QUEER READ THIS

hello,

got this from my favourite place to get queer news, bashback! and i would like to share this with everyone.

QUEERS READ THIS was distributed as a leaflet at the June 1990 Pride march in New York City. So it has been 20 years since it was last distributed. i am really really excited to share this with people. you may also find the printable version and version with photos and stuff at zinelibrary

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QUEERS READ THIS

A leaflet distributed at pride march in NY

Published anonymously by Queers

June, 1990

How can I tell you. How can I convince you, brother,

sister that your life is in danger: That everyday you wake

up alive, relatively happy, and a functioning human being,

you are committing a rebellious act. You as an alive and

functioning queer are a revolutionary.

There is nothing on this planet that validates, protects

or encourages your existence. It is a miracle you are

standing here reading these words. You should by all rights

be dead. Don’t be fooled, straight people own the world and

the only reason you have been spared is you’re smart, lucky

or a fighter.

Straight people have a privilege that allows them to do

whatever they please and fuck without fear. But not only do

they live a life free of fear; they flaunt their freedom in

my face. Their images are on my TV, in the magazine I

bought, in the restaurant I want to eat in, and on the

street where I live. I want there to be a moratorium on

straight marriage, on babies, on public displays of

affection among the opposite sex and media images that

promote heterosexuality. Until I can enjoy the same freedom

of movement and sexuality, as straights, their privilege

must stop and it must be given over to me and my queer

sisters and brothers. Straight people will not do this

voluntarily and so they must be forced into it. Straights

must be frightened into it. Terrorized into it. Fear is the

most powerful motivation. No one will give us what we

deserve. Rights are not given they are taken, by force if

necessary. It is easier to fight when you know who your

enemy is. Straight people are your enemy. They are your

enemy when they don’t acknowledge your invisibility and

continue to live in and contribute to a culture that kills

you. Every day one of us is taken by the enemy. Whether

it’s an AIDS death due to homophobic government inaction or

a lesbian bashing in an all-night diner (in a supposedly

lesbian neighborhood).

AN ARMY OF LOVERS CANNOT LOSE

Being queer is not about a right to privacy; it is about

the freedom to be public, to just be who we are. It means

everyday fighting oppression; homophobia, racism, misogyny,

the bigotry of religious hypocrites and our own self-hatred.

(We have been carefully taught to hate ourselves.) And now

of course it means fighting a virus as well, and all those

homo-haters who are using AIDS to wipe us off the face of

the earth. Being queer means leading a different sort of

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life. It’s not about the mainstream, profit-margins,

patriotism, patriarchy or being assimilated. It’s not about

executive directors, privilege and elitism. It’s about

being on the margins, defining ourselves; it’s about gender-

fuck and secrets, what’s beneath the belt and deep inside

the heart; it’s about the night. Being queer is “grass

roots” because we know that everyone of us, every body,

every cunt, every heart and ass and dick is a world of

pleasure waiting to be explored. Everyone of us is a world

of infinite possibility. We are an army because we have to

be. We are an army because we are so powerful. (We have so

much to fight for; we are the most precious of endangered

species.) And we are an army of lovers because it is we who

know what love is. Desire and lust, too. We invented them.

We come out of the closet, face the rejection of society,

face firing squads, just to love each other! Every time we

fuck, we win. We must fight for ourselves (no one else is

going to do it) and if in that process we bring greater

freedom to the world at large then great. (We’ve given so

much to that world: democracy, all the arts, the concepts

of love, philosophy and the soul, to name just a few gifts

from our ancient Greek Dykes, Fags.) Let’s make every space

a Lesbian and Gay space. Every street a part of our sexual

geography. A city of yearning and then total satisfaction.

A city and a country where we can be safe and free and more.

We must look at our lives and see what’s best in them, see

what is queer and what is straight and let that straight

chaff fall away! Remember there is so, so little time. And

I want to be a lover of each and every one of you. Next

year, we march naked.

ANGER

“The strong sisters told the brothers that there were two

important things to remember about the coming revolutions,

the first is that we will get our asses kicked. The second,

is that we will win.”

