Wear pink or wear white.

subway station

Wear pink or wear white.

That’s the question that many will be asking this weekend. In case you haven’t heard, Pink Dot will be taking place on 28 June 2014 and there was opposition raised by different groups. Building on the current momentum, I felt that I should chime in with my two cents worth.

LGBT is a contentious topic and something that I’ve been thinking about for years. Is it right or wrong? That’s a debate for another time. Many have said that LGBT is a lifestyle choice. Let’s assume for a moment that that’s true. Since it’s a lifestyle choice, they say that other people shouldn’t comment or voice their displeasure over it. “It’s my choice, it’s my life, why are you judging me?” they asked.

Well, I think it’s safe to say that everyone judges and have the right to exercise judgment. The word “judging” has often been taken out of context and abused. Allow me to define the meaning of “judging” first before we continue with this post. “Judging” means exercising judgement or discernment. For example, when we head out for a meal and we see something strange in our food, we are making a judgment whether to continue eating it. In fact, exercising judgment or thinking about things is a hallmark of a living person. It becomes wrong when we “judge” in order to make ourselves feel better. For example, when we see the poor and we “judge” in our hearts that it’s because of their stupidity and mistakes that they are what they are today, that’s wrong and uncalled for.

Let me also say that no one is perfectly neutral or unbiased. Everyone of us carries baggages, thoughts and beliefs when exercising our judgement. We can try to be neutral or unbiased but we never really are. And if you think deeply enough, you will agree with me. So let me set the stage and lay things upfront, today, I approach this topic with my own set of beliefs while you may approach the same topic with a different set of beliefs. That’s perfectly alright.

Now, allow me to share my thoughts on this issue. Assume that LGBT is a lifestyle choice, I still have the right to say that I don’t agree with it. For example, smoking is a lifestyle choice and I don’t like smoking. In fact, I really dislike cigarette smoke but does that mean that I’m going to start an anti-smoking campaign and damn all smokers like they are some hopeless sinners? Well, no, I do have friends who are smokers and while I do not enjoy their lifestyle choice and will probably not make that my personal choice, I can still disagree with their choice and be their friends.

In the same way, I do not agree with LGBT and I do have friends who are in the community. Not agreeing with their choices doesn’t mean that I don’t accept them as human beings. At this point, some may say “there’s no such things as hating the sin and loving the sinner because it’s not possible.” Well, I believe it is and let me share a story with you.

A good friend, whom I see as my sibling, once asked me, “what will you do if your child expresses that tendency in loving someone of the same gender? Will you disown your child?” My answer was “I wouldn’t agree with his or her choice and I would be upset at his or her choice but I will never disown my child. I would disagree with the choice but I would still love my child.” In the same way, if my child were to pick up smoking, I would be upset at his or her choice. I would encourage him or her to stop it, but never would I disown that child. I don’t deny that there’s going to be some tension in the relationship but the crux of the matter is that the relationship will never change.

Switching topics for a while, choosing a political party to support is a lifestyle choice and my dad and I do not agree with the choice of the party or candidate. While I do not agree with his choice, he is and will be my father. My fiancee loves Korean food and that’s a lifestyle choice, but I utterly cannot find a reason to indulge in it. I don’t like it but does that mean I’m not going to marry her just because of the differences in our choices? Absolutely not! Another example of “hating the sin and loving the sinner”.

Let’s touch on something more personal to me and sensitive in this nation. Religion is a choice and I’ve chosen to be a Christian. Now, you may not agree with my choice, but I sincerely hope that you will not disregard me simply because I’m one. In the same way, I may not agree with your choice of religion but I would never want to break a friendship just because you don’t share the same faith as me.

