13 September 2006

Why I was such a bitch on Tuesday

The Straits Times contacted me for some comments about a story they're working on - gay teens and HIV. I refused to provide any input. Full essay.


Anonymous said...

"Same thing with asking gay teenagers to attend programs that try to tell them they should turn straight. Same thing with trying to get sexually active teenagers to take seriously any campaign that they should stop having sex. These would be so alienating, people just switch off. You'd just be wasting money running such programs.
" - YB

What you describe above would actually be a good result compared to if the teenage is successfully brainwashed and actually tries to change. Or thinks he succeeds and gets married. Or hurts himself physically. Or undergos incredible mental anguish doing any or all of the above. Sorry, did I miss out anything?

Anonymous said...

Aha, that's so typical of "Striaght" Times to be not quite striaght.

Many years ago (before the intro of simplified Chinese curricular), a mother of 2 brilliant (high IQ) children was interviewed. Her son was good at all subjects but was struggling with Chinese and even challenged his parents "but why do we even need it when we can communicate in English?". So one can imagine the views this mother would have put across to the papers to ask for some flexibility in the education system (esp streaming where 2nd language contributed a huge chunk of the aggregate score), while acknowledging the value of learning a 2nd language. Unfortunately the print that came out was her "praises" for the education system's emphasis on the value of 2nd language, ignoring her other more impt plea for flexibility in streaming. The poor lady was swarmed with "flames" from her friends who read the article, for they too had children going through the same struggle and they thought that she had "sold" out for her 5mins of fame.

Remembering this, I too turned down an interview request a few years back. The paper doing an article about egg donation in Singapore. Based on the nurses' view, it was possibly to encourage more to do likewise. Thus even though they offered anonymity, I could not image a balanced/neutral report, but one where one's words are selected to support their cause. Fortunately their request was communicated via the hospital, so it was easy for me to turn them down anonymously.

Jordan said...

The Singapore Government has its own personal agenda relating to the issue of gays, gay teens, and HIV in Singapore.
It is very obvious that Singaporean gay teens need assistance and help, and guidelines to learn how to keep themselves safe from AIDs, but the Singapore Government is turning a deaf ear to this issue. Huge mistake.
The government's duty, which in this case would come under the Ministry of Health would be to address the issues of gay teens and HIV, and do everything they can to assist with sex education in all schools, which should include Homosexuality and Singapore. The worst thing is to pretend/ignore or worse yet, have an even more diabolical plan of eliminating gays through HIV. I dread to think that that may be its agenda, but what could challenge this comment, if nothing is done by the Singapore Government.
HIV spreads, if the Singapore's health Ministry continues to duck and run with the issue of gay teens and AIDs.
The Singapore Health Ministry has not provided Singaporeans of the death statistics on HIV. Death would most likely be 'Pneumonia'.
The Health Ministry did everything possible with SARs, including culling thousands of chickens, the Straits Times newspaper, a mouthpiece for the Singapore Government, covered the issue of SARS, everyday, guidelines, and safety measures, and even had a SIA flight attendent become their own the poster girl for SARS in Singapore, and how she singlehandedly manage to eliminate most of her family members.
So there, the Singapore Government is highly efficient, which brings us back to the point of why the issue of Singapore gay teens and HIV is not getting positive coverage?
Why is the Singapore Government taking such a lax attitude to a segment of the Singaporean population who are gay, and need guidelines to safe sex?
Are Singapore gays and gay teens a group that belongs in a self-cleaning oven, where like green vegetibles, this group of gay Singaporeans belong to the 'perishables' in the supermaket?
If there is an iota of truth to it, the Singapore Government should realize that Singapore hetrosexuals will also be exposed as well. Is this how a Government keeps its population under control? The option for gay Singaporeans is to bring the issue to the attention of gay teens and HIV. I don't see any other choice. Do you?

Mr Wang Says So said...

Thought you might be interested in some of my old posts about how the Straits Times reports about AIDS in general, and also among teens, and also among gay teens.


The above link has other links which will lead you to my older posts.

Anonymous said...

Alex, your article is spot on. The singapore government doesn't want anything to do with gays. If they do not educate our present generations of young Singaporeans, we have to do it ourselves.

Tim said...

I am glad that Brad Pitt made the statement.
Gay Marriage will be a long time coming, there are some US states that will allow gay marriages, but middle America is conservative. personally I am for gay marriage, but even the Democrats realize that the gay vote constitutes , I think about 6%. With the coming November 2006 elections, 2 issues have been dropped, Immigration and Gay rights. Those politicians need al the votes they can get.

Kris said...

Good for you, Alex! Glad that you and your friend stood your grounds.

I very strongly suspect that the eventual article that will be published in Straits Times will be of the exact angle/slant that you have foreseen...


Trenton B said...

