The past weekend saw LGBT supporters converge at the annual Pink Dot event in Singapore, while those against the movement were encouraged to Wear White as a statement of opposition. The Pride’s Dorcas Leck attended a service held at the Faith Community Baptist Church, one of the churches involved in the Wear White campaign. Sartorial choices aside, she shares more on her experience.
On any other day, there would not be any thought given to wearing white – as it is, it is just another apparel colour option – especially for a person who is generally more flippant towards her attire. But context is everything. As I prepared myself to attend FCBC’s ‘Wear White’ service last Saturday, 4 June 2016 – it weighed heavily on my mind.
If I wore white, it would be construed as a sign of support for the cause. And if I didn’t, I risked being refused entry. Unable to persuade any of my friends to go along with me – “I don’t want to spend two hours rolling my eyes.”, “I don’t feel comfortable attending their service.” – I went alone, replaying the scene from the movie ‘Kingsman’ when Colin Firth’s character ended up in a hate church. I was late, but allowed entry in my non-white attire. Besides the overwhelming sea of white that the auditorium hall was steeped in and the service programme’s Foreword message, the service was void of any reference to either the Wear White campaign or the Pink Dot event. More surprisingly, the sermon was led by FCBC pastor Daniel Khong, and not as I expected, his father, senior pastor Lawrence Khong, who had previously pledged support of the churches he led to the campaign. I was disappointed, but relieved.
I thought the usher who granted me entry despite being half an hour late was gracious, the church member who offered me her service programme nice, the last usher – who noticed my hovering at the back of the hall and led me to a vacant seat – thoughtful and hospitable. But if these are the acts that we would expect from any other person, why did I expect any less from the church congregation?
When you carry negative preconceptions about someone, you have such a low benchmark for his or her conduct that any slight gesture of kindness startles and impresses you. Perhaps I had thought wrong of the people at this church, they weren’t the “crazies” that I had imagined them to be. They were just like any other Singaporeans on the street. No one interrogated me for not sticking to the colour theme, and I wasn’t made to feel uncomfortable or that I didn’t belong. If my neighbours disagreed with my colour choice, I didn’t hear about it. Contrary to my expectations, service that night was uneventful but even in the absence of a dedicated sermon, it was a clear showcase of solidarity. Congregation attendance mattered. In that context, the colour worn was a statement – in support of or against. For the camp of Wear White that weekend, it was a moral declaration on the family nucleus structure, a rally behind the message “on the right composition of a family, beyond the freedom to love” in Singapore.
In her message to the congregation, Nina Khong noted that “it takes courage to stand up and do something for your ethical and moral principles… making a stand for what you believe in can be a scary thing, but it is the right thing to do.” In principle, this wasn’t wrong. She implored her congregation to “set aside (the) fear of retribution, disapproval, criticism, damaged relationships, or even the unknown, and take action for the good of ourselves and the generations that will come after us.” Read as it is – this was exactly what the campaigners of Pink Dot were doing! They mean different things, but they speak with the same words. Once again, context matters.
On that day, this same message was unfortunately used to champion two antagonistic views. My parents strongly believe in the ideals of the wear white campaign; but I also have close friends who are in the LGBT community. I don’t feel compelled to commit myself to either camp. I may not agree with my parents’ beliefs – but theirs aren’t the only ones that exist. I may believe in Pink Dot’s cause of the right to love regardless of sexual orientation, but I admit there are times when it feels like an aggressive act of evangelism. Love is love – and speaking on values like monogamy, fidelity, forgiveness, love and grace felt more constructive.
If white is the composite colour of light and encompasses an equal balance of all the colours of the spectrum, there is a place and need for some pink. More importantly, to wear a single colour felt too divisive to me, rather than supportive.
That’s why I wore black. And walking out of the auditorium hall, nobody else cared. Suntec City was dressed in a sea of colours, and that was the beauty.