In the same way, let’s assume that LGBT is a lifestyle choice. While I do not agree or accept that choice, it doesn’t mean that I’m against the entire community or individuals practising or choosing this way of life. Let me repeat, I do not endorse or support LGBT but I’m not against anyone who belongs to this community. We often like to emphasise our differences and minimise our similarities. We often like to divide rather than unite. I believe that when we look at our commonalities, we will discover that we have so much in common that it will start to dawn on us how foolish we are to fight over our differences.

So in the spirit of all that has been happening, I’m not going to wear pink (in support of LGBT) neither am I going to wear white (in support of the anti-LGBT movement) but I’m going to wear red in support of the common colour of the blood that flows within each of us and in support of our nation.

I think there’s enough lines dividing us as a nation and it’s time to stand united as one. Whatever your choice, I hope we will stop fighting and dividing but instead celebrate our common denominator – our shared humanity.

For those who have read this post and you’ll keen to show your support for unity (even if you’re going to wear pink or white or others), can I encourage you to take a photo of something red (whether a shirt or an item) and share them on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #RedDot2014 and #sharedhumanity. I understand that a similar movement was disallowed by the authorities, but hey, I’m not starting a movement. This is unofficial and not meant to constitute a “formal march for peace or something”.

Update: In this post, I’ve focused on the LGBT issue as a lifestyle choice, yet this thinking is quickly diminishing and more and more people believe that it’s something you’re born with. Even if that is true, I still stand by my decision that I do not agree with the issue. And let me just quickly explain why. We are all born with the tendency to do wrong. We never have to teach a young child how to do wrong, it comes naturally. Yet, are we going to say that just because it’s natural and something I’m born with, that it’s alright and acceptable? If I’m born with the tendency to torture animals, is it then acceptable? If I’m born with the tendency to rape others or steal things, can I stand behind my nature and justify my actions? Ok, before you start to comment, please read the following disclaimer.

Disclaimer: The purpose of this post is not to discuss the legality of the issue, it’s not to start a movement of people fighting for or against it, it’s simply for me to say that while I do not agree with the choice, I want us to be aware of the commonality we share. I hope to see a world where people can put aside their differences, their agendas and live harmoniously together.

We often fall into the trap of attacking the personality of the other person when we disagree with their arguments. It’s human nature for us to attack the character of another person whenever we disagree over something. I hope to see a culture where we can agree to disagree. It would be exciting to have a world where we can debate intensely and fiercely over a certain topic and then share a drink after the debate. It would do our nation so much good to have constructive debates and sparring in all areas of society, including our political scene, without causing a fragmentation in our society.

Featured image by Anna Dziubinska

Chief Day Dreamer at MY MAD COW | Floorball Coach | Christian | I enjoy reading, drinking a good cup of coffee, and munching on crispy french fries or freshly baked breads.

17 Comments

  • Reply June 29, 2014

    someone on the internet

    i think the purpose and of pink dot (and wearing pink) needs to be relooked at.
    partaking in pink dot does not mean endorsing lgbt. personally, partaking in pink dot to me means recognising and raising awareness of the existence of lgbt in our community and allowing them to know that they too have an equal place in society. partaking in pinkdot does not mean that you are encouraging that ‘lifestyle choice,’ as you have put it.

    in addition, i dont not feel that smoking and lgbt can be compared. even though you have stated clearly time and time again that all this is based on your assumption that homosexuality is a life style choice, the fact remains that they are still different ‘lifestyle choices.’ smoking poses harm on third parties and society as a whole, while being lgbt & respecting them as equals pose no threats, dangers or harm to anyone else.

    could you clarify what you mean by ‘I do not agree with the issue?’
    what exactly do you not agree with when it comes to lgbt?

  • Reply June 29, 2014

    Arvind Raghavan

    This is indeed a sign of progress. It’s inevitable that we will have conflicting opinions in any society. As long as we can co-exist peacefully, respect each, and NOT support (through silence, or explicitly) legal discrimination against one group (you don’t mention if you support 377A), then we should all be fine :)

    Now, approaching this in the respectful spirit of judgment = discernment, I believe your convictions are misinformed. Sexuality is simply not a lifestyle choice. It is far more intrinsic to one’s being and identity and self-actualization than one’s favorite cuisine or stimulant. It’s on par with saying “Being black is inferior. But I don’t dislike black people, just their racial features and culture.” We would rightly have numerous objections to such a view. (Lest we forget that slavery was condoned by numerous religions for centuries, using scripture.)

