The Pride flag means a lot to me, and it wasn't until I held onto one three weeks ago, did I understand its power.
Growing up as a kid, I was unsure why I was looking at boys, not girls. I was constantly hurled with "ah gua", "sissy", "pondan", "gay", and I believed something wasn't right about me. I felt alone and I contemplated suicide. I struggled to believe I was gonna find a girl one day, fall in love, get married and have kids.
At 16, it was clear that this small part of what I am is also who I am, and I came out to myself and friends, two years later — to my family. I never regretted it as I continued to live my life as an openly gay man.
Yet with the continuous onset of discouraging news regarding my nation's progress with gay rights, I began to feel jaded. I was tired of feeling frustrated and I began to feel lukewarm towards the fight for a more inclusive Singapore.
But the Pride flag reminded me of something I could never imagine to be as a kid — to be ALIVE, BLESSED AND PROUD. It reminded me of what I've been through, and how much it can empower someone.
I realized it's more than just a piece of fabric. It's a SYMBOL of hope, freedom, acceptance and love. A symbol that was birthed by gay people a generation before me who have FOUGHT for MY FREEDOM AND RIGHT to come out. I took for granted the Pride flag. I took for granted that I'm openly gay and safe. I feel like a lot of people do, and I wanna change that.
I'm determined that this flag will be visible wherever I go, for as long as I'm alive. Because the Pride flag represents OUR IDENTITY AND FEARLESSNESS. And it is the responsibility of everyone privileged enough to be out and open to carry this symbol forward, to remind the next generation of queer kids — struggling with suicide because they feel like a mistake — that IT IS OKAY TO BE GAY.
It's also our responsibility to take this flag and inspire acceptance to those who feel the need to keep their sexual orientation a shameful secret. Because this is EVERYONE'S PRIDE flag. It's proud, it's powerful, and it's fucking beautiful. So let us be brave for those who needs courage!
My name is Lokies Khan, and I'm a proud gay man. 🏳️🌈