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In recent years, a global trend has taken hold as countries with statutes against gay sex have begun repealing their oppressive laws. As of September, the number of nations with anti-homosexuality laws dropped to 73 , after India overturned Section A, adopted from the British Penal Code years ago. As a result, many people choose to lead a closeted life inside an extremely conservative, heteronormative society. Lim followed this path, maintaining two lives, until the opportunity to speak his truth revealed itself.
In and now they know , winner of the Steidl Book Award Asia, Lim gives us a look into his private life through a series of intimate photographs and handwritten verse. Here, he shares his discovery the power that comes from publicly declaring himself to the world. One night I showed them a project featuring my partner, Alvin. My new friends were nothing but supportive and with that newfound bravery, I worked on my next project: a single staged photograph titled Till the day they know.
In Asian families, we rarely talk about our feelings, unlike our Western counterparts. I knew my family was speculating on my relationship with Alvin and with all my works dealing with homosexual themes. I always felt uncomfortable talking to him about such matters for fear of how he would see me. To some extent, my father is a representation of the conservative Asian person.
It is with him in mind that my work is quieter, softer, more subtle. Art cannot be created in isolation and perhaps the love for my father has translated to the love for the audience. To me, that question was his way of showing approval towards my project, my life, and my partner. My partner and I are working within the system to craft a life for ourselves despite the limitations. While I would consider myself quite lucky, I cannot say the same is true for many of my fellow gay men in Singapore.
We have lived in the country long enough to negotiate these uncomfortable circumstances. When I first gave my artist talk about this project, I could remember how I trembled in fear but the audience was receptive and encouraging. Talking about it made me stronger and more vocal about standing up for my rights, beliefs and values.