The Singapore LGBT encyclopaedia Wiki

Singapore gay literature refers to writing that deals with LGBT themes in a Singapore context. It covers literary works of fiction, such as novels, short stories, plays and poems. It also includes non-fiction works, both scholarly and targeted at the general reader, such as dissertations, journal or magazine articles, books and even web-based content. Although Singapore lacks a dedicated gay book publisher or gay bookshop, it does have at least one dedicated gay library, Pelangi Pride Centre, which is open weekly to the public. Many of the works cited here may be found both in Pelangi Pride Centre, the National Library, other academic libraries in Singapore, as well as in some commercial bookshops under the 'gender studies' section.


The increasing boldness of local authors in sympathetically addressing LGBT themes is intertwined with the growth of English-language theatre in Singapore since the mid-1980s. It was in theatre that writers first challenged the cultural taboo surrounding homosexuality. A fairly regular stream of gay plays were staged in Singapore throughout the 1990s, raising the public profile of sexual minorities.

  • Lest the Demons Get To Me (1993) by Russell Heng depicts a dilemma in which a male-to-female transsexual resents having to dress up as a man to perform funeral rites as her dead father’s only son. The play highlights a society that is rather crushing on the protagonist’s desire to be true to herself. [1] [2]
  • Private Parts (1994), a comedy by Michael Chiang, addresses the theme of Singapore society’s capacity to come to terms with gender minorities in the form of transsexuals. The Straits Times reported that "Private Parts, with its remarkable performances and poignant message, is a special production that should not close until every person in this country has seen it". The play has also been performed in Mandarin. [3]
  • Invitation to Treat Trilogy, written by Eleanor Wong in 1993, tells the story of Ellen Toh, a law partner, coming to terms with her homosexuality. The first installation, Mergers and Accusations), tells the story of Ellen getting hitched to fellow lawyer and best friend Jon in a marriage of convenience, then leaving him and falling in love with Lesley. In charting her protagonist's personal struggle to win acceptance from family and social circle, Wong pushes the 'coming out' message and moves closer to activism than seen in Russell Heng or Michael Chiang's more descriptive treatment of the LGBT subject. Wills and Secession (performed in 1996) sees Ellen now divorced from her husband and happily married to her wife in London...till she must return to care for her ailing father. Rounding up the trilogy is Jointly and Severably, and its lyrical tale of love turned sour. which sees Ellen struggling with forgetting Lesley and seeking courage to begin a new relationship with law professor Zee. Sprawling over three decades, the trilogy's power lies in its ability to weave together all the threads of a rich life – from coming out to finding community, family to frayed marriages. One can expect a heavy dash of heartache, cut through with the sparkle of Wong’s lively wit. A clever work wrought with legal puns and allusions, Invitation to Treat proved to be an insightful dramatical success.[4] [5]
  • Asian Boys Trilogy (2001–2007) features three disparate plays written by Alfian Sa'at and directed by Ivan Heng. The first installment Asian Boys Vol.1 was staged in 2001 to rave reviews, not only on its artistic merit but also its relevance to the incumbent societal concerns. Following this was Landmarks: Asian Boys Vol.2 premiered in 2004. A collection of eight short stories, this montage explores the myriad gay experiences of Singaporeans, albeit mostly clandestine. One of the stories, Katong Fugue, was later in 2006 made into a short film. Finally, the last of the trilogy Happy Endings: Asian Boys Vol.3 recently started playing at Drama Centre, National Library @ Singapore; the run lasts from 11 to 29 July 2007.

(For other plays, see Singapore gay theatre).


Novels with LGBT-related themes began emerging in Singapore literature scene in the 1990s. Among the earliest work is Different Strokes (1993) by David Leo portraying victims of AIDS. [6]

