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On Wednesdays, We Wear Pink: 19 LGBTQIA+ Stereotypes Debunked by Singaporean Members of the Community

Stereotypes—no matter how covert or implicit—can be, and often are, hurtful. Being a cis-gendered, straight Chinese female, my existence is drenched in privilege. I’ve never had to conceal parts of me that are integral to my identity, and I’ve never feared rejection because of who I love.

For some of us, daily life isn’t that simple. Picture this—you’re a contributing member of society who is excellent at your job. Much like the rest of your peers, you’re trying to navigate through the intricacies of life in Singapore. Job hunting is fierce, expenses are high, and dining isn’t any cheaper. It’s always a struggle, finding the balance between deciding where to spend and where to save.

As you charge on into adulthood, you’re ready for the next phases to come. You’re looking to get married to your partner of six years now, and maybe even find a cute place to call home. But soon, you realise you can do neither of those things. More issues such as child-rearing, healthcare, and other administrative barriers continue to badger you. How is it even fair to live in a space that discriminates you for merely existing?

Being LGBTQIA+ In Singapore

Credit – Shutterstock

For the LGBTQIA+ community in Singapore, this is their reality. And until change takes place, that will be the reality that they have to continue to wake up to every day. While non-members of the community will never understand these pains, the least we can do as allies are to at least try.

For the uninitiated, LGBTQIA+ stands for Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual. It’s all too familiar to us in Singapore—long periods of misinformation, assumption, and victimising, harmful stereotypes about the community have since crystallised in the public consciousness.

There are many reasons why stereotypes are dangerous, as evident by their influence over laws, employment, education, and psychological safety, just to name a few. In an effort to debunk the frequently misunderstood concepts that non-members might have about the community, I spoke to a diverse group of LGBTQIA+ people from different ages, races, and educational backgrounds about their take on such claims.

They’ve since explained these misconstrued notions and hopefully, shed some light on the common misconceptions that we might have. May this help us all to be better allies to them.

I collected 19 stereotypes that Singaporeans commonly have towards the LGBTQIA+ community through both primary and secondary research. Trigger Warning (TW): Some of these stereotypes might be hurtful and difficult to read.


1. Gays have to be feminine, and lesbians are typically masculine.

Credit – Unsplash

“The whole reason why they are gay/lesbian is that they are not participating in a “one girl one guy” relationship—they are of the same sex. I mean perceptions of a relationship is often heteronormative; hence I can see why this stereotype exists. However, this really can hurt and confuse people who are questioning their sexuality. One might think they have to check certain boxes to be a real gay person when, in reality, it’s just the attraction to the same sex that makes you gay.”
– Gemini, 20, Student, Pansexual

“I think this is a harmful generalisation about gay and lesbian individuals, and that sort of mindset is rooted in really outdated ideas about gender being a binary. I don’t think it’s right to police people’s orientation and identity and expect them to present a specific way to express themselves.”
– Mieke, 27, Fresh Grad, Non-binary/Questioning


2. Bisexuality strictly means to be ‘half gay, and ‘half straight’.

“Sexuality works on a spectrum (it’s called the Kinsey Scale), and it’s not based on a definite percentage.”
– K, 25, Student, Gay

“I heard this comment from my classmates. It frustrates me because bisexuality is just the attraction towards two genders but the way they add this ‘half-half’ stereotype is so invalidating. I could like girls 90% of the time and like guys 10% of the time, but I’m still bisexual!!”

– Gemini, 20, Student, Pansexual

“Bisexuality, in general, is a whole identity and not a sum of parts of other sexualities.”

