Stories of Being Me
What is the idea behind Stories of Being Me?
Imagine: what would happen if your friend, sister, brother, cousin, classmate, child, or co-worker told you that they are "different"?
What if that “difference” meant this person sees themselves as being outside the sexual norm? They might tell you they are attracted to people of the same sex. Or they might feel that their gender is different from the body in which they are born.
Does this difference mean that you would love or care for them any less? Does this difference mean that their well-being is not important to you? Conversely, how would it feel if you are the one who is telling the people you love of your difference?
‘Stories of Being Me’ asks people across Asia to share their real-life stories about learning to deal with differences in sexual orientation or gender identity.
The series seeks to focus on the perspectives of young people who prefer to avoid labels, as well as young people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. We also want to learn from young people who are simply curious or undecided about their sexual orientation and gender identity.
We want to hear from people - especially young people - who mustered the courage to share their differences with their family and friends as well as classmates and colleagues. We also want to hear from families and friends who have realised that these differences should not get in the way of mutual care, support, and love.
Why is Stories of Being Me important?
Sharing stories is an important way for people to develop a deeper understanding of complex issues, challenge stereotypes, and learn that there is more than one way to resolve a difficult situation.
There is a great need for more stories which explore the sexual orientation and gender identity of young people in Asia to be shared and told in the languages of our communities.
Sharing stories and creating a space for meaningful discussion bring us one step forward in challenging long-held taboos, social stigma, and institutional discrimination.
Why is sexual orientation and gender identity a big issue?
Coming to terms with one’s sexual orientation and gender identity can be a difficult and emotional process. Going one step further to tell family, friends, co-workers, or educators about one’s sexual orientation and gender identity takes courage and time. This issue can be particularly challenging if the person “coming out” is a young adult or teenager. (eg, under 25-years old).
The situation is often complicated by cultural or social norms, or the teachings of some community-leaders, which can make it difficult for people to accept others from sexual or gender minorities. Additionally, discussing the topic is often considered taboo and may leave people feeling extremely vulnerable and isolated.
Sexual orientation and gender identity is but one characteristic in a person’s life. When we focus on one characteristic alone, we risk losing sight of the whole person. By learning to support each other regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, there is an opportunity to make our relationships healthier, stronger, and happier.
Who are the people behind ‘Stories of Being Me’?
‘Stories of Being Me’ is a campaign supporting the launch of BE: a new web-app designed to support the well-being of young people from sexual and gender minorities.
BE is being created as a safe space where young people can “be themselves and be there for each other”. BE will be launched by the end of 2013.
‘Stories of Being Me’ and BE are initiatives led by B-Change Foundation whose vision is to improve health, livelihood and diversity in our communities through technology. These initiatives are being supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with Advocates for Youth, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, the Islands of Southeast Asia Network for Male and Transgender Sexual Health and Oogachaga. Our Media partners for China is Queer Comrades.
‘Stories of Being Me’ and BE are part of the ‘Being LGBT in Asia’ regional initiative.
B-Change Foundation is not-for-profit organisation head-quartered in Manila, Philippines and is part of the B-Change regional social enterprise group that has a goal of promoting social change through technology. More information on the B-Change group can be found at www.b-change.org.
BE \ Stories of Being Me to be launched
in early 2014
Selection Panel Members
Michael Leow is one of the leading entertainment lawyers in the Asia Pacific Region and is based both in Singapore and Hong Kong. He is currently a legal and business consultant of Blueprint Matters Ltd in Hong Kong and a director of Singapore law firm Gateway Law Corporation. He has represented some of the key players and financiers in the film and television industry in the region, and has advised on a range of international transactions and entertainment related issues including international and pan-asian co-productions, production services, financing, sales and distribution, and the development and acquisition of new properties. He was also coproducer on Arvin Chen’s “AU REVOIR TAIPEI” and was involved in the financing of the Wachowskis-Tykwer directed “Cloud Atlas”.
