I wrote the letter below to Alex Au, in response to his latest article (24th Apr). It is a tribute to him, because THAT talk, was one of the major reasons why I am AWARE’s CSE trainer today, and the biggest influencer on the message I bring out to the girls. Please read.
Alex Au’s article:
”Pirate mother ship appears on horizon, guns blazing” ( http://yawningbread.org/arch_2009/yax-1011.htm ), in particular the part in the pink box which goes
“Among the “proofs” the new exco put to the media that AWARE had adopted a mission to promote homosexuality, was this:
When Aware wanted to conduct health education courses, it invited Alex Au, ‘a famous homosexual activist’, to talk about HIV.– Straits Times, 24 April 2009 ( http://www.straitstimes.com/Breaking%2BNews/Singapore/Story/BgSty_367873_1.html ),
20 August 2005 talk at the forum on HIV and women titled “Playing it Safe – Keeping HIV at Bay”
Title [of the talk]: Relearning the alphabet: A is for Abstinence, B is for Be faithful and C is for Condoms. It’s a message that covers all bases, and yet may not work. Why? Alex Au argues that to understand HIV, we have first to understand people. The essay When sex, condoms and HIV remain unspeakable ( http://yawningbread.org/arch_2005/yax-475.htm ) refers to this talk I gave.)
Thought I’ll let you know that it was YOUR particular talk back in 05 at that HIV forum, that made me realise how the “ABC” message was not enough, and could even be dangerous at times.
I was that member of the audience who related her friend’s story you mention here http://yawningbread.org/arch_2005/yax-475.htm . (She’s now married and pregnant with the same guy by the way = ) )
Your message at that particular forum was one of the major factors why I decided to sign up with AWARE’s HIV subcom, on that particular day. That was the first step I took to the journey that led me to being AWARE’s Comprehensive Sex Ed trainer that I am today.
Funny how things come around eh?
The other factors that contributed to my decision that day : The appalling state of Singaporean womens’ knowledge ( eg. the nurses at the polyclinic!) , the abortion statistics and HIV statistics — There was just that obvious need for something to be done!
And the final factor that contributed to my decision — my Christian belief that meeting people’s needs were part of social justice, and that it was a worthy cause to work towards.
It’s such an irony that today, my work with AWARE and CSE is coming under fire by Christians. It’s even more ironic, because the Christian verses that inspired me to join AWARE’s HIV-subcom and later to do CSE, are the very same ones Thio, Josie et al. are hiding behind.
They wave Sodom and Gomorrah, but
“Sodom’s sin were pride, laziness, and gluttony, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door. She was proud and did loathsome things, so I wiped her out, as you have seen (Ezekiel 16 : 49-50)”
And in the same Proverbs 31 where the supposed perfect biblical woman is described,
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rghts of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy”
I believed that society was doing STI/HIV patients, single mothers, women who had abortions (more than 10,000 each year in Singapore alone!) such a great injustice by not equipping them with the info they needed to help themselves, and then by further unjustly victimising them with unfair laws and policies. These “poor and needy” were the product of social injustice, and I wanted to be part of the solution, not the problem.
I think your talk that day showed me the message I needed to bring across, and AWARE showed me the platfrom from which I could speak.
Thio was absolutely right — Having the ‘famous homosexual activist’ Alex Au speak at AWARE’s event clearly did influence young girls present. But you know what? I think that is something that both you and AWARE can be really really proud of.