I’m angry. I’m angry for being condemned to death by

strangers saying, “You deserve to die” and “AIDS is the

cure.” Fury erupts when a Republican woman wearing thousands

of dollars of garments and jewelry minces by the police

lines shaking her head, chuckling and wagging her finger at

us like we are recalcitrant children making absurd demands

and throwing temper tantrum when they aren’t met. Angry

while Joseph agonizes over $8,000 a over for AZT which might

keep him alive a little longer and which makes him sicker

than the disease he is diagnosed with. Angry as I listen to

a man tell me that after changing his will five times he’s

running out of people to leave things to. All of his best

friends are dead. Angry when stand in a sea of quilt panels,

or go to a candlelight march or attend yet another memorial

service. I will not march silently with a fucking candle

and I want to take that goddamned quilt and wrap myself in

it and furiously rend it and my hair and curse every god

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religion ever created. I refuse to accept a creation that

cuts people down in the third decade of their life.

It is cruel and vile and meaningless and everything I

have in me rails against the absurdity and I raise my face

to the clouds and a ragged laugh that sounds more demonic

than joyous erupts from my throat and tears stream down my

face and if this disease doesn’t kill me, I may just die of

frustration. My feet pound the streets and Peter’s hands

are chained to a pharmaceutical company’s reception desk

while the receptionist looks on in horror and Eric’s body

lies rotting in a Brooklyn cemetery and I’ll never hear his

flute resounding off the walls of the meeting house again.

And I see the old people in Tompkins Square Park huddled in

their long wool coats in June to keep out the cold they

perceive is there and to cling to whatever little life has

left to offer them. I’m reminded of the people who strip and

stand before a mirror each night before they go to bed and

search their bodies for any mark that might not have been

there yesterday. A mark that this scourge has visited them.

And I’m angry when the newspapers call us “victims” and

sound alarms that “it” might soon spread to the “general

population.” And I want to scream “Who the fuck am I?” And I

want to scream at New York Hospital with its yellow plastic

bags marked “isolation linen”, “ropa infecciosa” and its

orderlies in latex gloves and surgical masks skirting the

bed as if its occupant will suddenly leap out and douse them

with blood and semen giving them too the plague.

And I’m angry at straight people who sit smugly wrapped

in their self-protective coat of monogamy and

heterosexuality confident that this disease has nothing to

do with them because “it” only happens to “them.” And the

teenage boys who upon spotting my Silence=Death button begin

chanting “Faggot’s gonna die” and I wonder, who taught them

this? Enveloped in fury and fear, I remain silent while my

button mocks me every step of the way. And the anger I fell

when a television program on the quilt gives profiles of the

dead and the list begins with a baby, a teenage girl who got

a blood transfusion, an elderly baptist minister and his

wife and when they finally show a gay man, he’s described as

someone who knowingly infected teenage male prostitutes with

the virus. What else can you expect from a faggot?

I’m angry.

QUEER ARTISTS

Since time began, the world has been inspired by the work

of queer artists. In exchange, there has been suffering,

there has been pain, there has been violence. Throughout

history, society has struck a bargain with its queer

citizens: they may pursue creative careers, if they do it

discreetly. Through the arts queers are productive,

lucrative, entertaining and even uplifting. These are the

clear-cut and useful by-products of what is otherwise

considered antisocial behavior. In cultured circles, queers

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may quietly coexist with an otherwise disapproving power

elite.

At the forefront of the most recent campaign to bash

queer artists is Jesse Helms, arbiter of all that is decent,

moral, christian and amerikan. For Helms, queer art is

quite simply a threat to the world. In his imaginings,

heterosexual culture is too fragile to bear up to the

admission of human or sexual diversity. Quite simply, the

structure of power in the Judeo-Christian world has made

procreation its cornerstone. Families having children

assures consumers for the nation’s products and a work force

to produce them, as well as a built-in family system to care

for its ill, reducing the expense of public healthcare

systems.

ALL NON-PROCREATIVE BEHAVIOR IS CONSIDERED A THREAT, from

homosexuality to birth control to abortion as an option. It

is not enough, according to the religious right, to

consistently advertise procreation and heterosexuality …

it is also necessary to destroy any alternatives. It is not

art Helms is after …. IT IS OUR LIVES! Art is the last

safe place for lesbians and gay men to thrive. Helms knows

this, and has developed a program to purge queers from the

one arena they have been permitted to contribute to our

shared culture.

