(photo taken from malaysiakini.com)
So the ruling coalition have since halted for perhaps a while, the habit of using the label “LGBT” as the other lesser human sexually deviant group, and temporarily stopped targeting Seksualiti Merdeka as a feeder of youth to be influenced into some morally bankrupt lifestyle. The sexual and gender minority population have since gone into hiding, with only some skinned down comments from the likes of Angela Kuga Thas of Knowledge and Rights with Young people through Safer Spaces (KRYSS) and Seksualiti Merdeka’s Jerome Kugan, who hopes to have another sexuality rights festival come the Malaysian Independence Day, a courageous wish considering it would probably be clamped down and out into obscurity, if not by the government, then by the anti-Seksualiti Merdeka groups.
The silence of the sexual minority and gender variant groups is understandable, yet counter-productive. The language used in explaining the reason for the silence as due to LGBT people being targeted shows yet again the culture of fear, that ironically goes against the very reason of why groups like LGBT affirmative coalitions exist in the first place, which is to be “Queer Without Fear”, as the Seksualiti Merdeka festival two years ago attempted to propagate. Yet, with the flood of misinformation and misrepresentation of the community from the government down to the commoner spreading myths in websites, the community chose to remain quiet, while more and more people are fed lies and deception that would set back the LGBT movement by many years.
Personally, I have said many times before, by ideas that have fallen to deaf ears, with responses amounting to me being “full of” myself, that I cannot “force” my “own way”, etc, without ever discussing what I mentioned – the need to relate to society. How the general public is reading into the LGBT community. It is not about me and it is not empty talk, it is a basic communication trait that you must know the person before you engage in conversation. Right now, many Malaysians especially the lesser educated, think that LGBT = sexual deviancy, that Seksualiti Merdeka = free sex party and gay = anal sex. Any attempt to push rights for sexual minorities and gender variancy now would be deemed as wanting rights for explicit sexual immorality, until the matter of who we are is corrected.
We will not get much ground until we take our place among society. Period. We are already caught in the past few years justifying that we are all about sex, from lesbian parties with women showing overtly public display of affection, to gay men having orgies at massage parlours, to trans people loitering on the streets soliciting for sex. We do not have representations the public sees as positive, which is necessary for people to see us as decent human beings first. Of course, the fear of coming out may hinder a lot of role models from showing they are worth a place even in a country as prejudicial as Malaysia. However, we must be strong, if not for ourselves, than for the LGBT youth.
An outcome must be decided, and it should be based on basic human necessities such love, jobs, protection, finances, youth and many more. Making fun of gay-spotting guidelines, trying to repeal sodomy laws, having inverted tribal conversations within four walls we call festivals, and other “what we want” plans do not work. A strategy must be outlined to work towards an outcome that should first be to communicate with society “who we are”, to minimize our lives as mere actions, and to impress into society the message of us being “just like you” and that we too, pay our dues in life.
This Sunday, Justice For Sisters, will be holding a donation drive. Videos would be featured, along with discussions by a panel, a highlight on the trial of 4 trans women, and a “Rainbow Roller Disco”. It claims to be an initiative by “concerned members of the public”. Question is, who? The mass public would not be able to relate to what they do. We once again claim diversity under a rainbow that has long been skewed to mean LGBTs only, and the message is LGBT centric within an arts space again, instead of having leaders to speak outwards to members of the public. As much as it affirms LGBTs, and get cash into the coffers to battle for four trans women’s rights, the general public outside of the space hardly understands the implications, let alone troubles, that the mak nyahs face.
We quietly push and shove, hoping. While the media big news is on the next pondan queen competition.