Sunday, June 25, 2017

Glass Closets

People in glass closets shouldn't throw stones. 

If that hasn't become a commonly used phrase, it certainly should - especially since it concerns two of my friends currently at loggerheads. Well perhaps that's overstating the facts a tad but they have been covertly sparring on the field of conversation; though they both might deny the outrageous insinuation since the pair are deathly afraid of calumny.

So let's place Diffident David in one corner; bantam chicken tough and defiantly padlocked in the closet regardless of any well-meaning attempts to break him out of it. While on the other side of the ring you have Ambiguous Aaron, someone we've taken to calling the Maybe Gay. Although there have been a lot of hints and suggestions from him - not to mention an almost substantiated rumour, he hasn't as yet confirmed our growing suspicion.

Really, why bother hiding in the closet when everyone can see through it?

Aaron : You're gay!
David : You're gay!
Paul : You're both fucking gay. Get over it. 

Though they are both in equally fragile glass closets, they seem to have no visible qualms over throwing stones at one another.

Even out in the public. One would think being on the downlow themselves it would make them less likely to out someone else instead but they seem to almost enjoy goading each other out of the proverbial closet.

Aaron : Why are you so afraid? 
David : I'm not afraid. You are the one!
Aaron : We are alright with you being gay. 
David : What about you!
Aaron : This isn't about me. 
David : You don't say me ah, you also the same.

So on and on, back and forth it goes. Tiny little pebbles carelessly cast at glass closets causing minute cracks to form. While the rest of us watch eagerly waiting to hear the shatter, smash and splinter of their cowering screens.

At this rate, we won't have to pay for atonement waffles for a really long time.




Monday, June 19, 2017

Take Me To The Movies

Or maybe not as the case may be for Diffident David.

Those who know me well would know that one of the Chinese dialects that I can speak, at least relatively intelligible to most native speakers, would be Hokkien. Commonly spoken up north in Penang, where almost everyone converses in the native speech including the local neighbourhood Indian tradesmen, and also further south amongst certain enclaves like Malacca and Klang. However like many other less crucial dialects such as Hakka and Teochew, the heavyweights of spoken language such as English and Mandarin have threatened to overwhelm their already dwindling significance.

Even my own brother has started speaking the most peculiarly accented Hokkien ever.

Hmm who do I speak to then? 

As a consequence, it's nigh impossible these days to find little children who can actually carry an entire conversation in a local dialect these days. A serious problem faced by the directors of the local film You Mean The World To Me when they searched for child actors who could speak Hokkien dialect competently. Pretty sure most of you would have missed the movie but You Mean The World To Me tells the semi-autobiographical tale about a director who returns to his hometown to shoot a film about his own family.

Ever ready to support a locally made film, even more so that rare Hokkien film, I was one of the first to attend the screenings here and really glad to say that I enjoyed it immensely. Certainly jumpstarted my terribly rusty Hokkien ear since I hardly speak it here these days. A few words I immediately knew the meaning of once I heard it spoken in context but nearly impossible to recall several minutes later.




Even more heartening to the LGBT folks watching, there's a small, almost imperceptible hint of homosexuality that you'd probably miss if you blinked a little too hard. Obvious enough if you'd picked up the hidden cues along the way but sufficiently ambiguous enough to slip past our increasingly bigoted censors. After all there are so many ways one could interpret that revealing little scene.

Though even that insignificant bit seemed worrying enough to cause Diffident David some fright.

Paul : So didn't you bring your parents to the cinema?
David : I kinda changed my mind.
Paul : Why?
David : Umm.. I was worried they might suspect.
Paul : That you speak Hokkien?
David : No. The gay thing.
Paul : The gay thing is so vague I might have dreamt it up.
David : But...
Paul : If your parents picked up on that tiny glimmer of questionable information, they definitely would know you're gay.
David : Umm...

So rather than coax his demurring parents to the cinemas, David tried his best to dissuade them for fear of inadvertently outing himself. Sadly a loss of two seats at the screening.


Friday, June 16, 2017

Better Things

Did things actually get better?

