Malaysia’s first and only openly gay pastor will be going back to his Muslim-majority homeland to hold a traditional wedding.
Reverend Boon Lin Ngeo sent out e-invitations to friends over the weekend for the Chinese wedding banquet slated for 4 Aug. The 41-year-old commonly known as O. Young Wen Feng among the Malaysian-Chinese community currently lives with his African-American husband Phineas Newborn III in New York.
The couple say they are expecting to share their joy with the invited guests.
They had already held a public wedding last year in the US, but vowed to do it again in Malaysia, where homosexuality is punishable by up to 20 years of jail.
The reporter-turned-pastor wedded his music producer partner on the Malaysian national day on 31 August, after the latter proposed in public at the end of a song that he wrote for Ngeo on 26 June, two days after New York City legalized same-sex marriages.
When news of the US wedding broke, Christian groups, politicians and non-government organizations alike rushed to slash Ngeo.
Some NGOs asked the government to ban their Malaysian wedding in advance, but Ngeo was adamant about proceeding with it.
Ngeo has always been a controversial figure in Malaysia, where he opened the first gay-friendly church in the country in 2007.
Fashionable and tattooed, Ngeo looks atypical for a pastor. The vocal LGBT rights activist also writes regularly about homosexuality for the Malaysian press and is the author of about a dozen books on the topic.
Ngeo was once in nine-year marriage with a woman, who encouraged him to come out. He now calls his ex-wife ‘an angel’ that has set him free and urges gays in Malaysia to ‘keep coming out’ to help battle homophobia.
‘When society discriminates against gay people, you only push gay people into the closet,’ said Ngeo.
He stresses gays should not just blame straights for not understanding them: ‘Gay people should keep coming out and straight people who are okay with homosexuals should also come out to say publicly that being gay is okay — "I’m okay with my gay friends."’