Alden Boon

Ceramication Founder Rayn Leow Talks the Art and Science of Pottery Making, Coming Out and Privilege



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.

'This is a shirt my good friend Stephanie gave to me. I am an atheist but I love the message behind it.'

We live in a very fractured world now, where polite discourse seems almost impossible. What would you say to others who are vehemently anti-LGBTQ+?

Back to the death of my dearest friend, Sarah. She was a good person whose life’s work involved helping children. We all have limited time on earth, and we are entitled to making the most out of that time we have. Sometimes, it means helping children, sometimes it means loving someone of the same sex. Let me have the freedom to love whomever I want. You reserve your right to your opinion, but don’t dictate what I can or cannot do. It is about mutual respect for each other.

What about parents who cannot accept their own gay children?

To parents who think, ‘How are others going to think about my gay son or daughter? What would others think of me?’, I say this: don’t take on other people’s shame. You’ve brought up a child who is good at so many things, who has many strengths and talents. Why must you fixate on just one thing — his or her or their sexual identity — and destroy a relationship?

What about young gay men who are struggling?

Find your tribe. You will be surprised by the kind of people you will find, people who are kind and smart. There are some people who break all kinds of gender norms — if you need to live your true, authentic self, then you will need to accept that you will be discriminated. Your internal peace is different from your external sensory stimuli. A lot of times, your unhappiness is born of desire: a desire to be accepted by others, to be better than others. You take whichever path that gives you more inner peace. Of course, I am not saying that discrimination is okay, but it is something that we will always need to fight against. Don’t expect to live in a perfect world.

Also, know your rights. In Singapore, the rule of law is that all persons are guaranteed physical safety. If you are being threatened, and abused, do not be afraid to seek legal help. Search online for services that can help you with substance use disorder, temporary lodging or medical treatments, if you need to. There are non-governmental organisations dedicated to these causes, such as Oogachaga, Pink Dot, Action for AIDS Singapore and The Greenhouse.

Additional reporting by Rayn Leow

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Alden Boon
Alden Boon is a Quarter-finalist in PAGE International Screenwriting Awards. When he's not busy writing, he pretends he is Gandalf.