– Sun, 20 International Student, Bisexual

“This isn’t ‘fractions in math class’. It’s a spectrum. Most things operate on spectrums; people just don’t want to admit it.”
– Ace, 21, Visitor Service Officer, Bisexual


3. All they do is party.

Credit – TODAYonline

“I WISH! But no, we have jobs. Gotta pay for those parties you know. *laughs*”
– Edward, 23, Freelance Performer, Gay

“As a transgender woman who is also Muslim, I disagree with this statement. Although I live a very liberal life, I still do adhere to certain practices of Islam. I don’t attend most parties as they serve alcoholic beverages and non-halal food. This is a personal choice, as I do not want to be under the influence of alcohol.”
– Natara, 20, Student, Transgender Female

“HELL YEAH WE DO, but we also consider revolution, rebellion, love, support, and kindness to one another as partying. (Or at least I do!)”
– Mieke, 27, Fresh Grad, Non-binary/Questioning

“It’s confirmation bias or matter of availability heuristics sometimes when people think of a (negative) stereotype, and quickly draw in these examples cause they are easier to notice and recall.”
– K, 25, Student, Gay

“Oh mate, I wish! If someone would like to leave me a gigantic inheritance so I don’t have to look for arts-related work right now in the time of COVID, and I can just go out and party instead, I would appreciate it very much. Open call, ladies!”
– Ace, 21, Visitor Service Officer, Bisexual


4. LGBTQIA+ members are the way they are because they have family issues, and therefore don’t subscribe to the notion of a father-mother family nucleus.

“It’s extremely convenient for someone who has not gone through what a Queer individual has gone through to say this. It’s never the reason for someone being gay. Everyone is born different, and all we’re asking for is equal rights and acceptance. Sometimes the only “family issues” that exists would be the homophobic family members who don’t accept their queer family member just ’cause they love a different way.”
– Melvin, 21, Filmmaker, Gay

“Nobody has yet proven completely whether LGBTQ+ traits are born or bred. Humans, in general, are a lot more complex than A+B=C (though sometimes their ignorance makes me think otherwise)”
– Eli, 30, Freelance Writer, Gay

“In my personal experience, I am not gay because I have family issues.
But I certainly had a lot of family issues BECAUSE I was gay.”

– Edward, 23, Freelance Performer, Gay

“The idea of a family nucleus in the first place is flawed—it’s a social construct. Not all families work the same way or provide the same kind of support. You can associate family issues to, say, neediness for affection or a disposition for domestic violence, but not something inherent like sexual orientation.”
– K, 25, Student, Gay


5. Gay men are more likely to have HIV/AIDS than straight men.

“False. Anyone who has unprotected sex with many people or people who are HIV positive are more likely to contract the disease.”
– Gemini, 20, Student, Pansexual

“People who do not have safe sex are more likely to contract an HIV infection than people who engage in safe sex. Period.”
– Nigel, 26, Marketing Executive, Gay

“I think this has got to do with the portrayal by mainstream media. And also how it’s easier for people to ‘pin the blame’ on what they are unfamiliar with—adverse news and events like this also draw more attention and can last longer in people’s minds than positive or neutral ones.”
– K, 25, Student, Gay


6. Members of the LGBTQIA+ community will hate me because I am Christian.

Credit – Unsplash

“If the particular person uses religion to bring us down, then the issue is with that person and not the religion they identify with.”
– K, 25, Student, Gay

“Actually, no! As a gay man, I have Christian friends! I respect their beliefs, and they respect mine! No one is trying to change anyone! It’s all about mutual respect and love!”
– Edward, 23, Freelance Performer, Gay

“There are a lot of LGBTQIA+ individuals who are Christian, and in the United States, there are even transgender and gay pastors. I think most LGBTQIA+ individuals will not hate someone just because they are Christian, at least not without a good reason to.”
– Mieke, 27, Fresh Grad, Non-binary/Questioning


7. Cisgenderedness and Straightness are the same thing.

“They fall in two completely different categories that people often tend to mix up. Cis Gender-ness falls under the “Gender” while being Straight or heterosexual falls under the “Sexuality”. Cisgender refers to one’s assigned sex at birth while being heterosexual or straight refers to when one is attracted to the opposite gender.”
– Melvin, 21, Filmmaker, Gay

“According to Brendan Jordan, “sexuality is who you go to bed with, and gender identity is who you go to bed as”.”

