Showing posts with label Asia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Asia. Show all posts

January 10, 2019

Biggest Ever LGBT Asian Contemporary Art Show Coming To Bangkok

“Spectrosynthesis II” is the expanded second edition of a similar exhibition that the Sunpride Foundation co-presented at Taipei’s Museum of Contemporary Art in 2017.
Patrick Sun Kai-yit, the founder of Sunpride, announced today that the 2019 exhibition will be held at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre from November 23.
“Thailand is a natural choice for us because Bangkok, like Taipei, is another home base for me outside of Hong Kong,” Sun said. “The city has always had a reputation for being friendly to the LGBT community, now strengthened by plans for a bill to legalise same-sex civil partnership.”

The foundation was also pleased to find a partner in the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC), the city’s biggest contemporary art space, which promotes diversity and inclusiveness as part of its official mission, Sun added. More than 50 artists from various Asian countries will be included in the show, with works belonging to the foundation’s collection as well as loans. There will also be new commissions by artists such as Thailand’s Arin Rungjang and Jakkai Siributr.
Among the highlights will be photographs by the late Ren Hang, a young, gay, Chinese artist who left behind a series of striking portraits of his friends after taking his own life in 2017.
Enid TsuiEnid TsuiA Hong Kong-based charity that uses art to fight sexual-orientation discrimination is taking the largest ever LGBT Asian contemporary art exhibition to Bangkok in November

Sun compared Ren to Lionel Wendt, a Sri Lankan photographer who also died young.
“We will also be showing Wendt’s works, which were avant garde at the time and remain influential even though camera technology has improved a lot. Ren was also doing something nobody had ever done before when he documented his generation in China. I believe his work will live on,” he said.
The foundation will also bring selections from an extraordinary series called “The New Pre-Raphaelites” by India’s Sunil Gupta that it acquired recently. Gupta, who is HIV-positive and a vocal LGBT activist, borrows from Greek myths and Pre-Raphaelite ideals in his portrayal of same-sex couples in India, where there is very limited home-grown iconography that can be borrowed.
Other artists at the exhibition will include Dinh Q. Le, Maria Taniguchi, Ming Wong, Danh Vo and Samson Young. 
“Spectrosynthesis II is a project rather than just an exhibition,” said Pawit Mahasarinand, director of the BACC. “We are also planning, with many local partners, film screenings, stage performances, talks, forums and symposiums at our centre and at other venues. As we’re exploring these issues socially, culturally, politically as well as historically, we’d like to make sure that the public engage in this dialogue.”
Sun believes art can play a role in bridging the divide between policies and public opinion.
“That such a gap exists explains why in Taiwan, a referendum rejected the high court’s ruling that same-sex marriage ought to be allowed. The path to equality is never smooth, and art and culture may help change people’s views and encourage social acceptance,” he said.

The exhibition includes LGBT artists who may or may not make their sexuality explicit in their works, and heterosexual artists whose works feature LGBT themes.
Sun said that an artist’s sexual orientation is relevant to his or her art because all art reflects something about its creator.
“Even if artists don’t think their sexuality is relevant, their identity will still come through their work, I think. Also, the audience may find a fresh way of interpreting a work when it is shown in an LGBT exhibition. For example, Samson Young’s Muted Situation with the silenced choir may be seen in a different context here than when it was shown at the Venice Biennale,” he said. 
The word “spectrosynthesis” merges the words spectrum and photosynthesis, thus shining a light on the LGBT community’s rich and diverse history, he added.

Heading to Bangkok

  • Spectrosynthesis II will be held at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre from November 23
  • More than 50 artists will feature, including Sunil Gupta, Arin Rungjang, Maria Taniguchi, Hong Kong’s Samson Young and the late Ren Hang

April 10, 2018

Asia's Out-Gay Icon Leslie Cheng is Dead But Kept Alive for the Last 15 years

This page published by the BBC
 For the past 15 years fans of tormented superstar Leslie Cheung, one of the first celebrities to come out as gay in Asia, have gathered at Hong Kong's Mandarin Oriental Hotel to mourn the day he took his own life. 
It's a poignant sign of why the daring and troubled star is still important today. 
One of Hong Kong's most popular male singers and actors of the mid-1980s, Leslie Cheung Kwok Wing was not afraid of provoking controversy with his overt sexuality and provocative performances during a more socially conservative era. 
And 15 years after his death, Cheung is still attracting new fans, including teenagers and millennials.
Lam, a 15-year-old who attended 1 April's vigil, was only a few months old when Cheung died. She told BBC Chinese she had "discovered him on YouTube".
"He was charismatic; especially when he went's gorgeous," she said.
Meanwhile, 25-year-old Wu travelled from Hunan province on mainland China with his boyfriend to mourn the icon.
Wu told BBC Chinese he drew strength from Cheung's "spirit of being true to oneself".
"He showed the [Chinese-speaking] world that gay people can be positive, bright and worthy of respect."

