It’s a Top Ten list ala Letterman. This week it covers FAQs about Seksualiti Merdeka.
Disclaimer: Since there is so much confusion these days and you people don’t read articles properly and then launch into attack mode (yes I am making a reference to the people who did not read properly and see that I was singling out the call-for-rape type comments and not all dissenting comments), I will explicitly mention here that while this article contains a list of definitions taken from a credible source on sexuality rights, it has been packaged in a tongue-in-cheek fashion.
The 3rd Malaysian Sexuality Rights Festival, Seksualiti Merdeka 2010 was launched on Wednesday by LoyarBurokker Edmund Bon. He left an indelible impression with the crowd – with a very apt speech and very tight LB tee.
As a volunteer at this year’s festival (and an ardent fan of Letterman), I noticed that there 10 FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions when I talk to people about Seksualiti Merdeka. So I have listed them here with some introductory information. If you’d like to learn more or find that you have more questions after reading the list below, come listen to a series of talks tomorrow at Seksualiti Merdeka. If you are still not sure, stay for Rainbow Massacre and you will see all definitions and denominations live in action.
10. Oooh are we going to celebrate all things sex? Sexuality is more than acts of sex. (At about this point I can see half the people losing the glint in their eyes about coming along.) Sexuality encompasses sex, gender identities and roles, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction. It is Seksualiti Merdeka not seks merdeka.
9. What does Sexuality Rights mean? Sexuality Rights recognises that people who are non-heteronormative or who are non-conformative to heteronormativity should enjoy all human rights as protected and promoted by the international human rights treaties and conventions.
Advocacy work around sexuality rights centre on seeking equal recognition before the law for people who are (non-conformative to heteronormativity) as equal human beings with the same set of human rights as anyone else irrespective of religion, race/ethnicity, culture, age, etc.
Sexuality rights promotes the right to self-autonomy and bodily integrity in the responsible exercise and expression of one’s own sexuality. Sexuality rights includes the freedom from stigma and all forms of discrimination, violence, persecution and abuse that is based on a person’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity. (Source: KRYSS)
To me personally, what this says is: we should be able to be who we are – even when the gender we identify with does not match our sex organs, we should be able to love who we want to love – as long as it’s between consenting adults.
8. I’m straight, go to gay pride event for what? It is not a gay pride festival. It is a Sexuality Rights festival. Pang Khee Teik, Seksualiti Merdeka’s organising chair, sums up the aim of the festival very well when he explains that: “What the festival aims to do is to educate people about sexuality rights. Each one of us, regardless of our sexual orientation, is affected by threats to sexuality rights. For instance, in Malaysia, any form of sex that is ‘against the order of nature’ such as oral sex and anal sex is illegal under Section 377A of the Penal Code.” Of course, LGBT rights is a big part of Seksualiti Merdeka, and wouldn’t you want to lend support to fellow human beings – a brother, a sister, a friend, a neighbour – to be accepted for who they are?
More photos from the launch here
7. So what exactly are the principles of Sexuality Rights? I rely on:
(I) The Yogyakarta Principles is the application of international Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. It was drafted in 2006 in response to well-documented patterns of abuse.
(II) World Association of Sexology Declaration of Sexual Rights expounds that Sexual Rights as Fundemental and Universal Human Rights.
6. LGBT, LBGTIQ, PLU, SM, What are all these acronyms la?
LBGT = Lesbians, Bisexuals, Gays, Transsexuals.
LBGTIQ = LBGT,Intersex, and Questioning/Queer.
PLU = People Like Us. (but please try not to refer communities as “people like you”)
Trans = short for transsexuals/transgenders, which are not to be confused with “transvestites.”
SM = Seksualiti Merdeka (and don’t even think about cracking some SM=S&M joke, it’s too obvious, not funny really)
5. Did I just hear someone say “queer” and “mak nyah“??? Yes and you can do so without fear of being slapped by a rainbow. The queer community and mak nyah community have reclaimed these words. Only the community themselves can reclaim a term that was previously used in a derogatory way. An outsider cannot use a pejorative and then claim that the term has been reclaimed. (While we are at acceptable terms, although the topic of sex work is not covered at Seksualiti Merdeka, I’d like to highlight that the term for a person who is a sex worker is “sex worker” not prostitute/hooker/whore/ayam.)
4. What is the difference between “gender” and “sex”?
Sex is your biological sex – chromosomal makeup (genetics), anatomical makeup (sex organs), and physiological differences (menstruation, sperm production)
Gender is a concept that refers to the differences in the value and roles and responsibilities assigned to men and women. Gender is socially constructed and can change over time and can vary widely within and among cultures and communities. Gender inequality comes about when society places different values and expectations on women and men in relation to their expected roles and responsibilities. Boys and girls grow up learning what is expected of them in being proper men and proper women, fulfilling society’s acceptability of masculinity and femininity. (Source: KRYSS)
Sometimes, the two don’t “match.”
3. Uh… so do I call him… I mean her a “she” or “he”? You should always use the nouns of the gender the person identifies with – if a male is now female identified or transforming to become a woman or is a male to female transsexual – she is a she! And vice-versa of course. It’s slightly different for drag queens – it’s “she” with a capital S, until the wig, warpaint, and dress comes off! After that it’s “he” because drag queens are men; men who are obviously in touch with their feminine and fabulous side and have no problems taking that side of themselves on stage. But once the show is over he is who he is. Dragging is not a gender identity but rather a form of an expression of gender role.
On a personal note, I hope one day soon we will all accept our trans-sisters, even in little gestures like showing employers that out trans-sisters should be allowed to use the women’s toilet.
2. I know “gay”, “lesbian”, “bisexual”, but what is this “pan-sexual”? Bisexual connotes a binary to sexuality and sexual orientation. Pan is like “panning across the smorgasboard” For a proper definition please Google it or come to tomorrow’s “EVEN EDUCATED FLEAS DO IT” Sex, Sexuality & Diversity In Malaysia” at 4.00p.m and ask an expert!
1. It’s a FESTIVAL people! Come have fun! Don’t worry about putting your foot in your mouth, we are not part of the growing group of easily-offended Malaysians.
Ong Jo-Lene is a Rainbow Warrior. She worked with 4 other artists under the guidance of Liew Kung Yu on the SM 2010 Art Project, “Portraits of the Unspoken” featuring 2 installations.
LB: The views expressed here are the personal opinions of the writer. Where credited, KRYSS is Knowledge and Rights with Young People through Safer Spaces.