– Sun, 20 International Student, Bisexual

“Absolutely not. Gender Identity and Sexuality are two completely different things. As a Transgender woman, I identify as female, like any other woman out there. Sexuality-wise, I identify as a Heterosexual Female, as I am only attracted to men. Transgender women can be Lesbians & Bisexuals as well.”
– Natara, 20, Student, Transgender Female


8. LGBTQIA+ relationships don’t last as long as straight relationships.

Credit – Unsplash

“LGBTQIA+ relationships are rarer because of multiple reasons—the society doesn’t accept it, families don’t accept it, or that it goes against many religious beliefs. Therefore people are closeted and scared to commit in the first place. Secondly, it isn’t given equal rights in terms of marriage, housing, or any other legal platforms. All these things do play a role.”
– Melvin, 21, Filmmaker, Gay

“I think one possibility for this stereotype is the fact that relationships within the LGBTQIA+ community are only harder because discrimination makes them harder. One problem most straight couples don’t have to face is governments trying to arrest them because of their gender or sexuality.”
– Edward, 23, Freelance Performer, Gay

“Having a long-lasting relationship as an LGBTQIA+ individual in Singapore can be difficult. Given the systemic discrimination that exists against LGBTQIA+ people and the lack of access to basic services and resources like safe healthcare, legal protections and marriage, it can be tough and isolating to be openly LGBTQIA+ in Singapore. That kind of stress and trauma seeps into every part of someone’s life and affects their relationships and mental health.”
– Mieke, 27, Fresh Grad, Non-binary/Questioning


9. Homosexuality and queerness is a choice that they can reject.

“It’s 2020, and all I have to say is, being homophobic, hateful and ignorant is a choice that they can reject and work on being more accepting, loving and aware.”

– Melvin, 21, Filmmaker, Gay

“Oh I WISH I could reject my bisexuality… being attracted to men is a curse… especially when people like Jessica Chastain and Ana de Armas and Taraji Henson exist but then John Cho and Michael B Jordan pop up on my Instagram feed, and I completely lose my f*****g mind.”
– Ace, 21, Visitor Service Officer, Bisexual

“If I had a choice to be one of the ‘normal’ people and avoid years of emotional pain and struggle that comes with growing up in an anti-gay society, I would have made that choice years ago.”

– Nigel, 26, Marketing Executive, Gay

“Many, if not all, of us, have had our periods in denial and tried to ‘be straight/normal’ but it just doesn’t work that way. There are way too many disadvantages for us to ‘choose’ this route. It simply doesn’t add up if it was a matter of choice.”
– K, 25, Student, Gay


10. If I seek physical intimacy with someone else from the same sex, that makes me gay.

Credit – Unsplash

“Physical intimacy like a hug? Or holding hands? Why would that make you gay? In my opinion, most human beings have an innate need for physical contact. Most of us want to be held and touched. It doesn’t NEED to be sexual! And why should men be robbed of such a basic necessity just because of toxic masculinity, and the fear of being called “gay”?”
– Edward, 23, Freelance Performer, Gay

“People who feel uncomfortable at that thought are simply trapped by the belief that ‘being gay is bad/abnormal’ and thus cannot accept it. But when you realise and recognise that sexuality is a scale and that nothing is wrong wherever you are on that scale, it’ll be much more comfortable to accept and deal with such a thought.”
– K, 25, Student, Gay

“You could just be bi-curious, and just want to have sexual intimacy with the people you feel attracted to. You could still be heterosexual but can’t help who you are attracted to. Labels are there to put people in a box, and sometimes discriminate against us.”
– Natara, 20, Student, Transgender Female


11. Homosexuality and queerness is probably a phase, and they will eventually grow out of it.

Credit – Unsplash

“If people actually can grow out of it, none of us would be trying so hard for so many years to fight for equal rights or provide a better understanding of LGBTQ+. We’d just ‘live through this phase’ quietly and move on when we are done so we’d never go through the present challenges we face.”