Christopher DoyleImage copyrightBBC CHINESE
Image captionCinematographer Christopher Doyle says Leslie was "not only a great singer or actor, but a rarely-seen true star"

Born in 1956, Leslie Cheung was one of Hong Kong's most famous stars during the golden era of Cantopop in the 1980s.
He was dashing, stylish and fitted the public idea of a perfect heterosexual male lover. But in reality, he was in a long-term relationship with his childhood friend, Daffy Tong. 
It was not an easy time to be gay. At that time, homosexuality was still viewed by many as an illness and abnormality in Hong Kong, especially after the emergence of the first local case of Aids in 1984. It was not until 1991 that adult gay sex was decriminalised in the territory.
"The LGBT movement in Hong Kong took off in the 1990s, when the community finally became visible to the public," Travis Kong, an associate professor of sociology researching gay culture at The University of Hong Kong, told BBC Chinese. 
And it was at this point that Cheung became more daring in his work. 

Cheung as an androgynous Peking Opera star in Farewell My ConcubineImage copyrightTOMSON (HK) FILMS CO., LTD. 
Image captionCheung as an androgynous Peking Opera star in Farewell My Concubine

He first came to international attention with his portrayal of Cheng Dieyi, the androgynous Peking Opera star, for the film Farewell My Concubine, which won the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 1993. 
He went on to star in Happy Together directed by Wong Kar Wai - a gay cinema classic about a couple who struggle to find a peaceful co-existence.
"Happy Together is different. It is a stereotypical heterosexual romance, but played by two men," said Kit Hung, a Hong Kong director.
Meanwhile, Christopher Doyle, the renowned cinematographer who worked with Cheung on various Wong Kar Wai films, told BBC Chinese: "He was so beautiful. We both wanted to convey through my lens the most beautiful, sincerest side of him.
"He enters our imagination audaciously... always showing us better possibilities."

Leslie Cheung's waxwork at Madame Tussauds waxworks in Hong KongImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionLeslie Cheung is remembered both for his films and music performances - and even has his own waxwork at Madame Tussauds

On stage, Cheung unleashed a sexually fluid charm.  His defining queer performance came in a 1997 concert where he danced intimately with a male dancer to his song Red. He wore a black suit with a pair of sparkling crimson high-heels.
At that concert he dedicated a classic love song to the two "loves of his life", his mother and his partner Daffy Tong. This is seen as the moment he came out of the closet. Cheung did not proclaim his sexuality as such, but confessed his love for a man.

Collage of screenshots showing Leslie Cheung wearing red heelsImage copyrightROCK RECORDS
Image captionCheung wore his iconic pair of red high heels in a 1997 concert

"In the 1990s, at times a gay man was still called 'Aids man' and 'pervert'," says Mr Kong. "In a society so oppressive to the LGBT community, the coming out of such a renowned superstar had a huge effect on the general public."
Despite his success across Asia, there were many who did not appreciate this side of Cheung. 
At the 1998 Hong Kong Film Awards, Happy Together was mocked by comedians, who described it as a film that would make the audience vomit. A music video he directed, featuring him topless with a male ballet dancer, was also censored by major local TV channel TVB.

Exhibition: "Ambiguously Yours: Gender in Hong Kong Popular Culture"Image copyrightPAN LEI
Image captionCheung's versatile images on stage ignited controversies

In 2000 Leslie became the first Asian star to wear a tailor-made costume by French fashion master Jean-Paul Gaultier in a concert. With waist-length hair, clearly visible stubble and a muscular build, Cheung also wore tight transparent trousers and a short skirt. 
He ended the concert with his self-revealing ballad I. "The theme of my performance is this: The most important thing in life, apart from love, is to appreciate your own self," he explained.
"I won't hide, I will live my life the way I like under the bright light" he sang. "I am what I am, firelight of a different colour."
But he was dismissed as a "transvestite", "perverted" or "haunted by a female ghost" in local media. He would dismiss that criticism as superficial and short-sighted. 
He remains such an iconic figure in Hong Kong's awakening to LGBT issues that the Mandarin Oriental Hotel is even the first stop of a walking tour on the city's LGBT history.

