SINGAPORE - To adapt to the new realities of a global pandemic, this year's Pink Dot SG rally is going online, say the annual event's organisers.
This year's theme, Love Lives Here, aims to celebrate and foster a spirit of inclusion and love by uniting the LGBTQ, or lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer, community and its allies digitally as the event celebrates its 12th edition.
As they are not able to arrange for people to gather physically, Pink Dot SG's organisers have arranged a series of online events, including a livestream that will be held on the event's website from 8pm to 9.30pm on June 27.
The livestream will feature performances by home-grown artistes such as Charlie Lim, Joanna Dong and Mathilda D'Silva. The evening will also see the premiere of several videos - including a new, commissioned music video featuring 35 of Singapore's drag queens, and a series of animated short films based on the lived experiences of young LGBT people in Singapore.
Part of the event's digital aspect is a portal that allows members of the public to sign up online to leave messages of support, which will form the first digital pink dot. This will be unveiled, as the online livestream will culminate in a light-up, revealing a digital map of Singapore glowing with pink dots to represent these messages of support sent from across the island.
"With the whole nation having to adopt various stay-at-home measures to combat the pandemic, some of our more vulnerable members of the LGBTQ community are isolated in non-supportive environments," said Pink Dot SG representative Paerin Choa.
"This is why it is more important than ever for the community to be there for each other this year. We hope that by lighting up our homes, signing up for the digital light-up and watching the livestream, we can still foster a spirit of community during these difficult times, and be there for one another."
The theme of this year's Pink Dot was also chosen with the idea of supporting members of the LGBT community in Singapore who have been adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. According to a survey by LGBT research and advocacy group Sayoni, around two-thirds of the 500 members of the LGBTQ community surveyed in early June said they were facing challenges with mental health issues.
Ms Jean Chong, a director and co-founder at Sayoni, said there was a range of mental health challenges faced by community members: from increased stress, anxiety and depression, to more serious instances like suicidal thoughts and self-harm.
"People in the LGBT community may often rely on their chosen family - like friends - and not on their families. With the pandemic, their access to safe spaces and readily given support from their friends has been cut off: and they might feel isolated and trapped in an environment with unaccepting family members," said Ms Chong.
Those surveyed said that they were also struggling with a range of other issues during the Covid-19 pandemic. Almost half of the respondents, aged at least 18, said they were having trouble coping with isolation and the inability to access their social support systems.
One in five respondents also expressed concerns about their identity being disclosed to families, or said they were living in hostile family environments. Similarly, around 20 per cent of the respondents said they were unable to access regular medical services, such as therapy counselling or getting prescriptions, with ease.