  • Abraham’s Promise (1995) by Philip Jeyaretnam tells a story of a father’s rejection of and then coming to terms with his son’s homosexuality. This is no exploration of the world of a gay man, for the homosexual character hardly speaks. Its intellectual touchstone is the political culture of post-colonial Singapore where many feel marginalized with little promise of respite in personal or professional life. [7] [8] (ISBN 0824817699)
  • Peculiar Chris (1992) by Johann S. Lee (Cannon International, 1992 ISBN 9810035578), the only true "coming-out novel" written from a Singaporean point of view so far. Describes a young athlete and national serviceman's angst-filled struggles with boyfriends, discriminatory institutions and death, as well as his coming out into the gay and lesbian community. It was described by The Straits Times in 2008 as a 'cult classic'.[9]
  • Glass Cathedral[10] (1995) by Andrew Koh- Singapore’s second gay novel. It did not have as huge an impact as Peculiar Chris when it was released, but it was immensely significant for the gay literary world. It was not just critically praised, it actually won an award - a Commendation in the Singapore Literature Prize in 1994. The story is about a university student named Colin, just out of National Service, who falls passionately in love with a wealthy colleague named James. Besides the courtship, romance and sex, there is a lot of exploration of what it means to be gay and Catholic in Singapore - facing both homophobia and calls for evolution of the faith. There is even a gay priest character thrown into the mix. (ISBN 9971006707)
  • New Moon Over San Francisco by Joash Moo.
  • Asking for Trouble (2005) by Jason Hahn, an 8-days journalist, who based his humour book on his experiences with living with two high-maintenance women, with free advice from his 2 male friends, one gay, the other married. [11] (ISBN 9812610251)
  • What are You Doing in My Undies? (2002) by Jon Yi about a man's change into transvestism. [13]
  • Different Strokes (1993) by David Leo. While David Leo wrote a homophobic short story in News at Nine, this book is based on an objective journalist's experience when he interviewed a gay AIDS patient[14]. (ISBN 981004755X)
  • The Narcissist (2004) by Edmund Wee (Times Editions, May 2004, ISBN 981232819X) [15],[16] It was the first novel by the then 31-year-old Singaporean journalist. Set in Paris and London, the novel follows the trail of a young, callow homosexual narrator who gradually discovers the darker side of men. The two themes woven throughout the novel are self-discovery and self-love.
  • To Know Where I'm Coming From (2007) by Johann S. Lee (Cannon International, 2007 ISBN 978-981-05-9472-5), Lee's indirect sequel to Peculiar Chris. About a gay emigrant returning to his homeland to heal from a broken heart. Rated 5 stars out of 6 by Time Out and 3 stars out of 5 by The Sunday Times. Alex Au wrote in his Yawning Bread review: "It's a much more mature book than the first, but the talent for telling a story with honesty and enrapturement is still very much there… One day, I think it is safe to bet, this novel will be on the required reading list for Singapore students, even if some people might turn in their grave, or more likely in the Singapore context, stew in their urn. It will be on that list precisely because it is suspended in the tension between being gay and being Singaporean, being away and being connected; precisely because it captures a moment in our shared national history."
  • Quiet Time (2008) by Johann S. Lee (Cannon International, 2008 ISBN 978-981-08-1703-9), The concluding part of Lee's Singaporean queer triptych which began with Peculiar Chris. About a gay man's paternal instincts and gay activism, set against the civil rights events of 2007. Rated 3.5 stars out of 5 by The Sunday Times. Cyril Wong wrote: “Passionate and unflinching in his portrayal of the self-contradictions and inexorable conflicts which remain part and parcel of being gay in Singapore, Johann S Lee has created a wonderfully realistic, prescient and moving book that threatens to bat his previous works (and many past Singaporean novels) off the shelf of living memory. In time, one hopes that Quiet Time will continue to instruct and encourage present and future generations of gay readers to keep questioning the value of their existence, and to look back in awe at how far we have all come as a persecuted community.” The Sunday Times: "A remarkable book." "A must-read." "Singapore's best gay novel ever."
  • Blame It On The Raging Hormones (2010) by Nathan Goh (Wham Bam, 2010 ISBN 978-981-08-6405-7 / Tincture, 2011 ISBN 978-1-59021-115-1) is a coming-of-age memoir of a twenty old Singaporean gay man, written in the form of an online journal. It’s about how the character, Nicky was trying to find love, validation and sense of worth but was finding them in the wrong places and how he crashes into a world of sex, drugs, orgies, prostitution and betrayal in his pursuit.
  • The Last Lesson Of Mrs De Souza by Cyril Wong - One last time and on her birthday, Rose de Souza is returning to school to give a final lesson to her classroom of secondary school boys before retiring from her long teaching career. What ensues is an unexpected confession in which she recounts the tragic and traumatic story of Amir, a student from her past who overturned the way she saw herself as a teacher, and changed her life forever. The stunning first novel from award-winning poet Wong, The Last Lesson of Mrs de Souza is a tour de force, an exceptional examination of the power of choice and the unreliability of memory. Paperback: 160 Pages. Product Dimensions: 130 x 200 mm. ISBN: Published by Epigram Books.
  • And The Walls Come Crumbling Down by Tania De Rozario- In 2003, a young woman leaves home without telling her family that she is not coming back. She spends the next six years moving from house to house and living hand-to- mouth; at first with her lover, and then alone. And The Walls Come Crumbling Down parallels three events in the author’s life: the physical deterioration of the house in which she lives, the emotional disintegration of a couple once in love, and the unearthing of childhood ghosts that can’t seem to be cast off. Part memoir and part poetic rumination, it is an ode to love, loss and the people and places we call home. Hardback: 130 Pages. Product Dimensions: 140 x 205 mm. ISBN: 9789811473739. Signed Edition with Dust Jacket is limited to 50 copies. Published by Math Paper Press.
  • Somewhere Else, Another You by Tania De Rozario - False starts, chance encounters, careless mistakes, strokes of luck: Are we the sum of our actions, or of our possibilities? This is a literary game-book inspired by theories of the multiverse: Each time the reader makes a choice, the universe of the narrative splits, creating a story in which all outcomes exist at the same time but cannot be experienced concurrently. A cross between a Pick Your Own Path novel and an existential crisis, this book invites you to meander through its paths, and towards your own conclusions. Paperback: 57 Pages. Product Dimensions: 125 x 200 mm. ISBN: 9789811186639. Published by Math Paper Press.
  • A Certain Exposure (2014) by Jolene Tan - Satirical and sympathetic, political and personal, the novel traces the adolescences of twin brothers Andrew and Brian, culminating in the explosive events leading to Andrew’s tragic death. This is a classic coming-of-age tale doubled across two vividly individual brothers, who struggle to navigate a complex tangle of relationships and coercive forces, cinematically interwoven with the yearnings and fears of an ensemble of mothers, fathers, cousins, friends and lovers both false and true. This wide-ranging debut beautifully presents the resonances and the ghosts of lost possibilities, as well as a gripping story of hope and betrayal. ISBN: 9789810788285. Cover Type: Paperback. Page Count: 224. Size: 130mm x 200mm. Published by Epigram Books.

Short stories[]

LGBT-themed tales are found in different collections of short stories.

