Awareness Week!

Call me silly…but I am very obsessed with looking at people’s ears…especially the left one. Whenever I was introduced to a guy, I would look straight at his left ear right after I took in his face.

The presence of an earing would alert me to the very likely possibility that this guy could be gay (and I don’t mean he is happy; got that?)


This week is the “Gay Awareness Week” at the uni.

Hahah. Quit rubbing your eyes in disbelief; you read it right the first time. I put the words in red and I bold them real nice…so stop doubting your visual senses. They are working just fine, trust me.

Sometimes, I find myself thinking about how vastly different would my whole worldview be if I study in Malaysia instead of in OZ.  In Australia, they look out for everybody’s rights, at least in principles and theory, if not in the actual practicality of it. So, I am exposed to many different cultures and different outlook in life and I thank God that so far, not once have I ever been tempted to deviate from the true way of life.

Our uni have Cultural Week where all the International STudents from various countries could promote their food and traditional dances and so on. We also have Christian Awareness Week and we used to have Islamic Awareness Week (when Brother Danu was still around and me and my batch were in 1st and 2nd year of med school and therefore relatively less busy than now) and we also have Queer Awareness Week.

I could not recall Judaism Awareness Week (oh yeah, there was a period of time I was obsessed with looking at people’s noses, too) but I think that is mainly because Judaism is a religion specific to the Jewish race. They don’t tend to promote their religion and they don’t welcome converts with all that much earnest enthusiasm, anyway. 

During those days when I was still at the uni and was involved in UNIS (now I am mainly in John Hunter Hospital every day; and some nights too, ugh!), organizing the Islamic awareness week was one of the best experience a Muslim student could ever have when she/he studies in overseas. Setting up booth, handing out pamphlets and brochures, promoting lectures and talks,  booking lecture theaters, and organize the lunch barbecue…it was great fun.

It gave me lots of experience promoting my religion to curious questioners who visit our booth. I learned many English Islamic vocabs. I mean, my command in English is very, very basic….I read a lot of novels and that’s why I don’t have any problems writing ENglish essays back in my school days, and I watch a lot of movies and that took care of my conversational English skills. And if you want me to explain medical stuff in ENglish….that is relatively easy peasy! But try translating words like ‘akidah’ into ENglish at the spur of the moment…or ‘Syariah’, or ‘Fikah’ and whatnots. Maybe, if you ponder real long and hard, you could come up with just the right ENglish words for them…but it was a struggle while you actually have to explain at that very minute to an Australian who knew NOTHING (zip, zero, nada, zilch) about Islam and at the same time try to sound as convincing as possible. (How convincing can you be if all the words that you use in constructing a simple sentence are alternated with many ermms and err and ehem ehem…so pathetic!) 

By the way, akidah is ‘creed’ in English. Syariah is ‘Islamic Law’ and Fikah is ‘Islamic Jurisprudence’ (what’s the difference between the two of them also need to be explained), Jihad is ‘to strive/to struggle in the cause of Allah’. Mahzab is ‘sect’. I found that all out at last. Hahahha. I mean those are all really simple words but if you don’t think of them beforehand, it would be hard for you to come up with them at the spur of the moment, especially when the question asked is the provocative one and you are in a panic.

Such a shame that now we don’t have Islamic Awareness Week anymore…because now our batch is already in 4th year and we are very busy. And the 5th year seniors have to go outside Newcastle for their respective rural placements. The Saudi brothers are not that keen…the Saudi sisters are quite passive, in my opinion, but that’s just their culture.


I had been to all those activities. I had been to Christian Awareness Week when I was in first year of Med School with a couple of my friends and I remember feeling so damn awkward being the only Muslim in that large lecture theater. I was even given a Bible and I still have one in my room. Imagine if I did that in Malaysia…a lot of people would think I am showing a ‘dangerous’ interest into becoming a Christian, LOL.

