101st Discussion: Unlimited Intimacy: Reflections on the Subculture of Barebacking by Tim Dean

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Attendees: Rhys, Colin, Asy, Vicky, Yi Sheng, Rui Jie, Qian Hui, Azura, Calvin, Daniel, Raj, Maya
Moderator: Timmy

Thank you to our friends from gayhealth.sg, Calvin and Daniel, for joining us and sharing their knowledge and insights for this discussion, and of course to our host Raj for the Deepavali snacks and alcohol. Continue reading

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Filed under Academic, Bisexuality, Class, Gay, HIV/AIDS, Queer, Sex, Tim Dean, USA

100th Discussion: Eight Plays by Ovidia Yu

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Attendees: Asy, Joyce, Rachel, Yi Sheng, Pamela, Timmy
Moderator: Vicky

All of us completed the required reading and were raring to go!  Continue reading

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Filed under Family, Lesbian, Love, Ovidia Yu, Play, Politics, Race, Religion, Singapore

99th Discussion: Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong

Attendees: Asyraf, Pamela, Kenny, Maya, Timmy

All of us read the book, but the abstractness left us perplexed. Pamela said reading the book was like reading “random words strung together”. Kenny was left frustrated, as he really tried to find resonance with the collection; this ultimately marred his enjoyment of the book. Asyraf shared that the sense of fulfilment after reading was missing, since they didn’t get what the poems meant. Maya admitted to Googling his poems to find any interpretations of them. We collectively agreed that the book is an esoteric collection not meant for the masses.

There were a lot of things to unpack and decipher with this book: Continue reading

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Filed under Family, Gay, Love, Migration, Ocean Vuong, Poetry, Race, Religion, USA, Vietnam, War

98th Discussion: Queer Singapore edited by Audrey Yue and Jun Pow

Attendance: Timmy, Ash, Raj, Yisheng, Ron, Sophia, Claudia, Y-Lynn, Veronika, Karen, Rachel, Michelle, Jun, Qian Hui, Pam, Shawn, Aaron.

We talked about reaching an acceptance between homonationalists and radical advocates; 377a and how it affects both gay men and lesbians; the queer culture in Singapore (if any); lesbian spaces in Singapore; racism and national identity in Singaporean Indians.

We also want to see more diverse topics in queer research in Singapore such as transgender, age, technology, BDSM, etc.

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Filed under Queer, Singapore

97th Discussion: Naked Killer (1992)

Attendance: Asy, Scott, William, Aaron, Ernest, Raj, Pamela, Maya, Timmy, Rachel.

Is this really our 97th discussion? As usual, the snacks served (courtesy of Ernest and Raj) were in theme: sausages, meatballs, and cream puffs.

Most people find the movie bizarre and illogical. We talked about the emasculation of men, phallic and yonnic symbols, motifs (milk and big hats), sex scenes, and strong women characters (Sister Cindy and Princess.)

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Filed under Crime, Hong Kong, Lesbian, Love

96th Discussion: Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s Everything Begins & Ends at the Kentucky Club

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Attendees: Raj, Rachel, Maya, Asy, Vicky, Scott, Pierre, Timmy

Keeping in theme with the book, we had Mexican food to munch on as we animatedly discussed about the book. Continue reading

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Filed under Americas, Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Bisexuality, Class, Family, Food, Gay, Love, Mexico, Politics, Queer, Race, Religion, Short Stories, USA, War

Book Discussion: Queering Fat Embodiment edited by Cat Pause et al

Attendees: Timmy, Asy, Raj, Nicole, Olivia, Zoe, Mya, Daniel, Jess, Alex, Aaron, Vic, Fiona

We had super delicious homemade deep-fried Indian food and curry puffs, packed with aromatic spices (Thanks Raj!), as we discussed about the book. The book seems to present (mostly) cis-women’s perspectives on queer fat studies, very different from Peter Hennen’s Faeries, Bears, and Leathermen, which we did last year. We spoke about the cultural discourses around fat studies such as the terminology (fat VS obesity) but perhaps the authors could deal with topics of denial of ill health and obesity. We also discussed the paradox of fat pride yet wanting to lose weight: there is no win for fat people. If you lose weight, you hate your fat self but if you remain the same weight, you don’t love yourself.

This complication about fat manifests in many other ways such as the “Forgotten Women” chapter in which the author points out the contradiction that fat women are sexually voracious but also seen as sexually undesirable.

Perhaps it is also because that fat studies is so complicated that different authors assume different things about the gender of fat without substantiating their assumptions. Some claim that fat is feminine, and some say it is masculine. Furthermore, there is an easy assumption that because fat bodies do not belong in a heteronormative narrative, fat is seen as queer. Surely fat and queer overlap in some ways but some rigorous scholarship is required here, instead of blanketing them together by the editors. The third assumption that went unchallenged in the book is that fat is subversive; sure, maybe it is but nobody ever says, “I want to be subversive, so I got fat.” Some editorial explanation may be required here to deal with the three assumptions.

Besides some editorial explanations, we were also disappointed by the article on fat and internet. There is much potential to discuss the “disappearance” of a fat body in cyberspace yet much of the article pontificates on how the internet can help with the movement.

We talked a lot about the portrayal of fat people in media, especially in comedy, relating it to Jack Black, Seth Rogen, Queen Latifa, Modern Family (specifically Cam and Jay), Amy Schumer, Margaret Cho, Melissa McCarthy, Rebel Wilson, Kevin James, and Louis C.K. While comedy embraces fat people, comedians are merely falling into stereotypes and not challenging any social structures. Perhaps other than This is Us, there are few body-positive depictions of fat people. Timmy brought up an excellent counter-example to the American shows, Under One Roof, a local sitcom where there are many fat people in the show but they are depicted as ordinary people who are not ashamed by their bodies.

Talking about performing fat, we wondered if it is so easy to transpose Butler’s theory of performativity onto fat studies. For one thing, while gender is a performance that creates one’s identity, a fat person cannot take off their fat like pants or skirts. A man can pass as a woman, and a woman can pass as a man, but a fat person can never pass as a thin person (unless they are in cyberspace, and that’s why we were disappointed about the article on internet and fat).

We also talked about the intersections of fat with race, with social class, with Asian culture (“You look healthy,” “You look prosperous,” and also fat can be considered beautiful in some Asian cultures), with consumerism, and with disabilities.

But perhaps most importantly, we celebrated Vicky’s birthday. Happy birthday!

By the way, if you’re counting, we noticed that, for the first time, there is finally some gender equality in the book club! 5 men, 6 women, and 2 genderqueer. Yay!

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Filed under Academic, Queer