Examples are:

  • Corridor: 12 Short Stories (1999) by Alfian Sa'at, (Raffles Editions ISBN 981-4032-40-9) contains a several stories with GLBT themes. 'Pillow' looks at a difficult inter-generational relationship. 'Cubicle' is about the physical intimacy two lesbian students often steal in a public toilet. A flamboyant transvestite character appears in 'Bugis'. Finally, 'Disco' deals with an older man who is starting to discover the youth-dominated gay club scene. This book won the 1998 Singapore Literature Prize Commendation Award. [17].
  • Cross-straits experiences by Alfian Sa'at, simply titled Bugis in a Singapore-Malaysia collection, The Merlion and the Hibiscus.
  • Worlds Apart, written by J.C. Leahy, found in In the Shadow of the Merlion, an anthology of expatriates' experiences in Singapore.
  • Students' collections like Onewinged with stories like The Transformation and Extracts from Fairy Tale by Cheryl Lim and Sim Yee Chiang respectively.
  • Pte M, a short story by C.S. Chong in NS: An Air Level Story about an effeminate soldier who tries to be intimate with the protagonist who feels nothing but revulsion, despite not rejecting the unwanted advances until the last possible moment.
  • Drum, a somewhat homophobic short story by David Leo in News at Nine which is modeled after Herman Melville's Billy Budd.
  • Butch and Girl Talk, by Sabariah, a collection of short narrative pieces exclusively about the experiences of young lesbian and bisexual women (and FTM men) in Singapore. It is unclear if the stories are based on the experiences of actual women or primarily fictional. Published by VJ Times, the book is no longer widely available.
  • Tong Lei (2009) by Ken Ang [18] (Oogachaga, 2009 ISBN 978-981-08-3697-9) is Singapore’s first collection of Chinese short fiction. Each story is based on a true account of from the lives of gay men in contemporary Singapore. Written by Ken Ang, the book is accompanied by two theme songs 剩下 and 放心 by composed and performed by Tin Ang. The book is published by Oogachaga (OC), the publishers of the popular Singapore Queers of the 21st Century (SQ21) in conjunction with OC’s tenth anniversary. The book was launched during IndigNation 2009 and all proceeds from the sale of the book will be channeled to OC’s support group programmes and counselling services.
  • The Boy With The Flower That Grew Out Of His Ass - A queer little fairy tale about a dangerous love between two boys with unusual appendages. The story is short and its lesson brutal, but therein lies an unspoken hope that a future will arrive when such lessons become unnecessary. The Boy With the Flower That Grew Out of His Ass by Cyril Wong was first published as a hand-stitched chapbook in 2005, with only 300 copies available. Hardback: 40 Pages. Product Dimensions: 110 x 180 mm. ISBN: 9789810583873. Published by Math Paper Press.
  • GASPP : a gay anthology of Singaporean poetry and prose (2010) by Ng Yi-Sheng - Singapore’s first anthology of writers who identify as LGBTQ. It is the combined work of 35 authors, translators and editors who have contributed poetry, short fiction, memoirs, essays and experimental writing in English, Mandarin and Malay. Between the covers, the reader will meet a loving couple struck by HIV, a lesbian lawyer confronted by her past, a voyeur in a bomoh with a magic formula that keeps gay men faithful. Romantic, sensual, funny and bizarre, these works are a testament to the range of voices that constitute queer literature in contemporary Singapore. Featured writers include Johann S. Lee, Ovidia Yu, Alfian Sa’at, Cyril Wong, Ng Yi-Sheng and Adrianna Tan.
  • EXHALE: a Queer Anthology of Singapore Voices (2021) edited by Ng Yi-Sheng, Stephanie Chan, Atifa Othman, Kokila Annamalai, Andy Ang, Ang Jin Yong, and Tan Boon Hui - a landmark literary project gathering the best works of local LGBTQ writers who emerged in the 2010s. These writings reveal the dreams, struggles and indomitable spirit of our queer community in a time of turbulence and transformation—a decade of highly visible protests and controversies, new labels for gender and sexuality, and a more fearless brand of cultural politics. The collection features texts written in English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil, by 79 different authors (including one collective) encompassing forms as diverse as spoken word, sci-fi, experimental poetry, creative non-fiction and even songs of worship. There are poems exploring issues such as coming out, gender dysphoria, HIV, religion, institutional homophobia and transphobia, the Wear White movement, the PenguinGate controversy, sex and love. There are tales of attempted exorcism, a young gay man’s explorations of the Internet, a lesbian werewolf’s journey of fulfilment, a trans woman’s discovery of her magical gifts, fatphobia in Singapore, an activist case for aromanticism, and an alien encounter at Pink Dot. Writers include Amanda Lee Koe, Neon Yang, Joel Tan, Topaz Winters, Marylyn Tan, Jeremy Tiang, Jerrold Yam, Jennifer Anne Champion, Lawrence Lacambra Ypil and Rodrigo Dela Peña, Jr.. Published by Math Paper Press.


The prolific Cyril Wong came out onto the scene in 2000 with poetry that was confessional in style but universal in scope. Completely "out" in newspaper and magazine interviews, he is the only openly gay poet to win the National Arts Council's Young Artist Award for Literature. In February 2002, he edited a queer-themed issue of the online journal The 2nd Rule, possibly the very first attempt at curating queer literary Singaporean voices[19].

Wong's books of poetry include:

