Monday, March 12, 2007

91. Singapore

Yeah, it's been ages since my last post. A lot has happened.

First of all, the friend I wrote about (actually both of them) have since contacted me. The one I spoke most about actually called my mom to try and find a way to contact me in Korea. It was a really nice surprise! We had an excellent conversation... good to know that I haven't lost any friends.

Another change? Well, I'm not in Korea anymore. As the subject of this blog would indicate, I'm actually in Singapore... but only for a few more hours. I'm heading from here to Frankfurt, from where I will hop over to Vienna and be a total arthouse snob. At least, that's my plan.

What I've done is bought a "Round the World" fare to get myself home to Canada... where I plan to stay for a few months before returning to Korea in the Fall. So I will tour around Europe for a couple of months, spend some time with one of my dearest friends and then, if all goes according to plan, be home by early May. Chill for a bit, and then back to the Land of Morning Calm.

I haven't written for a couple of reasons... one being that towards the end of my stay in Korea I became insanely busy. Both work-wise and social-life-wise... which is to be expected, I suppose. Another reason being that I didn't really have anything to say. I made some really cool friends, who were lesbians, but there was nothing really to write about. I like them, we get along well. That's about it, really.

But I've been prompted to write another post by a relevant experience. I actually found a gay-friendly church in Singapore when doing some searching online, so I decided to go on Sunday. Finding the church turned out to be rather difficult. I wrote down the address very precisely, got very specific directions, left early, and found myself here.

Obviously not a church. I stood there for several minutes... you can see the numbers in the sign for the store, which was exactly what I had written on my little piece of paper. I wandered around for a bit, not really sure what to do. I asked a few people if they knew of a church in the building and they just stared at me. I felt fairly hopeless until I saw a girl standing beside a staircase, with a rainbow bracelet on. I practically jumped on her, I was so excited. It only occured to me later that her bracelet could just as easily have been of the non-gay-rainbow variety. Luckily, it wasn't. I jogged over to her, pointing aggressively at her bracelet and said something articulate like "The church... your bracelet... are you? ... church??" Her eyes grew a little before I think she actually understood what I was asking. Turns out she was waiting to meet some other people who were also going to this church for the first time. (I don't think it would hurt to link to it from here -- it's the Free Community Church). They showed up almost immediately, and we walked over to the church. Turns out I was in building 100, not building 100A... a very important distinction.

The service was nice. Yet again, I found myself at a gay-friendly church on a 'special' Sunday... this one was in celebration of International Women's Day, so the entire service (down to the very beautifully rendered womb in front of the pulpit) revolved around women's issues. It also explained the presence of all the women I saw, I had actually been rather shocked to see so many lesbians (well, I'm guessing), usually there's more men in the co-ed gay venues.

Much like last time, I found myself crying the minute the service started. Singing songs I sing at my church at home surrounded by Christ-loving gay people... it was a powerful feeling. I screwed myself together and stopped the tears because I was in the front row and there was this guy going around taking pictures (I think because it was a special Sunday... he was taking an absurd amount of pictures) and I didn't want to end up in some newsletter or something.

I'm still not sure I've heard a 'sermon' in a gay-friendly church. Much like last time, the speaker (I don't think she was the actual pastor of the church) was mostly speaking to the issue of the day), but it was still very interesting to me to hear terms you only really hear from gay people (ie: butch/femme/queenie/flaming) spoken from a pulpit. It's not like I use those terms a lot, or even travel in circles where those terms are used... but, and this is going to sound really cheesy, or whiny or something I know, but I felt... oy, I'm trying to avoid using this word, but I don't think I can. I felt included. Like, she was actually talking to me. It felt, well, exactly the opposite of how sermon illustrations that involve husbands/wives/boyfriends/girlfriends leave me feeling.

One thing I have to say that I didn't like was that speaker made reference to "Mother God". She spoke about how she doesn't understand why people find this disrespectful, as it somehow would diminish God (who we know isn't actually a man) to be a referred to as a woman. And I see her point, a woman is no less worthy of respect than a man... but, it is disrespectful to refer to someone by the opposite gender than they have identified themselves as. For most people, this is simply the gender you are, calling me 'sir' is rude, not because I have anything against men, or think that I am better than a man, but because I am not a man. I'm about to go into some territory that I think will scare some people, but it's kind of like with a transgendered person. If someone introduces themselves to you as a man, and you continually refer to them using feminine pronouns because you know that they were once female... well, that's rude. You are refusing that person the right to identify themselves. And I'm not saying that God is transgender here, but He chose to reveal Himself as male, so who are we to change that?

Many, I know, will argue that the Bible was filtered through human hands who interpreted what they were told... but I'm still enough of an evangelical to say that while I may question a lot of how the Scriptures have been interpreted over the years, I do not question the actual Scriptures.

But that was only a small part of the service, which I must say I quite enjoyed. I couldn't help but think how nice it would be to just go to church and meet a girl there and maybe be in a Bible study together, and date and have a relationship that progressed in such a nice, normal, boring fashion... the way most of my friends found their spouses. That would be wonderful. Really, there are a lot of things that straight people take for granted.

Anyway, not having the internet at home means I'm paying to write this post... so I think I'll stop now. I feel like I owe you some more things, so I'll include a few more pictures of Singapore before I go... Sorry for the long absence!


Peterson Toscano said...

Great to read this blog entry. I love the photos. What you write moves me as I know that feeling of belonging in a faith community after feeling like an unwanted outsider for so long or at least like someone who was simply tolerated under certain conditions.

It sounds like a wonderful experience. Sounds like your whole adventure has been, well, an adventure.

Michael said...

Hi JJ,

Here it is 3:30am. I am having trouble sleeping. I get on the net to pass the time. I tried to Google to find this gay choir that will be performing in Ottawa and your blog comes up on the list of several hundred hits. Since I am not that familiar with blogs I thought I'd check it out. It's funny because I am a 43 year old, gay male, agnostic but absolutely loved your writing. I only read a few of your entries but I got a sense of a very fascinating, talented, and thoughful person and am so pleased to have tripped on your blog. I love your honesty and your humour and I absolutely love the video of the kids at Christmas singing the hippo song! Those kids were very lucky to have had a teacher like you and they will likely remember you forever.

Thanks so much for sharing your stories.


E said...

Good to see you back in the blogosphere, JJ. Have a great time in Europe!

Anonymous said...

Hi JJ,

You are most welcome to join us again at FCC.

God bless.

Foo Keong

Jules said...

Just wanted to say that if you ever find yourself on the central coast of california, there is a fat fist of gay-friendly churches awaiting your arrival.

- Jules

rags said...

thanks for your frank sharing. god bless and courage to live! ya!