Crowds at Mandarin Oriental on the 15th anniversary of Cheung's deathImage copyrightBBC CHINESE
Image captionCrowds at Mandarin Oriental on the 15th anniversary of Cheung's death
Fans recreated Cheung's signature crimson high heels in RosesImage copyrightBBC CHINESE
Image captionFans recreated Cheung's signature crimson high heels in Roses

It was from here that he jumped to his death on 1 April 2003 after a long struggle with depression. It was a shocking moment for the city, and a devastating moment for fans. 
Tens of thousands turned out to bid him farewell and at the funeral, his partner Daffy Tong assumed the role traditionally preserved for the surviving spouse, a profound, public recognition of their relationship. 
Never legally married, Mr Tong's was the first name listed on the family's announcement of Cheung's death, credited "Love of His Life".
Same-sex marriage or civil unions are still not legal in Hong Kong, but in the city's collective memory, Cheung and Tong are fondly remembered as an iconic, loving couple.

Daffy Tong, partner of Entertainer Leslie Cheung, looks at his waxwork unveiled at Madame Tussaud waxworks in Hong Kong, 31 March 2004. Leslie, Cheung one of Hong Kong's most acclaimed entertainers, leapt to his death 01 April 2003Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionDaffy Tong beside a waxwork of Leslie Cheung at Madame Tussauds in Hong Kong

Hong Kong still lacks anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBT communities but queer identity and sexual fluidity are no longer so taboo and are part of the social landscape. 
Last year a museum in Hong Kong held an exhibition "Ambiguously Yours: Gender in Hong Kong Popular Culture". The first exhibit visitors encountered upon entering the venue was a pair of sparkling crimson high-heels - the pair Cheung wore performing Red in 1997.
"The highest achievement for a performer is to embody both genders at the same time," Cheung once proclaimed: "For art itself is genderless."
If you are feeling emotionally distressed and would like details of organisations which offer advice and support, click here. In the UK you can call for free, at any time, to hear recorded information on 0800 066 066. In Hong Kong you can get help here.

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August 22, 2017

Admiral Orders Fleet Wide Investigation After Four Accidents in Asia Within 1 yr

Damage to the port side of the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain is visible as the ship steers toward Changi Naval Base in Singapore following an early-morning collision Monday morning. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua Fulton/U.S. Navy)
The Navy’s top admiral on Monday ordered a fleetwide review of seamanship and training in the Pacific after the service’s fourth major accident at sea this year, following a collision of the USS John S. McCain off Singapore that left 10 sailors missing.
The collision, which occurred about 6:24 a.m. with an oil tanker three times the McCain’s size east of the Straits of Malacca, could be the Navy’s second deadly ship collision in two months. On June 17, the destroyer USS Fitzgerald collided off the coast of Japan with a much heavier container ship, drowning seven sailors after a berthing compartment inside the ship flooded in less than a minute.
In addition, the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain collided with a South Korean fishing vessel on May 9 off the Korean Peninsula, and the guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam ran aground Jan. 31 in Tokyo Bay, near its homeport of Yokosuka, Japan.
Navy Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, ordered an “operational pause” and a deeper look at how the service trains and prepares its forces to operate around Japan, the Navy said in a statement. 
“The review will include, but not be limited to trends in operational tempo, performance, maintenance, equipment, and personnel,” the statement said. “It will also focus on surface warfare training and career development, including tactical and navigational proficiency. The investigative team will be diverse, including people from across the Navy (both officer and enlisted), and experts from outside the Navy — other services, and the private sector — to help ensure we are not missing anything.”

July 20, 2017

"The Forced Marriage Unit" (Straight) South Asian Answer to Gay Marriages

(Not a quote but humor to make the point about someone who went to jail rather than comply with the law as she had sworn with a bible on her hand.

Hundreds of gay and lesbian people of South Asian heritage are believed to be under pressure to marry someone of the opposite sex, police say.
West Midlands Police said a growing number are now contacting the force after being ordered to have a heterosexual wedding by their families.
The UK's forced marriage unit heard from at least 30 LGBT people last year. 
But they say more people are likely to be affected as being gay is often seen as taboo among south Asian communities.
This is supported by data from charities and LGBT organizations that have made referrals to the police.
Twenty-two gay and lesbian people of South Asian heritage have told the BBC that at some point they were pressured to marry somebody of the opposite sex. 
In most of those cases, the individuals said they were tempted to go ahead with the marriage because they did not want to embarrass their family or ruin their reputation. 
Grey line

'My family tried to 'cure' my homosexuality'