  • Squatting Quietly
  • The End Of His Orbit - The second collection of poems by Wong explores the tensions of intimate relationships and the rich emptiness of urban life, with odes and elegies to parents, lovers, friends and even the poet himself, then in a final section he hands over the lyric first person to mythical personae. Paperback: 64 Pages. Product Dimensions: 125 x 210 mm. ISBN: 9789810945626. Published by Math Paper Press.
  • Below: Absence - In his third collection of poems, Wong wrestles with absences behind the everyday hope of recovering new justifications for a more meaningful existence. His poems move from explorations of love to articulating the demands of loss and memory that drive the desire to poetry. Paperback: 74 Pages. Product Dimensions: 125 x 210 mm. ISBN: 9789810945619. Published by Math Paper Press.
  • Unmarked Treasure
  • Satori Blues - Wong’s longest and only Zen-inspired poem to date, Satori Blues is a response to writings by teachers of Buddhism and post-Buddhist philosophies. Composed as a stream of thought—at times epigrammatic, philosophical, fragmented, even exclamatory—the poem has been described by The Oxford Companion to Modern Poetry in English as ‘a sustained meditation that recalls turn-of-the- century Geoffrey Hill in its intricately patterned probing.’ Paperback: 48 Pages. Product Dimensions: 110 x 180 mm. ISBN: 9789810873615. Published by Math Paper Press.
  • Oneiros - Wong's eighth collection hurls the reader into a private dream world; these dreams explore the finitude of the self, recasting the poet's past and shaping the future or daring to mine its dangerous potential. Paperback: 68 Pages. Product Dimensions: 125 x 210 mm. ISBN: 9789811173202. Published by Math Paper Press.
  • We Contain Multitudes - Softblow poetry journal celebrates twelve years of publishing poetry in English, from the widely acclaimed and deeply experienced, to the freshly youthful and urgent. Curated by Wong and Jason Wee, two of the founding editors, We Contain Multitudes reflects the poet-editors’ omnivorous literary appetites and interests, and includes poems especially included for this anthology by Lawrence Lacambra Ypil, Michelle Cahill, Yasmin Belkhyr, Sharlene Teo, among others. Featuring Singaporean talents such as Boey Kim Cheng, Christine Chia, Tania De Rozario, Joshua Ip, Jee Leong Koh, Chandran Nair, Pooja Nansi, Ng Yi-Sheng, Tse Hao Guang, Daryl Qilin Yam, Jerrold Yam, Arthur Yap and Yong Shu Hoong; and international voices such as Aazam Abidov, Sherman Alexie, Kimberly Blaeser, Ingrid de Kok, Kristine Ong Muslim, Mariko Nagai, Murat Nemet-Nejat, Alicia Suskin Ostriker, Laksmi Pamuntjak, Simon Perchik, Marge Piercy, Jeet Thayil, Tim Tomlinson and Ocean Vuong. Paperback: 592 Pages. Product Dimensions: 255 x 152 mm. ISBN: 9789814757737. Published by Epigram Books.
  • Straw, Sticks, Brick - Wong’s prose poems remark, instruct, exclaim and curse at a world long settled into its desire-ridden forms. These protracted sentences both attack and reflect on the miasma of memory, working life, the delusions of family life, and the paradoxes of lust and love, moving between meditative moments, philosophical arguments and cryptic to lyrical tongue-lashings. Time, or our failure to exist meaningfully beyond its dimensions, forms the heartbeat of this book. Paperback: 68 Pages. Product Dimensions: 125 x 210 mm. ISBN: 9789810733858. Published by Math Paper Press.
  • Like A Seed With Its Singular Purpose - Language, art, religion, disaster, death, murder, adultery, and love, all come under the poet's attention as he continues to mine the rewarding  contradictions and frustrations of a broader existence. The final sequence is a series of lyrical propositions starting with "if". Paperback: 76 Pages. Product Dimensions: 125 x 210 mm. ISBN: 9789811173196. Published by Math Paper Press.
  • Tilting Our Plates To Catch The Light - This collection of poems brings into play Wong's background in music. Reminiscent of a concerto, an orchestra is invoked by poems that celebrate the lives of lovers distant and near, while a single narrative arises like a solo instrument amidst their chords, often blurring a distinction between the universal and the particular. This narrative is a love story that pierces through the shadow of the inevitable, accompanied by dreams and a re-interpretation of the myth of Shiva and Mohini, the fascinating female-incarnation of Vishnu. Interwoven with the motifs of time and death, these poems segue into each other like movements in a symphony, singing of equal parts tragedy and joy. Paperback: 102 pages. Product Dimensions: 125 x 210 mm. ISBN: 9789810593858. Published by Math Paper Press.
  • After You - In a lasting marriage, one could still outlive the other. A poet gazes upon his older partner, pondering the inevitable. Panic, heartache, and a surprising sense of acceptance, interwoven with instances of joyful resilience, punctuate the ordinariness of their everyday lives and occupy these poems about same-sex love, death, and the fragile art of testimony. Hardback: 112 Pages. Product Dimensions: 140 x 205 mm. ISBN: 9789811473722. Signed Edition with Dust Jacket is limited to 50 copies. Published by Math Paper Press.
  • This Side Of Heaven - A comedian, a nun, a reality TV star and countless others meet in a Garden. This is not the start of a joke, but the beginnings of a parable. These denizens may be running out of time, while there is all the time in their Kafkaesque world, and an orchestra is playing a song nobody else may hear. Paperback: 176 Pages. Product Dimensions: 129 x 198 mm. ISBN: 9789814845823. Published by Epigram Books.
  • The Lover's Inventory - A crucifix, a piece of underwear, a body part—these belong to a lover’s inventory that encompasses objects, places, sensations, and other memorabilia, providing springboards for memory and poetry. Mischievous, ambivalent, erotic to sentimental and profound, these poems serve as letters to past flings, lovers and exes, bearing messages about the challenges of desire, loneliness, and letting go. Paperback: 60 Pages. Product Dimensions: 125 x 210 mm. ISBN: 9789810945602. Published by Math Paper Press.
  • Animal Season - From a crow and his famous pitcher to a story about a spiteful bee, Aesop’s fables have been known to instruct or affirm universal truths. For Wong, however, many of them have much to answer for, their allegorical messages leaving much to be desired in a world potentially without meaning or grand design. Animal Season takes over from where the more familiar fables left off, interrogating the originals or rewriting them, in the hope that new truths might be unearthed. Illustrated by Speak Cryptic. Paperback: 72 Pages. Product Dimensions: 110 x 180 mm. ISBN: 9789811473708. Published by Math Paper Press.

Alvin Pang's "The Scent of the Real", which refers to Cyril Wong, is value-neutral and mentions Cyril Wong's sexuality as a fact, not as something disgusting or abject.

