Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Me, My Body, My Mind

As I was doing some spring cleaning around my house. I found this particular interesting article I have done in 2008  where I interviewed  Pang Khee Teik and Angela M. Kuga and Yuenmei Wong . They talked about the event they were organizing called Seksualiti Merdeka. And the first Seksualiti Merdeka was held in somewhere in  August 2008 and this article appeared in theSun sometime in October 2008  Below  is the full article. 

Headline : Me, my body, my mind
By Bissme S 

"NOBODY can tell you what you can do and what you can’t do with your body," says Pang Khee Teik, art programmes director of The Annexe.
"When one person manages the most inner part of you which is your sexuality and your desires, then you are a nobody.
"When you give someone else the power to tell you what you can do with your body, you’re ultimately giving that person the power to control your mind."
His voice was one of many heard at Seksualiti Merdeka in late August. The three-day event included workshops and forums addressing sexual identity issues.
Interestingly, it was not just what academicians and activists had to say but also common folk speaking about their personal experiences and tragedies.
"We wanted the public to hear voices and stories of those who have been discriminated against and whose lives have been a living hell," says Pang, who initiated the event with Jerome Kugan, The Annexe’s media manager.
"There has been lot of injustice and unfair treatment of fellow Malaysians in the name of morality.
"In the end, the public still have the right to disagree with them.
"But let us hear their story first before making any judgment. We want to create compassion and promote understanding."
One seminar, "To Live Without Fear: Dealing With Violence Against Transsexuals", highlighted the prejudices against this community.
The event’s success prompted Pang to make Seksualiti Merdeka, a yearly event.
He said sexuality rights is not only about the right to have sex with whomever you want but also the right to be responsible.
Angela M. Kuga, a trustee with KYRSS (Knowledge & Rights with Young People through Safer Spaces), says, "When two adults have consensual sex, it should not be considered a crime.
"We are also under the impression that all religions reject people of different sexuality.
"There are religions which have no position on people of different sexual orientation and there are some religions that do. Interestingly, the same text is interpreted differently."
She felt the event also gave people the opportunity to know more about sex education.
"More young women are worried about unwanted pregnancies than AIDS, HIV and sexually transmitted diseases. All these concerns were addressed in the event."
She also felt the scope for sex education has to be widened.
"Sex education is not about learning about your bodies and preventing diseases," says Angela.
"It should also be about building your self-esteem, handling peer pressure and appreciating your lover."
Not so long ago, Angela gave a talk in a university and was surprised to find many of the female students were gullible. She said that some of the students even believed that they would not get pregnant if they had sex at a certain time of the day.
Next year, Seksualiti Merdeka intends to target parents with children of different sexual orientation.
"Society is so negative towards people of different sexuality and it is only natural for the parents to worry about their children’s welfare," says Angela.
"We want to provide a platform where the parents can talk about their concerns and their anxieties.
"We are searching for parents who are willing to talk and discuss these issues."
Pang said that they want to work closely with the media.
"We want the media to report fairly when they are doing stories on people with different sexuality," he says.
"If the media quotes someone saying people of different sexual orientation are promoting moral decay, it should also get the other side of the coin."
Yuenmei Wong, a volunteer at the event and recipient of the 5th Research Award from the Southeast Asia Consortium on Gender, Sexuality and Health wants to highlight companies willing to hire transsexuals.
"We want these companies to be role models for other companies," she says.
Yet, Seksualiti Merdeka may have raised some eyebrows and ruffled more than a few feathers. "I am not doing anything wrong," says Pang.
"I am simply allowing people to talk about their sexuality and to be confident about their bodies.
"I would not deny that I had some fears when I wanted to organise this event.
"It is my dream that one day I will organise this event without having any kind of fear at all."
He dismissed the notion that the event promotes homosexuality. "It is not lifestyle that you can promote," he says.
"You are either homosexual or not. I feel we are promoting people to be responsible."
His personal vision is that the country will recognise them for who they are and their contributions, and not who they love and sleep with.

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