Qurrent Live: Faliqh and Kaal Answers How It’s Like Being Openly Gay and Malay in Singapore
Everyone’s relationship is different from the other. What makes Faliqh & Kaal’s relationship simultaneously unique and ubiquitous is the fact that they confront conventional boundaries to share their experiences as an openly Malay gay couple in Singapore.
Recently featured in the first episode of Dear Straight People’s immensely evocative documentary, Same Love, the story behind the couple continues to inspire and encourage those in similar situations to recognise that they are not alone. In this month’s Qurrent Live spotlight, they answer questions that were previously sent in by the community and share their thoughts on relationships, dating, and negotiating one’s identity between communities (e.g. being Malay and gay).
Read on to the end to find out how you can get your question answered and featured in next month’s Qurrent Live!
What do you guys fight about?
We are not perfect. Arguments do happen, but we still care about each other to talk about the issues. Some arguments could be related to house-related stuff while some arguments are related to misunderstanding. Yes, even couples who are in 7 year+ relationships can misunderstand each other. A healthy relationship will have some friction. It is how we handle it, that is most important.
How you do respond to those haters who say “it’s haram” in the Malay Muslim religion?
We are more of a realist than a spiritualist. We believe that (with our experience meeting with people, forge friendship etc.) we can’t please everybody. We just do what we can do. Live our lives as authentic and honest as we can. In life, people will hate you for your guts. You can’t get them to like or accept you. And it shouldn’t be the main reason to force you to hide or live in a closet. If our relationship has been haram (forbidden) from the start, both of us will not be here or even successful in our own career. So live your life as best as you can. Those naysayers? Don’t listen to them unless they really pay your bills.
We all do know that Kaal’s mum accepts both of your relationships, but what about Kaal’s and Faliqh relatives— especially during Hari Raya when both of you go to your relatives for house visiting — do they know and how do they react?
Both Kaal and I are adults. We have our own ways to handle our relatives if they happen to say out of line. Family gatherings can be boring at times because usually, we get the same question when either one of us is getting married (before the video). Since the video is out, we don’t think they will be that keen to ask the question. Besides Hari Raya gatherings are once in a while affair. Eat. Laugh. And be happy.
Monogamous LTR is so hard in the gay community nowadays. How you guys meet and manage to stay together as a couple for 7 years?
We had our phases during the 7-year relationship. We were monogamous before and presently we are in an open relationship. Open communication is key. Even as we are in an open relationship, we are quite content with each other company. From what we learn with meeting with other couples and listening to their life stories, they have their own style that keeps their relationship going. There is no one size fit all solution.
How do we meet people using apps today? I am sick of apps and don’t like drinking.
As much as social apps like Grindr keep us really connected, just take it at a face level that it is an app for sex and quickies. We feel that there are much better options you can do to find dating at a wholesome level. It could be a friend’s movie gathering, dinner party or even volunteering your time with non-profit organisations. Be at a place that has people that are like-minded and matches your values.
Is Faliqh’s family as accepting as Kaal’s?
It took Faliqh nearly 13 years to get his parents to accept his sexuality. It is an ongoing process for him and his family.
If I want to come out to my Malay family, what should I prepare for?
We believe that opening up comes from a place of honesty and not shame. It will be a battle of wills and emotions. We feel that being prepared emotionally and financially helps a lot in the long run. Understanding the available resources around you; support groups, friends, counsellors and having an ‘exit plan’ is better than going into the battlefield with the hope that your parents will just accept you. Both of us have our own personal reasons to open up; Faliqh did not want to be tied down to marriage while Kaal on the other hand, not to be tied down to living a lie. By staying true to our reasons, it kept our determination strong.
Based on our experience, the people around you will be affected by this sudden change. And it will not come as a surprise that people reacted differently. But do not take it to heart when harsh words are said. Guard your heart. Give them time. And be mindful of your words because you and your family are on this journey. Just as you were on a journey of your self-discovery.
What are some polite but firm ways to reject advances when in a party or group setting?
Depends on the situation. If it is a party or pub, holding onto a half-empty glass of wine or drink helps. Just use that half-empty glass as an excuse to replenish the drink to avoid the advances and move on to buy time. However, in extreme cases, if the advances were really inappropriate and lewd, you have every right to tell off the person. Don’t throw the drink at the fellow.
What stereotypes do you hate?
Kaal and I are not a conventional couple. Sometimes our demeanour gets mistaken to be the submissive or passive one.
What do you boys do for each other’s birthdays?
A day of wine, dine and pampering. Sometimes, if Faliqh is feeling adventurous, he would prepare a full-course meal. Kaal’s favourite memory of celebrating his birthday is when Faliqh forces him to carry all the wrapped gifts that have to be opened at a specific timing. One particular timing happened during the major breakdown of the MRT.
Have a question? We want to hear from you! Send in your question for our next Qurrent Live guest(s) here. More details will be released on Qurrent, our Telegram news channel.
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