Tanya Yuson is the co-founder of KAWI Content, a transmedia company out of Singapore that identifies and develops intellectual property from Southeast Asia for multiple platforms, for the regional and the larger international market. Previously, she spent 15 years in Los Angeles where she worked in development, most recently as a consultant for clients like The Dino de Laurentiis Company and a development executive at Millar Gough Ink. She currently divides her time between Los Angeles, Singapore and Manila (where she grew up) and when she can’t get on a plane, Skype is her best friend.
Dédé is from Indonesia and has been actively involved in the pro democracy movement and the HIV response for over 20 years. He is the Founder and Chair of the Board of Trustees of GAYa NUSANTARA Foundation, a community based organisation active research and education in the areas of human rights, public awareness and politics as well as sexual health and well-being services around sexuality and gender diversity. Dédé is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Surabaya, University of Airlangga, and Widya Mandala Catholic University in Surabaya, Indonesia.
He is an internationally recognised scholar, educator and activist in areas of HIV and AIDS, research, training and advocacy. He has served on the International Advisory Board of the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Asia-Pacific Council of AIDS Service Organizations, South and Southeast Asia Resource Center on Sexuality, and the Asia-Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health. Dédé received the Felipa de Sousa Award from the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission in 1998 and the Utopia Award for Pioneering Gay Work in Asia in 2001.
Urooj is the Associate director, International Youth Health and Rights at Advocates for Youth. She builds capacity of organizations in the global south to empower young people as advocates on reproductive and sexual health and rights. Urooj is a steering committee member of the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity (MASGD) and has been a member of the Center for American Progress’ Women’s Health Leadership Network and a current member of its Faith and Reproductive Justice Institute. Urooj was a fellow with the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute.
Alan has been in the advertising industry for over 25-years, a career that has spanned 3 continents -- New York, London and Singapore. He is currently Executive Creative Director at MediaCorp, Singapore.
In 2007, Alan co-founded and was the spokesperson of the website repeal377A.com (now dormant), which became a focal point for the movement to have Section 377A -- a law that criminalizes sex between men -- repealed. During that effort, he also co-wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister of Singapore in support of a repeal. The letter garnered over 8,000 signatures, both on and offline.
Alan joined the pioneer steering committee of Pink Dot in April 2009. He remains active member of this volunteer team that organizes what has become Singapore's de facto annual LGBT pride event. One that has grown from a gathering of 2,500 people in 2009, to 21,000 people this year. More information can be found about the group at pinkdot.sg.
An advocate and activist for the LGBT community, Joe’s particular passion for transgender and MSM rights issues has spurred him to undertake the role of program manager in Action for Aids, Singapore, injecting his creative background to the launch of numerous campaigns and performances like Project Choice and Just Think. He oversees the Action for Aid’s MSM and transgender programs, and is assiduous in the education and empowerment of the community, especially on the issues of sexual health. Through educative workshops and campaigns for male and transgender sex workers, as well as high risk youth, Joe has continued to bolster the momentum of regular safe sex practice and destigmatization of HIV and AIDS; encouraging on the other hand regular and voluntary testing with on-site testing efforts coupled with AFA’s anonymous testing services.
Eager to do more for the community, Joe co-founded Fronting Transgender Movement, Asia, an organization working towards the betterment of transgender people in Singapore, working on the education, awareness, publications, sexual and mental health for the transgender folks and allies.
At the regional level, Joe is a representative figure as the first transman who went on Asia Pacific Transgender Network (APTN) in 2011.
Woody hosts and executive produces Thailand's most cutting edge talk show called “Woody Talk” or "Woody Kerd Ma Kui (Thai)" where he conducts in-depth interviews with high profile celebrities and personalities and gets to be a part of their lives for a brief period in order to document all the events that make them unique and outstanding. “Woody Talk” airs Sunday nights at 10.30 pm on Modern Nine TV. During weekdays, he hosts a live show "Woke up to talk" or "Tuen Ma Kui (Thai)" broadcasting at 8.00 am on the same channel.
