theonlinecitizen

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TOC Breaking News: Gay teacher deletes his “coming out” article

Posted by theonlinecitizen on September 10, 2007

Latest Update (10 Sept, 20:00 hours):

TOC understands that Otto’s case has attracted the attention of the Ministry Of Education. We expect both MOE and Raffles Institution to release a press statement on the matter very soon.

Otto Fong is a gay teacher in Raffles Institution. He recently came out publicly in his blog (see TOC sidebar), writing an open letter to the public about the trials and tribulations he felt as a gay teacher.

TOC last visited his webpage at 1400 hrs, 10th September. 40 minutes later, it was gone.

Credible sources tell us Otto was called into the General office of Raffles Institution this afternoon.

We will monitor the story for continuing developments. Below are excerpts from his original blog post.

Excerpts from Otto’s original post:

“I am Otto Fong. I have been teaching science in Raffles Institution for the last eight years.”

“When you ask me who I am, I will answer: I am a son, a brother, a long-time companion, an uncle, a teacher, a classmate, a colleague, a part of your community, a HDB dweller, a Singaporean. And I am also gay.”

“I have lived long enough to know that what I am is not a disease, an aberration or a mental illness.”

 

What one student says about Otto Fong’s “coming out” (link):

“I adorn a man with my respect when he shows me courage, and Otto Fong deserves it. I have never had the privilege of being taught by him but I know he’s a great man, and it will earn him nothing but veneration in my eyes to, so aptly put, come out of the closet.

The world would have been a more beautiful place, beseiged by less lies and less deceit. If people were more comfortable with being themselves. Proud of themselves. Less pain and less ignorance. Less hate.”

 

Who is Otto Fong?

Otto Fong is a playwright, film-maker, engineer and a Science teacher and comic artist. He first discovered his love for drawing while storyboarding for the Beijing Film Factory production of Monkey King. In 2000, he won the 1st and 3rd prize in the first nationwide comic drawing competition, Toon Craze Toon Grace held by the People’s Association.

In 2006, he published Sir Fong 2, his third solo comic publication after Buddy Buddy in 1998, and Sir Fong in 2005.

A review of Otto’s book “Sir Fong” can be found here.

Some of his cartoons can be seen here.

Choo Zheng Xi

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30 Responses to “TOC Breaking News: Gay teacher deletes his “coming out” article”

  1. […] seems that he’s been called up by the principal of the school (according to The Online Citizen’s sources), and what do you know …. the blog post has been taken down. Not sure whether […]

  2. If he is dismissed, then let it be known that RI does not have a culture of enlightened thought and tolerance.

  3. Karl said

    He isn’t dismissed, or won’t be anyway. But already the whole thing reeks of cover-ups and prevention of leaks. It’s very prejudiced and unfair because he actually is a VERY VERY good teacher.

  4. Gay genes is Pathological Science said

    *Comments disallowed by moderator for vile language and bigotry.

  5. […] one RI teacher came out and announced that he is gay on his blog. This news was reported here and here. It had caused quite a stir in the Raffles Community yesterday and today. I personally do not know […]

  6. […] theonlinecitizen: “Gay teacher deletes his ‘coming out’ article” […]

  7. James Chia said

    If he is a good teacher, what’s wrong with declaring himself as a gay if he does not perform lewd acts in front of the students? If he gets dismissed because of this, all heterosexual male teachers should be dismissed too by the same logic that they may deem to be threats to the girls in mixed or girls’ schools.

  8. jock said

    Looks like Otto is cowering back into the closet after being pressured by his school and the Ministry.

    Sigh…

  9. He’s not cowering back into the closet again. He’s made his statement and no-one’s going to forget it – in fact, it’s going to inspire a lot of other students and teachers out there. It’s a PRECEDENT.

    From what I understand of RI culture, he’s unlikely to get fired – and it’s an independent school, so they can escape from a lot of MOE pressure.

