|In a world where love takes on different meanings, Zenon, the co-founder and resident DJ for Bussy Temple, shares their perspective on the significance of platonic kinships and the healing power of love within the LGBTQIA+ community. Through their own journey of self-acceptance and resilience, Zenon highlights the transformative influence of friends and queer spaces in redefining societal norms.
what does love mean to you in 2023?
Z: To me, love means childlike wonder and safety. I think love is the ability to explore and be curious about yourself, as well as other people while feeling safe in each other's presence..
"during those insecure awkward periods in my transition, my friends were the ones who made me see how beautiful i am. they're the ones who saw the beauty in me before i could see it myself."
our pride campaign this year revolves around the theme 'Come Together.' what does that mean to you?
Z: The first memory that comes to mind is organising raves at Bussy Temple, a space centred around queer, trans, and femme individuals. It started organically when we found a public space in Singapore, and ended up just gathering together. What started with small portable speakers, eventually grew into finding DJs (within the community). We wanted to create an inclusive space, free from the presence of straight men or cis gay men at traditional bars.
There is so much power in just gathering in a rave space like Bussy Temple. When you see how different bodies move in a space when they feel safe, it's like unlocking new pathways to navigate the world.
While traditional avenues for protest and change may be limited locally, spaces like Bussy Temple hold no rules on how "weird" one can be. It's a realm of experimentation, where dressing up and looking unconventional is celebrated.
“so friends invited friends, and we were all just dancing. a lot of people were topless and it felt very joyful - safe and just free."
can you share a special message or advice for others in lgbtqia+ community in singapore?
Z: What comes to mind was a moment I shared with my best friend/queer kin/ride or die, Kate.
I wrote this in a zine I did last year that I still feel strongly about:
“the safest and most profound love i have ever experienced is the love my friends have given and have continue to give me."
how has the sense of community and support played a role in helping you navigate the challenges and prejudices faced by the LGBTQIA+ community in singapore?
Z: The community/spaces you inhabit always serve as accountabilities to either enable or limit you to be. I think as I put in the work and worked on my traumas through therapy, I have been attracting the best queer kins and collaborators who see the expansiveness of queerness the same way I do.
I am now unapologetic about my queerness when navigating the cis-herero world, and my community of friends have played a huge role in that.
"when my voice started changing with T (testosterone therapy) and after i got my top surgery i would feel a little repulsed and weird when I applied make-up. i would think a lot about how i should act in public spaces… do they see me as a cis man or a woman? how would they expect me to speak and act."
can you share a message or advice for others in the lgbtqia+ community in singapore?
Z: I'd like to quote my friend Nora, who said "Reality is temporary, but fantasies are forever." I think people in the LGBTQIA+ community are often too tense and serious, focusing on what's lacking and the traumas imposed by societal systems. We forget to have fun, and understand that life is temporary and not as serious. We forget to fantasise. One needs to be a little delusional to enact change.
Our ‘Love+’ scarves are available in a spectrum of colours to symbolise love, unity, and interconnections.
All profits from the sale of the scarves go directly to The T Project, that proudly supports the transgender community in Singapore. Read more about their work here.
Photography Darren Gabriel Leow
Photography Assistant Rex Teo
Creative Direction & Styling Daryll Alexius Yeo
Story Shenali Wijesinghe