SQ21: Singapore Queers in the 21st Century
  • by Ng Yi-Sheng, published by Oogachaga, available from all major bookstores in Singapore and Fridae.com
  • Monday, October 30, 2006

    Sunday Times again

    Sadly, both the MPH and the Popular readings seem to be on hiatus. If you wanna complain, call the bookshops up and bug them. :D

    I'm rather thrilled, though, that we're Number Two on the bestseller list at MPH! They give all their bestsellers 20% off, so that's probably the best place to buy a copy (ordinarily I'd be peeved and say they're giving unfair advantages to books which don't need any more boosts in their sales, but this time I'll make an exception. ;))

    Also well well well, we're number 4 again on the Sunday Times bestseller lists!

    Sunday Times 29 October 2006 edition of LifeStyle, L24

    1. Why We Want You To Be Rich by Donald J. Trump
    2. The Innocent Man by John Grisham
    3. Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
    4. SQ21: Singapore Queers in the 21st Century by Ng Yi-Sheng
    5. Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires by Adam Khoo
    6. Retire Rich in 30 Days by M. Kishore
    7. Social Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
    8. Ten by Vincent Ng
    9. The Speed of Trust by Stephen Covey
    10. One Business 99 Lessons by Nanz Chong-Komo

    Aw crum. This blog will get pretty boring if it's just ranks and stats every week, won't it? Btw, have you noticed how almost all the books here have something to do with money or getting rich? Except for Grisham's book, which is about crime. And almost half of the titles have numbers in them.

    So next time y'all want to write a best-seller, entitle it "7 Effective Habits for Becoming a Millionaire Bisexual Jewel Thief before the Age of 12". Come on. Tell me you wouldn't buy a book like that.

    Wednesday, October 25, 2006

    Coverage at Trevvy.com

    There's some discussion of SQ21 in this article on Singapore's gay website Trevvy.com about me and my book of poetry. It mentions the recent controversies over celebrity, but irritatingly doesn't say anything really useful about the contents of the book itself. (shrug)

    Sunday, October 22, 2006

    Two months on the bestseller list!

    Wow. Thanks you guys... I'm amazed that we've managed to keep our position in the top 10 for so long - and we still haven't dropped from No. 4! Being a Singaporean, I can't help caring about rankings ;).

    Check out the previous bestseller lists. You'll notice that over the past six weeks, we're the only book that hasn't ever fallen in the rankings. Some books thrive on hype but have no substance: they're released with a bang and then they fade away (Get Rich With Water???). But so far, it looks like the people who've bought the book are recommending it to other people - demand just isn't slacking.

    I hope all this outreach actually means that more people are becoming aware of gay, lesbian and bisexual people's experience in Singapore. But for all I know, it's the same twenty people buying all the copies to use as paperweights.

    Thanks to the people who came to my poetry book launch for "last boy"! Hope more of you can stop by this coming Friday!

    Sunday Times 22 October 2006 edition of LifeStyle, L30

    1. Why We Want You To Be Rich by Donald J. Trump
    2. The Innocent Man by John Grisham
    3. Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires by Adam Khoo
    4. SQ21: Singapore Queers in the 21st Century by Ng Yi-Sheng
    5. Ten by Vincent Ng
    6. Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
    7. Social Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
    8. Get Rich With Water by Lillian Too
    9. The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman
    10. Making Globalization Work by Joseph E. Stiglitz

    Wednesday, October 18, 2006

    The final frontier???

    KNN!!! We've been invited to read at the Bras Basah Popular books.
    I had to blog about this as soon as I heard about it because Popular bookstore isn't known for stocking a wide variety of literature or for doing authors' readings - they're more known as a family thrift bookstore where you can buy your stationery and exercise books before the school semester begins. So for SQ21 to read there is a terrific signal of acceptance. It means that gay people in Singapore are as normal as pencil sharpeners.

    (Seriously though; Popular is a really nice locally-owned store with materials at very affordable prices. Go there.)

    In other news, we've also been hearing a bunch of criticism from within the gay community recently. (Obviously the conservative straight community's saying a few things too, but we're not hearing about it... though we'd love to know.)