    Either way, everyone has opinions. Even if we don’t let them affect the way we treat others (very difficult, if not impossible), it is particularly problematic when it comes to children. They don’t have the maturity or financial independence to respond rationally to those who strongly object. With the bullying and discrimination they already face, added guilt from parents who share your view could contribute to an unbearable environment that is responsible for LGBT youth being the 2nd highest demographic at risk of suicide.

    My thanks you to, though, for being polite and not using language unbecoming of the faithful (unlike “some” pastors and teachers, recently).

    • Reply June 29, 2014

      Vera Go

      Hey Arvind,

      I believe your first statement on “NOT supporting…legal discrimination against one group” evinces an anti-377A stance. I would just like to point out that the point of every and any law is to discriminate. Drug laws discriminate between drug users and non-drug users, and between drug users, who should get what kind of sentence. The issue is therefore not about discrimination, but about the legitimacy of the discrimination. So, why is the distinction between homosexual conduct and sex within marriage illegitimate?

      On your second point that “sexuality is not simply a lifestyle choice”, kindly prove it, whether using science or sociological data. If not, it will simply be an assertion, which is possibly as misguided as any other assertion you are accusing the author of making.

      Also, how is race and sexual orientation the same thing? Do people “come out” as blacks or whites or reds?

      Also, please do more research on your assertion regarding the condoning of slavery by religion, which I take that you refer to Christianity. The abolition of the slave trade in the 1800s was largely driven by Christians, namely John Newton and William Wilberforce, who went against both the religious establishment and the culture of the day that had wrongly used scripture to support slavery. In the Bible, the Apostle Paul was revolutionary when he taught masters and slaves to treat each other with love and respect, which is the first step towards changing any social ailment.

      Regarding your last point, do you have statistics to support your contention that Christian views contribute greatly to an environment that drives LGBT youth to suicide? That is a very serious contention to make, and it potentially accuses 20% of the people in this country as being misguided and ignorant, and their views as being not worthy of respect. How is such a statement not judgmental and one-sided, and if I may venture to say, narrow-minded?

      It is indeed good that there is politeness and lack of vitriol in this thread, which is the main reason why I chose to respond. I do look forward to a constructive debate with you guys here, as Marcellie has envisioned.

      Thanks Marcellie for your article as well, it is well-thought through and articulated. I would like to add, however, that attempting dialogue requires both sides to be equally willing and mature enough to do so. And the end-point of dialogue is to choose a way forward where both sides can live by. Therefore, while attempts to call for civil debate are a great first step, the debate will eventually still have to result in society making a choice as to the values it wants to live by.

      So the question really is – whose values are better for society as a whole?

      • Reply June 30, 2014

        Arvind Raghavan

        Vera, thank you for your response. To take your points in order:

        1. “The point of laws is to discriminate”. Semantics, surely. Yes, laws discern. They aren’t, however, entitled to impose majoritarian morality onto a minority group. Yes I suppose, by definition, homosexuality is different from sex within (heterosexual) marriage. The burden is on you to demonstrate why distinction that alone means it deserves criminality. You have a democratic right to believe it does. That, however, is no basis to deny another human being the right to joy and happiness and to spend their life with the one they love. I won’t offend your intelligence by going through why drugs are not analogous (basic arguments like harms to 3rd parties, lack of rational consent under intoxication etc.)

