Pink Dot 2015 was held on Saturday, 13th June, a few weeks earlier than most years. I was already suffering from a steady buildup of anticipation since a few days before the event, wondering how the atmosphere and feel of Pink Dot would have changed since the last one I attended in 2012, the one where they introduced a night light-up and pink torches. (Unfortunately I wasn’t able to go last year because I was incapacitated by a sudden allergic reaction.)
This year I dragged my boyfriend (Yx) along — he’d originally been apprehensive because he felt it was out of place for us, a straight couple, to be at an event meant primarily for LGBT individuals. I found that sentiment echoed in a lot of other people whose opinions on Pink Dot I asked. Pink Dot, however, isn’t restricted to LGBT people — that would be hypocritical. At its core, Pink Dot is a movement about acceptance, and whether or not you are gay, straight, bisexual, transgender or simply don’t want to be defined by labels, Pink Dot is a safe space where you are welcome to show your support for the freedom to love. I’m pretty sure I was annoying about it sometimes, but he patiently let me tell him what I knew about the LGBT community and its struggles in Singapore. I realize that I cannot accurately speak for the LGBT community as a straight person, but the injustice faced by LGBTs in Singapore (and other parts of the world) is something I’ve been passionate about for most of my life — I have friends and acquaintances who are LGBT and they’ve impacted and shaped my views in many ways as well.
We reached the event at about 5:30 PM and took a walk around the park which proved difficult because of the number of attendees. It was crowded and the atmosphere was amazing, just bubbling with positivity. It reminded me of the first time I attended Pink Dot and saw LGBT couples holding hands, for once unafraid of displaying their affection for each other in public. Volunteers were enthusiastically greeting people at the MRT exit while people walked around with signs around their necks advertising free hugs. The field was practically covered in picnic mats and dogs sporting pink accessories (collars, bows, t-shirts) were abundant. We took a walk down to the newly-implemented Pink Street which I thought was a great idea, especially after they stopped people dangerously jaywalking across the semi-busy road to get there. Pink Dot really seems to take security and safety seriously, which is admirable. I bought a cute tote bag for $10 and got my pink torch for free, though I wouldn’t have minded paying for it anyway. The entire perimeter of Hong Lim Park however was covered in smokers and I had to swim through clouds of second-hand smoke to get to Pink Street (or basically anywhere out of the park). After our brief detour we went back to Pink Dot and took photos while looking around at the community tents. We managed to catch a speech made by Avin Tan during Community Voices — his bravery and positive attitude were really inspiring. Queues at the tents were long and apparently they had run out of food but we weren’t there for the freebies anyway. The photo booth seemed well received and had really cute props, though we didn’t try it out. The Instagram printing service seemed to be flooded with requests and despite me leaving my username with the staff my photo ended up not getting printed — not that it matters, considering it’s a free service. It was nice to see pictures of happy faces strung up on clotheslines waiting to be collected, a mini gallery of this year’s attendees.
Yx and I headed down to Clarke Quay Central for dinner when the concert began because I wasn’t really a fan of any of the featured artists and we were starving. It was cool to see every other person near the area and in the mall decked out in pink. We returned after for the dot formation and to hear the ambassador speeches, basically the highlight of the event.
I teared up during Hirzi’s speech, which probably resonated with me the most. Maybe it was because as a teenager in secondary school I did experience some level of ostracism from my peers (though in a different way from LGBT youth) and went through some dark times where I was struggling with bad feelings and looking for hope. Knowing that my attendance and support for Pink Dot could be a beacon for someone in the same (or worse) situation was heartwarming. I felt the same way the first time I attended Pink Dot in 2012 and heard the ambassadors giving equally heartfelt speeches, feeling the thousands of people in attendance being moved by the same words and having the same emotions bubbling up inside. Then we comfortably huddled together and counted down to switch on our torches. They directed us to look at a pink heart stationed in one of the buildings but it was barely visible in between the leaves of trees from where we were standing. (Also someone in the neighbouring residence had stuck a pink LED-lit penis in their window which was cool.)
Didn’t realize that the word ‘LOVE’ was being formed until I watched the video. 🙂 So amazing.
After the dot was formed a DJ came out to spin and people scattered, leaving behind a lot of trash which was kind of disappointing. Kudos to the volunteers who had to pick up after the messier attendees. All in all Pink Dot 2015 was a great way to spend half of my weekend — though I spend a lot of my time questioning why I’m still in Singapore when I see so many bigoted and judgemental people being cruel to those who are different from them, communities like Pink Dot and other groups that are supportive of LGBT restore my faith in Singaporeans. To quote Hirzi, “We all have different ideas of what is right and what is wrong, but we should all have the same senses for what is human.” And I hope that Singapore grows just enough to realize that what we lack right now is equality in basic human rights and works to restore that to all citizens. The longer the state discriminates against LGBT individuals, the more people will use that as an excuse to exercise cruelty and injustice towards them.