Your design philosophy delves into the idea of liberation. You underwent a personal journey of liberation when you came out to your mother. Why was it important for you to do so?
It was after my fallout with my father that I saw it as an opportune time to do so. My family was at the breaking point. Call me a mama’s boy — in fact I am unabashedly one — but my mother is the most important person in my life. She should thus be the closest. But I could not be close to her if she didn’t know who I truly was. She’s the only person I cared if she accepted me or not. If she did, it didn’t matter if others did not. My mother is a very soft and nurturing person. She told me once that I should just do whatever I wanted to do, and so long as I wasn’t harming anyone, I shouldn’t worry about what others think.
How did she react?
It was a very silent acceptance. She said that she was worried for me, that my relationship with my eventual partner would not be recognised in Singapore. She also advised me not to be too public about it. She always keeps a straight face whenever I share with her updates about my partner. My parents live in a totally different world from mine. I try as much as I can to understand while not being held down by that.
You are currently in a biracial relationship with a Muslim man. What is it like?
A very close friend of mine, Luke, met him during his National Institute of Education days and thought we would make a good couple. Throughout my life, I have had very limited interactions with people from ethnic minorities. I can vaguely remember three minority students in my secondary school. There were psychological barriers that I had to get over: what if we gathered with my Chinese friends and our jokes, being lost in translation, were no longer as funny? What if we have a fight over religion? Which restaurants can we patronise?
When I meet up with his friends, they talk about social issues and policies. Every one of his friends is a local university graduate, while I couldn’t make it to one. So, it has shifted my perspective. And this has inspired me in my works on the theme of inclusion and diversity.