Ballet Under The Stars

What an incredible Sunday. Well, for one thing, I was up almost all night Saturday doing guard duty at camp (which means I get to sit at the front desk of my building to guard from ‘intruders’. This is an extremely indignified part of army life which I will not dwell on), so come Sunday morning, I was not a pretty sight. Not sure what possessed me to decide to head out to Fort Road to try on the new wheels and bearings on my rollerblades, but I did.

The day was stunningly beautiful. The clouds were a combination of white puffy, cotton-wool, and wispy cirrus clouds which made wonderful S-shapes all over the sky. For the first time in a while, I could see the Indonesian islands to the south of Singapore, and all the ships that lay in the harbor (literally hundreds of them). It was a stunning sight, driving over the viaduct, to be greeted by this sight. It was a glorious morning.

The blades were treacherous. I not only changed the wheels and bearings, I also rockered them for the first time. Meaning the contact between me and the road was literally 2 points of plastic resin on each foot. It didn’t help that the roads were a little slippery from the morning dew and rain the night before…which meant I was slipping and sliding all over the place. I got my workout though….and it felt great.

In quick succession., this was the rest of the day. Home to take a quick shower and change, then off to Patrick Walsh’s for brunch (back at Fort Road)…he had a gorgeous view of the beach…and lots of people were there. Peter T, Alan S, Philip B, this wonderful French woman who makes it a point to go to all the Sleaze Balls and Mardi Gras she can (in Sydney)…bagels and cream cheese and fruit compotes and scrambled eggs with mimosas…YUMMY. After that (it was 3 by this time), I had to go pick up my friend Justin to rush to an art exhibition where my friend’s father was showing his sculpture. Spoke with him for a while, then off to Fort Canning Park for the annual Ballet Under the Stars. The Singapore Dance Theatre was putting up a series of excerpts…but seriously, the reason for all of us being there was to celebrate a series of three birthdays for our friends, Justin, Leena and Aamer (coincidentally all architects).

In another strange twist of events, I ran into 2 of the 4 super-butch girls I wrote about in my bio – which was a real coincidence considering I have not seen them since 1984. One of them is about to get married. The strange part was that they knew the people I was with. They were rather unfriendly, so I left them alone. The picnic was FABULOUS, with zuchini quiche, champagne, sandwiches, brie, pate, you name it, we had it. There were probably 20+ of us…with another 2000 people in the park What a great community get-together.

After the ballet performance, we stayed at the park, got drunk, gave each other massages, and played silly charades games. Very nice. Got home by midnight. Every day should be filled with so much fun.

Rant: It struck me during the ballet performance how much I dislike people who are cynical to the extreme. I was rather disappointed that some of my friends whom I would have greatly enjoyed the company of didn’t show up. They NEVER show up to anything I organise. They say that it’s not for them…but I know it’s because they no longer allow themselves to appreciate what’s around them, the culture, the people, the whole experience. We run the danger of becoming jaded so quickly, everything taking on the same grey hues…is life worth much then? Where is the quality of life? There is so much to love and enjoy out there…why spend one’s time hating what’s around us?

Signel | Standing up for yourself

The following is an archived post from my original Geocities page (which is still LIVE, surprisingly). I will be copying the files over and archiving them one by one. This was my first ever geocities posting, but not my first contribution to the web. I will be looking for some old postings to various bbs’s and discussion groups pre-1997 and posting them as I find them.
There is a new mailing list for queer folk in Singapore called SiGNeL…the Singapore Gay News List (I think…I’m usually suspicious of acronyms), which is scant a month old, and has already drawn almost 200 subscribers, and a slew of controversial posts (sometimes vitriolic, sometimes academic). If you wish to joing the list, send an email to indicating you would like to subscribe, and that you are over 21 years of age. Yours truly is one of the occassional contributors, and what follows are some of the letters I’ve written:

I want to share a story about a special friend of mine, who through her example, spurred me on to a new sense of responsibility for who I am, and how I react to homophobes around me.

About 5 years ago, I came out to a dear friend of mine, Christine, in a cafe. She and I hung out lots, and knew one another well. When I told her I had something to reveal, but hesitated…she started looking worried, but urged me on…saying that nothing would bother her. When I finally said, “I’m gay,” she heaved a sigh of relief. I asked why…and she said, “I thought you were going to tell me that you liked me and wanted to date! This is nothing!” We both laughed about it…and she went on to ask me several questions about my up till then very private life (I was 18, she was 24, and I was the first gay person she knew).

Christine claimed that even though she knew gay people existed, she never knew any personally, and so she was never aware of them. A few months later, she commented that, “Now that I know about you…all of a sudden, I notice gay people everywhere….God, you guys are really all over the place!” It was awareness that brought her this new perspective. She was immensely supportive.

What blew me away, however, was her staunch support for gays and lesbians everywhere. She broke up with a boyfriend because he made a disparaging remark about lesbians. She told off her sister and relatives when they started making homophobic jokes once. Her cousin and her got over such a heated argument about the acceptability of homosexuality that her cousin asked Christine to get out of the car and forced her to find her own way home (Maureen, the cousin was very religious and strongly opposed to homosexuality).

I was shocked at how Christine would stand up for me when even I might not have done the same. In her situation, I owe nothing to the gay cause. She had absolutely nothing to gain, and everything to lose. Her friends and her family are very conservative…yet, she stuck to her principles and what she believed in. Which is more than what most of us would have done. When I asked her why she stood up so strongly…she said, “Because Stuart, you’re my friend. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with being gay. We’re all people, and any form of prejudice or bigotry simply is unacceptable.”