Man in silhouette
Ranjeep - not his real name - told his family a couple of years ago that he was gay. His father's first response was to tell him to marry a woman.
"I'm Sikh, and culturally the older generation don't accept homosexuality," he said. "My father ordered me to marry a woman because he thought that would cure my homosexuality."
Ranjeep, who is in his 30s and from Coventry, said: "The emotional pressure is really hard and distressing and you don't want to bring shame on the family by saying you're gay. I ended up marrying my partner but my parents didn't come to the wedding."
He said he lives two separate lives and is distraught his father will not accept him for who he is. 
"It's heartbreaking to see my father heart-broken because of my sexuality."
Grey line
A forced marriage is where one or both people do not consent to the marriage and pressure or abuse is used. In the UK, it is illegal and recognized as a form of violence against women and men.
The pressure put on people to marry against their will can be physical or emotional and psychological.
Det Sgt Trudy Gittins, from the West Midlands force, said the people coming forward from the LGBT community in recent months are from all walks of life.
"We've got professional well-educated people who still feel that immense pressure because there's a whole expectation that they will not bring shame on their family," she said. 
"Homophobia is rife in some communities and to be seen as being gay or lesbian or bisexual it can absolutely destroy the dynamic of that community and this person just has that burden every single day and it can cause a great deal of anxiety and distress and in some cases, they also feel suicidal."

Old fashioned attitudes

The Foreign Office and Home Office set up the Forced Marriage Unit in 2005. Figures show 30 LGBT people who contacted the unit last year were among the 1,428 people who asked for help.
But the government acknowledged the actual number of cases that involving LGBT people could be "significantly higher" as it did not explicitly ask people whether their sexuality was the trigger for the forced marriage. 
The unit is now working with LGBT groups to encourage more victims to come forward and get support. 
Khakan Qureshi runs a Birmingham-based organization called Finding a Voice, which gives advice to gay and lesbian people of south Asian origin.
He is of Muslim faith and told his family he was gay more than two decades ago. He says they no longer speak to him. 
"I had one relative who is in his 20s, and he told me that he would kill his son if he told him that he was gay.
"And it's this old fashioned attitude that scares me because attitudes haven't changed since I came out more than 20 years ago. The younger generation has to be bold and reject this sort of homophobia and ignorance or attitudes will stay the same."
Blackburn-based imam Saleem Sedat said homosexual people should be treated with respect and humanity. 
"Islam is categorically against forged marriage," he said. "What's important is that we're sensitive towards the concerns of young people including when it comes to matters of sexuality and that we provide them with the necessary support and care they require to grow and become healthy members of society."

June 26, 2017

Singapore Resist While Vietnam is Become One of The Most LGBT Friendly Countries in Asia

 Vietnam Celebrates under the rain

LGBT rights in the global financial capital are murky at best, while Vietnam has been pegged as one of the most LGBT-friendly countries in Asia.

A global metropole, the small, tropical island of Singapore is the hub of crypto-capitalism: a country flanked by towering skyscrapers that boast of "progress" and "advancement," but where fighting for LGBT rights is still a tall order.
While queer marriages are prohibited, changing one’s gender is allowed — underscoring the country’s schizophrenic policies with regards to sexual rights, which palter about progressivism, but leave much to be desired. 

