What does inclusion mean to you?
On June 4, we asked some people at Pink Dot Singapore on what inclusion means to them, and here's what they have to say.
Sandhya, The T Project
"In the LGBT, the T is always silent and I think we should be given the same amount of exposure as what our other counterparts are getting. So this should not just stop from here at Pink Dot. People should continue and give us the space and recognition.
Like any other ordinary member of the society, we should also be given recognition in the work forces. So don't judge us for what we are, because gender is not going to do your work. The person is going to do the work.
I’m from The T Project, and we’re actually working very hard to make it a safe space for the transgender community. I have come across many services, and it's just like, come, ok lor, no action, talk only. So I hope that something will come out from all that we are doing, and work towards a safer environment, a safer space, a safer workplace for all the other transgenders, and allies as well.
This has always been my quote - A good family, a few good friends, a roof above the head and good food; if you have all these, you are richer than you think."
The T Project is committed towards empowering the transgender community in Singapore and as far as they can go. Their aim is to support and provide a positive impact on the transgender community, enabling them to lead a more dignified and fulfilling lives.
Miak, Free Community Church
"My safe space is the church (FCC). In there, I am who I am. Being who I am, without fear and concern. Bringing my full, authentic self to the church, that is a safe space for me.
We don’t see your HIV status. We don’t want to see you as a label. We see you as a human being. That is inclusion. And because you're a human being, you're one of us."
Free Community Church is a congregation of diverse individuals and families gathering to worship and grow as a Christian community. The church affirms that all individuals, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, are individuals of sacred worth created in God’s image.
Naomi, Gender Collective
"I’m a literature major so the idea of a story is important. Inclusion to me is about everyone being able to share their story. You come to Pink Dot, you look at people and you try to think of what their stories are and what led them to be in this space.
In Gender Collective, we try to have a space where people can share their stories, their coming out story or just something that has touched them. Some people were like, Huh, I don't have anything to share, my life is not interesting… But when everyone started speaking, I think that every story was either funny or lifting, or really sad and make you... wanna comfort them or do something about it.
You don’t just hear some kind of imaginary conservative majority, which is what Singapore seems to be so preoccupied with. When you get to hear everyone, that to me is inclusion."
Gender Collective is an inclusive social group where people of all gender and sexual identities can come together for discussion in a safe space. It is a group within National University of Singapore.
Eileena, Pelangi Pride Centre
“A safe space is where I can be free to be who I am, without being concerned about how my very being can be used against me. At the moment, the L,G, B, T and the Q of the community exist exclusively. We may get together once a year at Pink Dot to present a united front. But apart from that one day, for the rest of the year, very little effort has been put into getting to know one another. For me, an inclusive space is one that is open to all differences and where care is taken to accommodate those differences.
Because I had chosen to be out, since then I have managed to carve and seek out safe spaces for myself. These spaces are - my circle of friends, my family, the LGBTQ community resources like Pelangi Pride Centre, RedQuEEn!, Women's Nite, Heartland (LGBTQ Buddhist group), ADLUS (LGBTQ adventure group), Buddhist Youth Network (mainstream Buddhist group), The Free Community Church (Christian) and Oogachaga.”
Serving the LGBTQ community since 2003, Pelangi Pride Centre (PPC) is Singapore’s LGBTQ resource centre, library and community space. Hosted by the Free Community Church and located in One Commonwealth, the volunteer-run space is open every Saturday between 2-6pm. The library has also a huge collection of LGBTQ fiction and non-fiction resources.
"A safe space is good to have if it is there, but if it is not accessible to people, it is not safe. It is like having a wonderful community center that people may or may not know about, be comfortable going to, or be able to access for whatever reason. And sometimes access is about perception as well! How people perceive that space or the organisation running that space… So for me, understanding or creating that safe space is about making it accessible.
In a way, we have to admit, Oogachaga is on the third floor of a shophouse, so we are physically not very accessible and hard to find. But in terms of location, once word gets out that it is there, just above the Chinatown MRT station. People will come back or word gets out that, you know, just look for this shop and go up the staircase, ‘cause once people get there, they feel safe.
We have a very LGBTQ-affirming stance, so people know that when they come and see our counselors, they will not be scolded or judged or preached to. So despite our slightly physically inaccessible staircase, but in terms of the emotional safety, the social accessibility is there. So yes, people walk up three flights of stairs, get to us, unfortunately wheelchair users can't get to us. But they know that once they get through that door, they sit down with somebody and they don't have to worry about being judged."
Oogachaga is a community-based counselling, support and personal development agency for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) individuals, couples and families in Singapore.