Coming to terms with Scotland’s No

I’d known for over a year that I was invested in the Scottish independence referendum. I didn’t realise just how much until I found myself standing in the kitchen, crying over the cat’s food bowl as media outlets began, one by one, to call a No victory.

As I wrote in this Yahoo! blog post just two days ago, the Ayes were never meant to have it. I knew that even as the polls gave the Yes campaign a lead. I told myself that over and over again; “it’s probably not going to go through”. But as it became increasingly clear that Scotland was not going to be independent, I realised I had actually put a lot more stock into a Yes win than I had let even myself believe.

Initially skeptical, Calum and I were inspired by the energy and vision of pro-independence campaigners. Not just from Yes Scotland, but the whole range of other groups: National Collective, Radical Independence, Common Weal, Women for Independence, Scots Asians for Independence, Labour for Independence, the Greens… the list goes on and on. The 2013 Radical Independence Campaign opened my eyes to how another society – a more democratic, fairer society with more participation – could actually be possible.

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A Scottish #indyref journey through Singaporean eyes

I don’t remember what first got me to look up online chatter on the Scottish independence referendum. Perhaps it was because my Welsh-Scottish then-fiancé (now husband) and I were moving up to Scotland, and I felt I needed to know something about the country apart from a quick Danny Bhoy guide. Perhaps it was because, as journalists, we both knew it was major news and I was still hoping for a job (this was before my healthy optimism about the UK media, at a time of major cost-cutting, was ruthlessly crushed). But I remember sitting in that cluttered postgrad dorm room in Cardiff, Googling the independence referendum while Calum was out.

I did not find the Braveheart nationalism that we had both assumed would be at the heart of the pro-independence campaign. I did not find Yes campaigners painting their faces with blue woad and promising that Bannockburn would come again.

What I did find was a Bella Caledonia article on the potential of #indyref and how it has allowed Scots to really think about the sort of country they want to live in.

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On Pink Dot and confrontations

A pink dress, with white polkadots, hangs in my cupboard at home. I bought it over a month ago, and even got it slightly altered to fit me better. I bought it before the run-up to Pink Dot exploded into a culture war of pink and white and red, and people who would never actually be personally affected by other people’s freedom to love decided that it was an affront to them and their religion for other human beings to strive for equal rights.

The dress is hanging in my cupboard at home while my friends are no doubt already gathered (or gathering – my friends aren’t always known for punctuality) in a sea of pink at Hong Lim Park because I am, once again, missing Pink Dot.

Since 2010 – which is when I first heard of and wanted to attend Pink Dot – I have only succeeded in being there once, in 2011. It was wonderful, friends, lovers and multi-generational families packed into the little park in the middle of the city. I’ve wanted to join in on another Pink Dot, but never quite made it because I always ended up, somehow or other, out of Singapore. This year is no different: despite all the anticipation and planning I am sitting here in Scotland, having had to catch a last-minute flight out to be with family.

Pink Dot is by no means a perfect event or movement. There is plenty that needs to be said about diversity and differences in experiences – straight or queer – in Singapore and around the world. But I still believe that Pink Dot is worth supporting, and it’s a belief that has been further reinforced by the outpouring of hatred and fear-mongering that has come from religious conservatives like Lawrence Khong and Ustaz Noor Deros.

It’s not a huge surprise. We’ve known for ages that Khong spends more time obsessing over gay sex than even gay people do. His anger, vomited all over obliging newspaper opinion pages, is fast getting repetitive and boring, especially to those who have never subscribed to as narrow an understanding of family as he.

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