Being A Gay Man In A Conservative Society

Flickr / Carola Ferrero
Flickr / Carola Ferrero

I was never proud of who I am. In fact, I hated myself for it. Alternatively, I attributed this phenomenon to God, parents, and fate. It all boils down to one thing – I hate being gay, especially in a conservative society such as Singapore. In a country where gay sex is illegal, I felt oppressed. My existence and identity is not welcomed in this country. I was ashamed of myself. I took every opportunity to hide my identity. I gave flat denials to anyone who asked about my sexuality.

As a good-looking male with good grades, my friends were curious as to why I didn’t have a girlfriend. I questioned myself too. In fact, for years I have been trying to convince myself that I am bisexual, that maybe one day I could get married and start a family of my own. I tried going on dates, flirting with girls on Tinder, picking up girls at random places. I failed miserably. I always charmed the girls, only to realize that I did not have any sexual attraction towards them. I recently gave up and started to accept my sexuality on my own terms.

This was a painful and sickening process. I simply could not tell my conservative Asian parents. They felt that being gay is not natural and will severely limit my career and family life. I have to agree with them on this one, the real world is harsh and unforgiving. No matter how open people claim to be, they are always prejudiced against gay men – its just a matter of degree. My friends tried to probe the truth out of me, saying that they are open-minded and will accept me wholeheartedly. I scoffed and laughed it off, crediting my lack of a female companion to my focus on studies, or to the lack of time. I did not want to tell them. I felt that things will never be the same ever again, for better or for worse. I simply did not want things to change.

The gay community here is deeply superficial. People will only want to know you if you are rich, famous, or good-looking. I’ve always had random gay people talking to me, but the conversation will always end up slanting towards sex, dates, or building connections. Gone are the days where people truly wanted to know one another. These days, its rare to be able to converse with other gay men for the sake of getting to know them better. I hated the social games, the artificial building of connections to enhance my popularity, the yearning for guys to notice me on social media or to know me by name. There was a phase where these things mattered to me, but not anymore. I stopped using all the gay dating apps and shied away from the gay community. I felt alone but distracted myself by focusing on the more important things in life.

That being said, I met a guy I really liked recently. He’s perfect. Totally cute and belongs to my type, entering a good university and a good course. More importantly, we shared many things in common and he was a really good conversationalist. It was going well when an overwhelming feeling of insecurity started kicking in. I was scared that he would get bored of me one day, since he was “in demand”. Nonetheless, I really liked him and continued to go out with him, and we hit it off pretty well. We have decided to give each other the space we needed and will make a decision in the near future as to whether we should continue hanging out. Despite my insecurity, I decided to give this a shot. He was cynical, but so was I. I just hope (and really am keeping my fingers crossed) that after three months he would tell me that he still wanted to hang.

To sum it all up, being gay in this country sucks. I can’t deal with the stereotypes, judgemental criticisms, and the pressure on homosexuals in this country. I wanted to give up and forsake my sexuality. I wanted to force a relationship with a girl, start a family, and be the normal person I was meant to be. I never had the guts to do that. It was unethical and unfair for my female half, and I wouldn’t be happy as well. Nowadays, I am just living life as it is, hoping that one day the society and the gay community will be more accepting.

I do not think I am alone in all of this. There is a group of people like me – lost and unsure of how to proceed with their lives. If Singapore had a gay pride, I doubt that many people would show up and wave the rainbow flag. I have no pride as a gay man. I still hate myself and see it as a huge flaw and disadvantage. Perhaps time will heal or change society’s perspective, but for now I remain trapped in this complicated state of mind. TC mark

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