        2. There is ample data on how sexuality is a complex result of genetic, epigenetic, prenatal (and possibly early infancy psychosocial) factors. Google, maybe? I also detail some references in an earlier blog post, if I could redirect you: http://goo.gl/QIgOah

        3. Race and sexual orientation are obviously, by definition, not the “same thing”. But yes, if it were possible many would have chosen to hide their race/religion (and did try, in Nazi Germany, Rwanda, Serbia etc.) My point is that sexuality is just as ingrained and intrinsic to one’s being as ethnicity. And given it doesn’t cause a 3rd party any harm, this is tantamount to judging someone for their race. I’m afraid I am not sure what your point is.

        4. I am aware of religious reform. And I am not unintelligent in history :) Let’s not digress into a separate discussion. Of course, no community is a monolith (indeed, millions of Christians around the world have NO issue whatsoever with LGBT folk, so who am I to generalize or judge).

        5. I am not sure how cautioning people to not contribute to guilt or discrimination means I disrespect them. Apologies, I do believe I spoke with respect throughout. LGBT youth DO face significant challenges, at school, at home, in communities, in work. I doubt you’d dispute that. My emphasis is to implore people to not do anything in word or action that might contribute to that burden. Do I mean you are personally responsible for suicides? Of course not, let’s not be silly here. I will not shy away from requesting caution and empathy, even if you dislike their nature.

        Let me reiterate. I wouldn’t dream of questioning your right to a religious opinion. I’m happy to co-exist with those who disagree. But to impose discrimination as the law of the land against a group requires explicit non-vague, secular, 3rd party harm. Fortunately for Magna Carta, the burden is on the opponents to justify that level of harm, not on the persecuted to plead innocence. We have innumerable societies where sexual minorities are not constitutionally marginalized. Given that gay people will REMAIN gay regardless of what the law says, may I ask what purpose legal discrimination against them serves?

      • Reply June 30, 2014

        Not the Person that you are Referring to, but still, sorry for causing and trouble.

        To Vera Go,

        I am not the person that you replied. Perhaps you may think me rude for replying, but the same as you, I wish to engage in a civil discussion on this issue.

        I would first like to point out that Drug laws, or at least, laws against opium were first created because Americans were afraid of Chinese men luring white women to their “ruin” in opium dens – “ruin” at that time, was defined as associating with Chinese men. Basically, yes, it is legal discrimination against Chinese men. But is it legitimate? At that time – according to the Americans, yes, it was. Now, I don’t really think so, seeing as Opium has negative side-effects on the human body.

        Now, linking this point with Homosexual conduct, on the topic of whether 377A is legitimate or not. Section 377 was a law that originally discriminated against Sodomy of all genders. This means that Oral, Anal or any form of sexual reproduction that did not have the potential for procreation was illegal, regardless of being in private or public. Legitimate? Seeing as it wasn’t actually reinforced, and that it was repelled in 2007, I doubt that society views it as a legitimate thing. But a question is raised, why is it that 377A, which is quite similar to Section 377, only just isolating males, is legitimate?

        If sexuality is a lifestyle choice, then perhaps a person might just simply change their sexuality easily? For example, if somebody asked a straight person to be sexually attracted to someone of their own gender, it would be something that can be accomplished? After all, if it was just a lifestyle choice, it would be possible for it to work the other way.

        Also, there are statistics, and facts, to back up the theory that homosexuality, is actually quite inborn. I’ve put the links and some quotations at the bottom of the wall-of-text.

        Additionally, about your point on race and sexual orientation, it is related in the same way sexuality as a lifestyle choice (even though it isn’t) is related to the food a person eats. This was one point that irked me in the article above.
        On your point about Christians who went against slavery, I agree. To a certain extent. There were Christians who approved and advocated Slavery, even citing the Bible in their… ‘Mission’.

        For example, George Whitefield, the man who helped spread the Great Awakening in Britain, was an advocate of slaves, because he felt that slaves were needed for labour. Yes, he did treat his slaves nicely, and was critical about the abuse of slaves, but he was the person who played a part in the re-legislation of slavery in Georgia.

