Popular TV host and actress Michelle Chia, theatre director and actor Ivan Heng and sports caster Mark Richmond are the 2013 ambassadors of Pink Dot, an annual rally in Singapore to advocate for LGBT acceptance and which has even inspired similar events around the world. The event is slated for June 29 this year.
The first rally in 2009 attracted 2,500 attendees and the numbers swelled to over 15,000 last year, making it one of the most visible and well known events for inclusiveness and diversity in Singapore.
From left: Ivan Heng, Mark Richmond and Michelle Chia.
Photo by Milk Photographie.
Pink Dot 2012 attracted 15,000 attendees. Photo courtesy of Pink Dot.
In an “Ambassador Video” that was launched today, Michelle, Ivan and Mark highlighted the importance of inclusiveness and acceptance for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
Ivan, who is himself gay, said in the video: "I knew I was different from an early age. Growing up was a little confusing, frightening and lonely. And I know there are many LGBT people in Singapore even today who remain in the closet because of discrimination and fear. I understand that it is very difficult and therefore they live half-lives or they live a lie. I think that it is important for us to reach out to them, to let them know that Singapore is changing and there is an entire community of people who accepts them for who they are."
"Pink Dot is important to me because it is a place where our families and friends come together in support of the freedom to love. My mom came to Pink Dot for the first time last year and when she saw other mothers like herself, she didn’t feel so alone, and more importantly saw that I wasn’t alone. I hope that Singaporeans will all come together at Pink Dot to make a stand, for a truly inclusive Singapore, a place we can truly call home."
Ivan is the Artistic Director of theatre company Wild Rice, and was recently interviewed by Fridae about his current stage production of The Importance of Being Earnest which ends its run on May 4.
“I have many friends who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, and they are no different from straight people,” said Michelle, popular TV host and actress. “Many of these friends are in loving, happy relationships and I feel the need to speak up for them when nasty things are being directed at LGBT people. People should be allowed to be who they are and love who they want to love.”
“I want my LGBT friends to know that I care for their freedom to love and I am proud of this opportunity to be an ambassador for Pink Dot. An event like Pink Dot not only represents the acceptance of LGBT people but is very important for straight people like me because I want to live in a society that is inclusive and open-minded.”
Singapore's Penal code continues to criminalise sex between men. Earlier this month, Singapore's High Court rejected a petition to repeal section 377A, an archaic law inherited from the British Indian Penal Code of 1860 while Singapore was a British colony. A second case is pending in the courts.
“As a straight person, there is a lot that I take for granted,” said Mark Richmond, well known sports caster. “When I look back at my life, I realised that LGBT people face a lot of discrimination that I did not, and this impacts their lives badly. Though Singapore is changing, discrimination still exists and much of it stems from ignorance and fear.”
“As a father, I want my child to grow up in a society that celebrates diversity and where it is ok to be different. I bring my family to Pink Dot because this is the one place and time in Singapore where people from the LGBT community and their family and friends can come together in a celebration of inclusivity, tolerance and love. It is important for my kid to see for himself the wonderful differences that make society rich, and for him to know not to discriminate against people just because of sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Paerin Choa, Pink Dot’s spokesperson said of the ambassadors: "It is an act of courage and conviction to be willing to stand up and put themselves in the public spotlight. As allies or members of the LGBT community, they play a pivotal role in helping build bridges within the community as well as with the greater public.”
“Over the years, we receive personal stories of LGBT people who stand across the road from Hong Lim Park, afraid to join us,” said Paerin Choa. “Part of Pink Dot is to let LGBT people know we are here and Singapore is our home too. And the most important part of being home is that you know you can be safe, happy and feel that sense of belonging.”
Pink Dot 2013 will be held June 29, from 5pm at Hong Lim Park.