Helms is advocating a world free from diversity or

dissent. It is easy to imagine why that might feel more

comfortable to those in charge of such a world. It is also

easy to envision an amerikan landscape flattened by such

power. Helms should just ask for what he is hinting at:

State sponsored art, art of totalitarianism, art that speaks

only in christian terms, art which supports the goals of

those in power, art that matches the sofas in the Oval

Office. Ask for what you want, Jesse, so that men and women

of conscience can mobilize against it, as we do against the

human rights violations of other countries, and fight to

free our own country’s dissidents.

IF YOU’RE QUEER,

Queers are under siege.

Queers are being attacked on all fronts and I’m afraid

it’s ok with us.

In 1969, there were 50 “Queer Bashings” in the month of

May alone. Violent attacks, 3,720 men, women and children

died of AIDS in the same month, caused by a more violent

attack — government inaction, rooted in society’s growing

homophobia. This is institutionalized violence, perhaps

more dangerous to the existence of queers because the

attackers are faceless. We allow these attacks by our own

continued lack of action against them. AIDS has affected

the straight world and now they’re blaming us for AIDS and

using it as a way to justify their violence against us.

They don’t want us anymore. They will beat us, rape us and

kill us before they will continue to live with us. What

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will it take for this not to be ok? Feel some rage. If rage

doesn’t empower you, try fear. If that doesn’t work, try

panic.

SHOUT IT!

Be proud. Do whatever you need to do to tear yourself

away from your customary state of acceptance. Be free.

Shout.

In 1969, Queers fought back. In 1990, Queers say ok.

Next year, will we be here?

I HATE …

I hate Jesse Helms. I hate Jesse Helms so much I’d

rejoice if he dropped down dead. If someone killed him I’d

consider it his own fault.

I hate Ronald Reagan, too, because he mass-murdered my

people for eight years. But to be honest, I hate him even

more for eulogizing Ryan White without first admitting his

guilt, without begging forgiveness for Ryan’s death and for

the deaths of tens of thousands of other PWA’s — most of

them queer. I hate him for making a mockery of our grief.

I hate the fucking Pope, and I hate John fucking Cardinal

fucking O’Connor, and I hate the whole fucking Catholic

Church. The same goes for the Military, and especially for

Amerika’s Law Enforcement Officials — the cops — state

sanctioned sadists who brutalize street transvestites,

prostitutes and queer prisoners. I also hate the medical

and mental health establishments, particularly the

psychiatrist who conviced me not to have sex with men for

three years until we (meaning he) could make me bisexual

rather than queer. I also hate the education profession,

for its share in driving thousands of queer teens to suicide

every year. I hate the “respectable” art world; and the

entertainment industry, and the mainstream media, especially

The New York Times. In fact, I hate every sector of the

straight establishment in this country — the worst of whom

actively want all queers dead, the best of whom never stick

their necks out to keep us alive.

I hate straight people who think they have anything

intelligent to say about “outing.” I hate straight people

who think stories about themselves are “universal” but

stories about us are only about homosexuality. I hate

straight recording artists who make their careers off of

queer people, then attack us, then act hurt when we get

angry and then deny having wronged us rather than apologize

for it. I hate straight people who say, “I don’t see why

you feel the need to wear those buttons and t-shirts. I

don’t go around telling the whole world I’m straight.”

I hate that in twelve years of public education I was

never taught about queer people. I hate that I grew up

thinking I was the only queer in the world, and I hate even

more that most queer kids still grow up the same way. I

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hate that I was tormented by other kids for being a faggot,

but more that I was taught to feel ashamed for being the

object of their cruelty, taught to feel it was my fault. I

hate that the Supreme Court of this country says it’s okay

to criminalize me because of how I make love. I hate that

so many straight people are so concerned about my goddamned

sex life. I hate that so many twisted straight people

become parents, while I have to fight like hell to be

allowed to be a father. I hate straights.

WHERE ARE YOU SISTERS?

I wear my pink triangle everywhere. I do not lower my

voice in public when talking about lesbian love or sex. I

always tell people I’m a lesbian. I don’t wait to be asked

about my “boyfriend.” I don’t say it’s “no one’s

business.”

