therefore, anything that was regarded as ‘not from the culture’ of the writers was rejected as sinful, and this greatly influenced the way they thought of their relationship with God and wrote the scriptures. These time-specific understandings became “‘naturalized’ or universalized in contemporary evangelical readings”[19] among many Bible scholars and readers over the years, without critically examining the relationship between ancient texts and modern day lives.

As LGBTQ Christians, we are gradually realising that the Bible does not condemn us: heteronormative interpretations of the Bible do. This realisation has helped us to reclaim the Bible as our holy book and, as lesbian minister Nancy L. Wilson says, “to fearlessly read the Bible, to apply its healing and empowering message to [our] lives.”[20] We realise that “there is not one way of reading the Bible.”[21]Instead of absorbing hateful and destructive interpretations of the Bible, we are learning to ‘see’ ourselves in the Bible, and draw many constructive and life-giving meanings from it for our own lives. We understand that God has many messages for us as LGBTQ Christians through the Bible. We realise that, as theologian, scripture scholar and LGBTQ-ally Jeffrey Kuan says, “how we read and use the Bible depends on what it means in our particular life of faith and how we understand its authority.”[22] As LGBTQ Christians, we reject the distortions and misinterpretations of scriptural passages that are used against us by individuals such as Edmund Smith, who insist that we must “change” and abandon our “homosexual lifestyle” in order to be acceptable or ‘whole’ in God’s eyes. Instead, when we read the Bible, we see in it the love of God who creates us as we are, and as we are becoming. This perspective helps us to understand our relationship with, and knowledge of God. This relationship with God, and the desire to know God, can be understood in a simple way as theology, or ‘God-talk.’ For LGBTQ people, this “talking about God”[23] is also known as “queer theology,” or “‘talk about God by and for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, questioning people as well as … allies.’”[24] My reflection travels along these perspectives.

God’s Gift

Many mainstream Christian institutions seek to draw a line between knowing that one has same-sex attraction and acting on this attraction. The Roman Catholic Church, for instance, is against violence towards LGBTQ persons and teaches that LGBTQ persons “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.”[25] In rejecting the idea “all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it,”[26] the church sees same-sex attraction as abnormal, but not wrong or sinful in itself. At the same time, the church also says that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and can in no case be approved of.”[27] In simple terms, the church sees same-sex attraction as sort of ‘neutral,’ but any same-sex activity as sinful.

Pastor Edmund Smith claims that “orientation is not a sin but lifestyle is.”[28] Like the Roman Catholic Church, Smith believes that it is possible to separate “orientation” from “lifestyle.” What Smith really means by “lifestyle” is unclear. LGBTQ persons are as diverse as their non-LGBTQ counterparts. There is no such thing as “a homosexual lifestyle,” or that homosexuality is itself a lifestyle. Regardless of sexual attractions, gender identities and gender expressions, different people have different lifestyles. Moreover, the different ways in which people live are not necessarily and at all times dictated by their sexual attractions, gender identities and gender expressions. It seems very likely that in saying “lifestyle,” Smith is making a reference to the way he used to “practice [sic] a transgender lifestyle at a young age … wear dresses, grow long hair, and play with dolls,”[29] and the instances in which he “dressed up as a woman on stage as a professional performer.”[30] Or perhaps he is talking about genital activity. I find many problems with this understanding of “lifestyle.” First, Smith appears to be projecting his own sense of guilt and shame from his past into his sharing and understanding of “lifestyle.” Second, he seems confused about the differences between “homosexual,” “transgender,” cross-dressing and a sense of enjoyment in activities that are commonly associated with women. Thus, he lumps sexual attraction, sexual expressions, gender identity and gender expression – all different realities – into what he calls “a homosexual lifestyle.” Third, Smith’s idea of “lifestyle” fails to consider the endlessly diverse ways in which we form loving commitments, discover and celebrate the beauty of our genders and sexualities, and have intimate connections with God as LGBTQ Christians. He disregards the fact that many of us see our gender identities, gender expressions, sexual attractions and sexual expressions as gifts from God.

