Lee Kuan Yew’s grandson comes out as gay. Here's why it shouldn’t matter
News about Lee Kuan Yew’s grandson coming out as gay may have been shocking to some. But did you know what the late Lee Kuan Yew himself thought about homosexuality?
Many of you parents might have read the news that Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew’s grandson, Li Huanwu, recently revealed that he is in a same-sex relationship.
On July 1, he posed for pictures with his boyfriend on “Out in Singapore”, a platform that aims to “to foster a society that is accepting and supportive of LGBTQ persons who wish to come out to family, friends and peers in the community.”
It is the first time that Li Huanwu, son of Lee Hsien Yang, has publicly come out of the closet. He also updated his Facebook profile picture to one of him and his boyfriend, inviting everyone to embrace the ideology behind Pink Dot, and the events they conduct on July 21, 2018 (today).
Pink Dot SG is a non-profit movement that aims to promote an “open, inclusive society within our Red Dot, where sexual orientation represents a feature, not a barrier.” Today, Pink Dot SG hosts of series of events, where attendees "gather to form a 'pink dot' to show support for inclusiveness, diversity and the freedom to love."
Li Huanwu has been openly supportive of the Pink Dot campaign over the last couple of years. In his post on Facebook last year, he wrote, “If you do not stand up yourself, you cannot expect others to fight for you. This is your moral duty.”
"For the LGBT community, it is but a dream to share in the same human dignities as you, to live full and proper lives..."
Lee Kuan Yew’s grandson coming out of the closet has certainly got a lot of attention in Singapore, where same-sex relationships are not recognised under the law, and adoption of children by same-sex couples is illegal.
Being a scion of the famous Lee Family must have made things harder.
And yet, do you know what the late Lee Kuan Yew himself thought about homosexuality?
In his book, Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going, he writes,
“No, it's not a lifestyle. You can read the books all you want, all the articles. There's a genetic difference, so it's not a matter of choice. They are born that way and that's that. So if two men or two women are that way, just leave them alone.”
Interestingly, he was also asked, "How would you feel if one of your grandchildren were to say to you that he or she is gay?" To which he had replied,
"That's life. They're born with that genetic code, that's that. Dick Cheney didn't like gays but his daughter was born like that. He says, "I still love her, full stop.""
"It's happened to his family. So on principle he's against it, but it's his daughter. Do you throw the daughter out? That's life. I mean none of my children is gay, but if they were, well that's that."
Talking to Your Children About Sexual Orientation and Same-Sex Relationships
Same-gender relationships and conversations around sexual orientation are nothing new. Yet, for a child with heterosexual parents, it may seem out of the ordinary.
And now, given the news of Lee Kuan Yew’s grandson Li Huanwu coming out of the closet, you might be wondering how to approach the topic of same-sex relationships and sexual orientation with your kids.
Just the other day, my seven-year-old daughter came back from school and blurted out her big secret. Her P2 classmate was a “transgender”.
“She told me that when she grows up, she’ll become a boy,” she confided. I listened carefully to every word she had said, and affirmed that it was okay.
For me, the big reveal was that at seven, she had heard of the word, “transgender”. Then, next, I started wondering, “How am I supposed to explain this to my children?” And you might be wondering the same.
Fact is, running away from our kids’ questions, thoughts and concerns will only add to their confusion.
So, here are some tips on how to sensitively and sensibly answer questions from your kids about same-sex relationships and gender/sexual orientation:
Listen, without judging
Mummy Regina Abuyuan, whose son Marco came out when he was 11, has this advice for all parents, "The best thing you can do for your child is to listen, listen, listen. No judgments… just stay open and listen. Stay curious."
"Straight, gay, queer, bi, whatever they are — it doesn’t matter. If you just let your kids be who they are, and support whatever interests them in the best way you can, then they will bloom."
Be honest and open to discussion
Be honest. Don’t scold your child for asking the “wrong” questions. Answer questions truthfully, and make it simple, keeping in mind your child’s age. Be honest if you don’t know the answer to a question.
Make it all about love
Same sex couples appear different from the expected “normal”. But ultimately it’s all about love. Sexuality is complicated, love isn’t. And it might be easier to explain that love does not just have to be between a man and a woman, it could be between two men or even two women, just like it exists between mummy and daddy.
Normalising our differences will help our children get comfortable with their own sexual identity. If we make a big fuss and treat the topic as taboo, kids might grow up thinking that being “different” is something to be ashamed of.
Practice respect and kindness for all
The most important lesson we can give our kids is to teach them how to respect others who are different from them. To treat others like how you would like to be treated. As simple as that.
Yes, it might seem like a challenging new world out there. Challenging because it is markedly different from the times we grew up in, and so, explaining differences to kids becomes complex.
However mums and dads, remember that at the root of all relationships – whether between a man and a woman, man and man, woman and woman or parent and child – is LOVE.
This is your key to talking to your little ones about the topic of same sex relationships and variations in sexual orientation. This is your key to talking about any kind of loving relationship, in fact. And if you remember this, and weave it through your conversations with your children, we should all do just fine.
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