Toh Hsien Min and Yong Shu Hoong have written poems about friends coming out to them in "On a Good Friend's Admission that he is Gay" and "A Friend's Confession". Both were suspicious that their friends wanted sexual relations with them.

Gwee Li Sui in the eponymous book with the poem Who wants to buy a book of Poems refers to the stereotype of poets as limp-wristed and "ah kua" - although admittedly this is not the first time this concept has been explored. The book, which claims to have been privately circulated for 3 years before being published seems to explore a similar theme that has been previously explored in other works, including those of the poets mentioned in the above. In the following poem, "Edward", he depicts the sad life of a cross-dresser past his prime.

Ng Yi-Sheng's poetry collection, last boy, contains many lyrical poems celebrating and reflecting on gay love and sexuality. It won Ng the Singapore Literature Prize in 2008.

A Book Of Hims by Ng Yi-Sheng - a spiritual sequel to last boy, written with a voice that has grown older, but remains just as eccentric and reckless as before. Once again, Ng deals with the topics of male love and spirituality, recollecting current and past romances, odes to mentors and holy figures, as well as experiments with diverse poetic forms, including the haiku, the sonnet, the ghazal and the jueju. Heartfelt, surreal and evocative, these poems are a splendid addition to the growing body of Singapore literature.

Loud Poems For A Very Obliging Audience (2017) by Ng Yi-Sheng - a compilation of some of Ng's best spoken word pieces — songs, diatribes and phantasmagorias — created for assorted poetry slams, readings and theatrical events between the years 1999 and 2016. Dealing with issues of politics, history, cultural identity and queer sexuality, these works show the writer at his most fearless, opinionated and dramatic — a complement to the subtler but similarly imaginative poems of his first collection of poetry, last boy. Published by Math Paper Press.

Tender Delirium - Tania De Rozario’s first collection of poetry and short prose. It brings together (but is not limited to) estranged lovers, despairing mothers and the avenging spirits of murdered women, in an assortment of words that celebrate queer desire, obsessive longing and a general disregard for “proper” subject matter. Comprising selected work written over the course of a decade, the largely confessional collection has been described as dark and hysterical...but in a good way. Paperback: 98 Pages. Product Dimensions: 125 x 210 mm. ISBN: 9789810747831. Published by Math Paper Press.


  • Black Waters, Pink Sands (2021) by Ng Yi-Sheng - comprises the annotated scripts of two acclaimed lecture performances exploring forgotten chapters of Singapore history.
    • Ayer Hitam: a Black History of Singapore explores the history and influence of the African diaspora in Singapore over two hundred years. It trawls the archive for stories of slavery, colonialism, jazz and nationalist struggle, reaffirming the value of black culture in our shared heritage. Collaboratively created with Sharon Frese and Irfan Kasban for the M1 Fringe Festival, this work commemorates the black men and women —enslaved, indentured and expatriate— who crossed the oceans into unknown territory.
    • Desert Blooms: the Dawn of Queer Singapore Theatre traces the history of Singapore theatre from 1985 to 1995, revealing how LGBT representation first emerged and flourished on the local stage. Using excerpts of scripts, interviews and news articles, it reveals how the works of Russell Heng, Chay Yew, Eleanor Wong, Ovidia Yu, Haresh Sharma, Goh Boon Teck, Otto Fong, G Selvanathan and others were in dialogue with contemporary developments in HIV/AIDS, club raids and early activism.



  • Cries from Within (1970) by S. Shan Ratnam; Victor H. H. Goh and Tsoi Wing Foo- an illustrated and user-friendly tome on sex-reassignment surgery and its attendant psychological considerations by two eminent gynaecologists and a psychiatrist. [27]
  • PLU: sexual minorities in Singapore (2004) (edited by Joseph Lo and Huang Guo Qin, published by Select Books)- a pioneering collection of essays by contributors such as Alex Au, Jason Wee, Desmond Sim, William Peterson and Laurence Leong. Its style is eclectic, ranging from the academic to the casual. (See The New Paper's report and Yawning Bread's comments:[28], Fridae review by Alvin Tan:[29])
  • The Rainbow Connection: The Internet and the Singapore Gay Community (1999) by Ng King Kang published by KangCuBine Publishing Pte. Ltd.. Read a review by Yawning Bread:[30]
  • Atkins, Gary L. Imagining Gay Paradise: Bali, Bangkok and Cyber-Singapore (2011) by Gary L. Atkins, published by Hong Kong University Press, 2011.
  • Ng King Kang. Born This Way But…: The Changing Politics of Homosexuality in Singapore. Singapore: KangCuBine Publishing, 2008[31].
  • Offord, Baden. Homosexual Rights as Human Rights: Activism in Indonesia, Singapore, and Australia. Oxford, New York: Peter Lang, 2003.
  • My Sisters, their stories by Leona Lo, photographs by Lance Lee (Viscom Editions) - a book on the lives of male-to-female transsexuals. Paperback, 96 pages. Published in 2003 by Select Books (

ISBN: 981047198X (see Fridae review by Alvin Tan:[32]).

