Pink Dot celebrates its 10th year

Close to 200 volunteers were involved in the organisation of the lights for a Pink Dot formation. ST PHOTO: SONG TAO

SINGAPORE - Hong Lim Park was covered in a sea of pink on Saturday (July 21), as the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community and their supporters gathered to celebrate the 10th iteration of Pink Dot SG.

Among those who turned up was Ms Ging Zi Qin, 24, a barista.

She said: "Pink Dot means a lot to me because it is a platform for people to come together to support the community. But ideally, we would not even need it if only people could love and accept each other as equals."

This is the second year that Ms Ging has volunteered at the festival, which marked the culmination of a series of activities and events this year to raise awareness about and also to celebrate the cause.

These activities and events, known as Pink Fest, were organised for the first time this year. They included movie screenings, talks, parties and tours - all intended to engage with the LGBTQ community and their supporters beyond the day itself.

A photo exhibition featuring LGBTQ individuals is also on display at the Intermission Bar in Golden Mile Tower, displaying portraits of 150 individuals in Singapore.

The exhibition titled Out in Singapore was shot by prominent Singaporean photographer Leslie Kee.

Among the notable names featured includes director Glen Goei, 55, as well as founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew's grandson, Mr Li Huanwu, 31, general manager, and his partner, Mr Yi Rui Heng, 27, veterinarian. Mr Li's father is Mr Lee Hsien Yang, the younger son of the late Mr Lee.

The exhibition is on till July 29.

The event's organisers said that these activities are intended to show that love and support for the cause is not just a "one-day thing".

Mr Paerin Choa, 42, a spokesman and volunteer who has been with the Pink Dot movement since its inception in 2009, told The Straits Times that the traction gained over the years surpassed his expectations.

He said: "When we first started out in 2009, we had hoped to fill the park in 10 years, but just three years in, in 2011, the park was already full."

Mr Choa recounted how the movement had humble beginnings, with a makeshift stage formed from tables, handheld microphones and battery operated speakers, but 2011 marked their turning point when Google came aboard as a corporate sponsor.

He said: "And overnight, we suddenly had money to have a proper stage. we got critical mass that year and was one of my most unforgettable experiences."

Since then, the movement has continued to grow in attendance and sponsorships - this year, the movement has a total of 113 local sponsors.

The growth came amid challenges, including a change in policy in 2016 that barred multi-national corporations such as Google and Facebook from sponsoring the event as well as resistance from segments of the society.

Speaking about Pink Dot's future, the organisers said they will be continuing to work on Pink Fest and to ensure that the conversation expands beyond just the day itself.

Mr Choa said: "We see Pink Fest as a means for greater community involvement. It is a way to keep the conversation going for both the LGBT and non-LGBT communities.

"We believe that only through engagement and education can we create spaces that are safe and that also raise awareness of LGBTQ issues for more Singaporeans."

Looking forward, the organisers said that the ideal future for Pink Dot would be one in which it is no longer needed to be held.

Similarly, student Willie Seah, 23, who was among the attendees on Saturday, said if the society is truly inclusive, there may not be a need for an event like Pink Dot to be held.

Another attendee, Mr Ervin Tan, 28, who is unemployed, said: "I hope to see the barricades come down."

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