Tan Jin Chi (July 2016) bravely shares his internal transformation after reading Mata Hati Kita.
As I ventured into the 3rd year of my law degree, I could really feel my passion in upholding and defending fundamental human rights. Women’s rights is my favourite topic to talk about, I find myself constantly advocating and educating others regarding equality, the concept of patriarchy and discrimination of various forms. However, throughout my law degree thus far, I found it difficult to advocate LGBT rights. When people bring up the topic of LGBT, I try to remain neutral and there’s so much confusion in me that I even questioned myself as to why do we even support LGBT rights. To search for the answer, I tried asking some of my pro- LGBT friends but it did not affect my way of thinking by a large margin. One of them talked about bisexual, asexual, how LGBT community thinks that they are trapped in a ‘stranger’s’ body. He even recommended me to read articles and books written by Simone de Beauvoir.
I kept all that he shared with me at the back of my head but I was still struggling to find the justification to support the rights of the LGBT community. A couple of weeks later, I was invited to Art For Grabs where by coincidence, I came across this book titled “Mata Hati Kita”. It didn’t cost much and I was really keen about addressing my confusion–of whether to support or not. So I bought it instantly without hesitation and even went for their book launch later that day at Art For Grabs. The people who worked so hard for this book were talking about LGBT rights on stage, they shared a few of the stories from the book to the audience. I remember clearly at the back of my mind this one particular sentence that impacted me so much that I actually finished the book in a single day. The sentence was “After all, I only wished that my mother could sit down and have a chat with me”. Coming from a family which I’m blessed to be a part of, we are very close to each other and can even talk about anything despite our age gap. The fact that this person (the one in the story) couldn’t openly talk about his/her problems with his/her family upset me so much.
After finishing the book, I finally found the reason why I took a neutral stand towards LGBT rights all along. I do support them as it’s their lives and it’s totally up to their discretion and also decision to live the way they want to. We shouldn’t judge them, but at the same time, it was so against my moral values that I felt disgusted as to why they acted in a particular manner. It was because I associated the “gender tag” to each of them. Before I had read the book, for me, if you were born as a male, then act like a male; and vice versa for those who were born female. When you actually remove that “tag” from your heart, you can see that they are also human. Most of them are discriminated, looked down upon because they chose to live a life away from the norm. But who are we to look down on them and judge them? The book also taught me that love comes in all sorts of forms, just because it’s not the typical heterosexual kind of relationship, doesn’t mean we have the right to discriminate them. Throughout the book, you can actually feel and share their emotions, struggles in their daily life. Now I know. Treat them as a normal human being, and then you will find yourself supportive of the LGBT rights too.
Out of curiosity, I also shared this book with my family. Asian families are usually against the LGBT community. I think it’s not their fault but it’s just the way they are brought up to think. They are expected to live by certain moral values, actions, even in relation to attainment of a high level of education etc. I’m amazed that my parents actually accepted the concept of LGBT rights to the extent that my parents are willing to accept their children if they turn out to be part of the LGBT community, but on one condition–which is do not have any physical intimacy in front of them. I find that this is a great achievement as most parents won’t even acknowledge their children if they are part of the LGBT community.
As for me, all my doubts toward the LGBT community are solved. I am now a supporter of the LGBT community and willing to uphold their rights as well.