  • "Boys in the Hood", chapter 6 of the book "Invisible Trade: High-class sex for sale in Singapore" (Monsoon Books, 2004) by Gerrie Lim, an international correspondent for porn network AVN Online. It explores the world of gay male escort services candidly described by former escort Cyril Wong, who had by then become an accomplished poet. (Read an excerpt of the chapter on[33])
  • Excuse Me, Are You a Model? by Bonny Hicks (Flame of the Forest, 1995)- a frank autobiography of a young Eurasian model who is quite frank about her bisexual crushes transsexual. While not specifically queer-oriented, its mass popularity makes it impossible to ignore.
  • F.O.C: Freedom of Choice by Leslie Lung features 20 short stories about people struggling against their sexual orientation. A short commentary by Lung accompanies each story. The premise of the book is that individuals can choose and change their sexuality. It advocates gay people can and should become straight, but never advocates that they remain gay. [34]
  • No More Daddy's Little Girl by Karen Lee[35],[36]. The first autobiography by a gay person in Singapore. Unabashedly honest, passionate and poignant, this book chronicles the life of Karen Lee, a tenacious woman born into the traditional half-Burmese and -Chinese roots, who had been through an arduous journey in search of the most wonderful treasures known to man – love and acceptance from God, family and friends and most importantly, herself. Her fighting to be accepted as a lesbian Christian in the current society ensues as she matures and goes into womanhood.
  • Imagining Gay Paradise: Bali, Bangkok, and Cyber-Singapore by Gary L. Atkins[37]. Hong Kong University Press, 1 Jan 2012, Social Science, 300 pages. Mages of Manhood asks the question: How have gay/queer men in Southeast Asia used images of paradise to construct homes for themselves and for the different ideas of manhood they represent? The book examines how three gay men in Bali, Bangkok, and Singapore have deployed different ideas of “paradise” over the past century to create a sense of refuge and to dissent from typical notions of manhood and masculinity. For the disciplines of queer studies, gender studies, communication, and Southeast Asian studies, it provides (1) a “queer reading” of Walter Spies, a gay German painter who in the 1930s helped turned Bali into an island imagined as an ideal male aesthetic state; (2) a historical account of the absorption of Western notions of romantic heterosexual monogamy in Thailand during the reign of King Rama VI, providing an analysis of his plays, and the subsequent resistance to those notions expressed through an erotic, architectural paradise called Babylon created by a post-World War II Thai named Khun Toc; and (3) an account and analysis of the “cyber-paradise” created by a young Singaporean named Stuart Koe. The book examines their pursuit of sexual justice, the ideologies of manhood they challenged, the different types of gay spaces they created (geographic, architectural, online), and the political obstacles they have encountered. Because of its historical sweep and its focus on the relationship between gay men and ideas of Edenic space, it makes an important contribution to understanding gay/queer life in Southeast Asia.

Published essays[]