In advocating that “orientation is not a sin but lifestyle is,”[31] Smith calls for a split between same-sex attraction and activity. I find problems with this separation, and I see it as completely artificial and “inhuman.” Becoming human means that one tries to be true to oneself at all times. To insist on a disconnection between same-sex attraction and activity is to promote schizophrenia in LGBTQ persons who are struggles to be honest with themselves. Moreover, becoming human means that the various aspects of human existence are always interconnected. The many parts that make up what it means to be human cannot be dissected into categories that are completely disconnected from each other. Furthermore, to separate “orientation” from “lifestyle” is to advocate the understanding of ‘love the sinner, hate the sin.’ This means that one can tolerate the person’s same-sex attraction, but any expression due to that attraction is not acceptable. Religious studies scholar Anne Pellegrini and gender scholar Janet Jakobsen observe that this sort of tolerance “maintains the very structures of hierarchy and discrimination on which hatred is based.”[32] In other words, the call to separate “orientation” from “lifestyle” maintains the perception that as LGBTQ persons, we are somewhat “abnormal,” yet we should be tolerated as a matter of Christian charity, as long as we do not get involved in any same-sex activity.

I am grateful that Smith admits that “all people are sexual beings.”[33] In the news report, Smith holds the opinion that “God gave us sex as an intimacy to be enjoyed within marriage but the devil perverted it.”[34] This leads me to believe that he understands “sex” as genital activities which generate intimacy. I also understand his idea that “the devil perverted it” to mean that God’s gift of sexuality is heteronormative and meant only for heteronormative marriages. To put it differently, his idea is that sex is valid as long as it is between a man and a woman within a marital commitment.[35] I believe that sex between men and women in loving commitment is God’s gift. Yet, I also believe that any just and egalitarian sexual relation between men and women as consenting adults is God’s gift. In fact, I believe thatall just, respectful and egalitarian sexual relations between human beings as consenting adults are gifts from God. Lesbian theologian Carter Heyward reminds us that “to speak of the erotic or of God is to speak of power in right relation.”[36] Christian ethicist and LGBTQ-ally James B. Nelson says that human relationships show “God’s own passion for connection”[37] with human beings. Simply said, this means that any form of intimacy in which human beings respect each other reflects God and God’s gift, as well as God’s desire to connect with human beings. To say that sex is valid only if it is “enjoyed within marriage” between a man and a woman is to say that God discriminates against those who do not feel called to be sexually attracted to people of the opposite sex, or who do not feel called to get married. It is to say that God is heteronormative, that God planned for all human beings to be exclusively heteronormative and married, and that LGBTQ persons are a gross perversion of God’s plan. I disagree, because my experiences have taught me that the world is made up of people with extremely diverse gender identities and sexual attractions. This helps me to understand that God creates diversely. I see sexual activity as God’s gifts for all persons, regardless of how they identify their gender or sexuality, and with whom they choose to engage in sexual relations. In all instances of sexual activity where intimacy, mutuality and respect are present, and where persons are treated as persons instead of sexual objects, God is present.

God’s Transformative Love

Complexity of Human Lives

I truly sympathise with Pastor Edmund Smith on the negative experiences of his childhood. I am genuinely pained by how Smith’s father was “devastated that Edmund was not the child he had been dreaming of”[38] and that “he never looked at Edmund, said anything nice to him, or hugged him”[39] as expressions of fatherly love. I feel sorry that Smith’s mother’s “[desire] to have a daughter”[40] caused her to become “a depressed mother.”[41] No child wants to feel unwanted and unloved, just as no LGBTQ person wishes to feel unwanted or unloved because of his/her sexual attraction, gender identity or gender expression. What Smith experienced in his life is regrettable, and it shows his yearning for love and acceptance, not unlike for many LGBTQ persons. Yet I am unsure of Smith’s claims that his mother’s condition caused her to “[give] birth to a very sad child,”[42] and that “whatever that goes through in the emotion of a mother does affect the emotion of a child.”[43] I do not disagree with Smith that “children can tell a lot of things … [and that] … there’s power in the tongue especially for certain kids with certain type of personality, just one sentence, it would affect them terribly.”[44] Yet, even if Smith was a disappointment to his parents, subjected to verbal abuse and humiliation, and that “his mother would allow him to practice a transgender lifestyle [sic] at a young age … to wear dresses, grow long hair, and play with dolls,”[45] one cannot presume these events as the causesofSmith’s sexual inclinations towards men and engagement in activities that are often linked to women. I agree with him that “it’s not God’s fault”[46] and “God didn’t create [him] that way,”[47] but to say that “something went wrong in the womb”[48] is an overly simplistic way of explaining what happened to him.

