Reflections III: "I Am" by Leona Lo

Leona Lo from –
by Julianne Seah

I met Leona Lo yesterday at this completely new lesbian and gay bar/cafe DYKM (Does Your Mama Know). It is also occupied by the Pelangi Pride Library where it moved since The Mox Cafe at Tanjong Pagar. I jumped immediately at the chance of RedQuEEn!’s email to meet Leona Lo as she would be giving a motivational talk and RSVP-ed our names (Spearmints and I) to Eileena Lee who is the founder of RedQuEEn! I was and still am exciting having to meet Leona and met her.

Leona wrote an inspirational book on her journey to womanhood – From Leonard to Leona. If you still do not have any idea, she is the first transgendered woman to come out aggressively to the public voicing her anger and bitterness since the Pump Room incident where she was singled out and denied entry to the Pump Room as reason given: “We don’t welcome Ladyboys.”

From Leonard to Leona – I must have read about 10 times all over and raved a million. Every single read, I discovered new feelings and new perspectives that I have missed out from the last read. It never failed to capture my attention time and time again because all of her words felt so real and there was pain in this book. I think she deserved all of the fairness and the good because she took a leap of faith to write this journey recollecting agonizing memories and for all I know, this might not be all.

At this point of time, you will think probably I have thoughts of changing my gender since I am so into stuffs like this. Shame on you shallow pigs. Yes I would love to have a sex change to a woman. I need to like do something about my very manly features. Get it? Ok never mind. But whoever said that you have to be one of them to understand what they feel and desire?

So I met Leona Lo. Lo and Behold (No pun intended), wah she is beautiful and she is really captivating. Honestly, she is attractive and wow charismatic and she looks SO much better in person than her pictures which made her look trannish (no offence!) Her skin is flawless, her body is tone, her legs are long – damn it all in all, all biological women should be ashamed! SHAME ON US!

There are quite a number of participants from all walks of life, from all orientations – straights, gays, lesbians and transgenders. One of them captured my attention – Fanny whom appeared in the Straits’ Time with a whole section dedicated to transgenders. Fanny is the main character of the section “When Papa become Mama” – even my father is reading it. Fanny, an divorcee, brought her daughter along whom told her then-father that it will be okay to be mother because she gets to enjoy both papa and mama’s love. I was like wow…

Another interesting participant would be this single mother whom came because of her son who wishes to go through the transition and she was here to find out more. I was in awe. Mother fucking hell! She is really cool and understanding towards her 19 year old NS-exempted boy’s desire to transit into a woman. I honestly thought she is the best mom in the world to be able to accept this wholesome deal.

Leona began talking and she is really witty. Talking about life before transition, her anger/bitterness, her career and etc. I was really into her. I mean her words, she is well-articulated, intelligent and she really packs a punch. She is the kind of model that young transgenders should look up to and never to end up being streetwalkers. Maybe I don’t exactly have the right to say that because all are circumstantial and maybe Leona is lucky and she is blessed with brains and opportunities but of course, all these came with a price that she have fully paid since young.

The talk lasted for slightly above 2 hours with all sorts of questions being thrown onto the floor. We were in close proximity with her. I was in close proximity, like 1 step in front, and I was totally mesmerized. I wanted to ask if lesbians hit on her.

She shared one story which she read in literature (She was invited to University of York to read English Literature on scholarship). Back in US, where African American Civil Rights war was going on, the blacks were ostracized and all those things about slavery and zero equal rights. They even had rules on the bus, where it is divided into two sections.

The first four rows of bus seats were reserved for white people. Buses had “colored” sections for black people—who made up more than 75% of the bus system’s riders—generally in the rear of the bus. These sections were not fixed in size but were determined by the placement of a movable sign. Black people also could sit in the middle rows, until the white section was full. Then they had to move to seats in the rear, stand, or, if there was no room, leave the bus.

Black people were not allowed to sit across the aisle from white people. The driver also could move the “colored” section sign, or remove it altogether. If white people were already sitting in the front, black people could board to pay the fare, but then had to disembark and reenter through the rear door. There were times when the bus departed before the black customers who had paid made it to the back entrance.

So there was this lady Rosa Parks (February 4, 1913 – October 24, 2005) made history and this was the strength that gave Leona.

Rosa Parks was in the bus, which later on filled with the white people. The bus driver came around and asked those African Americans (AA) to give up their seats to the white people. There were 4 AA and 3 gave up their seats except for Rosa. The bus driver motioned her and asked her to move.

Bus Driver: Let me have these seats
She never budged.
Bus Driver: Why don’t you stand up?
Rosa Parks: I am not giving up my seat.
Bus Driver: Well, if you don’t stand up, I’m going to have to call the police and have you arrested.
Rosa Parks: You may do that.

Rosa Parks was arrested that fateful night.
Quoting Rosa Parks:

I did not want to be mistreated, I did not want to be deprived of a seat that I had paid for. It was just time… there was opportunity for me to take a stand to express the way I felt about being treated in that manner. I had not planned to get arrested. I had plenty to do without having to end up in jail. But when I had to face that decision, I didn’t hesitate to do so because I felt that we had endured that too long. The more we gave in, the more we complied with that kind of treatment, the more oppressive it became

It became apparent to Leona, that it is time to take her stand in to be treated as equal as a real woman. Rosa Parks’s spirit is very much present in Leona Lo.

Today we are seeing many news with regards to the LGBT. We are finally reaching the 21st century and more milestones for LGBT. Like what Leona says, it is time.

P.s. Do not attempt Rosa Parks spirit in Singapore buses or trains. Please do give up seats for elderly, pregnant women and .. tired looking nurses..

P.p.s I managed to talk to Leona for good 15minutes. GOD AMAZING..