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16 May 2010

4,000 attend Singapore's second LGBT-supportive public rally

Over 4,000 people turned up and turned Hong Lim Park pink as a show of support for their LGBT friends, family and community, and made it the largest event ever held at the urban park.

It broke last year's record and made prime-time news the same night – marking the first time a gay (supportive) event received coverage on local television.

Top image: Ambassadors for Pink Dot 2010: prominent veteran actors Tan Kheng Hua (left), DJ Big Kid aka Johnson Ong and Adrian Pang (right); Eileena Lee (left) with her mother, Mdm Yiap (middle); 2nd image from bottom: Glen Goei (2nd from left) and Ivan Heng (2nd from right).

The 30-second clip on Singapore-based Channel NewsAsia showed participants in a carnival-like atmosphere and cultural performances at Hong Lim Park where over 4,000 people turned up to show their support for the gay community by forming a huge pink human dot on Saturday. The record turnout makes Pink Dot 2010 the largest public gathering at Speakers’ Corner, Singapore’s only government-designated venue for public assembly and free speech where a police permit is not required. The inaugural Pink Dot event, held at the same venue last year, was attended by 2,500 people.

Roy Tan, one of the organisers of Pink Dot, told Fridae, "I think it is groundbreaking in that this is the first time Singapore television has reported on a local LGBT-supportive event in positive terms."

The 50-year-old health-care professional said he considers "the use of the phrase 'lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Singaporeans' to be a milestone" [on local television] because it "raises public awareness of the existence of our community and our struggle for equality in the face of misconceptions, prejudice, discrimination and hate."

Although laws against oral and anal sex (and along with it lesbian sex) were repealed in 2007 after an extended public and parliamentary debate, Singapore continues to criminalise sex between men under Section 377A of the Penal Code.

Gays and lesbians in Singapore have often been accused by anti-gay "pro-family" groups of being anti-family, and acceptance of gay and lesbian individuals to be against societal and moral values.

With that in mind, organisers say the campaign seeks to "underscore the importance of celebrating diversity in its myriad forms amid social prejudices that continue to exist today."

The event date, organisers said in a statment, was chosen to coincide with the International Day of Families and aims to "raise awareness and foster deeper understanding of the basic human need to love and be loved, regardless of one’s sexual orientation."

"The bond between family members is unique and irreplaceable – yet, there are those who choose to deny themselves this privilege that many others take for granted. Many LGBT Singaporeans choose not to reveal their sexual orientation to their loved ones, worried that their honesty will push family members away."

A series of videos released weeks before the event had several sets of parents and family members of gay, lesbian and transgender individuals talk about their journey towards accepting and supporting their loved ones.

Yiap Geok Khuan, 67, mother of Eileena Lee who's openly lesbian, told the crowd why she was there: "This (homosexuality, bisexuality and transgenderism) is God's gift to them (gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people) and is a natural trait. It's is not an easy journey for them and as parents, we should stand by them and overcome society's prejudices."

Lee, 38, founder of Singapore's oldest lesbian newslist Redqueen! and co-founder of Pelangi Pride Centre and Women's Nite, added, "Mum says she knows that there are a lot of people who are still not accepting of LGBT people and so in order for us to live in light, my mum decided to come out together with me."

Actor and father of two Adrian Pang, one of the three ambassadors who appeared in a publicity video and present at the event, said: “Pink Dot carries a meaningful message about the belief that we all have a right to love and be loved. These values about love and harmony are ones that I would want to impart to my two boys – to teach them that life is so much happier when we live with love, understanding, generosity of spirit and compassion.

“This is why Pink Dot is significant. Things and views won’t change overnight, and the wider society will take some time to understand LGBT issues. But it is a start to building positive attitudes to a more open, inclusive and loving society.”

Agreeing with his sentiments is Ivan Heng, the founding Artistic Director of theatre company Wild Rice – who cheered the crowd on at Hong Lim Park alongside Glen Goei, both of whom wore white and pink-polka dotted dresses by Frederick Lee – told Fridae: "Too often we are told that the GLBT community are the anathema to 'family values'; as if we don't have families, as if we don’t love our families.

"Today we proved the detractors wrong. Today we glimpse Singapore as a city of possibilities."