And in Malaysia universities, there would never be any Gay movements rights or advocation going around the campus and I will never be exposed to their point of views. Don’t get me wrong; I wish Malaysia would never have enough queers and gays to be able to set up a booth in any remote backstreet, let alone at a campus. However, I do believe that we should learn about them so that we know what we are up against. What are their arguments? What are they up to? How can we counter their so-called scientific medical facts about the ‘natural-ness’ of being gay?

As a medical student, we do have an ‘influential’ status, a convincing voice, when it comes to medical facts! So use your God-given status to learn and do what’s right.


I’ll be keeping a close observation of the Queer Awareness Week and will be reporting my findings in the next post, insya Allah. I will share with you my own ‘pertembungan’ with the Queer culture as well. Don’t be surprised…my first encounter with the Queer culture started in Malaysia, not here in Aussie.

I end my post with a word of caution:


(I need not say anything about ALL-BOYS school; To do that would only be redundant)

15 thoughts on “Awareness Week!

  1. afizaazmee

    Don’t mean to offend. Just put that down to my less than impressive vocabulory skills. English is after all, my second langugae.

    Let’s see…maybe I can replace that with…couldn’t think of anything right now.

    I have gay friends. I do. But I can not say something is right when I think it’s wrong…I wouldn’t do that to an enemy, let alone a friend.

    But that doesn’t mean we are at war with each other or anything like that. I can honestly say that I have never in my entire life treat any queer people with disrespect.

    I have never yelled at them or even glance at them in a holier-than-thou manner. Not the way I have been yelled at and thrown things at as I was walking down the street in Australia, just because I happen to want to cover my head with my hijab.

    So, I know all about the frustration of being the minority and always being looked at suspiciously. In that, we have something in common.

    I have many Christian friends…but I would never wish for them to say that my religion is right, if that doesn’t come from their heart. Even if they think that my religion is bad and I am not doing the right thing by practicing it, that has never prevented me from being friends with them.

    Right is right. Wrong is wrong. And people define it base one their own opinions depending on their own culture.

    But people are still friends, despite of all that.

    So don’t be offended. Maybe you can read my next post about the Queer Awareness Week that is going on at my Uni..and I will tell you what I think about being gay and why I believe it’s wrong. You don’t have to believe me…but I invite you to share your opinion, regardless.


  2. bluerthanyou

    hmmm – ok. it’s just that when you say “up against” it sounds as if being queer is something you wish to eradicate. and if it is, then how is it possible for you to have gay friends? i agree we share something in being a minority – except that muslims are not minorities everywhere, like queer people are. yet, i have seen anti-muslim stuff in the west and i do understand what you mean. i wasn’t actually offended, i am old enough to have been treated like rubbish because of my sexuality in a wide variety of ways and although it’s not something you ever get used to, you do get better at dealing with it. you know? your post just made me very sad, that’s all.

    when you do your next post about being gay being wrong, perhaps you could also add in whether you see it as a choice, or gentic, or whatever – i’d be interested to hear.

    and i hope the australians are treating you with respect and tolerance 🙂


  3. bluerthanyou

    PS “I could not recall Judaism Awareness Week (oh yeah, there was a period of time I was obsessed with looking at people’s noses, too)” could also be interpreted as anti-semitic. Is it?


    1. afizaazmee

      I find that a lot of people are very sensitive about ‘anti-semetism’.

      But if you wikepediad ‘semetic’…it’s actually referring to a language or a race largely belong to middle eastern origin. An insult to an Arab Muslim can also be labeled as anti-semetic.

      How about if I describe a Chinese guy as having a pair of slant eyes….does that mean I am anti-Chinese? Or does that mean I am trying my best to describe someone I have met who is of Chinese origin.

      I do admit, however, that there’s a lot of over-generalization about how a typical Jew looks like. I have met a lot of them, and until now, their noses all look different to me, lol. I could never tell whether or not they are jews simply by looking at their noses, unless if they are wearing a distinctive piece of clothing (eg the yarmulke).

