Asia Singapore Gurmit Singh's daughter is 'an ícon in Singapore's queer community'

Gurmit Singh’s daughter is ‘an ícon in Singapore’s queer community’

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Gurmit Singh’s household is a Christian one and is also very conservative and this, says his daughter, made it more difficult for them to come out that they are queer.

Gurmit Singh’s daughter Gabrielle first made news in 2014 after her open letter to Forever 21 went viral. In the letter, they called out the misogynistic rap song being played in the clothing store targeted at women.

Gabrielle came out in 2018, during the pride month, with a video. In the video they talked about her struggles with her sexuality and how they eventually came out to her parents. They identified themselves as queer in the video, and said that they first came out to her parents in 2016.

They said in the video:

Personally, I’m not a big fan of labels. At some point, I said I was bisexual. Then I was like no, I’m pansexual.
And now I kind of just go by queer because I’m attracted to people. I don’t really care about people’s gender when I’m attracted to them.
So yes, I’m queer and it has taken me quite a while to get comfortable saying that I’m queer because I live in Singapore which is very conservative and then I grew up in a Christian household which is also very conservative.

Whenever homosexuality was talked about in her circle, it was “always in a bad light like we were sinners”.

In my mid-teens, like 15, I went through a phase where I was super super religious. I was cell reading. I was going to church. I was volunteering. I was reading the Bible every day… That was me trying to pray the gay away.
So I just laid low and pretended to be straight for a couple of years.

When they were 18 they came out to her mother but they admit that things weren’t easy.

When I was 18, that was when I came out to my mum. I drunk-called my mother… she’s so lovely. She came and picked me up. In the car, I held it together.
And then we got home and I just started crying. ‘Oh my god, I’m a lesbian! I like girls! And I don’t know what to do and it’s so difficult.’
She kind of just sat by me and nodded and like patted my shoulder.
And the next morning, she didn’t say anything about it.
I never dreamed that my parents would be okay with my sexuality because they’re Christian and because the Christianity that I grew up with was not supportive of my sexuality at all.

But they still struggled.

A few months down the road, I wrote an article about homosexuality. My parents read it and they were not very okay with it. But they were more not okay with the fact that I hadn’t told them. That I put it online before telling them.
I felt really bad about my sexuality. So in order to work things out, I would start dating boys… Maybe I’m gay because I haven’t found the right straight cis man to warm my heart!
I just went out with a string of “normal” boys who turned out to be really predatory.

They continued dating boys when they went to university in UK. They described her dates with boys as “horrible” and said they preferred dating girls. They finally came out to both her parents by sending them a video.

I knew things were still weird with my parents. I really love my family. So it really bothers me when things are off with us. And I knew things were off because of me.
So I made them a really long really dramatic video, like I cried a lot and my make-up got messed up. I made them a really long coming-out video where I said I needed to tell them things and address the elephant in the room.
I sent it to them and I basically just lie in my bed terrified that they might disown me.
They both texted me. They were really sweet. They were like “Thank you for telling us and feeling safe enough to tell us and we can tell that it’s something that’s very important to you and we’re glad that you opened up.”
So I came home for Christmas break. During that break, both my parents took me out individually. My dad was really sweet… He was like “I can’t control who you choose to love and I’m just going to support you.” And I was like yay!
I know I’m really lucky because I know a lot of friends who can’t come out to their parents because their parents would not be this nice to them. So I am very very grateful.

In 2020, a Vice article described Gabriel as “an icon in Singapore’s queer community”.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Gabbi is a lot of things. Primarily, they’re a thing maker, body-shaker, and a rule-breaker; or at least that’s what it says on their website.
Gabbi Wenyi Ayane Virk, 22, is an icon in Singapore’s queer community. The person behind the extremely popular Queer ZineFest, they’re also the organiser of QUEERTHEYEAR! Cabaret, a night of unabashed self expression for queer artists.

Gurmit Singh, age 57 years old, is a man popularly known for his comedic role, “Phua Chu Kang” (a Chinese Ah Beng), who acted in a sitcom many Singaporeans and Malaysians grew up watching. His humorous role made him a lovable and memorable television character that many are able to relate to till this very day. Born to a Punjabi father and a mixed Chinese-Japanese mother, Gurmit was born as a Sikh, but converted to a born-again-Christian in 1985.

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