SQ21: Singapore Queers in the 21st Century
  • by Ng Yi-Sheng, published by Oogachaga, available from all major bookstores in Singapore and Fridae.com
  • Thursday, August 31, 2006

    Two bits of good news

    1. MDA (The Media Development Authority) has called us up to tell us they've got no problems with the book. They're being sensible; they'd just look silly banning it anyway, and we'd have just distributed it as a pdf.

    2. Our complete print run will be transported to Borders and Kinokuniya by Friday, so they'll have no excuses for not holding the book by then. And if MPH and Popular want to come knocking at our door... we'll just have to do a second edition. :-D

    Also, our editor Jason Wee will be exhibiting his artwork soon at the Singapore Biennale. Artlovers should go over to the City Hall exhibition space from Monday onwards.

    Monday, August 28, 2006

    International Shopping Spree!

    Woot! If you're not in Singapore and you want to buy a copy of this book, you can now buy it from the Fridae shop at http://www.fridae.com/shop/cart/home.php?cat=272!

    (Also open to those of us in Singapore who can't wait for new copies to be delivered to Borders and Kino. Turns out Kino does in fact have plenty of copies - they're just delayed in moving them from their warehouse to the bookstores itself. Can we bug them already?)

    Parliamentary influence

    I received the following e-mail from Leow Yangfa, who's one of the chirpiest guys I know and one of the intevriewees in SQ21.

    hi all !

    some of you may remember Dr Lim Wee Kiak [pictured to our right], the newly elected MP for Sembawang GRC but more infamously of the comment:

    "I'm a doctor and I do not think that homosexuality is natural." [click here for more background.]

    well some of you may also know that he's a family friend of mine, & we met at a family function today, Sunday. thought I'd give him a personalised present, & this is how it went:

    Me: "Hi Dr Lim, congratulations! & here's a thank you gift, for attending to my both dad & my aunt recently."

    WK: (looks surprised) Oh thank you! What is it?

    Me: It's a book for you (WK sees book title: "SQ21 -Singapore Queers in the 21st Century"), I hope it will open up your eyes to new perspectives.

    WK: Oh thank you! (still looking surprised)

    At the bottom of my photo on page 186, I had also autographed the following personalised message:

    "Dear Dr Lim Wee Kiak,

    These are real life stories of real people, and all natural. I should know, because I’m a social worker. Enjoy! Yangfa, 23/08/06"

    now beat that for positive action! heh.

    & I can't wait to see you all again at Borders on


    -how badass is that? :) ¡Viva la revolución!

    Accolades from Alex Au!

    Singapore's strongest gay rights activist, Alex Au, has given us a review from his acclaimed blog Yawning Bread...

    "The first-hand accounts are not just deeply touching, but for anyone who is not gay, probably mind-blowing. In the stories, you'll get to walk a little way in their shoes, negotiating space and relationships with family, friends, colleagues, even strangers."

    In the meantime, my sister tried to get a book from Taka Kinokuniya... they went and told her they'd better check in mid-September for a copy, because they were clean sold out. Another friend got one from Bugis Kino, though, so the situation's not desperate - but rest assured, it will not be a two-week wait; we will get more books over there sooner than that.

    In other news, Roy Tan just sent me the complete video recording of the launch... I've added the links to the post on photographs for the sake of continuity.

    Friday, August 25, 2006

    The launch pictures, as promised!

    Read the article about our launch at the PLU website!

    Stuff about the launch which I didn't get to say before:

    Attendance: a capacity crowd of 200-300 people (of various orientations, may I add).

    Sales: not 200 books, but 250 books.

    Distinguishing features: SQ21 is not only the first book of coming out stories in Singapore - it is the first book of coming out stories with both real photographs and names in the whole of Asia. Singapura boleh, right?

    And as promised, the photographs, taken by the indomitable Roy:

    part of the crowd at Mox.

    Sam Wu Ng Yi-Sheng
    The compere, Sam Wu, and the author, Ng Yi-Sheng.

    Jason Wee Lu Huen Dominic Chua

    Nicholas Deroose Jeremy Kwok Sheila Rajamanikam

    Okay, from the top: the editor, Jason Wee, and interviewees Lu Huen, Dominic Chua, Nicholas Deroose, Jeremy Kwok and Sheila Rajamanikam.

    Book signing

    And a shot of all 14 of us (minus Louis, who's in Switzerland getting married to his boyfriend), just before our big autograph-o-rama. My hands are waving because I'm speaking in sign language to Daniel Lim. (I only wish the photographer caught the interpreters trying to figure out how to sign "packing".)

    A fun quote from the PLU website:

    "The book is based on interviews by Ng Yi-Sheng (above right) over the past year. Even transcribing the interviews was a transgressive endeavour, undermining a lifetime of social courtesy. Yi-Sheng recalls an encounter from Chinese New Year with an 80something year old widow and neighbour.

    Neighbour: These are nice pineapple tarts.

    My mother: Yes, why don’t you tell Mrs Gan about the nice book you’re writing?

    Yi-Sheng: Yeah, um, it’s a book on homosexuality in Singapore.

    (Uncomfortable pause)

    Neighbour: Oh my. Is it rampant?"

    (UPDATE: we've got video of the event, courtesy of Roy Tan. It's in parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. You can also take your time to look at some of the still frames.)