      In my post, if you read carefully and in the way that it was intended to be, I was making fun of myself, my childish silliness of looking at someone’s noses to categorize Jewish-ness. I do that a lot..make fun of my idiosyncracies.

      The truth is; a lot of Jews have very attractive appearance regardless of how their nose look like.


  4. bluerthanyou

    ah good – i was hoping it wasn’t anti-semitism 🙂 i am a south african and with my country’s history of apartheid, perhaps i am oversensitive about racial insults.

    you seem like a decent person, i am relieved. i couldn’t quite match the things you were saying in your original post, with the way you were saying them. of course, i don’t know you or your sense of humour and all i know so far is what i’ve speed-read on this blog and your old friendster one.

    i am sure you get as tired of people making generalisations about muslims as i do of the ones about queers 🙂


  5. bluerthanyou

    oh AND 🙂 the earring in the left ear isn’t as sure a sign as it used to be. neither are the pinkie or thumb rings. some handkerchief rules still apply, but you probably won’t trip over those ones. if you do – run 😉


  6. I’m sorry sweets, but this just doesn’t wash. You sound like a nice person, but the opinions you are expressing here are anti-semitic and homophobic.

    The idea that you, as a medical student, could disagree that homosexuality is natural, frightens me. There are no respected psychological bodies that agree with you. Science and medicine disagree with you. I think you should look up a few papers during your study time.

    You will find that the majority of nasty statistics (increased suicide rates, more depression etc etc) can be directly linked to homophobia and a sense of rejection by the wider society. By holding views like this, and by publishing them, you are helping to create a society that kills gay people.

    This does not sound like the actions of a “friend”. I think you need to clue up before you write more about this, and I also think you need to be careful. A medical student writing this in my country could very easily find themselves thrown off of their course. But that’s the U.K.


    1. afizaazmee

      Hi Ben,

      Then I am lucky that I’m not in UK.

      What do you mean a medical student writing about this can easily find themselves thrown off of their course? *gasp*
      You mean there’s no freedom of speech in UK, the greatest ally of the perpetrator of the free world, the US?
      You will be very surprised at the number of UK consultants being racist and judgmental behind their patient’s back over very simple and minor things. And FYI, there are many, many medical students who don’t think that being gay is natural. Does that mean all of them go about wanting to kill gays and hoping that gays will kill themselves?
      Do you truly think you are throwing a JUST view by implying THAT about us?
      When the Western people look at me with sympathy and say that they want me to take off my hijab and free myself from the oppression of my religion, I took that as a word of concern and kindness, misguided though that it is.

      Couldn’t you give me the same benefit of the doubt that I did with the others who have treated me just as discriminatingly as you think gay people are treated?

      If you feel better twisting my words around and making me out as the evil person that you think I am, then I have nothing else to say.

      Let me share with you a saying that someone has said to me years ago:
      “If my words can be interepreted in two ways, and one of them upsets you, then I mean the other way.”

      In my case…if my words can be interepreted in various different ways… Please for your own peace of mind, and out of the kindness and generosity of your heart, please choose to interpret them in the best way possible.

      Many thanks.


  7. afizaazmee

    You don’t need to worry about racism with me. In my religion…it’s a sin!

    Regardless of how racist a Muslim is, know that when the Muslim is racist, then he/she is not following the right teaching of Islam.

    Like I said, there’s only what is right and what is wrong and the colour of our skin has absolutely NOTHING to do with righteous behaviour.

    Reading my old friendster blog? I write in Malay a lot….I don’t write in full English, most of the time. But I will try to write in full English for the next few posts on Queer Awareness Week for your benefit, insya Allah.

    (insya Allah means ‘God Willing’, in case you are wondering.)


  8. bluerthanyou

    mmm that’s what i thought – a good muslim is not a racist etc. thanks for writing in english, it’s appreciated. take care, see you at your next blog post 🙂


  9. Benjamin

    Thanks for your reply.