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Reader's Comments

1. 2010-05-16 15:59  
2. 2010-05-16 16:05  
3. 2010-05-16 16:08  
PinkDot 2010 was such a great success. Marla Bendini and Tricia Leong were honoured to be waving the PinkDot flag as Sisters in Solidarity.

We hope the 4000-strong supporters will support our cause to end discrimination against transgender women.

Please sign our petition online now- it will just take 30secs.

4. 2010-05-16 16:12  
It feels great to be part of the change! My sense of belonging is strengthened by this event.

It is also great that by appearing at Pink Dot, we helped create an environment that is more hopeful for the younger generation of LGBT - something I never had when I was growing up.
5. 2010-05-16 16:18  
Cool. Very inspiring and ground breaking. Wished I could be there too. Hope it will reach the dizzy heights of the Taiwan and HK Pride parade soon enough. By then, I surmise Singapore will have a new and more open administration.

Good luck and many happy returns! Peace!
6. 2010-05-16 16:33  
Small baby steps, yes... nonetheless I was touched and feel that our community will get there one day.
7. 2010-05-16 16:58  
lovely... really lovely! i smile in my heart while i loOkin/read at those pic and article... KL would have such event one day? i wonder... best regards
8. 2010-05-16 17:02  
In spite of the heat wave, the spirit of the participants kept on going. I had a great time, I hope everyone did, too. Thank you, Team Pink Dot :)
9. 2010-05-16 18:51  
Its a great to see the pink heart. Hope the number of us will keep growing and would like to see more hearts too.
10. 2010-05-16 18:56  
PinkDot 2010 was such a great success. Marla Bendini and Tricia Leong were honoured to be waving the PinkDot flag as Sisters in Solidarity.

We hope the 4000-strong supporters will support our cause to end discrimination against transgender women.

Please sign our petition online now- it will just take 30secs.

11. 2010-05-16 19:04  
I am proud to be a part of the pink dot. ;-)
12. 2010-05-16 19:14  
:) That was nice
13. 2010-05-16 20:15  
Woot the heart looks great! I dont know which sector i am at... man.. 4k people! Rawks!
14. 2010-05-16 20:42  
I dream of the day that the pinkdot would not be necessary.
I dream of the day that the fact that we are gay, bisexual or transgender will be such a non-issue that it is akin to saying that we are either male or female.
I dream of the day that we will be accepted unconditionally and without discrimination as who we truly are, Singaporeans.

Until then, many kudoes to the pinkdot team who made it possible. I was there and it was touching to see everyone at their best: happy, smiling and bonding in solidarity, whether they were gay, straight, bisexual or transgender.

I found the mother who came in a wheel-chair particularly touching. It was certainly not easy for her, braving the heat and being wheeled in on grassland. That was probably one of the most touching moments for me. Thank you everyone. : )
15. 2010-05-16 20:52  
l just came back after 21 years in Europe and this is happening here in Sin? l am so proud of the 4K people there.

l remember the first pride we had in Germany was under a bridge and 2000 people came. Just before i left, the last pride we had covered the whole inner city of Cologne and 1.4 million people came. Thinks we are on our way.....

So glad to be free at home at last.
16. 2010-05-16 21:01  
It was just great! Hopefully it will get bigger ever year!
I am so glad I went! Definitely will be there next year and dragging more people with me. =)
17. 2010-05-16 22:32  
sooo paris hilton lol
18. 2010-05-16 23:02  
A really happy occasion
19. 2010-05-16 23:36  
The videos and photos seem to tell that the society is more open to LGBT, even news also reported about this. I also see children there. Can I openly walk on the streets without being prejudiced as I look at the gorgeous hunks now?
I wished I were at the PinkDot, but I didn't know anyone there. If I had gone there, I would be like an alien. Could have been better if some hunk had invited me there, I would feel at ease but there was no such invitation whatsoever. Sigh! Maybe, better luck next time.
20. 2010-05-16 23:54  
One more thing...the pink colours-be it dots, balloons and shirts-they are so bright and soothing to my eyes.
21. 2010-05-17 00:05  
It's was my first pink dot event. Love it!!! Feel the love and proud to be myself;) can't wait for next year!!!
22. 2010-05-17 00:24  
when this kind of event will be held in malaysia? still thinking.....
23. 2010-05-17 02:16  
I wish that my country could have one of this
24. 2010-05-17 09:56  
I wish more parents will speak up for their LGBT children during future Pinkdot events. I wish more siblings, bosses, colleagues, neighbours, and married straight friends will do likewise. What the anti-LGBT extremists would want the society to believe is these people hate LGBT people because of the 'immorality' of, and 'harm' caused by, the latter. Ironically, many of these anti-LGBT people got exposed to be hypocritical closeted gay people. We must organise more such national events to create an atmosphere of tolerance so that LGBT need not feel compelled to be closeted in this society.