    Oh yeah, and the TalkingCock event rocked. Alex Au, Hossan Leong, Mr Brown and Mr Miyagi also spoke... although the highlight, and the best-applauded moment, was probably the review of the different accents of English by my friend and teaching scholar, Ruby Pan (American =>British =>Singapore educated =>Singlish => Filipina. :)) Don't believe me? Just have a look a the video.)

    Thursday, August 24, 2006

    We, the Citizens: TalkingCock in Parliament

    More SQ21 books will be available at the below event!

    Singapore's GLBT Pride Season comes to a close this week with We, the Citizens: TalkingCock in Parliament, a light-hearted forum for people of all orientations, hosted by husband-and-wife filmmakers and satirists Colin Goh and Woo Yen Yen (who also wrote the foreword for our book!).

    Thursday Aug 24, 8pm
    Arts House (Old Parliament House)
    1 Old Parliament Lane.
    Admission is free, but seats are limited. Come at 7.30pm or earlier to mingle.

    Sam Wu (last night's compere) and Teng Qian Xi (our proofreadress) will also be giving speeches!

    See the IndigNation calendar writeup or my Fridae.com article for details. Also see TalkingCock.com and Singapore Dreaming for more info on the organisers.

    Da Launch!

    First of all, some pretty serious business. At about 5pm today, an anonymous woman called the printers and ordered them to cease distribution of the book until it had been reviewed. Fortunately, we had our legal eagles on hand: we knew that in order for a book to be banned, it must be gazetted before parliament. The woman (who did not reply when called back) had no case.

    A ploy of intimidation, not unlike the police threats during other IndigNation events? No idea. In any case, if they ban the book, it'll make them look silly and drive people to buy the book over Amazon. But just in case, buy the book while it's still on the shelves.

    And boy, does this book fly off the shelves! We'd been informed that usually only around 70 books are bought at book launches. Tonight we sold all 200 of the books we brought. We didn't even have complimentary copies left over for the contributors - those'll have to be delivered later. :)

    With our adorable MC Sam Wu and sign language interpreters Daniel Tung and Yen Feng, we had a kickass kickoff event at Mox - 30% off all drinks - with speeches by author Ng Yi-Sheng (that's me) and editor Jason Wee. In between, we had a panel discussion featuring Nicholas Deroose, Lu Huen, Dr Khoo Hoon Eng and Dominic Chua - with short readings by Jeremy Kwok, Sheila Rajamanikam and Khoo Hoon Eng.

    And my dad came! Everyone was so impressed at how supportive he was. Sure, my big sis was there too, but sisters are always goddesses. (My mum was in China and my brother was in the States, though, so they have valid excuses for absence).

    And then everyone descended on the contributors for autographs... all 15 of us ended up with sore wrists (we're 16 peple in the book, but one of the boys was getting married to his partner in Switzerland).

    For those of us who couldn't get books, don't worry - by the end of the week they'll be in Kino and Borders and Select. And if you want them in Popular, just make phone calls and ask for them. They'll have to pay attention eventually. :)

    Pictures coming soon!

    Tuesday, August 22, 2006

    Sunday Times, 20 August 2006, Lifestyle p22

    Interestingly enough, they also had me interviewed for a "Bookends" segment on my favourite books - and then apologised because they couldn't mention any gay books. So no-one got to hear me sing the praises of my Dykes to Watch Out For comic book collection. Oh well, they don't call it the Straights Times for nothin'. Posted by Picasa

    Monday, August 21, 2006

    Press Coverage!

    Woot! On 20 August, SQ21 got featured by Kristina Tom in the Sunday Times and by Sylvia Tan in a Fridae.com article . Together with a very small image of the cover:

    Now someone explain to me how to upload that so it always appears on the top of the screen.

    One cool thing is that Sylvia asked two of the interviewees some smart questions about their perspectives on gay issues - plus a few personal questions that didn't make it into the stories:

    æ: Who was the first person you told and how long did it take since you first realised?

    Sheila: I told my best friend and my cousins (I come from a close knit family) and they all embraced me and accepted me readily. I told my parents before I left for overseas and they came to their understanding in the years I was away.

    Nicholas: There really wasn't a person because the first time I came out was attending the support group's outing. I think the first person I actually said the actual words to would be to my good friend of more then 10 years who happened to be in the group as well. It's so funny because we have been friends since we were young but when we discovered we were both gay it was as if we had to start all over again and the last ten years was thrown out of the window or something.

    Sheila and Nicholas will both be on the panel at Mox Bar for the book launch. Seeya there.

    Sunday, August 20, 2006

    Book launch: SQ21 - Singapore Queers in the 21st Century!

    Here's the blurb for the event! Come one, come all!

    What is it like for men and women to grow up here, to come out their families, to find love and work and meaning? What are their stories? For the first time in Singapore, the book SQ21 - Singapore Queers in the 21st Century answers these questions.

    Fifteen men and women including a mother of two gay sons and a hearing impaired gay man share their stories, and their photos (yes photos - this is a real coming out book), showing their true faces and celebrating their against the odds of living full lives as gays and lesbians in Singapore. Written in a light, readable style, these inspirational stories will touch the hearts of everyone, young and old, single or in love, Singaporean and otherwise.

    SQ21 is published by Oogachaga Counseling & Support and will be sold at a discounted price at the launch.

    Date: Wednesday, 23 August 2006
    Time: 7:30 pm
    Admission: Free
    Venue: Mox bar and cafe, 21 Tanjong Pagar Road, #04-21

    Sign interpreting available
    More info on the IndigNation gay pride festival available at http://www.plu.sg/indignation.