– K, 25, Student, Gay

“Listen, there are only two phases to my queerness, and it’s “baby newbie queer”, and then I evolved into an “ultra heckin’ queer”.”

– Mieke, 27, Fresh Grad, Non-binary/Questioning

“People need to understand that being LGBTQ+ is normal. We are born this way, and love to stay this way. Being hateful, disrespectful and ignorant is not a phase. So please educate yourself.”
– Melvin, 21, Filmmaker, Gay

“A person’s sexuality is deeply rooted in them. To call it a phase would be diminishing their very identity.”
– Sun, 20 International Student, Bisexual


12. Only two genders exist—male and female. Anything else in between is simply not real.

“It’s common to confuse sex and gender. There exist two biological sexes—male and female. Whereas gender is a social construct that lies on a spectrum and is what a person identifies themselves as.”
– Sun, 20 International Student, Bisexual

“Non-binary gender expression exists. It has existed since pre-colonial times but was largely erased after former colonial masters enforced the binary as the only way of gender expression. It’s a well-researched topic. You can google it.”
Nigel, 26, Marketing Executive, Gay

“Gender is perception, not a physical manifestation. Just because a view about gender is popular, doesn’t mean it’s the only one.”
– Eli, 30, Freelance Writer, Gay

“We exist, and we have for a long time. Examples and historical records of genderfluid people include the Buginese from South Sulawesi. I also believe that even cisgender individuals can benefit from realising that we have no real need to be beholden to the concept of gender as a binary.”
– Mieke, 27, Fresh Grad, Non-binary/Questioning


13. I can’t understand the concept of ‘they’. How can someone identify as neither or both at the same time?

“It is not difficult to address someone by the pronoun they prefer. If it is that simple to name your pet, it would most likely not be challenging to use the pronoun ‘they’.”
– Natara, 20, Student, Transgender Female

“A person’s preferred pronouns does not challenge the core of him/her/them as a person. Sometimes labels give room for more stereotypes to build and mostly negative ones for the LGBTQ+.”

– K, 25, Student, Gay

“I can understand that it is difficult for people to understand at first because people are so used to only being able to answer M or F on paperwork. It honestly took me a long time to come to terms with my own non-binary identity too. I just felt like I didn’t fit into those categories, and then I learned that I didn’t have to at all. I could just be me and continue to define myself on my own terms.”
– Mieke, 27, Fresh Grad, Non-binary/Questioning


14. Non-penetrative sex isn’t real sex.

Credit – Unsplash

“Oral sex has the word sex in it for a reason.”
– Nigel, 26, Marketing Executive, Gay

“There are so many ways for an individual to lose their virginity. It does not necessarily have to involve penetration. Oral sex can also lead to an individual losing their v-card.”
– Natara, 20, Student, Transgender Female

“Anything involving your sexual organs is real sex. It contributes to rape culture and this dumbf**k idea that if you didn’t stick your dick into someone’s vagina you didn’t rape them and it’s disgusting and more importantly DANGEROUS. Piss off.”
– Ace, 21, Visitor Service Officer, Bisexual


15. LGBTQIA+ people abuse drugs and alcohol and are more prone to being mentally ill.

“I clearly remember starting to drink from a young age because I had this idea that most LGBT-friendly/LGBT-exclusive places in Singapore were bars and clubs. Fast forward to 2017 when I was going through a tough time, and alcohol was one of the very few things that were STILL bringing me that feeling of happiness when things were falling apart for me everywhere else. Is it any wonder that we end up grasping for these things that exist as escapism?”
– Ace, 21, Visitor Service Officer, Bisexual

“We grow up in a world that constantly tells us that there’s something wrong with us and actively seeks to correct us. Look up gay concentration camps of Chechnya and a website in Russia which offers prizes to people who hunt and kill LGBT people. When you grow up in an environment like that, it’s a miracle that you don’t have anxiety or depression from years of living in fear and self-directed hate and disgust.”
– Nigel, 26, Marketing Executive, Gay