    We do have freedom of speech. But also we have responsibility. If someone has a position of authority, they have a duty not to carelessly abuse that power. Telling gay people, who cannot change their orientation, that they are unnatural is an abuse of that power.

    Medical proffessionals should be fired if they give dangerous advice to their patients. If a doctor tells a patient that the “viral theory” of HIV is a myth, then that doctor has recklessly endangered a life through misinformation. I would have that doctor struck off.

    Telling LGBT people that there natural orientation is a moral failing is in the same class of offence. The statistics for “gay cures” tend to emphasize that they don’t work and that they severely damage the patient.

    (Similarly, members of the racist BNP party in the UK are not allowed to be police officers. British law allows them to speak and receive votes in elections, but also understands that a person who holds racist views cannot truly serve the community fairly. I would say the same is true of homophobic views).

    I’m not surprised that professionals are unkind behind patients backs. And that’s really something between them, their God and their conscience. But as soon as they take it into the public arena, and they start representing their hospital and “medical opinion” then they take on extra responsibility.

    I don’t believe people who say homophobic things want, on the whole, to do damage to gay people. I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear. I was not at all accusing you of wanting to hurt gay people. What I’m saying is that saying things like this *does* hurt gay people, regardless of what the person speaking intends. We have a culture which makes gay people more likely to die young. Saying things like this helps keep that sort of society working.

    I’m really sorry about the Western people doing the sympathy thing about your Hijab. That’s a crappy thing of them to do. And I am giving you the benefit of the doubt. If it looked like I was accusing you of cruel intentions then that was not my intent.

    You seem like a nice lady. I mean that genuinely. But I’ve seen what misinformed medical processionals can do. I’ve met people sent to “gay cure” camps in the states. I’ve known people tortured through electric shock therapy because they where “sick”. I’ve known people denied access to their loved ones because a nurse thought that it wasn’t the right kind of love.

    All I’m asking is that you read the many psychological, scientific and medical papers about homosexuality before you wade into practice. Your opinion’s here are not based on science, or medical knowledge. They are being informed by prejudice. And you, as someone with power over the vulnerable and sick, have a duty to be informed.


  10. afizaazmee

    We come from two different worlds, Ben. Where you come from, the system is secular…in which religion and other aspects of life is separated. Therefore, you think what’s going on behind the patient’s back is the doctor’s business with GOD and in public the medical professional should PRETEND and ACT diferently.

    To tell you the truth…it ‘does’ hurt me too when my teacher gives a lecture saying “The Muslims women are more likely to get osteoporosis because they cover themselves all over.”

    It was just at the tip of my tongue to tell the whole lecture theater that, “Oh, at least we don’t die of melanoma from baking ourselves under the sun at the beach.”

    The fact is….you can look at many scientifics facts to support two opposite views!!! You will be surprised that ‘medical facts’ or ‘scientific facts’ can be contrived in such a way that they can represent two different opinions.

    There are two opposite views on circumcision in the medical world. ANd scientifiic facts can be found to support BOTH creation and darwinism.

    What people usually do is….they already have their own opinion about something…and after already forming an opinion, ONLY THEN did they go finding the ‘FACTS’ to support their views.

    The HONEST thing to do is, gather all so-called scientific facts first, AND THEN decide on an opinion.

    I will talk about that further in my next post, so keep on reading. I will talk about scientific facts too, insya Allah.

    I’ll be practicing in a Muslim country. In my country, we are not secular and there’s no expectation for me to HIDE what I feel is in the best of my patient’s medical interest.

    I am not uninformed. When I was in third year, we had to attend a course on sexual counselling. We talk about homosexuality quite openly in tutorial…we already examine all the facts. We have a homosexual person giving us a lecture on homosexuality.

    I leave you with these words:
    What matters is not facts; but how you interpret them and twist them around to suit your own stand. (ask the lawyers, they’d know what I mean).


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