Pink Dot SG, Singapore’s annual rally to celebrate the freedom to love for the LGBT community, will kick off its ninth edition on Saturday but it has not come without its own set of struggles.
From sponsor drama to foreign participation rules tightening, here are five things the event did successfully, showing the tenacity of the LGBT community in moving forward:
1) Pink Dot rallied local sponsors together despite foreign funding being banned
When the Singapore government decided to can foreign companies and their local incorporations from sponsoring the event, Pink Dot called for a Red Dot for Pink Dot campaign and rallied 120 sponsors to chip in a total of $243,000, making it the highest sponsorship amount the event has received to date.
2) Pink Dot survived despite Singapore authorities banning foreign participation
The sponsorship funds came into good use when the authorities also told event organisers that foreigners were not allowed to participate in the event as a whole. Previously, they could not take part in the demonstration aspect but could gather, which was why foreigners were separated into an observation deck while locals and permanent residents took part in the act of shining torchlights or holding up umbrellas and placards.
The police only agreed to setting up barricades to prevent foreigners from entering the compound, but that has not stopped various groups from helping others to settle into the Hong Lim Park space. Organisers from Indignation SG, Singapore’s pride month, are helping pick up people all over Singapore to accompany them enter the Pink Dot event.
3) Pink Dot survived despite anti-LGBT sentiment rising in Singapore
Facebook pages such as We Are Against Pinkdot in Singapore have been actively targeting the event, namely in an incident where an advertisement by Pink Dot at the Cathay Cineleisure mall drew the ire of the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore.
The ad survived – as did Cathay’s balls – and an even bigger ad popped up at the front of the mall. The Singaporeans Defending Marriage and Family Facebook page also released posts and videos targeting the definition of “freedom to love”.
But well, despite all of that, the show’s still going on, innit?
4) Pink Dot received more LGBT support despite LGBTs criticising the event
Within the LGBT community, there was criticism in the event’s early years that it did not represent other issues such as gender identity and transgender rights and that it was seen as a highly-commercialised affair, bereft of the grit that activism is usually known for.
Since then, the event has launched a Community Voices stage where people from all walks of life come up to speak about their experiences being disenfranchised or made to feel inferior or that they did not belong because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
5) Pink Dot received their first disabled, openly-gay sportsperson ambassador
Theresa Goh, a Singapore Paralympian in swimming, bravely shared her coming-out story on The Straits Times, thus making her Singapore’s first openly-gay sportsperson and Pink Dot’s first disabled, openly-gay sportsperson as an ambassador of the event.
Despite all the obstacles that have caused Pink Dot much turmoil in its instalment this year, the event has turned around and shown the strength of the LGBT community in gathering to make change. The event even dipped its toes in a promotional video speaking about how long-standing issues such as marriage, children and CPF savings are affecting LGBTs in Singapore:
The strength of the event may have been boosted by the adversarial response it has received in the years past, but time and again, the event has shown that those who believe in a more diverse and inclusive Singapore are getting together and making their voice heard.
Will this be the tipping point towards greater inclusivity? Drop your thoughts in the comments below.
Keep culture journalism alive, at just the price of a kopi. For a little bit more, get access to exclusives and a monthly gift box. Support us at patreon.com/popspoken