  • Amirthalingam, Kumaralingam, ‘Criminal Law and Private Spaces: Regulating Homosexual Acts in Singapore’ in Bernadette McSherry, Alan William Norrie and Simon Bronitt (eds.), Regulating Deviance: The Redirection of Criminalisation and the Futures of Criminal Law, Portland: Hart, 2009, 185-212.
  • Au, Alex. ‘Soft Exterior, Hard Core: Polices towards Gay’ in Bridget Welsh, James Chin, Arun Mahizhnan and Tan Tarn How (eds.), Impressions of the Goh Chok Tong Years in Singapore, Singapore: Institute of Policy Studies and NUS Press, 2009, 399-408.
  • Au, Alex. ‘Speaking of Bangkok: Thailand in the History of Gay Singapore’, in Peter A. Jackson (ed.), Queer Bangkok: 21st Century Markets, Media and Rights. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2011.
  • Chan, Kenneth, Cross-Dress for Success: Performing Ivan Heng and Chowee Leow’s “An Occasional Orchid” and Stella Kon’s “Emily of Emerald Hill” on the Singapore Stage, Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, Vol. 23, No. 1, Where in the World Is Transnational Feminism? (Spring, 2004), pp. 29-43.
  • Chan, Kenneth, Gay Sexuality in Singaporean Chinese Popular Culture, China Information, 22, 2008, 305-329
  • Chan, Phil, ‘Shared values of Singapore: sexual minority rights as Singaporean value’ The International Journal of Human Rights, Volume 13, Numbers 2-3, April 2009 , 279-305
  • Chua, Beng Huat. 2008. “Singapore in 2007: High Wage Ministers and the Management of Gays and Elderly”. Asian Survey 48 (1): 55-61.
  • Chua, Dominic, James Koh and Jack Yong. in Terence Chong (ed.) The AWARE Saga: Civil Society and Public Morality in Singapore. Singapore: NUS Press, 2011.
  • Chua, Lynette J. Kher Shing (2003). Saying No : Sections 377 and 377A of the Penal Code. Singapore Journal of Legal Studies: 209–261 .
  • Goh, Debbie, ‘It’s the Gays’ Fault: News and HIV as Weapons Against Homosexuality in Singapore’, Journal of Communication Inquiry 32:4 (2008), 383-399.
  • Heng, Geraldine., and Devan, Janadas. “State Fatherhood: The politics of Nationalism, Sexuality, and Race in Singapore.” Nationalism and Sexualities. Ed. Andrew Parker, Mary Russo, Doris Summer and Patricia Yaeger. United States of America: Routledge, 1992. 343-364.
  • Heng, Russell. "Tiptoe Out of the Closet: The Before and After of the Increasingly Visible Gay Community in Singapore" (2001) by Dr. Russell Heng in Gay and Lesbian Asia: Culture, Identity, Community (edited by Gerard Sullivan and Peter A. Jackson, Haworth, New York, 2001, pp. 81-97. Reprinted in the Journal of Homosexuality 40(3-4), pp. 81-98. Archived by Yawning Bread:[38]
  • Yvonee C. L. Lee, ‘”Don’t Ever Take A Fence Down Until You Know The Reason It Was Put Up – Singapore Communitarianism And The Case For Conserving 377A’ [2008] Singapore Journal of Legal Studies 347.
  • Laurence Wai Teng Leong[39], “Walking the Tightrope: The Role of Action For AIDS in the Provision of Social Service in Singapore”, Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services, Vol. 3, No. 3 (1995): 11-30.
  • Leong, Laurence Wai-Teng, ‘The ‘Straight’ Times: News media and sexual citizenship in Singapore’ in Angela Romano and Michael Bromley (eds.), Journalism and Democracy in Asia. Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2005, 159-171.
  • Leong, Laurence, “Sexual Governance and the Politics of Sex in Singapore”, in Terence Chong (ed.)(2010) Management of Success: Singapore Revisited. (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies), pp. 579-593.
  • Leong, Laurence. The chapter entitled "Singapore" in "Sociolegal Control of Homosexuality- A Multi-Nation Comparison" (Edited by DJ West and R Green- Plenum Press, New York, 1997)- It examines sociological, historical, and philosophical trends in attitudes and laws relating to homosexuality in 20 countries, plus chapters on Islam and Europe.
  • Leong, Laurence, “Singapore”, in Chuck Stewart (ed.)(2010) The Greenwood Encylopedia of LGBT Issues Worldwide. (Santa Barbara, California: Greenwood Press), (Vol. 1), pp. 475-487
  • Leong, Laurence, “Decoding Sexual Policy in Singapore”, in Lian Kwen Fee & Tong Chee Kiong (eds.)(2008) Social Policy in Post-Industrial Singapore. (Boston: Brill), pp. 279-308
  • Leong, Laurence, “Singapore”, in D.J. West & R. Green (eds.)(1997) Sociolegal Control of Homosexuality: A Multi-Nation Comparison. (New York: Plenum Publishing), pp. 127-144
  • Lim Eng Beng, The Mardi Gras Boys of Singapore’s English-Language Theatre, Asian Theatre Journal, Vol. 22, No. 2, 2005, 293-309.
  • Lim Eng Beng, Glocalqueering in New Asia: The Politics of Performing Gay in Singapore, Theatre Journal 57 (2005) 383-405.
  • Lim Eng Beng, “Introduction: Queering Singapore,” Collected Plays Two: The Asian Boys Trilogy: Dreamplay, Landmarks, Happy Endings (Singapore: Ethos Books, Oct 2010)
  • Lim Eng Beng, “Glocalqueer Pink Activism,” Scales of Production: Public Activism and the Performing Arts in Local/Transcultural Performance Eds. Lynette Hunter, Peter Lichtenfels, John Rouse, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.
  • Lim Kean Fan, ‘Where Love Dares (Not) Speak Its Name: The Expression of Homosexuality in Singapore’, Urban Studies August 2004 vol. 41 no. 9, 1759-1788.
  • Lo Mun-Hou, Review of People like Us: Sexual Minorities in Singapore; SOJOURN: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia, Vol. 19, 2004
  • Lyons, L. T., 2004. Sexing the Nation: Normative Heterosexuality and the Construction of the ‘Good’ Singaporean, in A. Branach-Kallas & K. Wieckowska (eds.) The Nation of the Other: Constructions of Nation in Contemporary Cultural and Literary Discourses, Torun, Poland: Uniwersytet Mikolaja Kopernika (Nicolas Copernicus University), pp. 79-96.
  • Maulod, Nur’Adlina and Nurhaizatul Jamila Jamil, ‘”Because Allah Says So”: Faithful Bodies, Female Masculinities, and the Malay Muslim Community of Singapore’, in Samar Habib (ed.), Islam and Homosexuality, Oxford: Praeger, 2010, 163-91.
  • Obendorf, Simon and Lek, Andrew (2004) Contentment or containment? Consumption and the lesbian and gay community in Singapore Theatre.
  • Offord, Baden. ‘Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia: Arrested Development! in Manon Tremblay, David Paternotte and Carol Johnson (eds.) The Lesbian and Gay Movement and the State: Comparative Insights into a Tranformed Relationship. Surrey: Ashgate, 2011: 135-52.
  • Offord, Baden. 2003. ‘Singaporean queering of the internet: toward a new form of cultural transmission of rights discourse’, in C Berry, F Martin & A Yue (eds.), Mobile cultures : new media in queer Asia, Duke University Press, Durham, USA, pp. 133-157.
  • Offord, Baden. 2000. ‘Singapore’ in G.E. Haggerty (ed.), Gay Histories and Cultures : an Encyclopedia, Vol.2, New York: Garland.
  • Offord, Baden. 1999. ”The burden of (homo)sexual identity in Singapore’, Social Semiotics, Vol. 9, No. 3, 301 — 316.
  • Oswin, Natalie, Critical geographies and the uses of sexuality: Deconstructing queer space. Department of Geography, National University of Singapore, 2008.
  • Oswin, Natalie, ‘The modern model family at home in Singapore: a queer geography’ Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, Volume 35, Number 2, April 2010 , pp. 256-268.
  • Tan, Chris. K. K. (2009), “But They are Like You and Me”: Gay Civil Servants and Citizenship in a Cosmopolitanizing Singapore. City & Society, 21: 133–154
  • Tan, Chris K. K.(2011), Go Home, Gay Boy! Or, Why Do Singaporean Gay Men Prefer to "Go Home" and Not "Come Out"? Journal of Homosexuality 58(6-7): 865-882.
  • Tan, Eugene. “God, Gays, and the Government: Managing Religious Intolerance and Irreligious Intolerance in Singapore” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the The Law and Society Association, Renaissance Chicago Hotel, Chicago, IL, May 27, 2010
  • Tan, Kenneth Paul, Sexing up Singapore, International Journal of Cultural Studies December 2003 vol. 6 no. 4 403-423
  • Tan, Kenneth Paul; Jin, Gary Lee Jack, ‘Imaging the Gay Community in Singapore’, Critical Asian Studies, Volume 39, Number 2, June 2007 , pp. 179-204
  • Tan, Kenneth Paul, ‘Religious Reasons in a Secular Public Sphere: Debates in the Media about Homosexuality’ in Lai Ah Eng (ed.) Religious Diversity in Singapore. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies and the Institute of Policy Studies, 2008, 413-433.
  • Tan, SK, 1999, Singapore gays go to West Hollywood: on doing research on minority representation in Singapore.
  • Tsoi, W. F. ‘Developmental profile of 200 male and 100 female transsexuals in Singapore’, Archives of Sexual Behavior, Volume 19, Number 6, 595-605.
  • Tsoi, W. F. (1988), The prevalence of transsexualism in Singapore. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 78: 501–504.
  • Winder, Roger, V. P. ‘”I am Gay”: Language and Identity in a Marginalized Community in Singapore’ Singapore: Department of English Language and Literature, National University of Singapore, 1994.
  • Yeoh, Paul, Writing Singapore Gay Identities: Queering the Nation in Johann S. Lee’s Peculiar Chris and Andrew Koh’s Glass Cathedral, The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 2006, 41, 121-135
  • Yue, Audrey, ‘Creative queer Singapore: The illiberal pragmatics of cultural production’, Gay and Lesbian Issues and Psychology Review, Vol. 3, No. 3, 149-160, 2007
  • Yue, Audrey, “Hawking in the Creative City: Rice Rhapsody, Sexuality and the Cultural Politics of New Asia in Singapore.” Feminist Media Studies 7: 4 (2007)
  • Yue, Audrey, “Doing Cultural Citizenship in the Global Media Hub: Illiberal Pragmatics and Lesbian Consumption Practices in Singapore”. In Circuits of Visibility: Gender and Transnational Media Cultures, edited by R. Hegde. New York: New York University Press, 2011.