  10. Sir Fong Supporter said

    It depends if Otto Fong is an MoE teacher or an RI teacher, since MoE teachers are sometimes “loaned” to independent schools.

    Go Otto Fong! Bobby sooks!

  11. Henry Collier said

    I know that Australia is not Singapore, and that many things are VERY different. I was an ‘out’ gay male teacher in the School of Accounting and Finance at the University of Wollongong in 1991. While I am not the only out gay person on the faculty of UOW, there are still not many who are active in the pursuit of human rights and social justice. We are moving though, and the VC of the University has given his full support to the efforts of the Equal Opportunities officer and her staff in creating a non discriminatory and accepting climate at the University.

    It can be done. We can change things. Once the current generation of homophobic bigots is gone and out of power, the next generation will make the changes. From an outsider, the sooner 377 and 377a are removed from Singapore’s laws, changes will happen.

    Many have said that opposition to change comes from a small but very vocal contingent of Conservative Christians. We need to practice due diligence and counter their lies and misrepresentations at every turn.

    best regards to all of you who fight for equal rights

    Henry

  12. […] Out in SG – Otto Fong: Thank You All! – Aaron ng: A salute to Otto Fong – The Online Citizen TOC Breaking News: Gay teacher deletes his “coming out” article – The Online Citizen: TOC Exclusive: Otto Fong’s Open […]

  13. A Supporter said

    Otto,

    You are a very brave person, breaking out of the ‘cage’ that the Singapore Education System has set up. I salute you for your courage and support you all the way.

    Cheerio,
    A supporter

  14. JWNY said

    Closets are for clothes. Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.

  15. If you can’t even be comfortable with who you are, who can?

    Otto, take heart and courage.

  16. An RI Sec One from 1D said

    I just want to tell everyone that Mr Fong is a brave man and that he is a true gem amongst the teachers. Be sure that there will be a protest if he is fired.

  17. For every gay teacher fired for being gay, there’s a whole bunch of other heterosexual teachers who aren’t but are leading far more promiscuous lifestyles. Are you telling me these teachers are more exemplary? What a joke!

  18. RI student from 1B said

    I just want to let everyone know that in my first year in his class, i view him as one of the best teachers i ever know. If he is gay, he is really good at covering it, because he acts like a normal teacher. Im sure there’s a good reason to it. We will not be happy if he is fired. Let the would-be “executors” know this.

  19. RI student from 1B said

    Sir, do what you must! We will support you!

  20. RI student from 1B,

    From our understanding, he won’t be fired. We also understand that the Education Minister, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, has taken a personal interest in this case.

    We understand also that it is Tharman who stopped RI from sacking him. 🙂

  21. Yet Another One said

    I stated at another forum that I haven’t met a single student who openly expressed disgust at his sexual preference. However, after a while I realised that even the students here are divided, and while most students express their support for Mr Otto Fong, there is yet a minority who keep silent or rant on their blogs.

    Well, all I can say is that Mr Otto Fong has long been recognised as an exemplary teacher in the school, and we admire his artwork and creativity in teaching. I have read some of his comics and I must say that his sense of humour is great, and that they reveal a much more ingenious man than I had realised he was(since I have never been taught by him).

    While I don’t know about other students, all I can say is that I fully support his decision to come out into the open about his homosexuality.

  22. Exemplary NTU Teacher said

    Remember Prof. Brian Ngoh Kok Ann?
    our heterogeneous NTU teacher and what a good role model he has set for NTU students & PAP cadets? hahahahahaha…he is indeed a role model, even Transport Yeo said so in the court testimony. Also no hush hush from MOE hahahaha.

  23. Christian Taliban said

    Otto: “I have lived long enough to know that what I am is not a disease, an aberration or a mental illness.”