Woody’s television hosting credits also include "The One," "Music X-Change," "I-DNA," MTV's "Just Arrived”,"Unseen TV”, "Bangkok’s New Year's Countdown”, and “MTV Just Talk" and he is the first in Thailand to have exclusive television interviews with the world’s top talents including David Beckham, Will Smith, Hugh Jackman, Britney Spears, Mandy Moore, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Linkin Park, Coldplay, Baz Lurrman, Rain, F4, Collin Farrell, Missy Elliot, Jay Chou, Jamiroquai, Amitabh Bachchan, Jackie Chan and Tata Young.
Senior Consultant, Hong Kong Design Centre (www.hkdesigncentre.org)
Creative and Programme Director, PMQ (www.pmq.org.hk)
William spent 18 years working in the advertising industry in Hong Kong. In 1992, he founded his own agency - Vision Integrated Communications Ltd. Later on in his career, William became Brand Consultant to some of his clients, helping them launched their brands and products in Hong Kong and China.
William joined Hong Kong Design Centre in 2005 and is responsible for the flagship events – Business of Design Week (BODW), Knowledge of Design Week (KODW) and Design for Asia Awards (DFAA 2006-08).
In Aug 2012, William took on a duo role and joined PMQ – a newly launched creative platform project for designers - responsible for creating programs to promote and connect local and overseas design industries for possible collaboration.
Ng Yi-Sheng is a full-time writer of poetry, fiction, non-fiction and drama. Since 2006, he has curated the annual LGBT literary event ContraDiction, and also co-edited "GASPP: a Gay Anthology of Singapore Poetry and Prose". His books include "SQ21: Singapore Queers in the 21st Century" and "last boy", which won the Singapore Literature Prize. He is currently pursuing an MFA in Norwich, UK.
Alex Au was one of the pioneers in Singapore's first LGBT rights groups, People Like Us, started in 1993. For about ten years, he was actively organising and running support groups. More recently, he's better known as a blogger, writing on broader social and political issues on Yawning Bread (yawningbread.wordpress.com) without losing focus on the LGBT issue. He is also active in issues relating to mistreatment of low-wage migrant workers who make up about 20 percent of Singapore's population. He a regular speaker at conferences on LGBT rights, labour rights, human rights in general and Singapore politics and has contributed chapters to various books touching on some of these topics.
Daniel McCartney is a programme officer at the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) in London, UK. By providing technical support and guidance to the IPPF Secretariat, one of his main focus areas is to strengthen IPPF’s response to meeting the SRH and HIV service needs of LGBTI individuals and to support advocacy efforts to uphold their sexual rights. He also sits on the Advisory Committee of the David Kato Vision & Voice Award. Originally from Canada, he has a background in medical science, and holds an MSc in Global Health from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. Prior to joining IPPF, he has held various positions focussed on HIV- and LGBTI-related issues in Canada, Ireland, India, and Swaziland.
Shanty Harmayn founded Salto Films, a Jakarta based Film Company, in 1998. Salto Films focuses on producing and distributing distinctive films helmed by strong filmmakers and talented newcomers. The company credits include award-winning international co-productions, The Photograph (2007) and Whispering Sands (2001), directed by Indonesia’s leading female director, Nan Achnas. The Photograph won the Special Jury Prize at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival 2008. In 1999, she also co-founded and co-directed the Jakarta International Film Festival with Natacha Devillers (www.jiffest.org) until 2004. Currently, serves on the Board of Directors. In 2002, she launched InDocs, a not for profit independent initiative to promote the development and promotion of Documentary Filmmaking throughout Indonesia.
