Looking back at the year since the last Pink Dot in Singapore

The annual LGBT picnic Pink Dot takes place Jun 4 at Hong Lim Park, with celebrity ambassadors, a three-movie video campaign produced by Boo Junfeng and even PS Cafe among the long list of otherwise international corporate sponsors. But how is LGBT tolerance in Singapore actually faring outside the wholesome annual picnic celebration? We scour the news between this Pink Dot and the last to see. 

November 30, 2015

20,000 people signed a petition asking gay pop star Adam Lambert to be uninvited from the New Year’s Eve festivities in Singapore, “for his active promotion of a highly sexualized lifestyle and LGBT rights, both of which are contrary to mainstream Singaporean values.”

January 27, 2016

At the UN’s Universal Periodic Review, 15 countries recommended that Singapore repeal section 377A. (The review was part of a larger human rights policy review all member states go through.) Ambassador Chan Heng Chee stressed that Singapore does not enforce the law. Local LGBT advocacy organization SAYONI rebutted by citing limitations on LGBT portrayals in the media and instances of workplace discrimination.

, Looking back at the year since the last Pink Dot in Singapore
Ivan Heng

February 14, 2016

A human interest piece by TODAY, featuring power couples in Singapore theater, interviewed Wild Rice creative director Ivan Heng and his husband Tony Trickett, but their portion was omitted from the final version of the story, prompting a post by Heng on Facebook and an ensuing debate.

February 15, 2016

In Fault Lines, a queer-themed exhibition at LaSalle’s Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore, two “sex objects” were removed from Singaporean artist Loo Zihan’s 81-piece installation, Queer Objects: An Archive for the Future. By way of explanation, ICA director Bala Starr told The Straits Times, “The show is intended to be inclusive, particularly bearing in mind that we have young as well as mature students at Lasalle, many from different cultural and religious backgrounds. Ours is an open, highly visible gallery with a full glass facade.” 

March 5, 2016

A hero of the American LGBT community, comedian Margaret Cho came to the Kallang Theatre, promising not to censor herself. Tickets sold out so fast, the organizers scrambled to add a second show. As expected, she shocked and awed with her colorful language, her views on 377A and some infamous words for the vocally anti-gay leaders in Singapore.

February 25, 2016

Two weeks later, Mediacorp’s Channel 5 edited out a portion of The Ellen Degeneres Show, where President Barack Obama congratulated her on her LGBT advocacy in the United States. VP of Programming Lee Hung Sheng said the edit was in compliance with Singapore’s Free-to-Air TV program guidelines, which require that “all programs broadcast between 6am and 10pm must be suitable for family audiences”. Themes such as “drug use, prostitution or homosexuality” are not deemed suitable.

February 20, 2016

RIOT!, Singapore’s only drag revue took a break from the cavernous darkness of TAB and headed to a fancy champagne brunch at Marina Bay Sands. Long Chim hosted the first-ever Filthy & Gorgeous, a daytime drag revue. This was followed up with a second one in April.

, Looking back at the year since the last Pink Dot in Singapore
Cast of GRIND

April 2, 2016

Local theater company Toy Factory ended its sold-out run of gay-themed play GRIND at Drama Centre Blackbox. The story deals with four gay male friends, each dealing with a conflict in their lives. The play received a relatively lenient R18 rating from the MDA.

April 27, 2016

An unnamed Singaporean woman who faces reservist duty back in Singapore was granted asylum in the UK. According to NS regulations, pre-operative transgender women are still eligible for national service, whereas the UK recognizes transgender people regardless of their anatomy.

April 29, 2016

In support of Pink Dot and the LGBT community in Singapore, local multi-label boutique Actually teamed up with fellow local business Mash Up to create a pink capsule collection, with proceeds from sales going towards the event.

, Looking back at the year since the last Pink Dot in Singapore
Rose, from the second Pink Dot campaign video

May 6, 2016

Pink Dot outdid itself in this year’s campaign video. A series of three short films this time around, the campaign covered under-discussed topics such as HIV and transgender issues through heartwarming stories of friendship, support and love.

May 11, 2016

RuPaul’s Drag Race announces a big first show in Singapore taking place in July. The extravagant stage show, based on the American drag reality series, will take place at Kallang Theatre, where Margaret Cho also performed.

May 25, 2016

TODAY reported that he anti-LGBT Wear White campaign will take place over Pink Dot weekend, led by pastor Lawrence Khong. Although initially started two years ago by Noor Deros, the Islamic religious teacher said he would not carry out on the campaign this year, focusing instead on educational programs.