What’s Up Wednesday: Vesak Day, Theatre, & Awkwardness

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What’s new?

Happy Vesak Day!

Singapore is enjoying this midweek public holiday and flocking to their nearest temple to take part in celebrations. I have yet to shower and get dressed so … you know … priorities.

I completely missed writing a WUW last week thanks to my utter laziness. I woke up late and then spent the rest of the afternoon getting ready to go out for the evening. But this wasn’t any normal going out.

I’d treated myself to theatre tickets.

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One Year Later & a Return to Blogging

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It’s been a year.

A whole year since I packed my bags, left Korea, and moved to Singapore.

The last time I properly blogged, I was 3 days in to my new life. I was living in a hotel in the red light district, getting adjusted to the heat and new atmosphere, preparing myself for a new job, hoping & praying that this move would heal my depression, and that I’d eventually find some happiness.

Thirteen months have passed and I’m here to tell you that Singapore has been good to me. Living has been easy and kind to my mind. I feel like me again and I’m enjoying everything I surround myself with.

I love the feel of the sun on my skin every day. I love the ease with which I can get around on this island. I love the sounds of the Singlish ‘lah’, ‘lor’, ‘ah’, and ‘leh’ that roll off the tongues of my neighbours and colleagues. I love that I’ve discovered how good I am at working with children and that it drives me to work hard and give it my all.

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4 TV Shows & Films That Made Me Comfortable About My Sexuality While Growing Up (And 1 That Should Have But Didn’t)

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Three years ago, after a trip to the LGBT Museum in San Francisco, I made the decision to publicly come out to my friends, family, and whoever else should stumble upon this blog. It wasn’t a huge surprise to those close to me; It’s not as though I’d ever hidden it. I had just never taken the opportunity to talk about it so openly.

My sexuality was always something that was just a natural part of me. It was as natural as my having two arms. Or green eyes. It was something I was born with and I didn’t feel the need to scream about it.

But after coming out, I realised how important that declaration is. After hitting the ‘publish’ button on this blog, I sat in fear over what the reaction of those around me would be. I knew most of my loved ones were open-minded but a part of me was still terrified that they’d react in a horrible way.

They didn’t.

Coming out is a huge part of someone’s life. We’re about to cross into a world where we’re more comfortable and upfront about who we really are. And we’re also about to discover who will join us and who will reject us.

I was lucky in that I was surrounded by good people. Not everyone’s that fortunate.

Every day, people are cast out of their homes after coming out. They’re beaten and abandoned and left to face the world alone. A friend of mine recently told me that he’d been considering coming out to his parents even though he knew it meant he’d never see them again. He just can’t stand that he has to keep lying to them about who he really is.

The best thing we can do is let those people who are rejected from their families, their homes, and their communities know that we’re here for them when others aren’t. Everyone deserves love.

And that’s why, as last Sunday was National Coming Out Day, I wanted to do a little personal and fun post to celebrate it.

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18 months in Korea … The Highs & The Lows

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A week ago, I hit my 18 month milestone of living and working in South Korea. This is officially the longest I’ve ever lived abroad and it kind of blows my mind.

I look back on my 17 months in Mexico and have hundreds of memories that seem to span such a wide space of time. When I think back over the last 18 months here, it’s hard to conjure up anything that doesn’t revolve around the mundane, everyday routine.

Life in Mexico was just like the city I lived in – Fast, impulsive, and wild.

Life here is exactly like my rural surroundings – Slow, relaxed, and a little dull.

But that’s okay. This is a small pocket of time in a long life full of adventures. I’m fine with slowing down for now and being a little boring. My financial responsibilities come first and foremost. Once I’ve dealt with them, I can carry on to the next adventure and get back to the old recklessness.

Life has its ups and downs here but I’ll never stop being grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given.

And, like any good look-back post, I’ve gathered together some of the best and worst moments from the last 18 months.

Let’s get the bad ones out of the way first.