I don’t do this for straight people. Most of them don’t

know what the pink triangle even means. Most of them

couldn’t care less that my girlfriend and I are totally in

love or having a fight on the street. Most of them don’t

notice us no matter what we do. I do what I do to reach

other lesbians. I do what I do because I don’t want

lesbians to assume I’m a straight girl. I am out all the

time, everywhere, because I WANT TO REACH YOU. Maybe

you’ll notice me, maybe we’ll start talking, maybe we’ll

exchange numbers, maybe we’ll become friends. Maybe we

won’t say a word but our eyes will meet and I will imagine

you naked, sweating, openmouthed, your back arched as I am

fucking you. And we’ll be happy to know we aren’t the only

ones in the world. We’ll be happy because we found each

other, without saying a word, maybe just for a moment. But

no.

You won’t wear a pink triangle on that linen lapel. You

won’t meet my eyes if I flirt with you on the street. You

avoid me on the job because I’m “too” out. You chastise me

in bars because I’m “too political.” You ignore me in

public because I bring “too much” attention to “my”

lesbianism. But then you want me to be your lover, you

want me to be your friend, you want me to love you,

support, you, fight for “OUR” right to exist.

WHERE ARE YOU?

You talk, talk, talk about invisibility and then retreat

to your homes to nest with your lovers or carouse in a bar

with pals and stumble home in a cab or sit silently and

politely by while your family, your boss, your neighbors,

your public servants distort and disfigure us, deride us

and punish us. Then home again and you feel like

screaming. Then you pad your anger with a relationship or

a career or a party with other dykes like you and still you

wonder why we can’t find each other, why you feel lonely,

angry, alienated.

GET UP, WAKE UP SISTERS!!

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Your life is in your hands.

When I risk it all to be out, I risk it for both of us.

When I risk it all and it works (which it often does if you

would try it), I benefit and so do you. When it doesn’t

work, I suffer and you do not.

But girl you can’t wait for other dykes to make the world

safe for you. STOP waiting for a better more lesbian

future! The revolution could be here if we started it.

Where are you sisters? I’m trying to find you, I’m trying

to find you. How come I only see you on Gay Pride Day?

We’re OUT, Where the fuck are YOU?

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WHEN ANYONE ASSAULTS YOU FOR BEING QUEER, IT IS QUEER

BASHING. RIGHT?

A crowd of 50 people exit a gay bar as it closes.

Across the street, some straight boys are shouting “Faggots”

and throwing beer bottles at the gathering, which outnumbers

them by 10 to 1. Three queers make a move to respond,

getting no support from the group. Why did a group this

size allow themselves to be sitting ducks?

Tompkins Square Park, Labor Day. At an annual outdoor

concert/drag show, a group of gay men were harassed by teens

carrying sticks. In the midst of thousands of gay men and

lesbians, these straight boys beat two gay men to the

ground, then stood around triumphantly laughing amongst

themselves. The emcee was alerted and warned the crowd from

the stage, “You girls be careful. When you dress up it

drives the boys crazy,” as if it were a practical joke

inspired by what the victims were wearing rather than a

pointed attack on anyone and everyone at that event.

What would it have taken for that crowd to stand up to

its attackers?

After James Zappalorti, an openly gay man, was murdered

in cold blood on Staten Island this winter, a single

demonstration was held in protest. Only one hundred people

came. When Yuseuf Hawkins, a black youth, was shot to death

for being on “white turf” in Bensonhurst, African Americans

marched through that neighborhood in large numbers again and

again. A black person was killed BECAUSE HE WAS BLACK, and

people of color throughout the city recognized it and acted

on it. The bullet that hit Hawkins was meant for a black

man, ANY black man. Do most gays and lesbians think that

the knife that punctured Zappalorti’s heart was meant only

for him?

The straight world has us so convinced that we are

helpless and deserving victims of the violence against us,

that queers are immobilized when faced with a threat. BE

OUTRAGED! These attacks must not be tolerated. DO

SOMETHING. Recognize that any act of aggression against any

member of our community is an attack on every member of the

community. The more we allow homophobes to inflict

violence, terror and fear on our lives, the more frequently

and ferociously we will be the object of their hatred. Your

immeasurably valuable, because unless you start believing

that, it can easily be taken from you. If you know how to

gently and efficiently immobilize your attacker, then by all

means, do it. If you lack those skills, then think about

gouging out his fucking eyes, slamming his nose back into

his brain, slashing his throat with a broken bottle — do

whatever you can, whatever you have to, to save your life!