Beyond the social domain, I suggest that the organiser work on the workplace and the spiritual domains for the next Pinkdot event. The straight spiritual advisers, bosses, colleagues and business associates of LGBT should also be invited to speak for them. In particular, LGBT people's value and rights as employees, colleagues, and customers should be affirmed. The freedom to LOVE LGBT as bosses, employees, colleagues and customers should be emphasised.

Given the huge support, I suggest also to Fridae/Pinkdot that they make an order for pink caps, shirts and umbrellas in bulk (at low cost) a few months before the next Pinkdot event. Distribute these products at low price through the LGBT business-operators (e.g. discos, saunas, fashion boutiques) 1-2 months before the next Pinkdot so that those who have difficulty finding pink wear elsewhere can buy these at such retail stores, at reasonable prices.

In support of gay-supporting businesses who provide products and services to people of all sexual orientations, they could be invited to sponsor gifts which carry their advertisements for all participants. Possible gifts include: pure drinking water in cups, snacks packaged individually, sweets, tissue paper, pink paper fans, etc. It's quite warm during the afternoon, so I think most participants would appreciate being given such practical gifts. The sponsors would also benefit by advertising to a large number of potential customers. Of course, the organiser should provide more trash bags so that litter can be properly disposed of.

To cover the cost of organising the event (e.g. rental of audio equipment, website), sponsors may also be invited and they may be rewarded by having their advertisement banners displayed on Pinkdot website for a year. Given the website's national publicity, these sponsors can expect their commercial messages on the website to reach out to hundreds of thousands of potential customers. This partnership can contain the cost for the organiser to organise Pinkdot events in future.

25. 2010-05-17 10:03  
Your idea would really benefit if you suggest to SGrainbow or any of the LGBT organisation.
26. 2010-05-17 11:17  
Oh...even the traditional lions became pink too!
27. 2010-05-17 11:26  
Congratulations Singapore
28. 2010-05-17 11:31  
Sunthenmoon post #24

But before you can ask supporters of gblt people to come out and show their support you must FIRST have the gblt people themselves come out and show themselves..

In typically asian fashion you are asking other people to do you job for you

Its an undeniable fact that no person who knows a gblt person at close quarters can maintain a stand of homophobia.

So if you want support from the 'other side' then its up to you to demonstrate just how pinkishly normal you really are
29. 2010-05-17 12:33  
Just like boxerckpng posted....

wondering also when Msia will have chance to organise such event....
looking forward to b in sg...
30. 2010-05-17 13:09  

Thank you for your str8 talk. Asian LGBTs must see that the hard works of LGBTs in the West will reap rewards . . . in the West.

We have to take responsibility for the backward views on LGBT in Asia. The only way is to show our friends and families how we live normally as gay people, with struggles and imperfections like anyone else we know.
31. 2010-05-17 14:31  
Very hot n humid day it was . . and a very beautiful day indeed. The size of the crowd has grown more than twice than that I can remember from last year's. My dogs were a tad nervous. I sure hope PINK flag will stay around to represent what RAINBOW flag has been for a long time for the West. Finally, something original from here. : ) Besides, very difficult to match foot ware with rainbow color top . . . ; )
32. 2010-05-17 16:37  
They'd better build a bigger Hong Lim Park for next year!
33. 2010-05-17 17:41  
After reading the horrific account of what the Anglican Church in Singapore's attitude is, its really refreshing to read something positive about Singapore for a change!

