afa / msm outreach - They preached safety they practised unsafe sex
July 10, 2005. The New paper in Singapore reported that it was alledged that upto 5 volunteers for AFA in their MSM group have contracted AIDS. Of particular emphasis by the article was that these were all Gay, young good looking men below the age of 30 who despite of knowing the risks and "should know better". There was also an unsubstantiated claim from an unrevealed source that the young male volunteers were using the MSM forum as an avenue to meet other Gay men, and that there was great emotional hearthache by fellow AFA volunteers since the volunteers are trained to know. The article states the irony that while AFA may be the champions of the HIV prevention cause, it has not been able to protect its own. In response, Action for AIDS later clarified that only one volunteer got infected after becoming a volunteer and not five as the paper reported; and none of the counsellors have met patients who later become their partners.
The article rides on the wave of the very high levels of homophorbia in society. Singling out Gays, and making Gays the point of focus fanned by community discrimination sells newspapers. The article takes a very "holier thou art" attitude that they being straights are much better and moral than Gays. Their self righteousness is so glaring, essentially blaming gay behaviour as utterly despicable and the volunteers rightly having AIDS. There is not a tinge, not even a single hint of compassion, of the tradgedy unfolding, that these are real people who have a death sentence. Do we rejoice when there is death and pain, and suffering? Do we gloat with a self righteous attitude, gleely proclaiming that it is their fault. What is unsaid but you can hear it quite clearly is "They deserved it, they are Gays".
What is so disturbing is not that the volunteers have AIDS but of the self righteous response of Singaporeans and the media. The liberal Christians talked about all religions being "A river leading to the same God", that you can find salvation in other religions. 80% of Singaporeans belong to a religion. But what is the use of your religion when you rejoice in sufferings of others. Perhaps, the river of religion of man by their own effort to reach God preached by most religions is only a creation of man. Our centre is ourselves, what we have done, who we are, and the good works that we will do to reach heaven. This is nothing but proclaiming yourself more holy and righteous, above the rest, and that some day we envisage God will accept us according to what we have done. However, true Christianity is about Christ and not religion, about His Grace of Salvation and deliverence and not our works.
Singapore is a fearful society, fearful of change, always longing for certainty and security. We have much to fear for we do not have much of a 'real estate'. Although our reserves are large, it is very easy for these reserves to diminish overnight. Our door steps to the north and south are not that friendly nations who without hesitation will bully Singapore. As Singaporenas, we know as a community what it is like to be an outcast, to be separated from Malaysia and to have to 'bow' down to other nations in view of our precarious position. We need God. We need to trust His hand of protection, to rest in God. As we are outcasts of sorts, let us not despise Gays whom we have made outcasts in society. Our redemption does not come in our foreign reserves, our people resource, or even innovation. Our redemption comes from God. As we hold on so tightly to the so little that we have, how can God help us. As Singaporean Christians, we have to release our fears to God and trust in Him, and the measure of this trust is how we view and treat Gays in our society. Our treatment of Gays shows our heart. Our heart of fear - the fear of change which would come if we accept gays are so obious. Even at NCC, to enter deeper into grace, they have to dive into the sea of grace and be able to accept some shocking revelations on how God sees Gays. Other churches have despised them for praching the correct word of God pertaining to Grace, but they have themselves not shown grace towards the outcasts, the Gays in their midst whom need to stay closeted in view of the many homophorbic comments.
We should mourn for the Gay volunteers who had contracted AIDS. My heart goes out to them and to their families. It is a life lost, a life precious to God. It is a life destroyed - a life that could have borned so much potential and made great contributions to society. Instead, these people will suffer a life on medication, and knowing that if resistance developed, they will die. These are people who are not just statistics. They are precious. They are someone's children, close friends, school mates, collegues, someone's family. It may not be you, it could not be your family I suppose. Some say they deserved it! At the cross of calvary you deserved death. It is your good works that saved you? or have we as Christians forgotten about the Grace of God. You can go for other religions, the steps you must do to reach God. But how do you know what you did is good enough to reach heaven? You don't do you? Tonight, if anyone of the Gay AIDS victims receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, even though they will die very soon, they will go to heaven. I guarantee you that. But will you!.
For straights, If you were Gay, would you have done better (shock! horror!)? Gays are treated as outcasts in Singapore. They are despised, blamed for the spread of AIDS, and discriminated. There are no family acceptance in Gay relationship. You can't just bring home your new boyfriend to meet your parents! You cannot marry to formalize your commitment to each other. Straight guys can't do what Gay guys are doing, not because they can't because the woman folk will never allow them to do so. If straights are not careful, not only are there danger of AIDS, but there is lifelong child support!. It's just too expensive to go to Geylang or 'health centres' on a regular basis. If straights have no constraints put upon them, they will surely act likewise as Gays.
There is a call from heaven out to Gay Christians in Singapore. It is a call not to go out of your closet, but it is a call to know your calling. We are called to be Christians and Gay in Singapore for a time as this. Christ is the answer. Local Gay Christian support groups or church are the answer where we reach out in strenght and God's annointing to affirm Gays as who God created them as, to improve their self esteem that they may consider their lives of value rather than wasting it away in Sex, Saunas, and clubbing. Do not despise the call of God. The straights are called to reach out to their straight community and to perform communinty services to them. But you are called to minister to the Gay community and not an inclusive calling because God's calling are always exclusive. We need to come together to be part of Gay affirmative church. In such inclusive church, the theology may not be right (but who is 100% right), but we do not live for ourselves. If God calls us back to join such the Gay affirmative church instead of being closeted in the best mainstream 'straight' church, shouldn't we? We Christian Gays are a debtor to the grace of God. I compelled you to be united, not in accordance to your own religious position, but to be united in loving God and caring for your own community. We should have outreach programs are Saunas, at Gay Pubs, at Gay discos. PEOPLE NEED THE LORD. Gays are dying out there. Sure, the mainstream community are much to be blamed. But what are we doing about it? Is nothing an option when so many lives is at stake. I beg you, if your heart is for God and I am sure it is, to lay aside your theological differences, but to join together at the gay affirimitive Church, and seek God as a community for God to bless and minister to Gays in Singapore, and that we may be used mightly.
Around the cross of calvary, there were no saints but normal people who dared to believe and who dared to act on what they believed and not remained silent. They saw Jesus, God incarnate, who loved them and died for them. In response, as Gay Christians - let us die to ourselves, to our traditions, to our own strongly held beliefs for the work of God amongst Gays in Singapore. We need your help. Redemption will ultimately come, but who knows whether you were born as Gays in Singapore for a time as this to fulfill this role and be in the perfect will of God!.