“The fears and worries of being outed or being disowned are genuine and immense. Also, drug and alcohol abuse exist in the community at large. It’s not a problem unique to the LGBTQ+.”
– K, 25, Student, Gay


16. LGBTQIA+ people will spread their agenda and influence children to be gay too.

Credit – Unsplash

“It’s not a disease, Karen. It can’t spread.”
– Nigel, 26, Marketing Executive, Gay

“Children aren’t as dumb as conservatives seem to think they are. But visible LGBTQIA+ people can encourage kids to see that there’s nothing wrong with being LGBTQIA+ and offer valuable information and resources to those children.”
– Mieke, 27, Fresh Grad, Non-binary/Questioning

“Did the parents of gay children influence their children to be straight?
And if they did, did it work?”

“If it was so easy to spread the ‘agenda’, would we still be struggling so hard to fight for our rights?”
– K, 25, Student, Gay

“What is this “agenda”? To be accepted and loved? To have equal rights? And influence their children to be gay? Did the parents of gay children influence their children to be straight? And if they did, did it work?”
– Edward, 23, Freelance Performer, Gay


17. Gay and other queer relationships are unnatural, as evident from the animal kingdom.

“Homosexuality is found in over 450 species of animals. Homophobia is only found in 1. Which is more unnatural?”
– Eli, 30, Freelance Writer, Gay

“Queer relationships are prevalent in the animal kingdom. There are many species that show a form of queerness! Queerness is as natural as the earth beneath your feet.”
– Sun, 20 International Student, Bisexual

“Gay penguins exist. Search it up.”
– Gemini, 20, Student, Pansexual


18. Medical help should be sought if I realise I’m gay and uncomfortable with it.

Credit – Unsplash

“If you are gay and uncomfortable, you should seek help and support. Not to ‘cure’ your homosexuality, but to teach you how to unlearn years of internalised homophobia.”
– Nigel, 26, Marketing Executive, Gay

“Reach out!! There’s so many of us; we can talk about it! All of us experience some discomfort at some point, and there’s no shame in seeking help.”
– Mieke, 27, Fresh Grad, Non-binary/Questioning

“It’s important to identify your own support system—any friends or family members you can confide in. You’ll feel much better when you speak out, and also when you realise that people who care for you will accept you for who you are.”
– K, 25, Student, Gay

“Oh yes please, can you imagine if you could get an MC because you’re feeling gay? The number of times I would’ve called in sick for work like, “yes hello, this morning my girlfriend winked at me and made me waffles for breakfast, I will have to take a day off to recover from the serious stroke of homosexuality, see you tomorrow!”
– Ace, 21, Visitor Service Officer, Bisexual


19. Bisexual individuals are more likely to cheat since they are attracted to both males and females.

“Bisexuals are not attracted to the whole world. Just like how straight people are not attracted to everyone of the opposite sex!”
– Gemini, 20, Student, Pansexual

“The act of cheating has everything to do with the person and nothing to do with their sexual orientation.”
– Sun, 20 International Student, Bisexual

“Cheating is not about how many fish there are in the sea. It’s whether you choose to go fishing.”
– Eli, 30, Freelance Writer, Gay

“The number of straight people I’ve seen in my life cheating on their partners just makes me go “pot and kettle” cheaters will cheat regardless, maybe straight people should stop projecting and keep an eye on their spouses instead!!”
– Ace, 21, Visitor Service Officer, Bisexual


So there you have it—words from the community itself. I genuinely hope that this has helped quell some of your uncertainty. Remember that it’s always better to attempt to learn more and get educated about concepts which are foreign to you, rather than operating on dated stereotypes that are often downright untrue.

Reaching out and (respectfully, of course) speaking to members of the community is always an option, and there’s no doubt that most will be happy to walk you through it. There are so many ways we can respond to things we don’t understand, let hate not be one of them.


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Vera Leng

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