We’re afraid of being branded gay if we stood up against people making homophobic remarks. Well, wake up and smell the coffee, Jose, we ARE gay. Christine has not been the only straight person I know who would stand up for equality of gays and lesbians. Even here in the army, I have a straight male friend who constantly challenges people who say something disparaging or even mildly homophobic. And this is in the army.

When do we start standing up for ourselves? I know I no longer take shit from people. I’m not that dense. I only need to be shown once that being proud, and not being subjugated, beaten over the head, made fun of, pushed in the corner, is the right thing to do.

As Johann Lee (author of “Peculiar Chris”) once said to me when he stopped me at Zouk, way back in 1993 – “Closets are for clothes!”

Mardi Gras 1997

Mardi Gras! What a fabulous time! More Singaporeans were there than you could shake a stick at…we were running into them every corner we turned…and I am sure there were more we did not know…SO MANY PEOPLE! And beautiful ones at that…I’d have been perfectly content sitting at the cafes alfresco “perving” (as the Aussies are wont to say), but there was so much to do and see!

Our group was about 8 strong to begin with. We started out with a fabulous dinner at an equally fab restaurant called the Bennelong…right at the Sydney Opera House. Think Mikado, think minimalism, think sublime. The food was incredible, the company even better. We played spin the bottle (actually more like spin the mobile phone) and learnt a few juicy secrets. The view was spectacular. We were psyched to be in Sydney. We got stares from others in the restaurant, but we didn’t care. We were here, and we were fabulous.

That night, and the next few, were non-stop partying. For the first 4 nights, I did not get home before 6 am…6 am, 8am, 11am, 6am….The night before Mardi Gras, Oxford Street was thronging with party-goers from all over the world…guys who had graced magazine covers (or should anyway), every shape and size imagineable…heady…we were in such a good mood…the high was almost tangible. Trolled the streets that night with thousands of others. Bars such as the Oxford Hotel, Gilligans, Albury, Flinders, were all overflowing onto the streets. It was crazy trying to get drinks, but we managed.

People watching was the order of the day. But this was only a taste of things to come. Clothed, these men looked nothing like the incubi they became on the day of the Mardi Gras itself.

Saturday. Camped out on the side of Flinders Street by 5pm waiting for the Parade which was supposed to start at 8, but didn’t till 40 minutes later because some queen had forgotten the frocks for the first float! What kind of a queen forgets her frocks! Hope she has comprehensive life insurance! The group of us entertained ourselves with 3 bottles of champagne, a bottle of Absolut Citron and Bombay Sapphire, pate and brie sandwiches, picknicking in high camp. Screaming our heads off at the huge caravan of dykes on bikes, there must have been more than a hundred of them! Some so masculine and handsome even I would consider dating them!

By the time the floats got going, the crowd was raring to go! Incredible. I have a video of the telecast on TV…ah…the hilarity of some of them. Drag queens on a carousel, the Qantas Queens doing a marching parody of the safety demonstration…the huge hair, huge costumes…the energy was infectious. I got more kisses from the marchers than anyone else my stretch of the road…what a heady rush! Guys in wedding gowns, girls in jock-straps…you name it, they were there. What an affirming experience to watch all these gay men and lesbian women, out proud…the world’s largest civil demonstration of gay pride. The live audience was estimated by the police to be 700,000 strong. The parade was 200 floats and 2 hours long…over 7000 participants!

After that, the mile-long walk to the party! Everyone changed by now into their costumes. Oh my god. Robert Altman should seriously consider documenting this…it was surreal as it was bizzare. People of absolutely every shape, form, size, color, in costumes that left little to the imagination, a circus of humanity….it was just incredible. The dancefloors were packed with 20,000 people, Chaka Khan and the Village People performed, the laser lights were the most amazing I’ve ever experienced. To walk on one of these dancefloors was to experience a huge sauna of gyrating, bare torsoed bodies, sweat pouring off everyone…you had no choice but to lose yourself, for if you didn’t you’d probably panic at the clautrophobia…so lose ourselves we did…In one of the halls, there was a chill-out space with a huge catwalk, the music from Inflight Entertainment playing, and anyone and everyone could get on the catwalk and do their thing, and they did…surreal, man. The dome was bathed with an indigo light…very soothing, what a contrast.

Walking home at 11am with 10,000 people, still in their costumes, right across town…was an experience that made it all worth while. Wow. Too bad I didn’t have a video camera. Strange, weird, what a trip. But so glorious. No one ashamed, no fear, no self-consciousness, just one big community, very defiant, very proud, very in your face. I am who I am and I don’t care what anyone else thinks. Also, “I paid a ton for this costume, and there’s no where else I’d dare wear it to…” Haha…My black patent PVC kilt was soaked.

The rest of the trip was eventful to say the least. Most of my gang petered out by mid week, leaving me to play in Sydney on my own. I got mugged, got thrown out of the place I was staying, went to Beauty and the Beast, listend to the Sydney Symphonic Orchestra play at the Sydney Opera House (Verdi’s Requiem), met some really wonderful people that I spent the rest of the week with.

More for next time. I’m back. Exhausted. People are not who they seem. We all wear masks…stripped away at odd and surprising times. Even barenaked, one has to endevour to peel away the layers that we erect to protect ourselves…patience wore thin, this trip…true colors were seen. Guess that’s all I can say. I hit an emotional high and an emotional low these past 11 days…it was intense, more than any other holiday I’ve taken.

Sydney makes my list as one of the most liveable cities in the world (that I’ve been to). It has so much to offer, employment, culture, social support, security, infrastructure, economic growth….shopping! The neighbourhoods remind me of Seattle and San Francisco. Too bad it’s tucked away in a corner of the world though…they really have to make their own fun (and boy do they do that well!).

That’s it…my MG97 story! Till next year…