9

reeuQ yhW

Queer!

Ah, do we really have to use that word? It’s trouble.

Every gay person has his or her own take on it. For some it

means strange and eccentric and kind of mysterious. That’s

okay, we like that. But some gay girls and boys don’t.

They think they’re more normal than strange. And for others

“queer” conjures up those awful memories of adolescent

suffering. Queer. It’s forcibly bittersweet and quaint at

best — weakening and painful at worst. Couldn’t we just

use “gay” instead? It’s a much brighter word and isn’t it

synonymous with “happy?” When will you militants grow up and

get over the novelty of being different?

WHY QUEER

Well, yes, “gay ” is great. It has its place. But when

a lot of lesbians and gay men wake up in the morning we feel

angry and disgusted, not gay. So we’ve chosen to call

ourselves queer. Using “queer” is a way of reminding us how

we are perceived by the rest of the world. It’s a way of

telling ourselves we don’t have to be witty and charming

people who keep our lives discreet and marginalized in the

straight world. We use queer as gay men loving lesbians and

lesbians loving being queer.

Queer, unlike GAY, doesn’t mean MALE.

And when spoken to other gays and lesbians it’s a way of

suggesting we close ranks, and forget (temporarily) our

individual differences because we face a more insidious

common enemy. Yeah, QUEER can be a rough word but it is

also a sly and ironic weapon we can steal from the

homophobe’s hands and use against him.

NO SEX POLICE

For anyone to say that coming out is not part of the

revolution is missing the point. Positive sexual images and

what they manifest saves lives because they affirm those

lives and make it possible for people to attempt to live as

self-loving instead of self-loathing. As the famous “Black

is beautiful” slogan changed many lives, so does “Read my

lips” affirm queerness in the face of hatred and

invisibility as displayed in a recent governmental study of

suicides that states at least one third of all teen suicides

are Queer kids. This is further exemplified by the rise in

HIV transmission among those under 21.

We are most hated as queers for our sexualness, that is,

our physical contact with the same sex. Our sexuality and

sexual expression are what makes us most susceptible to

physical violence. Our difference, our otherness, our

uniqueness can either paralyze us or politicize us.

Hopefully, the majority of us will not let it kill us.

10

QUEER SPACE

Why in the world do we let heteros into queer clubs? Who

gives a fuck if they like us because we “really know how to

party?” WE HAVE TO IN ORDER TO BLOW OFF THE STEAM THEY MAKE

US FEEL ALL THE TIME! They make out wherever they please,

and take up too much room on the dance floor doing

ostentatious couples dances. They wear their heterosexuality

like a “Keep Out” sign, or like a deed of ownership.

Why the fuck do we tolerate them when they invade our

space like it’s their right? Why do we let them shove

heterosexuality — a weapon their world wields against us –

— right in our faces in the few public spots where we can

be sexy with each other and not fear attack?

It’s time to stop letting the straight people make all

the rules. Let’s start by posting this sign outside every

queer club and bar:

RULES OF CONDUCT FOR STRAIGHT PEOPLE

1. Keep your display of affection (kissing,

handholding, embracing) to a minimum. Your sexuality is

unwanted and offensive to many here. 2. If you must slow

dance, be as inconspicuous as possible. 3. Do not gawk or

stare at lesbians or gay men, especially bull dykes or drag

queens. We are not your entertainment. 4. If you cannot

comfortably deal with someone of the same sex making a pass

at you, get out. 5. Do not flaunt your heterosexuality. Be

Discreet. Risk being mistaken for a lezzie or a homo. 6.

If you feel these rules are unfair, go fight homophobia in

straight clubs, or: 7. Go Fuck Yourself.

I HATE STRAIGHTS

I have friends. Some of them are straight.

