Are Chinese Gays more Chinese than Gay?Upon the perusal of Fridae.com, a site seeking to ‘Empower Gay Asia’, I noted their provision of 4 languages for the perusal of their site. English, and three other Chinese options. To this, I dispatched a ‘feedback’ that went,
A day after, the following response from Fridae.com,
Well, on the one hand, i could deem it quite reasonable. That is, if they are to be taken as the majority. Catering to the linguistic proclivities of the majority seems sensible when it comes to ‘reaching out’. But from their ‘about’ page, it seems that this organisation has been around for a few years, and still no 'other' languages? So, I’m left to wonder, is it that the Chinese are the most deficient when it comes to picking up other languages - hence the need to provide subtitles to accompany English programmes even in states where English has been the first language for decades, i.e. Singapore - or is it that if it isn’t to their interests, that it deserves not interest.
The purpose of egalitarianism is not to assume an evil to be the traits of all, but to identify its source so that we might eradicate it at its root. If not, we might just end up sharing said traits by assuming it to be a 'human condition' as opposed to it being a result of conditioning.
Why ‘gay Asia’ when they are primarily catering to the interests of a chinese gay community? What’s with this ‘asia’ thing? I recall a conversation about gambling with a Chinese mate in his early 50s in the neighbourhood coffeeshop in Singapore, who said, ‘ahh, you know, we Asians like to gamble.‘ To which I retorted, ‘not Asians, the Chinese.’. To this, he was taken aback, and disagreed with a, ‘no lah, Asians, not just the Chinese.‘ ‘Well, don’t you Chinese tend to gamble as part of your new year celebrations? And also all those lucky charms and numbers for bringing in money? Gambling isn’t a national pastime for the Malays or Indians, or the Filipinos or anyone else in Asia right?’, said I. As a response he just smiled uncomfortably, averted his eyes, and moved off. Quite the typical response I have to say. It seems that when the Chinese exhibit particular negative traits, it is assumed to be the trait of all. But when it comes to positive traits, it is a Chinese trait. The purpose of egalitarianism is not to assume an evil to be the traits of all, but to identify its source so that we might eradicate it at its root. If not, we might just end up sharing said traits by assuming it to be a 'human condition' as opposed to it being a result of conditioning.
From this, amongst a host of other instances, one cannot but assume that to the Chinese, the ancient, ‘central land’ (english translation of the Chinese characters for ‘China’) mentality still reigns supreme. And in a globalised village, that simply results in right-wing nationalism on a regional scale. I suppose it is easier to remake the world in your image than to engage in the tedium of thought and re-evaluation in the face of different cultures and peoples. Sort of like a child trying to force a circular object into a triangular slot. If the child is successful, then circular object would be deemed to have been always ‘triangular’. And if people with such a mentality are allowed to be the ‘majority’, than we can expect the kind of response received from Fridae, amongst a host of others. I do recall sending an email to SFD.org (Singaporeans for Democracy) about 8 years ago - i don’t know if they are related to the current SFD in singapore - and asking why they did not have an Indian translation of their site as opposed to English and Mandarin. To this question, the response went, ‘we cannot please everybody and why do you need special treatment.’ I was flabbergasted at this response, and, over the years, realised that this was a typical worldview of every Chinese i have ever encountered. The Chinese are, generally, rubbish at empathy, but admirably high on self-absorption. That is beyond dispute. But the question is ‘why’. It is definitely down to socialisation and political oppression. So, it is not a racial trait. But, if a particular race identifies with a particular socio-political culture because it is the culture of their ancestors, then, with the passage of time and tide of generations, it does become a racial trait.
Coming back to Gay ‘Asia’, I couldn’t help but wonder at Fridae.com’s response. If they are so into the ‘majority’, than how is it that they are seeking to ‘empower gays’ whom are a minority? This irony, I’m sure, is lost on the Chinese in s.e.Asia whom are generally poor at metaphorically appreciating of reality. They tend to be appealed to the obvious - like children do according to psychological textbooks. Hence, the sensational, the publicised, race-based majorities, tradition, one’s own interests, power, prominence, and the popular. Little thought is required when it comes to these - a result of Legalist top-down oppression and management of society. Whilst parents seek to lead their children out of this immaturity, Confucian/authoritarian governments seek to maintain, and profit from it. Hence, the above deficiencies amongst the Chinese in s.e.Asia. It is also perpetuated by the culture which therefore does not require a Confucian government to maintain said condition. One ought to remember that a culture, or components of a culture, borne of a particular historical climate can serve to replicate such a climate when practiced in present times.
It is within this context that we can understand how Fridae.com can on the one hand, cater to the majority (Chinese), whilst standing up for the minority(gay). The first is obvious in numbers (to them), and the second is obvious in its being to their interests.
It is only when we can extricate the best of all cultures in s.e.Asia and embody their values, even if it wasn’t practiced by our hallowed ancestors, that we can truly call ourselves Asians. If not, the usage of the term ‘Asian’ can simply refer to ‘what’s left after one sector has marginalised another for being an other’.
Hence, it would be expected that those whom are severely racialised by their cultures or governments to the point of ‘sticking to their own’ and seeing none other but themselves would miss the obvious point that the Chinese aren’t the ‘majority’ in s.e.Asia - and i certainly hope they won’t be if this is going to be their approach toward the non-Chinese. When you put the Indians, Malays, Filipinos, Indonesians, Australasians, Thais, Burmese, Cambodians, Lao, Koreans, Japanese, amongst others, together, they form a significant majority, not only in numerical terms, but in their providing richer cultural vibrancy given the differences between them. One could even say that all the non-Chinese in s.e.Asia are different dialect groups of one singular non-Chinese race. But, as always, i don’t think Fridae.com is going to be overly concerned with reason and logic, not if it isn’t supported by ‘the majority’.
The point of this article is not to ‘incite racial hatred’ as lesser and self-absorbed minds might assume - to allay the need for thought, critical introspection and objectivity which this article requires - but to promote an egalitarian vision that requires all of us to critically introspect for the purpose of detecting those strains within all our cultures that enables one to dominate another simply because we are the majority in numbers or power. Be it the ridiculous caste system or the BJP in India, the self-absorption produced by Legalist-Confucian culture, amongst others, we would do well in eradicating these negatives from our Asian cultural experience lest it leads us to make less of ourselves by us making less of others. It is only when we can extricate the best of all cultures in s.e.Asia and embody their values, even if it wasn’t practiced by our hallowed ancestors, that we can truly call ourselves Asians. If not, the usage of the term ‘Asian’ can simply refer to ‘what’s left after one sector has marginalised another for being an other’.
Syed Alwi (Little India) Tourist information, an illustration of fascist racism, in pictures
Time for another bout of racist Singapore Blog Awards
Racist 'Singapore' Blog Awards