“Can every Singaporean truly call this country “home”? That is one of the many questions posed by this video, accompanied by Dick Lee’s own version of his popular National Day song. What does it mean to live in a place where we can all belong?
I like the way Singaporean’s have found a way to celebrate pride and diversity in such a subversive manner. The Pink Dot has grown from about 2,500 participants in 2009 to over 15,000 in 2012 in a country where gay sex is illegal. As noted at the bottom of this article, the ban on gay sex is currently being challenged in the High Court.
The fifth celebration of LGBT people’s ‘freedom to love’ in Singapore will be on Saturday 29 June
Speaker’s Corner at Hong Lim Park in Singapore will once again turn a rosy hue for Pink Dot, which will be on Saturday 29 June this year.
Like last year, those who believe that everyone should have the ‘freedom to love’ with gather at dusk with pink lights to form a dot showing there is support for LGBT rights in socially conservative Singapore.
The festival has grown exponentially since it started 2009 when 2,500 people turned out to show support. Last year there were 15,000 people so that the dot over-flowed out of the small park.
The organizers had hoped that the government would allow the festival to move into a larger space this year, but that didn’t happen. Speaker’s Corner at Hong Lim Park is the only place in Singapore where people are allowed to protest.
In an interview with Gay Star News last December, Pink Dot committee member Paerin Choa said that if the government allowed the festival to move to another space it would be an offical stamp of approval. Sadly, that doesn’t seem likely to happen.
This is a great interview that highlights some of the cultural differences between Singapore and the West. What I have always admired about the Pink Dot festival is how Singaporeans have adapted a very Western phenomenon, the Pride Parade, and made it their own. And by creating their own culturally appropriate LGBT awareness campaign they disabuse the notion that ‘homosexuality’ is a Western import.
I hope the Pink Dot becomes an eve bigger pink blob next year!
Gay Star News talks to one of the organizers of Singapore’s Pink Dot, an annual LGBT awareness-raising festival
‘The first Pride in X country’ makes headlines around the world, but what if country creates their own LGBT pride event from scratch? That’s what activists in Singapore have done with Pink Dot.
Instead of a rainbow striped Pride parade demanding rights, Pink Dot uses the one place in Singapore where protest is allowed - Speaker’s Corner in Hong Lim Park - to spread awareness and acceptance of LGBT Singaporeans’ ‘Freedom to Love’.
‘Singaporeans are very opposed to protest, very opposed to parades and demonstrations. They don’t want to get into trouble, so a gay pride parade would not work in Singapore,’ says Paerin Choa, one of Pink Dot’s committee members who started the event in 2009. He talks to Gay Star News about the background, aims and affects of this wholly home-grown festival.
What was the background of the first Pink Dot in 2009?
Back then homosexuality was very very taboo: parents don’t want to know if their child is gay; everything was confined to gay clubs and bars; it was a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ society at work - people have double lives.
We have section 377A that criminalizes sex between two men. It’s something that we inherited from our British colony days. The UK repealed it in the 1960s. Hong Kong in the 1990s. But we still kept it and it contributes to the stigma.
The worst of all is our media censorship laws. Content that justifies, promotes or glamorizes gay lifestyle is banned. So basically if a gay person finds love and lives happily ever after - that story is banned. Brokeback Mountain is allowed, because the gay person dies and lives a sad lonely life. So you have very skewered portrayal of gay people in local mainstream media. It leads to an ignorance about what being gay is about in the general public.
I really like the way Singaporeans have made ‘pride’ their own. And a 50 percent increase over last year, well done! Photo and video links below.
Posted on June 30th, by Pink Dot Sg
First Night Pink Dot lights up Hong Lim Park
Fourth Pink Dot outshines previous records, with over 15,000 Singaporeans coming together in a dramatic spectacle of glowing torches, light sticks and mobile phones to celebrate the freedom to love
Singapore, June 30, 2012 – Tonight, over 15,000 Singaporeans turned Hong Lim Park into a sea of shimmering pink lights, for the first-ever night Pink Dot. For the fourth time since 2009, thousands of straight and LGBT Singaporeans came together to celebrate inclusiveness, diversity and the freedom to love, with the formation of a giant Pink Dot in Speakers’ Corner. This was a 50% increase over last year’s number, continuing a four year trend of growth.
An annual event that aims to raise awareness and foster deeper understanding of the basic human need to love and be loved, regardless of one’s sexual orientation, Pink Dot has become one of the most visible and well known events for inclusiveness and diversity in Singapore. It has inspired similar events around the world and has helped bring together Singaporeans in a way that promotes love without antagonism.
Pink Dot spokesperson Paerin Choa said: “Each year, thousands of Singaporeans come together to affirm their support for inclusivity and diversity, and it is a humbling experience to see the number of participants increasing and that so many are supportive friends and families of LGBT individuals.”
The Humanist Society (Singapore) awarded their Humanist of the Year prize to a gay man, Alex Au Waipang, for the first time on Saturday.
‘I think it’s very generous of the Society, though I would understand if it had been a difficult decision since I am a gay man,’ said Au Waipang when he was accepting the prize.
Au Waipang gave a rousing acceptance speech in which he explained why he feels his ‘gayness’ is one of his ‘key defining characteristics’, imagining a world where homosexuality was the norm and heterosexuals are marginalised.
Discussing homosexuality and religion, Au Waipang said ‘even ardent atheists can be homophobic.
‘All this suggests to us that it would be misplaced to blame religion for antipathy to homosexuality. In fact, when we reflect upon it, it is not religion that creates the antipathy, it is the antipathy that corrupts religions.’
Au Waipang said that sexual orientation shouldn’t be a big deal and ‘it wouldn’t be so if we applied reason upon empirical knowledge, which is the very essence of humanism’.
Au Waipang was one of the co-founders of Singapore’s first gay rights group, People Like Us, in 1993. He has been writing his blog Yawning Bread since 1996.
Homosexuality and political protest is illegal in Singapore. The city-state’s only gay rights event, Pink Dot, is on Saturday 30 June.