|qyo & gen
English teacher, Gen, and singer-songwriter, Qyo, open up about their experiences dealing with unsolicited comments, the key to maintaining a healthy, long-lasting relationship, and the importance of feeling comfortable in one’s skin.
share with us a little about yourself.
G: Hi, I'm Gen and I'm an English teacher. I like doing makeup on the side and just experimenting with different things in life.
Q: Hi, I'm Qyo, I'm a singer-songwriter, I create songs. That's it.
do you feel a sense of belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community? why or why not?
G: Yes and no. I think mostly because in Singapore, the community is quite suppressed in a way so I don't feel we are being part of a community openly, that's why I don't feel so much a part of it. It's more the idea behind it that I am a hundred percent behind. And I definitely do feel a sense of belonging when looking on social media and stuff like that, that's when you really connect.
Q: For me, no before. Growing up, I didn't think that it's possible to come out and be who I am, but I think times have changed and we can only wait for more time so that it can be better.
“Over the five years, we both changed as a person, so it's more like how we adapt to each other with the changes that come with it."
what are some stereotypes of the LGBTQIA+ community that you have come across?
G: Mostly that they've never been with a guy or the opposite sex and that kind of makes me cringe about it because that's something to assume about someone; you just don't know their story and you should never assume anything. That's one of the biggest stereotypes anyway.
looking back, how would you have liked to respond to those stereotypes?
G: I would say just not look at someone at face value [or] just look at them as a stereotypical girl – they look girly, they have long hair, and wearing a skirt. Just don't say stuff like that to women in general. Especially someone who is LGBTQ and you don't know if they are, I think I would just tell them to just educate yourself, basically. Learn more–
Q: Crack a book.
G: –yeah, crack a book open maybe once in a while, or just open social media and just be aware of what's happening in the world.
what about you, Qyo? what stereotypes of the LGBTQIA+ community have you come across?
Q: As for me, it's more when people say, “Oh, you know, it's such a waste that you're a lesbian or you're gay." It’s like, what does that mean?
how did you respond to them?
Q: If I can be honest, sometimes they can be very crude. Can I say crude stuff here? [laughs] For instance, they are like, "Oh okay, what makes you think that you're 100% lesbian? Have you tried having sex with a guy? How would you know you're not straight, because you haven't had sex with a guy?" So then my answer would be like, “Have you? So if you haven't tried that, try it and then come back to me and we can talk later."
“Take your time. There is no rush to when you should come out or not."
what does love mean to you?
Q: Love means patience. That's it. Because I think it's very hard to be with me, it takes a lot of patience to be with me, so then, this is just my point of view, love is patience.
G: I think that love is compromise and the willingness to share your lived experiences and also [the willingness] to be open to one another and your differences, rather than manipulating somebody or forcing your opinion on someone. I think it's really just supporting each other.
what do you love most about your partner?
G: I think she's very calm and she's kind of steady in a sense. When I'm frantic and I am annoyed at something, I kinda get a little bit erratic sometimes and I think that she keeps me kind of sane in a way. Yeah, so I think that's what I love most about her.
Q: What I love most about her is that we've been together for five years and I've never heard her fart before [laughs]. I'm kidding, I'm only joking–
G: Oh my god [laughs]. Why did you just say that [laughs].
Q: –what I love about her is she's very strong, independent, resilient, very forgiving, and patient.
G: Thank you [laughs].
tell us your love story.
G: Our love story, hmmm, that's very interesting [laughs]. So we met at the old Zouk, I'm not sure if you guys remember – it was the Jiak Kim Road one. We were there on a random night. Both of us haven't been clubbing in a long, long time, and we just randomly decided to go there that night. We were in the smoking area with our friends and she walked in and it was one of those moments where she was just under a spotlight and she had this blonde hair, like platinum blonde hair. And I was like, “Oh my god is that an angel” [laughs]. And I was a little bit high so I was, oh my god, giggling non-stop. My friends were like, "Stop it!"–
Q: Yeah, I heard her giggle from afar.
G: –but the thing is we didn't approach each other, a friend that I've just met that night actually went off and brought her to me and was like, “Hey, my friend's really nice, do you want to meet her?” And that was how it started [laughs].
Q: Her friend kind of pulled me over and said, “Hey, I think my friend is interested in you. She's really nice.”–
G: But honestly, I didn't even ask her.
Q: –yeah, out of her own goodwill. So yeah, and I thought, “Okay, sure, let's meet her.” And yeah, that's it.
“I do wish to just be more accepted and not always turning heads just because there are two females holding hands..."
So you guys mentioned that you've been together for five years. What are some of the challenges you've gone through as a couple?
G: Hmm, where do we start [laughs]? I think the most significant one would be when I had to go overseas. I was with her for two years at that point and I had to go to Melbourne for a year to renew my visa and stuff. I mean, two years seems like a long time, I guess, but for us it was so short. It just felt like everything moved so fast and whenever I had to go over there, I think it took a toll on our relationship as with any relationship, like long-distance. So I think that was like a big learning curve in terms of our relationship and how we learn to love each other through just connecting on the phone, or text messaging, or video chat. And that was a whole new learning curve for us.
Q: For me, it's more of a challenge of change. Five years is not a brief period. Over the five years, we both changed as a person, so it's more like how we adapt to each other with the changes that come with it.
what do you wish to see in Singapore's LGBTQIA+ community in the next 10 years?
G: I feel like we haven't made much progress in the last 10 years, so I'm not sure how I would feel in the next 10 years. I mean, it's kind of far ahead, but I do wish to just be more accepted and not be always turning heads just because there are two females holding hands or two guys holding hands in public. I mean, it's a relatively normal thing to do. And I don't think that should be frowned upon or we shouldn't get weird stares just because of that. I think that would be a huge step in itself – just being publicly open.
Q: For me, on the contrary, I feel there was some progress in the last 10 years or so. And the progress is actually showing in the sense that we have now events such as Pink Dot SG and stuff that's been going on, but not saying that they didn't have their own challenges to have that event in itself. So their resilience, I would say that the people's resilience – be it the LGBTQ community or people supporting the LGBTQ community – that has brought this country into the state we are now. I think slowly, in the next 10 to 15 years, I think we will get there. What I hope for is, I mean, everyone wants to have like their own property and a roof over their head, and it wouldn't be so hard for them during that time.
what advice would you give to someone who is coming out?
G: I think I have my own challenges when it comes to that. I wouldn't say I'm a hundred percent out and proud, just because of a lot of different things in my own family unit that makes it extremely difficult for me to just be even acknowledged as a person with a girl. My advice for people who are coming out or are ready to take that next step is to really just be confident in who you are and take it step by step; don't rush into things if you're not fully comfortable in your own skin yet or comfortable with people looking at you in a certain way. And I think that's okay. Just take it step by step.
Q: Yeah, I agree totally with her. Take your time. There is no rush to when you should come out or not. You feel like you want to come out, you come out. But sometimes coming out, you get forced coming out – for me, I was forced to come out in a way, it was not my decision to come out but I was outed anyway. For those who are not in that situation, take your time, whenever you feel ready and confident to do it, then do it.
“My advice for people who are coming out or are ready to take that next step is to really just be confident in who you are and take it step by step; don't rush into things if you're not fully comfortable in your own skin yet..."
Photography Darren Gabriel Leow
Photography Assistant Eric Tan
Styling Daryll Alexius Yeo