Tran Khac Tung
"Mr. Tran Khac Tung started his career in development right after his graduation from medical school. After 10 years of working for UNICEF in Vietnam and Regional Office, Bangkok, Thailand in the capacity of behaviour change communication, he returned to Vietnam in 2011 and led ICS, an LGBT organization that works exclusively to promote and protect human rights of LGBT communities in the country"
Leo Christian Lauzon
Blogger at Amplify, HIV/AIDS Advocate with Youth AIDS Filipinas Alliance, Peer Counselor and Peer Educator with Y-PEER. Activist, bookworm, empowered LGBT, moviegoer, nomad, non-conformist, Philately, proud Taclobanon, proud UPian, typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda survivor, and human
BE \ Film Maker
Meet the Film Makers
Darius Zee, 25, Singapore
Darius Zee is a gay man, and a LGBT activist. Darius started off as part of the Rainbow Arts Project (.rap) – a group of artists seeking to explore notions of LGBT-related themes via different forms of art.
Since 2012, Darius has sat on the steering committee of Pink Dot SG – Singapore’s de-facto LGBT annual pride event which attracted a total of 21,000 participants in 2013.
Darius is also active in establishing contacts with LGBT activists in other parts of the world, such as Hong Kong, Japan and the United States – to organize sharing sessions on LGBT-related issues as well as explore possible collaborations to set up Pink Dot out of Singapore – which can be found today in various parts of the world.
Darius also actively works with tertiary students embarking on research projects related to LGBT rights in Singapore – to provide contacts or share background information of the local LGBT community.
His interest to be a voice of the marginalized has brought him further to document people’s lives via both written journalism and photojournalism – in Sabah, Cambodia, China and Singapore. These marginalized communities include those who are deprived of education opportunities as well as those who are in lack of proper drinking and sanitation amenities.
Darius has also expanded his portfolio to include TV and cinematic scriptwriting. His final-year scriptwriting project in university mirrored the plight of sex workers in Singapore’s Orchard Towers – a community forgotten by many. Darius has also written theatre scripts under NTU’s Creative Writing program and has acted in local renowned theatre director Jocelyn Chua’s play “F’Friends”. Darius is currently in talks to put “Sisters” into production and has plans to continue writing scripts.
Fan Popo, 28, China
Fan Popo is queer independent filmmaker, writer and activist. Born in 1985, he graduated from the Beijing Film Academy. He published “Happy Together: Complete Record of a Hundred Queer Films” (Beifang Wenyi Press, 2007). He directs the China Queer Film Festival Tour, which has travelled over 20 major cities in China since 2008.
In 2011, He received the Prism Prize of the 22nd Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, because of his hardworking on promotion equal rights with films. He is the youngest winner of this honour so far.
His documentary works include: New Beijing, New Marriage; Chinese Closet; Paper House; Be a Woman; Mama Rainbow. His films has been shown in film festivals in Beijing, Taipei, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Jakarta, Tokyo, Los Angles, San Francisco, Vancouver, Amsterdam, Helsinki etc.
Imam Wahyudi, 30, Indonesia
Was born in Gresik, East Java, but lives now in Jakarta. He is interested in writing, among others short stories and a film script that was filmed for TV. So he is also interested in making films. He has joined several LGBT organizations as volunteer, because he wanted to learn about concepts of gay identity.
To bear the name Imam (religious leader, cleric) for an Indonesian gay is a mixed blessing; culturally, the name Imam is usually associated with a high degree of religiosity. In fact, this person now feels that his own brand of spirituality has freed him from dogmas
It was in Jakarta that he found the courage to live his own life’s choice; to become an openly gay, without feeling fear, guilt or pathetic. By making a video campaign he hopes to support the LGBT movement; it is a responsibility to his fellow LGBT that he has to dedicate his work. God save the Queer
Isari Lawang, 19, Thailand
Isari Lawang is a 19-years-old young blood director and one of the four founders of Lhang Suan Prodution- a burgeoning small production house of past alumni of Suankularb Wittayalai School- whose successful work include the production of nationwide-hit stageplay '4Loves' and continued consultation work to the production and PR team of Drama Club of Suankularb Wittayalai School.
Isari is currently an undergraduate student of the Faculty of Communication Arts majoring in Innovative Mass Communication and Broadcasting, The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce where he is awarded Rattanamongkol Scholarship for the entirety of his undergraduate study.