THE LOWS …

+ Getting THAT News

I never experienced a “honeymoon period” of life in Korea thanks to the news I received during my first few days.

Even though it was only 24 hours later that I was given the all clear and told that the hospital had royally fucked up, this affected me more than it probably should have.

It left me kind of shell-shocked and in constant fear that maybe the original results had been right all along. Even now I’m still too terrified to get a gynecologist here and go for the regular checkups us ladies need.

Stupid, right?

But it is something I’m working on trying to get over.

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A Weekend of Pride

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By now, most people will have heard the incredible news that broke the other week: Gay marriage is now legal in all 50 states of the USA.

This news is groundbreaking.

Groundbreaking because we’re talking about a country that is one of the most influential in the world.

And while this is hardly an end to a huge battle, it’s a start. It’s not the biggest issue the LGBT community face but anything that can turn the focus on fights for human rights is always a positive.

I feel that the West is reaching a new wave of change. The internet is bringing everyone together to discuss and learn about the issues that are happening in unreported places. The world is finally waking up to how racist society still is. How homophobic. How sexist. How archaic. And younger generations – those that have been raised with as much information as they want at their fingertips – are not happy about it.

The internet and social media is bringing together a lot of truth from around the world. Truth that is still covered up by the press but talked about openly online.

That weekend I saw the world come together to celebrate a moment of change for one corner of the world.

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MERS has arrived in Korea and I’m the reason it’s spreading

MERS is here. Everybody panic.

No, seriously, don’t.

There’re already way too many rumours and conspiracy theories going around, setting people off. Let’s not add fuel to the fire.

If any of you are reading this from the west and have no idea what I’m talking about, MERS stands for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, a virus that is contagious but apparently pretty hard to catch.

The elderly, young children, and people with pre-existing medical conditions are said to be the ones most susceptible to it. (Yay! Thanks, Asthma!)

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Due to the fact that 9 people have already died from it over here and almost 3000 are in quarantine, there’s an uneasy atmosphere.

I now teach students who sit in class wearing surgical masks. The bathrooms at school finally have hand sanitizer and soap. And all I can hear from my coworkers in the staff room is “MERS … *whisper whisper whisper* MERS … *whisper whisper*”

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Being Gay in Korea

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Anyone from a Western country will tell you that being part of the LGBT community has its issues. While the society I grew up in is now much more tolerable and has finally legalised gay marriage, it can’t be denied that homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia is still rampant. As much as we like to think we know our loved ones well, coming out is still a huge decision that changes everything. We never know how people are going to react; We never know if being honest about ourselves is only going to sever ties to those we’re close to.

I was lucky that the people in my life held no amount of judgement towards me. But I’ve also been a victim of the biphobia that comes from the heterosexual, gay, and lesbian communities in Britain. And while the ignorance and hate is hurtful, it is avoidable.

I won’t be sentenced to prison or death if I meet a woman and get involved in a relationship with her. I can sleep safe in the knowledge that my life isn’t in any danger from those around me or the government.

Things are different here in South Korea.

The first time the subject of homosexuality came up between me and my co-teacher, her response was simply that, “That doesn’t happen here.”

That doesn’t happen.

This province is apparently free of all gay people.

Right.

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Unfortunately being gay is still a taboo subject here. I’m fairly certain most people know that there are gay people in this country but, like a lot of things, it just isn’t talked about. A lot of people are actually quite open-minded and accepting but there’s no denying that big dark shadow that blankets a lot of society’s views.

You’ve only got to look at what happens to public figures if they’re honest about their private lives. I mean, we’re talking about much-loved celebrities.

After model Ji-hoo Kim came out in 2008, his management dropped him and he lost all of his sponsorships. He later hung himself. He was only 23. When actor  Seok-cheon Hong came out in 2000, he lost all of his sponsors too. He ended up opening a restaurant to which people would warn others away from, saying they’d get AIDS if they ate there.
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