How were homosexuality, homophobia and AIDS represented in Singapore Queer Chinese theatre during the 1990s? This talk revisits an exciting era of paradoxes, situating it in the wider context of global queer culture when the local was shaped by pivotal sociocultural changes pushing and pulling in different directions. By examining the plays “Another Tribe” (1992) “The Next Generation” (1992) and “Borrowed Time” (1999), their cultural significance is analysed in relation to the public health anxieties arising from the aftermath of the global AIDS crisis, a nascent global LGBT rights movement, the revival of local civil society, local engagement with Sinophone and Western queer culture and not least, local liberalisation of the arts. These plays are historically and culturally important in that they portray AIDS victims sympathetically and challenge gay stereotypes and homophobia extant in popular culture and state-sponsored cultural conservatism, which were then and still remain prevalent in many societies around the world. Emerging in this period was the emphasis of the body as a site of artistic protest on the Singapore state’s neo-Confucianist discourse and patriarchal family planning. Singapore Queer Chinese theatre in Singapore is a crucial part of this cultural resistance. Positioned at the intersections of queer studies, cultural studies, theatre studies and medical humanities, this talk also enables an appreciation of the close links between local queer cultural production and transnational flows of global queer culture.
Dr How Wee Ng (he/him) is Lecturer in Chinese Studies at the University of Westminster. Research interests include censorship in Sinophone cinema and television, and the exclusionary politics of representation in relation to gender, sexuality, ethnicity and class in theatre and media. Selected publications are “Working-class Masculinities in Postsocialist Chinese Television: Mediating (Im)potency and Reproducing Transnational and Localised Inequalities” (forthcoming), “Articulating Silences around Death in Both Sides, Now: Medical Professionals Grappling with Grief”, and “Taipei Golden Horse Film Awards and Singapore Cinema: Prestige, Privilege and Disarticulation”.