Short Film- directing and producing:
- 'More Man', 2013, an award-winning short film for media awareness campaign hosted by the Thai National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission. Watch it Here!
- 'Cycle', 2012, an award-winning anti corruption short film hosted by The Thai House of Senate. Watch it Here!
- '4Loves: Restaged', F.I.A.O Project, 2011. Watch it Here!
- '4Loves', annual stageplay of Drama Club of Suankularb Wittayalai School, 2010
- 'Classroom', 2011, stageplay
- La Neige En Ete', 2012, stageplay
- Hope', 2013, stageplay
Nilu Doma Sherpa, 31, Nepal
Nilu Doma Sherpa is a female filmmaker from Kathmandu, Nepal, who came to the forefront for her short-films, namely KAGAJ (Paper). A recognized figure in the Nepalese film industry, Sherpa is now opening up to the rest of the world and promoting her films globally.
There are many things that she wants to do as a director in Nepal. She supervised Nepal’s first lesbian movie “Soongava” which is also the official selection to represent Nepal at the Oscars for 2013.
Nilu is probably the only openly gay filmmaker in Nepal. Not only does she intend to do something for women in the film industry but she visions that one day she will change the way of making films in Nepal.
Cha Roque, 28, Philippines
Cha Roque (CherryRed) is a lesbian mom, literary writer and filmmaker from the Philippines. She is a council member of Dakila Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism, a collective of artists and individuals who believe in the power of art to incite social change.
Her love for filmmaking has allowed her to create a slew of films which have won different awards in the Philippines. Her lesbian film, Itim na Tatsulok (2008), received 7 nominations including Best Direction and Best Screenplay and won Best Editing. Byaheng Langit (2012), a short film on drug addiction, placed 3rd at the Bidyo Against Drugs film competition.
Cha is the owner and Creative Director of CherryLime Productions where she has written and directed numerous videos for government and non-government organizations and corporations.
She recently started one of her passion projects, Pelitula, which comes from the Filipino words pelikula (film), and tula (poetry). Pelitula takes on the marriage of film and poetry as an art form.
Pivoine Beang, 33, Cambodia
Beang Pivoine was born in the fairly poor family as the oldest child. Luckily, she got a full scholarship from Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) to pursue a master program in International Museum Studies in Gothenburg University, Sweden for two years, where she finished her dissertation entitled “Family programs at the Australian Museum (AM), Australia: An analysis of the organization and impact of exhibitions and programs for family learning.”
She also picked up a few courses on Journalism at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, and travelled to several countries for internship, study tour, and training courses.
Before studying abroad she worked for Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam) for six years as a researcher, writer, and filmmaker. Her achievements are the two feature books entitled 'Stilled Lives: The photographs from Cambodia Genocide ' and 'Vanished: The stories from Cambodia’s New People under Democratic Kampuchea' and a film 'Preparing for Justice'.
She likewise worked for Post Media Co., Ltd as editor of LIFT Magazine for three years, a youth-oriented supplement insert inside the Phnom Penh Post. Pivoine currently works as a freelance filmmaker and news editor.
Who are the people behind ‘Stories of Being Me’?‘Stories of Being Me’ is a campaign supporting the launch of BE: a new web-app designed to support the wellbeing of young people from sexual and gender minorities.
BE is being created as a safe space where young people can “be themselves and be there for each other”. BE will be launched in early 2014.
‘Stories of Being Me’ and BE are initiatives led by B-Change Foundation whose vision is to improve health, livelihood and diversity in our communities through technology. These initiatives are being supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with Advocates for Youth, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, the Islands of Southeast Asia Network for Male and Transgender Sexual Health and Oogachaga. Our media partner in China is Queer Comrades.
‘Stories of Being Me’ and BE are part of the ‘Being LGBT in Asia’ regional initiative.
B-Change Foundation is not-for-profit organisation headquartered in Manila, Philippines and is part of the BChange regional social enterprise group that has a goal of promoting social change through technology. More information on the B-Change group can be found at www.b-change.org.
Get in Touch With Us
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