Thank you all endlessly for your support on Queering Poetics: The Impact of Poetry on LGBT+ Identity in Singaporean Adolescents this week. It’s such a tender & humbling thing to know how excited readers are for this research that means so much to me! Due to popular demand, I’m thrilled to say that the full paper (without the paywall instituted by the Journal of Homosexuality) is now available to read; here’s where you can access it.
I wanted to speak a little more—in plain text, minus the scholarly jargon—about what this paper precisely is & why it holds so much relevance to our current political climate.
Queering Poetics investigates the question: in a society like Singapore, one of the only first-world countries left today where homophobia is openly encouraged by the government & the majority of residents, how are LGBT+ youth’s queer identities (not in a psychophysical sense, but in a sociocultural one) constructed?
As a young queer person growing up in Singapore myself, it struck me as incredibly fascinating that, despite the fact that global political & sociocultural norms are overwhelmingly evolving to be more accepting of LGBT+ people, Singapore remains an environment where youth are given little to no education surrounding LGBT+ history & culture, or other important theories of LGBT+ identity. & so came my hypothesis: that, like me, many queer Singaporean adolescents turn to the act of reading, writing, & listening to poetry to form an understanding of their identities.
If that link sounds a bit tenuous to you, I completely understand—even to me it seemed a bit far off the mark (perhaps projecting my own experiences onto others who have absolutely nothing to do with me) when I first began this project! But as I did further research, I learned the strong historical context behind this idea: many oppressed peoples, from African-American slaves to disabled people to the colonised Irish, have turned to the arts to understand concepts of their sociocultural identities. As I learned throughout the course of this research, the same holds true for queer Singaporean adolescents.
& so, after collecting all of the data from the people who were generous enough to donate their time to participating in the study, I came up with the following four themes to describe how poetry impacts & shapes the LGBT+ identities of queer Singaporean youth:
LGBT+ Singaporean adolescents interested in poetry believe that reading, writing, and/or listening to poetry has been an integral part of constructing their queer identities.
The poems that have impacted LGBT+ Singaporean adolescents’ identities as queer people the most have been informed by queer sociocultural values, though not necessarily overtly queer.
Poetry provides validation to LGBT+ Singaporean adolescents that their identities are real and that others before them have experienced the same challenges they are going through.
Poetry serves as a third space for LGBT+ Singaporean adolescents to safely explore, construct, and understand their growing queer identities.
Each of these themes is unpacked in far more detail in the full paper, including quotes from the study’s participants & links to historical & current situations, contexts, & theories that parallel some of the concepts that arise.
I conducted this research to bring to light some of the aspects of queer Singaporean identity that I’ve found so little explored in our current scholarly discourse—things that many young LGBT+ poets & poetry lovers are fully aware of on an anecdotal level, but have rarely been actually documented in a way that brings these elements into the broader conversation, away from the smaller poetic subculture, about queerness, literature, & Singapore as both a haven & a deeply oppressive society. I so hope that, if you are a young queer Singaporean person, you find something validating of yourself & your identity inside of it—& that, if this is the first time you’re hearing of this connection, you learn something new to add to your dialogue about oppression & the arts.
Once more, you can access the full version of Queering Poetics: The Impact of Poetry on LGBT+ Identity in Singaporean Adolescents, published in the Journal of Homosexuality, right here. I’m of course open to addressing any questions, concerns, or clarifications you might have about the paper & the conclusions reached within it! &, a quick note: if you do end up citing it in your own research (thank you!), you can find the exact text to add to your list of sources on the first page of the paper.
Enjoy, friends. Thank you, once more, for listening. xoxo