        There are still more, I believe, that I cannot remember right now.

        I have to say that I agree that Christianity doesn’t contribute greatly in driving LGBTQIA youths to suicide. However, one cannot deny that it is a contributing factor. Of course, Depression, Bullying, Social Isolation is also part of the reason why homosexuals are lead to suicide.

        Finally, a response to your question, about whose values are better for society as a whole, is that it depends. On many different factors, such as whose point of view are these values judged by.

        But from my point of view, it is not about whose values, but about which will create less hate, less harm, less strife and create more love, more acceptance, and more kindness. Please do not take this the wrong way; I am not saying that your beliefs cause harm, hate and strife. I am merely saying that if a belief, be it mine, yours or others, cause harm, hate, strife or any other negative emotions and values (in excessiveness, of course) I doubt it’ll be good for society as a whole.

        (Also, to Arvind Raghavan, sorry about hijacking your post.)

        http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2014/02/04/choose_to_be_gay_no_you_don_t.html
        “And although the scientific community hasn’t yet settled on a precise explanation for sexual orientation, many biologists agree that the fraternal birth order effect is likely the cause of homosexuality in 15 to 30 percent of all gay men.”

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8332896

        “A linkage between DNA markers on the X chromosome and male sexual orientation”

        Freedom and Order: History, Politics and the English Bible (http://books.google.com.sg/books?id=w10sfJ8wlssC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_atb#v=onepage&q&f=false)

        “What a flourishing country might Georgia have been, had the use of them been permitted years ago? How many white people have been destroyed for want of them, and how many thousands of pounds spent to no purpose at all?” (The use of ‘them’ in this context refers to Slaves, or more accurately, Negro [the term used in the full letter] slaves)

        http://jezebel.com/5792950/gay-teen-suicide-rates-higher-in-conservative-areas

        “25% of gay teens in the conservative counties had attempted suicide, compared to 20% in the more liberal counties.”

        • Reply July 1, 2014

          Arvind Raghavan

          Dear Anonymous,

          Of course you’re welcome to augment the discussion. Many thanks for the useful references :)

          After all, this is an issue that will be resolved with information and truth, whatever our convictions are. And our duty is to spread awareness.

  • Reply June 29, 2014

    Paul Ferguson

    The Bible and Scientific Investigations demonstrate that homosexuality is a choice. I set forth the detail here:

    http://oldfaith.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/rootsofhomosexuality.pdf

    Interestingly, most homosexuals openly testify of a path of moral and sexual confusion before they finally embrace their homosexual sexual identity. They have to persuade themselves that it is normal and morally right.We all intuitively recognise homosexuality as a deviation from what is normal. Ironically, this reality is attested by the need for homosexual advocates to actively persuade us that sodomy is ‘normal’! Even a child instinctively recognises that a “homosexual couple” is abnormal. In marked contrast, there is no need for people to be persuaded that heterosexuality is normal because we all intrinsically recognise that to be so – even homosexuals do. Homosexuals have to work very hard to confuse themselves and others that their unnatural thoughts and unnatural actions are supposedly morally acceptable.

    • Reply June 30, 2014

      Arvind Raghavan

      Dear Paul,

      There’s space for homophobic rants, but this forum has been respectful. Kindly refrain from being so blatantly offensive in your baseless verbal assaults. Your only “demonstration” is your narrow interpretation of your own scripture. We don’t live in a theocracy, and need only pay heed to secular arguments you have (if any).

      The only confusion LGBT youth face is at the hands of those who burden them with guilt and shame for being born the way they are. Children who grow up in an enviroment of mutual respect have NO issues whatsoever with accepting people, unlike bigots who condemn them as “abnormal”, “immoral” and “deviant”.

      Our work is hard because of people like you who sow the seeds of intolerance and disharmony. We have no issues co-existing with others who are civil (yes, even those who disagree with us).

