Okay, next bit of good news…
Remember how we went to see Dr T a few weeks back? And he was all, Yeah I can be your OB and deliver your baby, but then he had a chat with his higher power and decided it went against his beliefs?
Well that part didn’t change.
But around that same time, Singapore’s National Library Board decided to pull and pulp three children’s books that they deemed inappropriate for children. Why? Surprise! They’re about alternative kinds of families. (One of the books was the oft-banned And Tango Makes Three about two male penguins who raise a chick at the Central Park Zoo.) Singapore’s not into alternative kinds of families.
Still waiting for the good news?
Here is it: When you ban books, you don’t just piss off the people the books are about. You also piss off writers, readers, and other proponents of literary freedom. The NLB’s actions sparked quite a lot of backlash from Asia’s literary community, some of which hadn’t really seen LGBTQ struggles as their problem before this. Way to go, NLB!
In the midst of this controversy, I attended the Asia Pacific Writers & Translators Association conference, which was in Singapore this year. And there was a great deal of discussion and outrage about “the penguin in the room.” But it was mostly abstract or narrowly focused on book-banning without much comment on the larger issues facing LGBTQ people in Singapore or elsewhere in Asia.
So following the keynote on the first day, I stood up and introduced myself as a real live gay person living in Singapore and quickly summarized some of the broader struggles of being LGBTQ in this country (at least as an expat, since that’s all I can speak to), including the difficulty E and I have had finding a doctor who will work with us.
The response was amazing. Lots and lots of people came up and chatted with me over the next three days. I spoke to queer Singaporeans living here and abroad, other queer expats living in Asia, parents of queer people, and others who just wanted to express their support or thank me for putting a face to the issue. And it didn’t stop there. No less than four people brought me contact details for doctors in Singapore who would see us. One writer handed me a printout of the webpage for her brother-in-law’s practice and told me she’d already asked him. Another writer based in Bangkok volunteered to come to our clinic for the insemination and translate for us.
Such lovely, generous people! And a good reminder that, while much of Singapore is conservative and genuinely homophobic, queer folks have a lot of allies here, too.
As for the racy kids’ books, in the end, one was pulped (destroyed!) and two were moved to the adult section. Because penguins are scary.