Blaming The Devil?

Similarly, to blame the devil for the existence of LGBTQ identities, attractions and expressions is simplistic. It is almost like saying that life is only a “a cosmic struggle between God and the Devil,”[49] and human beings are pawns in this battle. It reminds me of how those who avoid taking responsibility for their actions say “the devil made me do it!” More importantly, to say that “the devil perverted”[50] what Smith understands as necessarily heteronormative sex and human beings is to dismiss the beautiful complexity of human existence, as well as to dismiss God, the Author of diverse human lives. According to God’s designs, human lives are not exclusively heteronormative. Neither can human life be easily thought of as either black or white, because human life is like untold variations of countless colours. Nevertheless, I believe that human beings struggle with discerning what is constructive in their lives, and often fall short by committing sin, or taking up what is destructive. God inspires and guides human beings to choose what is constructive, but they do not always make decisions in favour of what is constructive. To blame the devil for life’s tragedies is to gloss over the reality that life has many tragedies, and also that we are responsible for what we do as human beings.

Becoming the Best we can Become

Human beings are not helpless and passive victims of circumstances. Even if we make destructive decisions, we are able to turn around and make constructive decisions. In other words, we are able to transform ourselves, and when there is transformation for the better in human lives, God is present. Based on this perspective, I truly appreciate Smith’s insight that “God makes all things beautiful… the devil throws [a] lemon, [and] God turns [it] into lemonade.”[51] God’s ability to make all things beautiful is God’s transformative love. I understand this to mean that human beings are able to overcome hardship and destruction with God’s assistance. Just as Smith states that “feeding on negative emotional garbage brings about a negative self-identity,”[52] I believe that human beings are capable of bringing about positive self-identities by choosing to feed on positive emotional resources. As human beings who embrace God’s transformative love, we are able to see beyond the immediate, and ponder on the wonderful ways in which God is acting in our lives. Unlike Smith, however, I do not see the power of God in “[making] all things beautiful”[53] in terms of abandoning “a homosexual lifestyle.” Rather, I see this transformative love of God as actively constructing the lives of LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ persons that have been affected by negative childhood experiences. I see this transformative love of God as a powerful force in helping LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ persons in facing the ongoing challenges of life. I do not see this transformative love of God as making LGBTQ persons ‘turn straight,’ or become ‘real men’ and ‘real women’ according to heteronormative expectations. God’s ability to turn lemons into lemonade is an invitation from God to allhuman beings—LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ—to become the best human beings that they can possibly become.

Relationships of Love

Smith says that “all … who are in Christ … must remember God is not merely … God but He’s … Father, He’s Father God, He’s Daddy … We are no longer orphans.” He emphasises this image of God by stating that “we have a perfect Father (in Heaven) today, through Christ.” I appreciate Smith’s image of God as paternal, especially because his previous negative experiences with his own father does not deter him from seeing God as father. I do, however, want to stress that God is also mother, brother, sister, friend and lover. These are all human imageries that help us to understand and form a loving relationship with God through an appreciation of the rich and various relationships that we form with fellow human beings.[54] Using Smith’s words, these imageries help us to understand that “Jesus Christ didn’t give us a religion but a relationship with Him.” The relationships that human beings form with God in Christ is the model on which human beings form their relationships with each other. God’s relationship with all human beings is based on love, not on their gender identities or sexual attraction. If relationships between human beings reflect relationships between human beings and God, then these relationships are based on love, and not fixated on heteronormative demands of gender identities or sexual attractions. Love and relationships between human beings take many diverse forms, but if they are based on respect, egalitarianism, justice, mutuality and honesty, God is present. As queer theologian Lai-shan Yip says, “diverse sexual expression is affirmed as reflecting the Triune God.”[55]

When he says that “there’s something higher than you[r] emotions”[56] and “you don’t live your life based on orientation and feelings,”[57]Smith is saying that LGBTQ Christians should not give in to, but should ‘overcome’ their emotions, attractions and feelings as LGBTQ persons. I do not agree that just because someone is LGBTQ, he or she is automatically is living in sin.[58] Nevertheless, I believe that these words can be interpreted in another way for LGBTQ Christians. I agree that there is something higher than our emotions, and that is God, as well as God’s command of love that is expressed in Christ.[59] Regardless of whether we identify as LGBTQ or not, we do not need to be enslaved by destructive sexual urges that can hurt ourselves and others. Any person can be sexually broken. Yet, God invites us to deepen our emotions, orientation and feelings by showing love and respect to ourselves and to others.