Almost a decade back, I brazenly celebrated a shockingly public Valentine with Charming Calvin right in the centre of a crowded restaurant. Rather than shuffle us off into a darkened corner to hide our shameful existence, the uncanny waitstaff purposely shepherded us straight into the focal point of the entire establishment, even making sure the giant spotlight hit us right so. Not that we needed the limelight since we were painfully the only male couple there.

Still, no one made a fuss. Hardly anyone blinked an eye at the both of us sharing a bowl of pasta or two, though we thankfully refrained from a shamelessly cliched Lady and the Tramp reenactment.

That had to be almost ten years ago.

Most would think with the steady march of time and progress, things would only get better for us all. If that's really true, then I find it really hard to understand why the people I know here - from Jocund Jonah all the way to Ambiguous Aaron - seem to be far more closeted than ever I was. Far be it for me to blithely presume on the complexities and complications in their lives that would prevent them from opening up but it still makes me wonder.

Perhaps I've been living in a liberal humanist rainbow bubble all my life, filled with magical sparkles and flying unicorns!

And the real world is just a sad, sad place.

Nonetheless it was quite disheartening to see a newly met gay brother hiding right there in the open. Not only was he deliberately scrunched into his chair - seriously a hard task to hide his obviously musclebound physique, he also had a suitably shady cap to squash over his military buzzcut possibly hoping to hide at least half his face.

Seriously, you ain't hiding this much handsomeness!

Though God only knows why he has to hide that personable face.

Practically a wanted fugitive literally hanging over the edge of his seat ready to make a hasty escape each time the door bell jangled to signal a new entry into the cafe. Could it perchance be someone he actually knew? Could they tell from our swishy fey presence that it was an all homosexual gathering?

And I didn't even have my pink feather boa with me.


Monday, June 12, 2017

The Spiritual Sheep

It's certainly not fun being the black sheep in the family.

Not that I would know since I'm one of those horrifically accomplished older cousins ( always a benefit being born earlier! ) frequently pointed out as an example to my younger cousins, much to their everlasting dismay. Wouldn't be surprised if I'm quite heartily despised by the lot!

Of course I dislike such odious comparisons as well since it's also downright embarassing. That said, being the putative paragon in the family does however have its little benefits since most of the family gossip ends up coming my way. 

Aunt : Oh no, you're so good. I'm sure you can do no wrong. 
Paul : You must have me confused with Harriet.
Aunt :  You really won't believe what my son has been up to!
Paul : Ooh tell me more. 

With very little persuasion on my part, the story of the black sheep of our family, Richie Runt, came spilling out. Last we all heard of him, Richie had been happily masquerading as a dubious snake oil promoter whilst hiding his true ambition to be an enterpreneurial street tough. Facts a lil hard to swallow since he's a little bit of a runt - think Macho Mike could crush him with a thumb - but odder events have happened, I'm sure. 

Not forgetting the fact that Richie frequently zigs when we expect a zag. 

Which is exactly what our boy did. Though my pragmatic grandparents might be the least superstitious folk around, that doesn't necessarily ring true for Richie's maternal side who dabble in chicken-slaughtering, idol-shaking shamanism. Didn't take long for him to realize that particularly esoteric career path might be more suited to his specific set of skills rather than amateur small town gangsterism. 

Unsurprisingly it didn't take long for him to conveniently level up on his arcane accomplishments; proficient enough that Richie was quick enough to come to my grandmother's rescue when she heard scratching noises in her bedroom at night. Rather than accept the general family belief that we had monstrous rodents roaming the old coffeeshop walls, he insisted that it had to be restless spirits.  

Grandma, this is all I need to write on the walls!

Obviously my sensible grandmother was unimpressed with such blatant chicanery.

Even less so when Richie took it upon himself to perform a quick exorcism. Have to say with his appropriately sullen expression perpetually shrouded by his Goth black hoodie, our emo boy did look the part. Forget about laying out plans and stratagems for days! Several deftly written sigils on the aged wooden walls followed by a whispered line of sacred mantra was all it took to banish them all!

Efficient indeed! I started wondering whether I should hire our new family Shaman to help the Borgias guard their ancient hell portal instead!