A year ago, we committed to a range that celebrates multiple sizes and we asked our #mattertribe to be a part of a community shoot. One of the questions that often surface up for brands is how involved should we get in politics? As a team and brand grounded on the pillars of social change and equality, we felt we wanted to do our part in becoming more involved and vocal in the existing conversations of our community. June was Pride Month, a time to celebrate the impact the LGBTQIA+ community has had on the world and to commemorate the ones before who’ve fought hard for the progress today. Which is why for this year’s community shoot, we wanted to celebrate people who are a part of the LGBTQIA+ community in Singapore, to celebrate their stories and spotlight the existing conversations here.
What’s your “story”? What do you need the world to know about you?
I’m a queer actor and singer-songwriter based in Singapore. I struggled with being closeted until I came out around the age of 22. I would consider myself very lucky because my family turned out to be more accepting than I predicted. It was difficult, however, between the church community and I for quite a few years. Conditioned guilt has a knack of ruining things. I constantly spiraled deeper and deeper into toxicity with the underground relationships I’ve had in the past. But because of this difficult time, I turned to music and acting. I ended up writing a lot of songs and poetry and taking up more film projects that brought growth and meaning to my struggles.
Looking through the stories that I’ve told as catharsis through my works during different seasons of my life taught me many things. The process helped me to understand my journey and gain more perspective. It strengthened my faith in a God who loves instead of one who condemns, and it also made me want to make better decisions with my current relationships and choose my support system wisely. Most importantly, in putting myself out there, I learnt that I’m not alone. This made me want to use the things that I’ve created to speak to other people who may relate in their own ways.
Singer, songwriter, actor, and artist – you are knee deep in the creative field. Do you tend to keep your political and personal ideologies separate from your creative endeavors, or are there instances where the two come hand in hand?
Most of my written works are results of thoughts I’ve had during defining moments of my life, significant events that happened, or ideas/feelings that I’ve pondered over for quite some time. They’re usually more accurate to my personal ideologies because they’re often a tool I use for self-care and there’s more space for me to be raw and honest about what I think. The process for these works is also sort of a coming-of-age ritual for me; I find that in writing or drawing there is growth in the way that I think. For acting roles on the other hand, it really depends. I do sometimes use personal ideologies as a primer to better relate to my character though.
What is the best piece of encouragement you’ve received about yourself?
The recent best piece of encouragement came from one of my close friends I used to hang out with all the time back when I was still active in church, before I ventured into music. I used to send her songs that I wrote, mostly religious back then, and she would listen to them whenever she felt sad. We drifted apart for four years and got reconnected recently. It turns out she hasn’t stopped listening to the songs that I sent her, especially whenever things got difficult for her and she told me that I will always have the gift of writing songs that touch the deepest parts of a person’s heart. It meant a lot to me especially after the whole experience with having people’s impression of me change just because of my sexuality. I was deeply encouraged to find that she still saw me the same way as she did.
Section 377A is an unjust law that punishes the LGBTQIA+ community, and it is an extension of all other forms of discrimination the community faces in Singapore. In your words, why should the Parliament hold themselves accountable in repealing this law?
There’s no justice in deliberately allowing people to be put at a disadvantage just to pacify a noisier crowd. The trickle down effect of 377A is the LGBTQIA+ community being labelled as sex-crazed criminals by people blinded by chauffeur knowledge. On top of that, the Singaporean media rarely ever portrays any queer person, and if they almost do, it’s never an accurate portrayal. 377A reduces being LGBTQIA+ to just a sexual act and that’s really why it should be repealed because it is grossly inaccurate and detrimental to our mental wellbeing and quality of life.
Having a law that defines people like me to an ‘act of indecency’ puts all of my struggles – from falling from grace to finding grace, hope and love all over again, all the moments where I found light in the darkness and the desire to be a good person – to shame. I could say the same for the rest of us in the community, except some of us never make it to the part where it gets better.
They say that there’s no discrimination, or that the society isn’t ready, but while they’re debating over chicken and egg, real people are already suffering. It is very sad to receive messages from LGBTQIA+ youths that I don’t know personally asking for help because they’re being shunned by people who were supposed to love them.
As long as the Parliament doesn’t make a stand and repeal this law, LGBTQIA+ people will always have to suffer being discriminated and having this discrimination endorsed by the existence of the law.
What does sustainability mean to you?
Sustainability as a user is being wise with my choices and mindful of how my actions may affect the people and environment around me.
What is the relationship you have with your clothes?
Whenever I choose what to wear in the morning, my clothes tend to be a result of how I feel or how I’d like to feel for the day. In the past, I shied away from certain clothes because they were too ‘masculine’ or too ‘feminine’ and I couldn’t identify with them. But ever since I got comfortable with my being, the only thing that would prevent me from wearing something is if it feels uncomfortable on my skin.
Putting weight in things that deserve a second thought. We wouldn’t normally think that textiles come with extensive history, meaning or intention but we would if we dug deeper. It should be the same for everything else.
What’s your advice to ____? Fill in that blank, and then fill in your advice.
To the people who struggle between faith and sexuality: you’re loved, you’re loved, you’re loved. There’s no doubt about it.
What is one thing you stand for and believe in, and why?
I believe in finding strength in our greatest weaknesses. What’s ugly now will bring forth meaning and purpose and our struggles today will one day bring courage to someone else in future.
We are proud to have Jean Goh as a Fieldtester, a group of inspiring individuals that test MATTER products in their everyday journeys of passion, to help us improve durability and design. Jean is wearing our Classic Blazer + Indus Arrow Noir and Classic Wideleg + Indus Arrow Noir in size 1, and the Classic Wideleg + Leharia Charcoal in size 1.