Regardless of whether we are single, in loving commitment with our partners, in other creative forms of relationship or friendship with others, God calls us to show and live by respect, egalitarianism, mutuality and honesty to ourselves. Smith says that “because we are in Jesus Christ and in the Spirit, we are therefore victorious in every sin in our lives.”[60] I would like to reinterpret his words by saying that we can be victorious not by giving up our supposed ‘sinfulness’ as LGBTQ Christians, but by overcoming temptation and sin in the way that every Christian is called to do. As LGBTQ Christians, we can allow ourselves to be transformed and empowered by God to show love in all circumstances of our lives.

Churches and LGBTQ Christians

God’s invitation for us to love is particularly relevant if we are Church leaders, workers, helpers or representatives. So many LGBTQ Christians have been wounded by the discrimination and rejection of their Churches. When Pastor Edmund Smith says that “the Church needs to be the source of truth, information, comfort, and acceptance for people who are struggling sexually,”[61] he means that Churches need to be pastoral and kind to LGBTQ Christians in order to help them overcome their “homosexual lifestyle.” I believe that every human being has the right to be free and choose what is best for himself or herself. If an LGBTQ Christian believes that he or she ‘does not want to be’ LGBTQ anymore and seeks guidance and counselling from the Church, it is his or her right, even if I do not agree with him or her, or believe that it is possible. Nevertheless, what about LGBTQ Christians who love God, our Christian faith and our Churches, and who continue to have same-sex relationships? What about LGBTQ Christians who believe that we are gifted by God in our gender identities and sexual attractions, but are misunderstood and rejected by our societies, families, friends and Churches? Just as Pastor Edmund Smith states that he is living proof that it is possible to change with the help of God in order to be his true self, so too do we as LGBTQ Christians desire to be our truest selves and living signs that it is possible to live as LGBTQ persons and Christians before God.

Smith says that “the church should be the place to offer godly counselling.”[62] What kind of godly counselling can Churches offer to LGBTQ Christians who celebrate their gender identities and sexual attractions? I believe that Churches bear a great responsibility to show kindness and acceptance to LGBTQ Christians, not out of pity or in a condescending way, but to welcome them as they are, and to help them discern how God is acting in their lives. Churches must not hold a hidden agenda to ‘convert’ LGBTQ Christians out of their “homosexual lifestyle,” but to ask them what they need. Churches must help LGBTQ Christians to understand that the Bible is a socio-cultural product, and in some cases cannot be taken literally and applied to modern day Christians. Churches need to journey with and empower LGBTQ Christians who have internalised homonegativity, self-hate and low self-esteem.[63] Churches need to assist, support and defend LGBTQ Christians by helping them understand that society stigmatises and rejects them because of misconceptions and misunderstandings. Churches must also demonstrate humility in admitting that Churches themselves have played a major role in the ill-treatment of, and self-hate among LGBTQ Christians over the years because of narrow interpretations of scriptures and theology.

Conclusion

In his sharing, Pastor Edmund Smith says that we are “in Christ,”[64] and that each of us is “the child of the most High God.”[65] These words reflect the truth that each of us, LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ, is precious in the eyes of God. Those of us who identify both as LGBTQand Christian must learn to deepen the reality that God created us and loves us as we are. We need to remind ourselves that God invites us to express our gender identities, gender expressions, and sexual attractions in just and loving ways. Therefore, our identities and our expressions may be different from the norm, but they are not sinful because they are gifts from God. We need to learn that our gender identities and sexual attractions are very complex, and do not always fall neatly into the categories that our societies and Churches have simplistically constructed. We need to seek deep within our hearts in order to learn how we can be true to ourselves, and to connect the different parts of our lives in order to live honestly as sexual human beings. We must learn to reclaim the Bible as our holy book and its message as our way of life. We must understand how and why the Bible is often used against us, and we need to reject the interpretations that abuse us and try to break us. As LGBTQ Christians, we are invited by God to become the best human beings we can become by exercising respect, egalitarianism, justice, mutuality and honesty towards others. God’s transformative love dwells within us, and it is our responsibility to live it out as human beings and as Christians. Churches play a special role in helping LGBTQ Christians to understand themselves and to grow as human beings and followers of Christ.

