Oogachaga

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Oogachaga is Singapore's first and most well known LGBTQ-friendly counselling organisation.

Its vision is to be the most recognised agency for developing fulfilling life experiences between individuals and communities of all sexual orientations and genders.

Oogachaga's mission is to enable LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning) individuals to make informed decisions that strengthen their beings and to achieve a fulfilling life.

Contents

History

Oogachaga was started by artist Jason Wee[1] and friends Steve Wong and Kenneth Lau in 1999 as a support group for young men in their 20s. Better known as “OC” today, Oogachaga has expanded its target group to the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning) individuals of various age groups with services including counselling, personal development and support groups, forums and workshops.

The name Oogachaga was inspired by the names of its forerunners as well as the dancing baby from Ally McBeal, "Baby Cha-Cha"[2].

C. Singam became the driving force behind Oogachaga soon after its formation, offering his residences near the city area as venues for the meetings of the support groups, named OC1, followed by OC2 and so on. At first, meetings were held in a HDB apartment and then at a ground level shophouse unit around the River Valley vicinity.

Singam also started Oogachaga's counselling service in 2000.

Later, the first office for Oogachaga was in the third level of a shophouse unit at Tanjong Katong as the venue for support group meetings.

On 3 May 2005, Fridae profiled Bryan Choong, one of Oogachaga's leading facilitators[3]. Choong revealed that Oogachaga and Looking Glass would be presenting regular personal development and growth workshops for lesbians, gays and their friends on the first Tuesday of every month in 2005. Their second workshop in 2005 would be entitled "Coming Home To Our Families - To Tell or Not to Tell?", to be held on 3 May 2005 at 7:30pm at Utterly Art, #02-01, 208 South Bridge Road. Oogachaga would also be launching a new men's support group on 6 May 2005.

In 2005, Oogachaga's first support group for women was started.

On 16 Feb 2006, Oogachaga started the OCMSM (Oogachaga Men who have Sex with Men) hotline, Singapore's first hotline manned by gay volunteers. This community outreach service enables MSM to talk about issues regarding their sexuality issues or to find out more information on HIV and STI.

When more funds became available in 2007, an office at Emily Hill and a spacious room, meant for arts activities, also in the same complex, were rented for administrative work and support group meetings. Professional counsellors and personal development trainers were also roped in to make the support group activities more comprehensive.

In 2009, Oogachaga underwent a rebranding exercise in which it renamed itself "OC". It also adopted a more holistic mission statement which sought to foster all-round development of LGBTQ individuals in Singapore.

It shifted its office to a building in the Jalan Besar and more recently in the Chinatown area which are more accessible to its volunteers and support group members.

It also procured sufficient funds to employ three full-time staff to schedule its hotline, counselling, support group and other activities.

OC's first and current centre director is Bryan Choong. He is assisted by Dharesheni Nedumaran and Andrew Chan.

On Saturday, 9 Jan 10, OC held its tenth anniversary celebration at Play disco along Tanjong Pagar Road from 4-7 pm.

Forums and events organised

2003: Beyond homosexuality and homophobia

2005: Exploring gay male identity workshop

2007: Youth, sexuality and relationships workshop

2007: Legendary killer: Life of an HIV person

2007: Better dead than queer

2007: Book Launch of SQ21

2008: Sammi Zhen show: STI knowledge

2008: A shot at love

2008: Cruising through history

2008: Me and my family: A part or apart

2009: Labels and love

2009: Same-sex couples

2009: Outrace

2009: Book Launch of Tong Lei

Current Services

Oogachaga's services include:

  • 1) Face-to-face counseling
  • 2) Hotline counselling: 626 86 626
  • 3) Support groups for gay and bisexual men
  • 4) Support groups for lesbian and bisexual women
  • 5) Forums for the LGBTQ community
  • 6) Workshops for practitioners such social workers, counsellors and mental health professionals.

Links