In 2009, the Pink Dot movement in Singapore was granted permission to hold its first outdoor rally ever. It was also the country’s very first LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender) public event; a milestone in a relatively conservative Asian community. Since then, the event has seen growing support and acceptance but, the message has always been the same; one of diversity and acceptance. This year’s event, on the 4th June, 3 Pm at Hong Lim park, marks the 8th rally under the Pink Dot banner, and it is set to raise the bar higher in terms of its reach and relevance.
In a heartening show of support, the business community has rallied support for the cause in greater strength this year. Amongst returning ones like Barclays, Google, J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs, new ones like Microsoft, Visa and Facebook have lent their support for 2016. This broadening of endorsement is instrumental to the campaign for acceptance and equal rights. If a company with a reach as pervasive as Microsoft, or as omnipresent as Facebook upholds the basic tenets of human rights as espoused by Pink Dot, it would be easier for the greater community to accept the message, or at least consider the viewpoints expressed.
The creative community has provided a strong backing to the event since its inception and this year is no exception. At the media event, familiar personalities could be seen in attendance, and wholeheartedly standing in solidarity with the organisers. Otherwise, the official ambassadors for this year are Liu Ling Ling, ShiGGa Shay and Anita Kapoor. A highlight this year, is the feature of 3 film makers who have tackled the challenges of the issues faced by the LGBT community and produced 3 emotionally charged short films of commendable calibre. Sticking closely to this year’s theme of “Our Everyday Heros”, each short film highlighted courageous, real life personalities and presented a candid account of their convictions, challenges and triumphs – something not to be missed.
To help us understand where the Pink Dot movement stands today and where it’s headed, Deryne Sim, Pink Dot Spokesperson graciously offers her time to answer some of our questions.
Alvinology: Is there any special focus at this year’s Pink Dot Concert?
Deryne Sim: The focus of the Pink Dot event is the iconic Pink Dot demonstration; this year, Singaporeans and Permanent Residents will pen messages of love and support and raise them at the same time to send out a united message of inclusivity. There is no special focus for the Pink Dot concert, but we are pleased to have talented artistes such as Shigga Shay, Liu Ling Ling, Hirzi and Charlie Lim perform at the concert.
Alvinology: Are there any themes different from previous years?
Deryne Sim: This year we are focusing on everyday heroes – how anyone can become a hero with acts of love and understanding both big and small.
Alvinology: Now that the Pink Dot concert has been an annual occurrence, what are some of the positive effects and negative effects that you have noticed each year. Are there positive trends?
Deryne Sim: Over the years, we see more and more people attending the event in a show of solidarity and support. We can attribute this to more people understanding and accepting the universality of our message of the ‘Freedom to Love’. As the movement gains momentum, we do see some push back from conservative groups. However, we always welcome dialogue so that we may all better understand one another.
Alvinology: The 1st Pink Dot concert was a milestone in even being allowed to be held. What are current milestones the organisation is working towards? What are the ones in the future?
Deryne Sim: Pink Dot’s objectives remain the same every year, to spread the message that everyone has the freedom to love and be loved, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. It is our hope that more and more people will come to Pink Dot and have a hand in building a diverse and inclusive Singapore.
Alvinology: What made it possible for more corporate sponsors coming on board this year?
Deryne Sim: Businesses are beginning to see the importance of diversity and acceptance in the workplace, and our team has been invited to give talks and presentations on diversity in the workplace. This has allowed us to increase our exposure to more companies, and those truly interested in our movement have decided to come on board as sponsors to lend their support.
Alvinology: Tell me more about the motivations behind the short films. Are there any intended effects? i.e. to reach out to the public, elicit understanding, etc
Deryne Sim: We wanted to tell compelling, genuine stories of how everyday people became heroes to one another because of their own selfless acts of love and courage. Ultimately, we hope that these stories will touch and move everyone, and inspire more people to become heroes as well.
Alvinology: Were the short films self-funded or funded by Pink Dot.
Deryne Sim: These were funded by Pink Dot. We are grateful to the cast and crew who worked on the films on a voluntary basis.
Alvinology: How were the featured films/ film makers selected?
Deryne Sim: We reached out through our networks of friends and family for interesting real-life stories as well as the crews with which to put together the films, and we are grateful for all the support we received.
Alvinology: Where can these short films be found/ viewed? On youtube, or Vimeo?
Alvinology: What is the significance of placards and why are only for singaporeans/ PRs. what is it a demonstration of?
Deryne Sim: Since its inception, Pink Dot has always been a rally in support of the Freedom of Love, and this year we wanted to use the placards as a strong, visible form of expression and support. In encouraging our participants to take a more proactive stance through the placards and be everyday heroes, we hope to continue fostering a more loving and inclusive society in Singapore.
The regulations for the Speakers’ Corner in Hong Lim Park, where Pink Dot is held each year, state that only Singaporeans and Permanent Residents may take part in demonstrations, though foreigners are able to watch and observe.
What: Pink Dot 2016
When: 4th July 2016, 3pm
Where: Hong Lim Park