I would like to conclude my reflection by quoting from Pastor Edmund Smith. Although he uses these words in a different context, I find them very uplifting and encouraging for LGBTQ Christians who celebrate their gender identities and sexual attractions as blessings from God. These words speak of faith, hope and love for LGBTQ Christians as they walk along the journey of life as children of the living God:

“Today as I looked back, God was in my life from the very beginning … God was doing great and mighty things, bringing me to where I am today. God is amazing. I tell you He is doing wonderful things behind your back that you don’t even know of. Right now in your life, wherever you are, God is doing something behind your backs. Whatever God is doing is always good! Hold on to His Promises! In due time, you will see the good things that God’s been doing.”[66]

 

Note: I would like express my gratitude to Lai-shan Yip for her insights, comments and suggestions on an earlier draft of this reflection.

References

[1] For the full news report, see Adeline Lum, “Celebrating Manhood in Christ,” Christianity Malaysia, last modified March 5, 2014, accessed April 4, 2014, http://christianitymalaysia.com/wp/celebrating-manhood-christ/.

[2]Ibid.

[3] Ezra Chim, “‘She’ Is My BROTHER – Pastor Edmund Smith of Real Love Ministry (RLM) in Malacca,” Christianity Malaysia, last modified October 16, 2012, accessed April 6, 2014, http://christianitymalaysia.com/wp/she-brother-pastor-edmund-smith-real-love-ministry-rlm-malacca/; for more information on Edmund Smith, see Ee Chien Chua, “Finding Real Love,” Asian Beacon, last modified July 28, 2013, accessed April 6, 2014, http://www.asianbeacon.org/finding-real-love/; Adeline Lum, “Freedom in Christ for Sexually Broken People,”Christianity Malaysia, last modified April 12, 2013, accessed April 6, 2014, http://christianitymalaysia.com/wp/freedom-christ-sexually-broken-people/; Adeline Lum, “Am I Adam or Eve?,” Christianity Malaysia, last modified April 15, 2013, accessed April 6, 2014,http://christianitymalaysia.com/wp/adam-eve/; Adeline Lum, “There Is Hope for the Sexually Different People,” Christianity Malaysia, last modified April 21, 2013, accessed April 6, 2014, http://christianitymalaysia.com/wp/hope-sexually-people/.

[4] Chim, “‘She’ Is My BROTHER”.”

[5] Ibid.

[6]Lum, “Celebrating Manhood in Christ.”

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9]Ibid.

[10] Lived experiences reveal a massive and diverse range of gender and sexual identifyings beyond this simple acronym. “LGBTQ” is used in this reflection merely for ease of reference to those whose gender and sexual identifyings contradict heteronormative expectations. See note 14.

[11] For this section, I have chosen to focus on queer readings of scriptures, even though I acknowledge the important contributions of postmodern, feminist, liberationist and postcolonial interpretations.

[12] “The Yogyakarta Principles: Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in Relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity”, March 26, 2007, 11, accessed April 4, 2014, http://www.yogyakartaprinciples.org/principles_en.pdf.

[13] In this reflection, I use the word “heteronormative” to refer to the valorisation of heterosexuality, as well as the presumption of particular sexual outlooks and practices that are considered as socially-acceptable and ‘normal.’

[14] Mary Ann Tolbert, “What Word Shall We Take Back?,” in Take Back the Word: A Queer Reading of the Bible, ed. Robert Goss and Mona West (Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press, 2000), vii.

[15] See Mona West, “The Bible and Homosexuality,” http://mccchurch.org/download/theology/homosexuality/BibleandHomosexuality.pdf(accessed April 5, 2014)

[16] See Mona West, “The Power of the Bible,” http://mccchurch.org/download/theology/queertheology/PowerofBible.pdf (accessed April 5, 2014).

[17] Tolbert, “What Word Shall We Take Back?,” vii.

[18] Ibid., viii.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Nancy L. Wilson, “Our Story Too … Reading the Bible with ‘New      Eyes,’”http://mccchurch.org/download/theology/homosexuality/OurStoryToo.pdf (accessed April 5, 2014).

[21] Johanna W. H. van Wijk-Bos, “How to Read What We Read,” in Body and Soul: Rethinking Sexuality as Justice-Love, ed. Marvin M. Ellison and Sylvia Thorson-Smith (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2008), 63.