LGBT activists are gearing up for continued challenges after the government tightened rules this year for the upcoming Pride event, limiting the celebration that is already only allowed to take place once a year.
From ambiguity about their legal rights to facing censorship in the media, the terrain of LGBT equality in the global financial capital is nonexistent at worst, and murky at best.
Legal ambiguity and inequality for LGBT Singaporeans
For bisexual lawyer Indulekshmi Rajeswari, the country “does not recognize LGBT rights at all.”
“In fact, sex between mutually consenting men is still criminalized, through the infamous section 377A of the Penal Code,” she told teleSUR.
“There are no anti-discrimination laws in any sphere, including housing, employment, healthcare and so on. LGBT couples and families live in a legal limbo,” she continued.
According to Rajeswari, while queer and trans people pay the same taxes, they are not given the same access to government housing or tax breaks that “married, heterosexual couples take for granted.”
The “vocal but small religious right and the government’s interest in maintaining the status quo”, she explained, explains why LGBT Singaporeans continue to live in a state of legal ambiguity and inequality.
“Same but Different,” the new legal guide
In this arena of muddled rights, comes Rajeswari’s new guide titled, “Same but Different: A Singapore LGBT Legal Guide for Couples & Families.” Set to release July 8, the book will help LGBT Singaporeans navigate their legal rights.
"I knew my friends were asking me because they did not know other LGBT-friendly lawyers," Rajeswari told teleSUR of her inspiration to begin the guide in November 2015.
The crowd-funded project that has a team of 18 volunteers, delves into the "legal ambiguities" surrounding marriage and cohabitation contracts, property, wills and inheritance, medical decisions and children. 
The guidebook, to be published and distributed to LGBT organizations throughout the country, will also be made available for free online, filling a "much-needed resource gap" for social workers and other LGBT advocates alike.
"For example, we could not find any publicly available guidance on what is required to change one's gender legally," pressed Rajeswari.
"This is one of the many examples of the type of legal ambiguities that LGBT people in Singapore face. It is a type of ambiguity that is often hidden or rarely discussed," she said to teleSUR.
Parties versus policies
The guidebook is to come in handy as the community faces ongoing assaults on their rights.
For the past 8 years, LGBT Singaporeans have congregated in Hong Lim Park, “the only venue in Singapore where public protests are allowed," for Pink Dot, the annual Pride rally.
But this year’s event has been mired in controversy — with recent changes to the country’s Public Order Act barring foreigners from attending.
Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam told Parliament last month that the changes were made to prevent foreigners from “advancing political causes in Singapore.”
“As a government, we don’t take a position for or against Pink Dot, but we do take a position against foreign involvement,” he had added. “The point is this is a matter for Singaporeans, Singapore companies, Singapore entities to discuss.” 
For Rajeswari, Pink Dot and other public displays of LGBT pride illuminate only a tiny reality.
“How gay-friendly or trans-friendly Singapore is, depends on who you are and what you want out of life. There are gay parties, there is a relatively vibrant scene and most people are not afraid of being arrested for being gay. If you just want to party and have a good time, Singapore might seem great to you,” she said.
“However, we are not allowed to have Pride parades (except the annual Pink Dot gathering). Freedom of speech and freedom of association is in general very curtailed, so that applies to the LGBT community too. If you want any kind of rights, then Singapore starts looking less attractive,” she added.
Vietnam, one of the most LGBT-friendly places in Asia
In contrast, elsewhere on the continent, Vietnam has emerged as one of the most LGBT-friendly country advancing on a number of fronts in the last decade, leading NBC News to say in January 2015, “On gay rights, Vietnam is now more progressive than America."
That year, its ruling Communist Party of Vietnam removed a ban on same-sex marriage and also allowed those that undergo gender reassignment surgery to register under their preferred gender. At a hearing leading up to the legalization, Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Viet Tien proposed that same-sex marriage be made legal immediately, "As human beings, homosexuals have the same rights as everyone else to live, eat, love, and be loved," according to the Atlantic.
It was a decade prior to these achievements that Nguyen Hai Yen, searching for community and acceptance in a place still mired by homophobia and transphobia, turned to the internet.
“I became the administrator of a lesbian online forum,” Yen told NBC OUT. “The internet community was a safe space for us to meet, so we met each other and discussed things like dating or coming out.”
The year was 2004, and while there was an emerging network of online forums and websites for lesbians, gay men, gay teens and transgender women that had a large following, they remained separate and disconnected.
“The issue of rights for the broader LGBTQ community was never mentioned,” said Yen.
But things changed in 2008, when the Institute for Studies of Society, Economics and Environment, a civil society organization in Hanoi, invited Yen and other online forum administrators to discuss the idea of building a more focused community.
“iSEE decided it should be the community’s voice that brought up their own issues,” Yen explained. 
March for marriage equality in 2015.
Just a few, short years later, Vietnam is set to celebrate its fifth year of pride celebrations in 36 provinces across the country.
“The first generation of leaders is now in their late 20s or 30s,” iSEE Chairman Le Quang Binh said. “They are (now) building the second generation of leaders … (who) are young, passionate, committed and daring.”
Still, despite the progress, the LGBTQ community still has its fair share of challenges that stem from deep-seated prejudices against them. But the movement fighting that has left even those involved with it for years, stunned. 
“The LGBTQ movement in Vietnam has had this really strange and unprecedented opportunity to grow so fast — it is head spinning,” Nga L.H. Nguyen, who joined the movement four years ago and is now on the organizing board of Viet Pride, told NBC OUT.
LGBT Singapore resists
Back in Singapore, Rajeswari is hopeful, recounting victories elsewhere in the region. Despite the battles, she notes the resilience of her communities.
“We have an LGBT-affirming counseling agency, Oogachaga, who do the very important work of helping LGBT people with their mental health and also work related to safe sex. We have organizations such as Sayoni, a queer women’s group, which does a lot of advocacy and welfare work,” she said. “This is not an exhaustive list, but we do indeed have a vibrant scene with lots of group working on their individual concerns.”
“(Our) community continues to be resilient by creating resources to help empower the community,” she told teleSUR.

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