LGBTQ Asian tv viewers are taking a Singaporean tv channel to task after it presented a toxic depiction of gay men.
When Singapore’s national broadcaster Mediacorp featured a gay basketball coach on the show My Guardian Angels, LGBTQ viewers were both excited and cautious. Unfortunately, Mediacorp then disappointed LGBTQ viewers by perpetuating negative stereotypes about gay men. Namely, they had that coach not only molest a teenage boy but then implied that another boy was sexually assaulted off-camera. Even worse, the coach then spread a sexually transmitted disease to the boy.
According to Yahoo News, this storyline has resulted in heavy criticism from Singapore’s LGBTQ community. Artist Teo Yu Sheng has been especially vocal against the tv show and tv station. In an Instagram post published on Monday, July 13, Teo Yu Sheng criticized Mediacorp’s depiction as extremely harmful to the LGBT+ community” and said it “perpetuates the stereotype that gay men are predatory pedophiles with STDs.”
View this post on Instagram
[Note: Feel free to repost this comic, but remember to tag @mediacorp and @ch8sg in the photo] . In April 2020, @mediacorp @ch8sg released a prime-time TV show “My Guardian Angels / 单翼天使”. For some bizarre reason, Mediacorp decided to include a gay character in the show, and portrayed him as a predatory paedophile who also has STD. This paedophilic subplot wasn’t just a small scene: Mediacorp spent 7 episodes fleshing out its story arc. This portrayal of a gay character is extremely harmful to the LGBTQ+ community, because it perpetuates the stereotype that gay men are predatory paedophiles with STD. Since positive portrayals of LGBTQ+ characters appear to be prohibited, Mediacorp’s negative stereotypes of the LGBTQ+ community will likely never be compensated with positive portrayals. When Mediacorp became aware of their mistake, they offered no apology. In their official response, Mediacorp claimed that they had no intention to discriminate any community, and went on to provide excuses for their negative stereotypes. To be clear, no apology was given. We call on @mediacorp and @ch8sg to do the following: 1. Make a proper apology to the LGBTQ+ community in Singapore. . 2. Pledge to stop creating negative portrayals of the LGBTQ+ community. . Chase Tan (who is not managed under Mediacorp), the actor who played the role of the paedophile, has officially apologised for his involvement in this discriminatory portrayal. Yet Mediacorp and Channel 8 have remained silent, as do the actors under their management @kym_ng and @brandon_wong_jy. This speaks volumes about the kind of values they appear to hold as a company, and the kind they may impose onto the actors under their charge. Their attitude towards discrimination and mistakes is deeply disappointing. The talents, crew, and audience members in Singapore deserve better. . . . #heckinunicorn #mediacorp #channel8 #mediacorpch8 #singapore #singapore🇸🇬 #representationmatters #discrimination #stopdiscrimination #mediarepresentation #censorship #censorshipisreal #kymng #brandonwong #imda #saysorry #apologise #apologisenow #mediacorpsg #chasetan
Singaporean organization Action for AIDS also released a statement condemning the storyline. The organization demanded that Mediacorp end “homophobic portrayals in its productions.”
“Throughout history, minority groups have often been stereotyped as representing a danger to others in society, this includes the portrayal of homosexual men as pedophiles,” Action for AIDS said. “Scientific evidence does not support this.”
In response to this pushback, Mediacorp issued a public apology and said it was “sorry to have caused offence and distress” and that any harm was not intentional.
“The intention and overall message of this sub-plot is to encourage young people to be aware of potential dangers, and not be afraid to speak up and protect themselves,” the broadcaster stated in its defense.
“Mediacorp has hitherto depicted pedophiles preying on young girls in other dramas. In both scenarios, there was no intention to depict the LGBT+ community in a negative light.”
“We are sorry to have caused offence and stress. We have heard your feedback and will continue to exercise vigilance and be mindful of our portrayal of characters.”
View this post on Instagram
Hi everyone, I’m sorry for taking some time to respond to your feedback regarding a role I played in the recent Channel 8 drama series, My Guardian Angels. I’ve been using the time to reflect and gather my thoughts as I understand that I need to address this. I’m deeply saddened that the role I played has caused distress in the community and I’d like to emphasise that it was never my intention. I'm an aspiring actor and every opportunity given to me is precious. I do not mean to disrespect anyone in the process. Over the years, I have had the pleasure of working alongside very talented and professional LGBTQ individuals. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feedback. I sincerely apologise and I will continuously strive to do better. I'm sorry.
In addition, Chase Tan, the actor who portrayed the coach, apologized in an Instagram post for causing distress to the LGBTQ community.
“I’m deeply saddened that the role I played has caused distress in the community and I’d like to emphasize that it was never my intention. I’m an aspiring actor and every opportunity given to me is precious. I do not mean to disrespect anyone in the process.”
He added, “Over the years, I have had the pleasure of working alongside very talented and professional LGBTQ individuals. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feedback. I sincerely apologize and I will continuously strive to do better.”
But LGTBQ viewers are not letting the situation go with simple apologies. Artist Teo Yu Sheng later asked Mediacorp to pledge that it will stop creating negative portrayals of the LGBTQ community. But in a country where most movies that depict queer character or romance earn an M18 or R21 rating, there’s a long journey ahead for LGBTQ viewers looking for proper representation.