    CT: Determination of something as aberrant or ill isn’t predicated on one’s age, i.e. “long enough” or not. It is solely based on the yardstick used, which if it is the Bible, will yield a different verdict from Otto’s own. Also, if the Bible is indeed the Word of God, then one’s age is negligible in light of the eternal. It’s true that liars, extortioners, and fornicators will not inherit the kingdom of God, but neither will the “effeminate” or “abusers of themselves with mankind” (1 Corinthians 6:9).

  24. Sharon Wok said

    I know Otto. We were colleagues for a short while when I relief-taught at RI last year.

    Otto is about one of the most talented, humourous guys I’ve ever known, a wonderful teacher and mentor to me during my stint. He was one of the first friends I made and especially one that I was very upset to leave behind when my contract expired. As far as I know him, he is a man who is a great role model to teachers and students alike.

    Otto, if you’re reading this, I just want to say that you have my utmost respect and support. You take care and maybe I’ll drop by one of these days.

  25. sj said

    He’s not a threat to the students in any way. if he is, then maybe the lady teachers in the school might equally be a threat then. 😀 when will we ever accept that being gay is as natural as being a heterosexual? in terms of love, why must we love with regards to gender as a limit? maybe it’s just that simple. loving another person for who he or she is. stop trying to label. if love is beautiful, i don’t see why there’s a different reaction to gay love and hetero love. when we try to label things, things lose their meaning, and our eyes get tinted with prejudice. we no longer see clear when we’re wearing tinted glasses with labels in our minds. clear the labels then maybe the world might be a more beautiful place for all. 🙂

  26. Waytodo said

    It seems one way to make sure that you don’t get fired is to declared that you are a gay!

  27. RI student from 1B said

    TheOnlineCitizen, i was thinking, since official webs lyk newspaper webs dont openly state who he is where he is from and etc, why do you do it? I mean, since he already removed the blogpost, evidently he doesnt want it to be published, why do you do it then?

  28. Hi RI Student From 1B,

    When Mr Fong put up his blog post, we highlighted it immediately on TOC as we felt it was something groundbreaking – that a teacher in one of our top schools would come out into the open about his sexuality.

    This was when Mr Fong’s post was still on his blog.

    It was only later that he took it down. By then, it had already become public knowledge and the public was beginning to talk about it already.

    Various questions were then raised about the whole incident – which didn’t necessarily pertained to Mr Fong alone.

    Thus, we have let the debate carry on – even now – so that perhaps we can all gain better knowledge about not only homosexuality but also the other issues which it raises.

    As far as know, Mr Fong has not objected to the blogosphere ( and not only us at TOC) discussing and debating about the issues.

    Also, many other blogs have reproduced his original blog post – not only TOC. I am sure you are not asking that all blogs should remove their posting of his original article. Or are you?

    Regards,
    Andrew Loh

  29. FzI said

    Ho ho ho. What to do, what to do?

    Persecute a competent professional for revealing his sexual preferences thus violating the public image of a Singaporean Institution?(pun intended)

    or

    Turn a blind eye and compromise the proletariat values which drive our foreign investment led economy in the name of “human rights and progress”

    Which is the greater compromise of the national identity?
    Being ‘Pink’ or being ‘Pinkertons’? (yet another lame pun)

    Lead by example RI and inspire the future leaders that will pass through your halls.

    Singapore and the World are watching (but not necessarily caring)

  30. SH said

    These days, it’s difficult to find someone like Otto – courageous, brave & willing to speak up for himself.

    I was doing a random search online when I came across this incident, & I’m deeply saddened to read that people all over Singapore are discriminating him just for being gay.

    I don’t know how, but many people have developed a stigma against gay/lesbians, when the fact is they’re not as harmful as they’re perceived to be. I’m unable to fathom why, would someone please enlighten me?

    In my humble opinion, it is not wrong to be gay, not at all! It is one’s personal choice – as long as he/she doesn’t harm anyone in the community, there’s no reason for him/her to be ostracized in such a way. Well, maybe not all of you here feel this way, but from what I’ve read online, I see people mocking him … just for being gay.

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