    There's been a point made about how the people in the book have become "accidental heroes". That's completely true; our real heroes are long-standing queer activists like Alex Au, Eileena Lee and Kelvin Wong, who weren't featured in the book - those guys are the real heroes we should be paying homage to, the ones who fought for gay rights back when the issue was truly taboo.

    The book's trying to capture the experiences of ordinary people who've come out - and there are lots of people in Singapore like that. We didn't expect the book to be this successful, but it is, and the 16 of us have become sort-of-famous because of that.

    We're not trying to be heroes, but some of us are trying to do some good. Which is why I'm so glad that Dominic's putting together a queer teachers' group, Hoon Eng's doing a friends and family of gay people's group, and Nicholas has started his gay podcast - being in the book may have given them a little kick-start to their future work. Some of us, like Cyrus, Petrina and Yangfa, have been involved in activism and social work already. Some of the rest of us will just get on with our lives - why shouldn't we? We haven't all become Mother Theresa.

    I'd also like to underscore the fact that most of us in the book did not know each beforehand - we weren't a gang of friends who tried to promote ourselves with a single text. We're in part a rather random group of different people brought together by a certain project. A lot of us have just made friends afterwards. :)

    And as for the criticism that the book's lacking in something - that we didn't feature enough of a certain type of people, or that we're not really breaking new ground with our stories, or documenting enough of our gay history - well, okay! Write your own book! Seriously, we need more books about gay identity from different perspectives in Singapore!

    You can even convince your publisher that it'll be a best-seller by pointing to SQ21's success. Go ahead. No-one's stopping you. ;)

    Monday, October 16, 2006

    SQ21 luvs Kino...

    ... and Kino luvs SQ21.

    A big thank you to everyone who came out for our Kino book signing - including the families with children who scuttled by cautiously during our hour-long presentation. I know some of you were only in there to escape from the haze, but your presence was truly important.

    The project of SQ21 is to represent the gay community in public spaces that aren't already demarcated as gay-friendly (eg. a bar or club) - to truly engage in outreach. It looks like we're succeeding there - Hoon Eng and Dominic worked together to create a box where people could drop leaflets, pledging to fight against unjust discrimination based on gender, race, religion and sexual orientation.

    Afterwards we took a few photographs for the upcoming SAFE website to show straight friends and families (and Kino workers) together supporting gay people. (I know it's a bit kua zhang, like we're talking about Palestinians and Israelis, but simple gestures like that are a real comfort for people who're still struggling to come out of the closet.)

    In the meantime, more photos are up on Queercast, which is SQ21 participant Nicholas Deroose's gay-oriented podcast. Go hear him talk, y'all.

    Friday, October 13, 2006

    A poetry book launch

    SQ21's author Ng Yi-Sheng is having a launch for last boy, his first collection of poetry.

    Friday 20 October 2006
    7:00pm (schmoozing starts at 6:30pm)
    Tanglin Camp (Singapore Biennale exhibition site)
    Canteen area (Federico Herrera's Hamacario).
    73 Loewen Road, Singapore 248843
    Guest-of-honour: Alfian Sa'at
    RSVP required - e-mail the author at ng.yisheng@yahoo.com.sg

    If you're coming by taxi, tell the driver it's the old CMPB. If coming by public transport, I'd recommend you take the free shuttle service from City Hall or the old National Library, details here.

    Tuesday, October 10, 2006


    There's a good chance we'll be doing a reading at MPH Raffles City on the last Saturday of October. Stay tuned for more updates!

    UPDATE: Looks like it'll be the first week in November now. Pencil in Saturday 4 November, but wait for confirmations.

    Monday, October 09, 2006

    Number FOUR, suckas!

    Yangfa just posted this on SiGneL:

    according to the Sunday Times 8 October 2006 edition of LifeStyle, "SQ21: Singapore Queers in the 21st Century" has gone up to the number 4 spot in the list of non-fiction bestsellers.

    it's the only book in the top 5 without a financial/business element, & beating "Singapore: The Encyclopedia" (at no. 7 - in which homosexuality is not given a single mention), "Ten" (by Vincent Ng, at no. 8) & Neil Humphreys at no. 9.