  • Reply June 29, 2014

    Andre Quek

    Being a L or G or B or T, is a choice, or probably a natural (being born with it). But, forming a community to increase awareness will only enforce the idea that you are different from the rest. The same goes to the “anti-pink” group: by declaring war against them, you are simply not giving them chance to mix around and be part of the bigger community. Grace is the key, not law! We should embrace the fact that we are all different and unique but still unite together by love!

    I totally agree with the author that we should stop dividing ourselves into crumbs of groups that close doors to the other side, “but instead celebrate our common denominator – our shared humanity.”

  • Reply June 30, 2014

    Gerald

    So when did you choose to be straight?

  • Reply June 30, 2014

    Marcus

    Thanks to those who left a comment and continued this conversation in a civilized manner. It’s great to see that we don’t have to get personal or curse and swear in order to win an argument. I appreciate the constructive engagement here. Keep it up. :)

  • […] White: Another piece of “responsible” reporting by the Straits Times – Marcellie: Wear pink or wear white – News Clips: Thousands wear white at church service to defend family values – Song of […]

  • Reply July 1, 2014

    No choice

    May I ask the writer on WHAT IF, being gay is not a choice instead of making assumption in your article that if it is a choice? Should you than change your thought that it is no longer a sin if human were borned with such a genes inside them?

  • […] For instance, Abdillah Zamzuri preferred #WearPinkWithWhitePolkaDots. Marcellie advocated #RedDot, the “color of the blood that flows within each of […]

  • […] or #PinkDot. For instance, Abdillah Zamzuri preferred #WearPinkWithWhitePolkaDots. Marcellie advocated #RedDot, the “color of the blood that flows within each of […]

  • Reply July 10, 2014

    Paul Ferguson

    Dear Arvind, the definition of secular includes the right of the Scriptural position to be heard so I am not sure why you try to exclude my arguments. Singapore Law and values are based primarily on the English Common Law, which is a system predicated on the Christian Faith. So my argument has not just the right to be heard but such a position carries with in it the weight and experience of history for many centuries.

    What the pink dot movement is proposing is an entire subversion of civilisation in a social experiment that has no proven antecedents of benefit. Indeed, if we study past civilisations that embraced these moral paradigms we discover they morally imploded.

    It is not bigotry to label something abnormal or deviant if it is abnormal and deviant. Homosexuality meets those tests.

    We all intuitively recognise homosexuality as a deviation from what is normal. Ironically, this reality is attested by the need for homosexual advocates to actively persuade us that sodomy is ‘normal’! Even a child instinctively recognises that a “homosexual couple” is abnormal. In marked contrast, there is no need for people to be persuaded that heterosexuality is normal because we all intrinsically recognise that to be so – even homosexuals do. Homosexuals have to work very hard to confuse themselves and others that their unnatural thoughts and unnatural actions are supposedly morally acceptable.

    Monogamous heterosexuality is God’s order planted in the fabric of humanity as the normal pattern for all to follow. If that were not true even homosexuals would not exist, as they are the product of a monogamous heterosexual union! It is an integral part of the fabric of who they are as they are a direct consequence of that particular union. There is no reproductive function outside of that normal union. The female goes with the male and the male with the female period. Homosexuality is against nature because that is the way nature is. This is apparent to everyone. That may sound simple but it is a profound point.

  • Reply July 12, 2014

    JT

    Paul, I am not going to fully engage you on your argument. But just to point out a logical error in it:

    “Monogamous heterosexuality is God’s order planted in the fabric of humanity as the normal pattern for all to follow.”

    You were clearly assuming the world believes in the same religion as you do. Well, I am Buddhist and we do not differentiate beings by gender or sexuality. We see beings as souls. So, in this context, how you argue with someone like me, a non-Christian, that being gay is abnormal and being heterosexual is? Given that your idea of normalcy in this case is informed by your interpretation of your religion?

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