Talking to the ST, will enable them to twist everything you say Alex. The ST cannot be trusted! They are great at 'sandbagging' people, and projecting the wrong message.
How can programs to re-identify young gay teens to be straight be any good?
How dumb can those people be?
Meddling with the mind of a gay teen, will only confuse his mind.
What a gay teen needs is a trained counsellor to talk to. The counsellor listens, and the teen talks.
In the final analysis, the kid has to go with his own sexuality.
What is most frustrating is the Singapore Government's lack of participation and assistance with this growing issue. There are more confused gay teens in Singapore, and we need to help them in everyway possible.
practically every relationship movie that comes out of Hollywood, has a gay brother, or a lesbian sister.Believe it or not- it is true. Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter is a lesbian.
Thank God for Brokeback Mountain.
Coz, that movie directed by Ang Lee really shook up the movie goers. , a documentary was done here about gay cowboys, it was really cool!
We have Rosie O Donnell on the ABC's morning show, she's gay.
Thank god for the internet, otherwise, with the ST and the Singapore TV- the masses are just sheep, just led down a road of total oblivion by PAP.

Chris said...

I think that one of the reasons that gay teens (and men) are a larger proportion of the HIV positive population in Singapore is that (I think) use of injectable recreational drugs is relatively low there, and that's where a lot of the HIV infection enters the straight population in places like the United States and Britain.

On the Brad Pitt thang, I think that he was quoted accurately, but what the paper omitted (the explanation of why Pitt said it) is key. The newspapers have no compulsion to print explanations of things like that, especially if they are either leery of the subject matter or believe that printing an exp;lanation would only help the very small proportion of their readership who have just arrived from Neptune and don't know what's going on. The ST probably suffers from the first.

I have been quoted once in the New York Times over the fire in my parish church in Manhattan--I was Clerk of the Vestry and was asked by a reporter to explain the circumstances. They got the quotation wrong. I think of that every time I read something in the newspapers and consider the probability that someone was misquoted or the newspaper deliberately misled its readers.

Anonymous said...


I agree with you. I also refused to give comments on the article about gay teens and HIV because I felt the focus was going to be biased. As for the sentence you quoted in the Sept 3 article, that was certainly not written the way I expected it. I most certainly did not say that my sons "confessed" to me. What I said was when they "came out" to me. The ST could have written it neutrally by using the word "told" but had to use that morally loaded word instead. I was disappointed.

Hoon Eng

Anonymous said...

Alex,your article on gay teens and HIV is very close to my heart. Many gay teens do not know how to practice safe sex, many just experiment. This is where the Singapore Govt should participate 100% on educating the Singapore gay teens about what should be done. but the govt has chosen to turn a blind eye. I am extremely concerned about it. Glad that you have been at the forefront of this issue. As you know, something proactive has to be done.
How many gay teens does Singapore have to lose before they are accepted and their lifestyles be recognized before we lose more of them?

Anonymous said...

'The American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from a list of mental disorders in 1973.'
The Singapore Government should realize this fact.

KiWeTO said...


the 'pink dollar' is not a significant factor in the decision making processes of Singapore, Inc. It is difficult to quantify, and worse, it threatens the victorian prudish values that were championed to build the modern megaCorp with its own army and laws.

No measurable economic benefits, no change. All we are showing the world is that we are a plastic city, suffocating anyone who lives in it like any plastic bag would when put over a person's head.

Everything is programmed, everything must be scripted, everything must work as clockwork. our price of success in building a modern city is the sacrifice of our souls.


Colin said...

Mental disease or not, this regime is not going to deal with gays or HIV on open terms because they consider gays to be necessary evils that should belong in the sewers. Better to leave us in the cesspool hoping we'll eliminate each other in ignominy.

Spot on, Alex... good on you for standing up to ST. I think this IMF thing is making us realise that no publicity is better than bad publicity.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, YB, for this excellent article, and also thanks in particular for the part on Brad Pitt. I had no idea, and thought the sentence in the newspaper simply didn't make sense (nothing surprising for me), did not imagine that it actually makes a lot of sense if they did not conceal the context on gay marriage. I, for one, would have continued to be fooled by the fraudulent reporting from the shitty times, if you had not mentioned it in YB.

(I'm one of those from Neptune, and "Chris" may not know it, being away from Singapore, but many of us here are from Neptune. :) You'll have to read his witty post many pages above mine.)

You're doing us a great service, YB, and I hope other bloggers will also make some effort to reveal the censorship on the Brad Pitt statement by our local mainstream media.

Robert L

Rajan R said...

Heh, on the point of passing moral judgement, perhaps being a lesbian is the best sexual orientation - lowest rates of HIV infection. Thus God, hating gays but prefering lesbians, inflicted gays with HIV/AIDS. Therefore, logically, God is a heterosexual male.


A lot of different crappy stuff hits different demographic groups more severely than others - like breast cancer: are women the bane of the world? Oh, oh, colour blindness: God obviously don't want men to drive.

Anonymous said...

The saddest thing about some local Singapore journalists is that they genuinely think that they are being biased. As long as some parts of an individual's comments are quoted (not necessary) in full, it is fair reporting.

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

I think the above comment is missing a "not"

hugewhaleshark said...

I thought that the article (page 3 in today's Straits Times) came out pretty OK, with an intereting quote from Plume's editor.

He/She raises an interesting point that gay teens feel pressure to conform to the norms of the mostly-adult gay community.

Will love to hear your opinion on that, Alex.