Leow Yangfa is a social worker and trainer in Singapore. Having lost a gay friend through suicide, he went on to create a website and collected real-life stories for an ebook called “I Will Survive: Personal gay, lesbian, bisexual & transgender stories in Singapore”. http://iwillsurvivesg.wordpress.com/
Who? name, age, what you identify as (or not)
Leow Yangfa, 36 & identify as gay-veggie-Chinese-uncle-of-5.
What? what do you do for a living or things you would like to do
My educational and professional background is in social policy and social work, and currently work in a non-profit organisation in Singapore, where my main role is in training co-ordination, conducting workshops and supporting volunteers.
I’m a big fan of Kylie and like watching popular classical operas. I also enjoy my white wines and green teas (not necessarily together), and for fun I like wandering around IKEA stores and collecting their catalogues from all over the world.
When did you come out? Any stories?
I never came out to my parents – I was outed by them when I was 18 years old and they found my stash of gay porn magazines and some personal letters from an overseas pen-friend (this was way before the Internet and email!). My coming out story, along with those of 14 other Singaporeans, was collected in the book “SQ21: Singapore Queers in the 21st century” which was published in 2006. http://www.oogachaga.com/sq_21
How did coming out impact your career or relationships with others?
My parents took a long time to get used to it, understandably. In truth, we often forget the impact that our own coming out has on them, and I’ve just bought and started reading a book called “My child is gay: How parents react when they hear the news” edited by Bryce McDougall.
My relationship with my family now is great – even though I have my own flat, I still often stay with my parents, as both my older sisters have their own families, with 5 gorgeous daughters between them.
I’m out to my colleagues, maybe it was a non-issue in the first place, and feel grateful for the non-judgemental attitude in my workplace.
Advice you can give to other Asian, Gay & Proud readers.
Come out, come out, wherever you are, but in your own time, and always on your own terms.
Check out the website Leow started here: http://iwillsurvivesg.wordpress.com/
And a book in which his coming out story is included: http://www.oogachaga.com/sq_21