[22] Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan, “Reading with New Eyes: Social Location and the Bible,” Pacific School of Religion Bulletin (Winter 2003):1,http://www.psr.edu/reading-new-eyes-social-location-and-bible (accessed April 5, 2014)

[23] Patrick S. Cheng, Radical Love: An Introduction to Queer Theology (New York, N.Y: Seabury Books, 2011), 9.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed (E-Book). (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1997), no. 2358, accessed October 15, 2013,http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catechism/catechism-of-the-catholic-church/epub/index.cfm.

[26] Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics”, para. 8, last modified December 29, 1975, accessed October 16, 2013,http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19751229_persona-humana_en.html.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Lum, “Celebrating Manhood in Christ.”

[29] Ibid.

[30] Ibid.

[31] Ibid.

[32] Janet R. Jakobsen and Ann Pellegrini, Love the Sin: Sexual Regulation and the Limits of Religious Tolerance, Sexual cultures (New York: New York University Press, 2003), 50.

[33] Lum, “Celebrating Manhood in Christ.”

[34] Ibid.

[35] It is interesting to note sacramental theologian Kenan B. Osborne’s observation of the early life of the church that “the first indication of marriage is … around 400 and a clear sacramental acceptance only in the twelfth century.” Kenan B. Osborne, Sacramental Theology: A General Introduction, (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1994), 6. Hence, Smith’s claim that “God gave us sex as an intimacy to be enjoyed within marriage” must not be romantically spiritualised to the point of neglecting the rather late recognition and acceptance of marriage as a component of church life in history.

[36] Carter Heyward, Touching Our Strength: The Erotic as Power and the Love of God (San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1989), 3.

[37] James B. Nelson, Body Theology (Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox, 1992), 23.

[38] Lum, “Celebrating Manhood in Christ.”

[39] Ibid.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Ibid.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Ibid.

[45] Ibid.

[46] Ibid.

[47] Ibid.

[48] Ibid.

[49] Adriaan S. van Klinken, “Gay Rights, the Devil and the End Times: Public Religion and the Enchantment of the Homosexuality Debate in Zambia,” Religion 43, no. 4 (2013): 520.

[50] Lum, “Celebrating Manhood in Christ.”

[51] Ibid.

[52] Ibid.

[53] Ibid.

[54] As an example, feminist theologian Maria Anicia B. Co says that “a father-God who is not experienced as a patriarch can equally be experienced as a mother-God.” See “Discerning the Voices from Women’s Experiences,” in Discipleship of Asian Women at the Service of Life, ed. Virginia Saldanha, vol. II (Bangalore, India: Claretian Publications, 2011), 80.

[55] Lai-shan Yip, “Listening to the Passion of Catholic nu-Tongzhi: Developing a Catholic Lesbian Feminist Theology in Hong Kong,” inQueer Religion, ed. Donald L. Boisvert and Jay Emerson Johnson, vol. 2 (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2012), 76.

[56] Lum, “Celebrating Manhood in Christ.”

[57] Ibid.

[58] Here, I agree with queer theologian Mary Elise Lowe’s opinion that ‘sin’ is not simply “an autonomous subject with a stable sinful will.” See “Gay, Lesbian, and Queer Theologies: Origins, Contributions, and Challenges,” Dialog 48, no. 1 (2009): 55.

[59] John 13: 34-35.

[60] Lum, “Celebrating Manhood in Christ.”

[61] Ibid.

[62] Ibid.

[63] “Internalised homonegativity” is my preferred description for the common term “internalised homophobia.” In my opinion, many LGBTQ persons absorb and internalise many kinds of negativity, not just a fear of being different in gender identity or sexual attraction.

[64] Lum, “Celebrating Manhood in Christ.”

[65] Ibid.

[66] Ibid.

Joseph N. Goh is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Gender, Sexuality and Theology with the School of Arts and Social Sciences at Monash University, Malaysia. He holds a Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.) from the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, CA. Identifying as a queer-gay ordained minister with the North American Catholic Ecumenical Church (NACEC), Goh is also a member of the Emerging Queer Asian Pacific Islander Religion Scholars (EQARS) and editor of the Queer Asian Spirit E-Magazine (QAS E-Zine). Goh holds and celebrates the belief that diverse gender orientations, gender expressions and sexual orientations are gifts from God.

For more on Goh, please visit the website, Joseph N. Goh.

© Joseph N. Goh

This re-post is requested and permitted by the author.

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