|The Chinese Middle Class English Educated Liberals at Pin Dot|
We learnt a new word today in Singapore - "CMEL" or Chinese Middle Class English Educated Liberals. Alfian Saat, possibly a Malay middle class English Educated Liberal, was lamenting how the Pink Dot 2011 was attended mostly by CMEL. In Yawning's Bread article "Pink Accused of Failing the Smell Test", Alfian lamented that "[Pink Dot]has ended up reproducing the power structures that it should aim to challenge". There was no specific details given by Yawning Bread/Alfian to support the claim of destructive power structures that impede other minority GLBT voices beyond a broad implicit swipe that the Chinese Gays were racist.
Liberal and Racist at the same time? seems an odd combination. This is the kind of infighting/self destruction that will undermine the GLBT efforts versus the highly organized and singular message of the Christian Right in Singapore.
Power structures in this case refers to the abuse of power by a certain group over another repeated over time and accepted as norm. It speaks of a pecking ladder and order of hierachy.
Just because Pink Dot was attended by a majority of CMELs could be simply due to the fact that the majority of Singaporeans are Chinese. Surely we cant have a structure where a percentage of attendance is strictly controlled to accomodate a wide variety of voices and backgrounds. We should have invited IRAS (inland revenue) to ensure that only middle class people with the salary of 100K/year before they can attend Pink Dot!
There is a sense of reverse discrimination here. Most younger Singaporeans are English Educated irrespective of their racial background as it is the common medium of instruction. You would likely have a liberal tinge to love and accept yourself first as a gay person before attending the Pink Dot. The highly conservatives are still stuck in the closet or locked up in the nearby Anglican Church cabinets. How do we know most are middle class and driving BMWs? unlikely since we do not have a big car park nearby and many if not most came through the MRT. The use of the term Liberal is indeed an accusation you would find by the Christian Right and not by any gay activist.
Perhaps, asserting that the Pink Dot is attended mainly by CMELs is a subconcious reflection by some to blame the majority for the seemingly lack of attendance by the minority malays and Indians (in their opinion). And there may be some work here required by these races to come out.
Labelling can be a sweeping generalisation that denies the individual uniqueness and humanity. When we label, the real person and character is lost by our labelling. Why do we judge people just because they are a malay, chinese or indian?
In order to be inclusive, we often are exclusive and judge people on the exterior. There was no power structure as all are free to attend to Pink Dot, and are free to love. There were no bouncers to exclude those who are marginalized.
(Mat 20:25 NKJV) But Jesus called them to Himself and said, "You
know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those
who are great exercise authority over them.
Jesus was against any power structure where the strong lord over the weak. ie power and special rights go to a selected few. In Pink Dot 2011, there was no restriction on attendance to only CMEL, nor were they in a position of power thus surpressing other groups from attending. Therefore, the talk of power structure is surprising.
Jesus turned the power structure and position of privileged upside down when He proclaimed that to be great in the Kingdom of God is to serve those who are weaker than us rather than to take advantage and Lord over them. ie we are to use of positions of power, wealth and influence to bless those who are less well off. The great in the Kingdom of God is reflected in our greatness in helping and blessing others. Instead, the church have used their power to harm the weak such as the GLBT community.
Our ideas of inclusivity are often worldly. Affirmative actions such as giving a voice to every group eg a Christian church ex-co having a representative from each group of people eg straight, lesbian, gay, conservative, liberals etc, have good intentions but is judging people and often not representative. People should not be chosen simply because they were straight or gay, male or female, but whether they were qualified and called by God.
Freedom means freedom to be seen as who you are on the inside, the person, the humanity, taking away the layers of language, religion, culture, race, gender, sexual orientation etc. Do we see people only on the outside, with many thinking that inclusive means a inclusive voice of all the people groups. This kind of queer theology is shallow, for being queer means that we see the unique person within and appreciate that person for who he/she is.
The two ends of Christian religious faith is the most dogmatic, be-it conservatives or liberals. We claim to be inclusive yet would never go near a Charismatic Evangelical mega church. Likewise, a flaming conservative would not attend a liberal or progressive church. Being inclusive does not mean including both ends of the spectrum, but to be in the pragmatic center.
(Gal 3:28 NKJV) There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is
neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you
are all one in Christ Jesus.
The lessons of bible concerning equality are profound. We tend to approach it as giving equal rights for women, slaves, the racial minorities etc, but Jesus meant it differently.
Jesus was not saying that we should be inclusive per say for the sake of it, but that we should see people as individual unique humanity of sacred worth that Jesus died for.
When we see people as born of Christ, this new identity in Christ superpasses all the other identities that we used to define ourselves eg male or female. We are all one in Christ. It is our identification with Christ death and resurrection that surpasses all the other artificial identification that others are seeing us as.
We are queer, not because we are different, but because in Christ we are the same, and all our external differences doesn't change our inside of who we are being identified with Christ.
At Pink Dot 2011, all our differences fade away, whether we are straight or gay, male or female, liberal or conservative, rich or poor, for we are now joined together by the desire for the equal rights for all, for the freedom to love.
We say we are inclusive Christians when we give space to all, the young, the old, gay, lesbian, straight, liberal, evangelical, charismatic etc, but our inclusivity may only be at a surface level. Being inclusive is not only about giving people space, but seeing people on the inside beyond labels.
Being Inclusive in a Christian sense, is seeing in people, their faith and hope in Christ rather than what is innate such as race, culture or sexual orientation, the outward labelling which this world is so obsessed by. It is about seeing people as unique people of sacred worth and dignity for whom Christ died for.