    "We can do no great things; only small things with great love." ~ Mother Teresa


    UPDATE: Here's the list!
    Bestsellers - Non-fiction

    1. Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires by Adam Khoo
    2. Get Rich with Water by Lillian Too
    3. One Business, 99 Lessons by Nanz Chong-Komo
    4. SQ21: Singapore Queers in the 21st Century by Ng Yi-Sheng
    5. Freakonomics by Steven D Leavitt & Stephen J Dubner
    6. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
    7. Singapore: The Encyclopedia edited by Tommy Koh et al
    8. Ten by Vincent Ng
    9. Final Notes from a Great Island by Neil Humphreys
    10. Marley & Me by John Grogan


    Pretty incredible, huh? Last month it was no.6, and I was already amazed at that. It's especially thrilling to me that we beat a book with a bare-bodied wushu champion on the cover - but then again, Get Rich With Water?????


    Sunday, October 08, 2006

    Wo hui yong Youtube!

    I've finally figured out how to upload videos on the blog!

    And at the risk of running copyright lawsuits, I'm going to create a link to the work of Cloudywind and Beng, a super-supportive straight woman and man who made a viral commercial for the SQ21 project's story gathering process all the way last year. Note, of course, that gaytothebone is no longer working - it's been change to Plume.sg.

    The link is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2z3hkmmBHFs, btw!

    Saturday, October 07, 2006

    Promotion at Kino!

    Yup! It's the long-awaited promotion at Kinokuniya bookstores! This is all lifted from their own report on their site, actually:

    7th October 2006 (Saturday)
    2:00pm – 3:00pm
    Kinokuniya Singapore Main Store, Crossroads

    "Join the authors of SQ 21: Singapore Queers In The 21st Century as they share their life experiences from the book in this book signing event .

    SQ 21: Singapore Queers In The 21st Century shows an unabashed straight-forward honesty and celebrates the life of these ordinary Singaporeans. Written in a light, readable style, these inspirational stories will touch the hearts of readers gay or straight,
    Singaporean or otherwise."

    (Btw, if you stick around Taka and go to the fountain outside at 530pm, you should see Yi-Sheng and his capoeira group doing pugilistic demonstrations.)

    Movie Mania!

    Just came back from Short Circuit, a screening of short gay Singapore films, held at the Substation. I was extremely impressed by a film entitled Pink IC, a documentary made at the height of Remaking Singapore, including interviews with five queer female Singaporeans and Vivian Balakrishnan. It's an investigation into everyday lives in a fashion not unlike SQ21 - it just hasn't been screened in a lot of places yet because of discretion. :( Must check with the director before I can mention her name on the blog.

    Festival curator and filmmaker Boo Junfeng also did us the honour of creating an advertisement about our project, using footage from our launch at Mox. Here's the video:

    Forward it to your friends with the following link! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WOJ7ED-_wM

    Hope we'll be seeing you guys at Kinokuniya tomorrow!

    Tuesday, October 03, 2006

    Landscapes: A View of the Ground

    Our editor, Jason Wee, has a solo photography exhibition opening on Thursday night!

    Thursday 7 October
    Utterly Art
    229 A South Bridge Road

    Be there for the free nosh - fasting ends after 7pm!

    Monday, October 02, 2006

    YO! Singapore Dreaming just won a prestigious award in the San Sebastian Film Festival!

    Woo Yen Yen and Colin Goh, who wrote the foreword for SQ21, have just won the prestigious Montblanc New Screenwriters Award in the acclaimed San Sebastian Film Festival!

    Their movie, Singapore Dreaming, was the the first Singapore film to ever make an appearance at the festival. It's still showing in GV cinemas, though opportunities to watch it are fading out fast. Catch it if you can - it's heartbreakingly accurate in its depiction of materialist Singapore society.

    Get more news about the event on their blog: