15 Jan 2009

Fridae's Milk fundraiser raises S$14,000 for gay community projects

The fundraising gala premiere of a biopic about America's first openly-gay publicly-elected politician Harvey Milk has raised S$14,000 for Indignation, Pinkdot Singapore and gay filmmaker Loo Zihan's new project.

Fridae's fundraising gala premiere of the critically acclaimed film Milk held on Jan 7 has raised S$14,000 for Indignation, Singapore's annual gay pride season which has been held annually since 2005; Pinkdot Singapore, a campaign advocating "the freedom to love" and gay filmmaker Loo Zihan's new short film project Threshold.

Second pic from the top: Filmmaker Tan Pin Pin (left) with People Like Us co-founder Dr Russell Heng; playwright and writer Ng Yi-Sheng (left) with Loo Zihan (middle) and friend; Joseph (2nd from left) and Sophia from catering sponsor The Garden Slug with friends; Irene, Olivia and Jean of Sayoni with Roy Tan.
Milk is the second fundraiser organised by Fridae to benefit Indignation. A gala screening of the film Wilde about Irish-born playwright, Oscar Wilde, held last May raised S$10,000 for Indignation and provided a seed fund to establish the Rascals Prize, a biennial award for the best research work related to the subject of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT) and Singapore.

In his welcome speech at the gala, Fridae's CEO Dr Stuart Koe highlighted that until recently, much of Fridae's fundraising activities had benefited HIV related activities and NGOs in Singapore. The government has since increased the funding of MSM programs four-fold over the last three years due to direct lobbying efforts from people such as Dr Balaji Sadasivan, chairman of the National HIV/AIDS Policy Committee and Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Adjunct Associate Professor Roy Chan, founder and current President of Action for AIDS Singapore.

"What this means is that the money that we raise can now go directly to other community projects that are less likely to get funded. Because of 377A, and our unsuccessful attempts to get it repealed in 2007, homosexual acts remain illegal in our country, and as an indirect consequence, gay and lesbian groups and societies are unable to organize or register, much less raise funds from official sources.

"Despite this, community groups such as People Like Us, Pelangi Pride Centre, The Bear Project, ADLUS, Sayoni, Oogachaga, 5 Degrees, Women's Nite, SGButterfly, Singapore Queer Straight Alliance, Short Circuit, Young Out There, and others had a banner year of activities, testament to their resilience. They are what make Singapore's gay community so vibrant and unique," said Dr Koe.

Indignation, which is managed by gay advocacy group People Like Us and organised by other community groups and individuals, will receive S$10,000. The annual festival consisting of talks, art exhibitions, readings of plays and poetry, together with some social events, will be held in August 2009 - the same month as the country's national day celebrations. The festival was first held in 2005 as a response to the unreasonable ban on the Nation party and other events for gays and lesbians, as well as heavy censorship of publications serving the community.

S$2,000 will go towards Pinkdot Singapore, a newly launched campaign to advocate each person's right to love regardless of sexual orientation and gender. The campaign is organised by a "collective of normal everyday Singaporeans who care deeply about how our country is evolving" and who "pledge to fight against prejudice and ignorance - to make our home a better place to live in."

"We're pink because RED + WHITE = PINK; the colours of our national flag, and the colour of the identity card we all hold," declares the group's Facebook group page boasting nearly 800 members. Organisers say the campaign will culminate in an event in the middle of the year but declined to divulge more details at this time.

Filmmaker and multimedia-artist Loo Zihan will receive a S$2,000 grant for his next short film Threshold. Loo says the film is loosely based on a high profile case involving a gay trainee doctor entrapped by the police for drug possession. He hopes for the film to "question the actions of the people involved from a fictional perspective."

Film maker Loo Zihan's debut feature film Solos, which is notably the first full-length gay movie to be made in Singapore, was banned and withdrawn from public screening at the Singapore International Film Festival in 2007. The 77-minute film depicting a relationship between a junior college student and his male teacher was never screened commercially in its home country although it was screened at the Pusan International Film Festival and foreign film festivals the same year. Solos won Loo the "Nuovo Sguardi" Award at the 23rd Turino Gay and Lesbian Festival last year. He is seeking to raise S$10,000 for post production. Potential donors can contact him at thresholdthefilm@gmail.com for more details.

Fridae would like to thank our generous sponsors: Crocodile, who has been our principal sponsor for the second year running; prize and goodie bag sponsors Zuji; Apothecary and Sweet Shop Express; caterers Garden Slug and Booze Wineshop and film distributor Shaw.