Year after year, I see my straight friends. I want to

see them, to see how they are doing, to add newness to our

long and complicated histories, to experience some

continuity. Year after year I continue to realize that the

facts of my life are irrelevant to them and that I am only

half listened to, that I am an appendage to the doings of a

greater world, a world of power and privilege, of the laws

of installation, a world of exclusion. “That’s not true,”

argue my straight friends. There is the one certainty in

the politics of power: those left out of it beg for

inclusion, while the insiders claim that they already are.

Men do it to women, whites do it to blacks, and everyone

does it to queers. The main dividing line, both conscious

and unconscious, is procreation … and that magic word —

Family. Frequently, the ones we are born into disown us

when they find out who we really are, and to make matters

worse, we are prevented from having our own. We are

punished, insulted, cut off, and treated like seditionaries

11

in terms of child rearing, both damned if we try and damned

if we abstain. It’s as if the propagation of the species is

such a fragile directive that without enforcing it as if it

were an agenda, humankind would melt back into the primeval

ooze.

I hate having to convice straight people that lesbians

and gays live in a war zone, that we’re surrounded by bomb

blasts only we seem to hear, that our bodies and souls are

heaped high, dead from fright or bashed or raped, dying of

grief or disease, stripped of our personhood.

I hate straight people who can’t listen to queer anger

without saying “hey, all straight people aren’t like that.

I’m straight too, you know,” as if their egos don’t get

enough stroking or protection in this arrogant, heterosexist

world. Why must we take care of them, in the midst of our

just anger brought on by their fucked up society?! Why add

the reassurance of “Of course, I don’t mean you. You don’t

act that way.” Let them figure out for themselves whether

they deserve to be included in our anger.

But of course that would mean listening to our anger,

which they almost never do. They deflect it, by saying “I’m

not like that” or “Now look who’s generalizing” or “You’ll

catch more flies with honey … ” or “If you focus on the

negative you just give out more power” or “you’re not the

only one in the world who’s suffering.” They say “Don’t

yell at me, I’m on your side” or “I think you’re

overreacting” or “BOY, YOU’RE BITTER.”

They’ve taught us that good queers don’t get mad.

They’ve taught us so well that we not only hide our anger

from them, we hide it from each other. WE EVEN HIDE IT FROM

OURSELVES. We hide it with substance abuse and suicide and

overarhcieving in the hope of proving our worth. They bash

us and stab us and shoot us and bomb us in ever increasing

numbers and still we freak out when angry queers carry

banners or signs that say BASH BACK. For the last decade

they let us die in droves and still we thank President Bush

for planting a fucking tree, applaud him for likening PWAs

to car accident victims who refuse to wear seatbelts. LET

YOURSELF BE ANGRY. Let yourself be angry that the price of

our visibility is the constant threat of violence, anti-

queer violence to which practically every segment of this

society contributes. Let yourself feel angry that THERE IS

NO PLACE IN THIS COUNTRY WHERE WE ARE SAFE, no place where

we are not targeted for hatred and attack, the self-hatred,

the suicide — of the closet. The next time some straight

person comes down on you for being angry, tell them that

until things change, you don’t need any more evidence that

the world turns at your expense. You don’t need to see only

hetero couple grocery shopping on your TV … You don’t

want any more baby pictures shoved in your face until you

can have or keep your own. No more weddings, showers,

anniversaries, please, unless they are our own brothers and

sisters celebrating. And tell them not to dismiss you by

saying “You have rights,” “You have privileges,” “You’re

12

overreacting,” or “You have a victim’s mentality.” Tell

them “GO AWAY FROM ME, until YOU can change.” Go away and

try on a world without the brave, strong queers that are its

backbone, that are its guts and brains and souls. Go tell

them go away until they have spent a month walking hand in

hand in public with someone of the same sex. After they

survive that, then you’ll hear what they have to say about

queer anger.

Otherwise, tell them to shut up and listen.

4 thoughts on “QUEER READ THIS

  1. hey its me again..i just want to ask if i can join u guys for fnb this week..this is my number…0176134623..do inform the venue and time..thanks

    • hey!
      of course you can!!! we cook at the house starting from 1ish. you can find our home address and a map to the house at this blog. and then we leave to bukit nanas at about 530 to table the food. i will call/sms you on saturday. see you then!!!

  2. alright..thanks..i might bring frens along..and if its ok can i have ur contact number in case i get lost..haha

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