Congratulations to all involved!
34. 2010-05-17 19:09  
Well done Singapore...be proud
35. 2010-05-17 23:04  
I am so proud of myself for being there! I am so touched to see parents speaking up at the event. Some brought their parents in wheelchair...... I wish my mom were there... she would be so proud of me.... I think she already has.... I am soooooooooo going to drag all of you there next year!!!! And I dont think it will be at the Hong lim park the way it is growing!!!! Yeah!!!!!!
36. 2010-05-18 01:07  
#28: Aren't there already many LGBT and their Mum/Dad/Brother in the youtube interviews? What I suggested is beside their Mum/Dad/Brother, we can have their boss/colleague/spiritual adviser as well.
37. 2010-05-18 02:48  
38. 2010-05-18 03:54  
That's great... it's good to see people making more of an effort to stand up for themselves. Western liberties aren't exactly pure equality and wonderful in themselves, but they are important to try and reach, because regardless of where you live in the world, no-one should ever be judged - or, worse, discriminated against, criminalised and marginalised in society - just because of their sexuality.

So, although there's still a long road ahead for Singaporeans (in terms of sexual acceptance, as well as a whole range of other cultural aspects of being Sinaporean - Conscription, anyone?), well done to those who stand out, and stand up.

I guess my Ex, and other lost friends, were also there at that event. Hope he, and they, enjoyed it... X
39. 2010-05-18 09:58  
There seems to be more straights there.
I, myself don't have the courage and i don't think i am speaking for myself here.
If I did not to go to the PINK DOT EVENT there because i don't have friends do go with or isit simply put, i m just a loser who don't have the balls to attend.
I am just a sad figure.
40. 2010-05-18 11:06  
Aw, I love it, Wish i was there so bad!
41. 2010-05-18 11:07  
I agree with you Vercoda
42. 2010-05-18 11:26  
i was there!!! PinkDot rocks! (:
43. 2010-05-18 12:33  
That's so cool!
44. 2010-05-18 14:37  
PinkDot 2010 was such a great success. Marla Bendini and Tricia Leong were honoured to be waving the PinkDot flag as Sisters in Solidarity.

We hope the 4000-strong supporters will support our cause to end discrimination against transgender women.

Please sign our petition online now- it will just take 30secs.


45. 2010-05-18 15:14  

have more family time and bring more kids and babies to Pink Dot, it looks like great progress and fun

and wholesome good time
46. 2010-05-18 19:32  
Congrats Pink Dot on a huge success, and good on CNA for giving it airtime!
Comment #47 was deleted by its author on 2010-05-19 12:54
48. 2010-05-19 12:58  
I am glad that the organiser is keeping this as a non-political, family- and love-orientated event that stays clear of alcohol, drugs and sex. By so doing this event stays within the acceptable level of most Singaporeans, which is evidenced in the lack of protests from the mainstream in the society. This event can gradually build up the trust our society need for the LGBT community that the latter will not push for anything radical politically when the society gives more space to them. One of the reasons given by the government that 377a should remain is that repealing it may encourage the gay community to push for more, such as gay marriage, adoption of children by gay couples, etc. The organiser has done exceptionally well in demonstrating through the past two events that Pinkdot is non-political and family-oriented. Interviews with LGBT and their family who have accepted them have been broadcast economically, effectively and efficiently through Youtube. The next step, as I suggested, could be to make similar interviews involving LGBT individuals and their colleagues (work domain) and spiritual advisers (spiritual domain) who have accepted them as well. This will further reinforce the importance of, and normalise, tolerance for LGBT in Singapore's society. Publicity of this event also helps LGBT individuals to build up confidence of being accepted by their family and colleagues. This encourages them to take the first step to come out in an appropriate manner to their own family and colleagues in order to gain the latter's acceptance. I had seen more senior citizens in the 2nd Pinkdot event, a good sign. This shows that even old, supposedly more conservative people can tolerate LGBT community.
49. 2010-05-19 18:21  
Wow, is that the Hong Lim Park?
I've been there in early April, but not so many people gathered.
Hope to have chances to participate in such a meaningful activity next time.
50. 2010-07-03 22:45  
yo man

guys i wish i was there can somebody sent me an email when they have it again. that is so cool. so many gays in a place at the same time that is so cool its like singapore very own madi gra

yours sincerely dar
51. 2011-06-12 16:32  
Can Malaysians attend? Im thinking of going for it this year.

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