University theses[]

  • Chan, Kai Leng. 2002. “To Cherish and to Hold: the Making of Lesbian Families.” Academic Exercise, Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore.
  • Chua, Charmaine. 2008. Lesbian Couples in Singapore. Academic Exercise, National University of Singapore.
  • Chia Fu Hai, Coming Out at Work: A Qualitative Study of Factors Influencing Gay Men Decision to be Out at Work, PhD Thesis, 2011.
  • Chia Mingde Mark, Constructing Al-Gayda’: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Antigay Rhetoric in Singapore, BA (Hons) Thesis, Department of Linguistics, National University of Singapore, 2009.
  • Devan, Pamela Mary. “Lesbian Performativity: Negotiating Visibility in Singapore.” Honours Thesis, Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore, 2008.
  • Devan, Pamela Mary. Butch, Femme and other labels in the Singaporean Lesbian Community: Can we escape the Heteronormative Gender Binary? Masters Thesis, Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore, 2010.
  • Lizada, Miguel Antonio Nograles. Gay Poets and the Urbanism of Manila and Singapore. Masters Thesis, Department of English Language and Literature, National University of Singapore, 2011.
  • Low, Wai Yee. 1994. “Making and Masking Lesbian Identities.” Academic Exercise, Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore.
  • Ho, Anqi, Differences Between Heterosexual And Lesbian Women In Acceptability And Risk Perceptions Associated With Sexual Permissiveness, Masters Thesis, Department of Psychology, National University of Singapore, 2009.
  • Ho, Chi Sam, Sexual Minorities in the Straits Times, BSocSC (Hons) Thesis, Department of Communications and New Media, National University of Singapore, 2008.
  • Hou, Erich, Gay and Straight, Stray Or Great? Universal Human Rights and Singapore Penal Code 377A, PhD Thesis, University of Cardiff, 2011.
  • Kang, Yew Fai Isaac. Singapore’s Sexual Exiles. Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore, 2001.
  • Ng, King Kang, Changing Politics of Male Homosexuality in Contemporary Singapore, Deakin University, Australia, PhD, 2006.
  • Norhazlina bte Md Yusof, Same Sex Sexuality and Islam in Singapore, Masters Thesis, Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore, 2005.
  • Pang Kent Kent, Friendship among Young Heterosexual/Homosexual Chinese Singaporeans, BA (Hons) Thesis, Department of Sociology, Nanyang Technological University, 2011.
  • Rahman, Kartini Abdul . The Lesbian Community in Singapore. Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore, 2001.
  • Rajeswari, Indulekshmi, Same Difference: The Role of Conflicts of Law in the Recognition of Same-sex Marriages Performed Overseas and Related Benefits in Singapore. Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore, LLB (Undergraduate Research Opportunity Project), 2011.
  • Sim, Wei Chun, Joshua, Mega Churches and Homosexuality, BSocSc (Hons) Thesis, Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore, 2010.
  • Tan, Loretta Sheun Fuen, Contra-indication: Corporeality, Iconicity and Representation in Singapore Lesbian Theatre. PhD Thesis, Department of Theatre Studies, National University of Singapore, 2009.
  • Tay, Joanne, A Queer Reading of Roystan Tan’s 881, Or The Alternative Family and Homosocial Bodies. BA (Hons) Thesis, Department of English, Nanyang Technological University, 2009.
  • Toh, Joseph, Muslim by Birth, Malay by Society, Gay by Choice. Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore, 2002.
  • Wu, Wei Chiang, Samuel, ‘Sounding ‘gay’: Prosodic patterns in gay speech in Singapore. Masters Thesis, Department of Linguistics, National University of Singapore, 2005.
  • Zhang, Huiling Helaine, ‘Rock the House: Nationalism and Queer Sexualities in Singapore Cinema. BA (Hons) Thesis, Department of English, Nanyang Technological University, 2009.

Newspaper features[]

  • Thio, Su Mein, ‘Understanding the Homosexual Agenda’, The Christian Post, September 23, 2008.
  • Zubillaga-Pow, Jun, ‘The Irony of Censorship’, Fridae, August 25, 2010.

LGBT writing on the Internet[]

External links[]

A bibliography of academic works on Singapore LGBT topics compiled by Jun Zubillaga-Pow on the IndigNation website:[47]

See also[]



This article was started by Roy Tan with much additional information added by Aaron Ho and other Wikipedia contributors.