Pink Dot 2016 — The Oxymoron
For most people, PinkDot is just that gay event that happens every once a year, but it is anything but.
This year some conservative groups called for no overseas intervention in Singapore politics. They petitioned that foreigners should not be allowed to attend PinkDot so as to not “interfere” with Singaporean culture, as though they are spreading homosexuality here.
I find this amusing because it couldn’t be further from reality.
PinkDot was a movement that started in Singapore and then spread across the world. That’s right, PinkDot was a Singaporean creation that somehow managed to inspire the world with its infectious joy and message of equality. So in actuality, PinkDot has influenced the world more than the world has influenced PinkDot. Every year PinkDot grows and this year during their “PinkDot moment”, they had almost the whole of Hong Lim Park covered in pink. Ironically, it’s become more of an oblong shape rather than a dot due to the sheer amount of people showing up to give their support.
This is why I’ve found it even more saddening that the government seems to not budge on their stance pertaining to gay rights. Earlier this year, in response to suggestions to remove 377A, Singapore’s UDHR declared to “retain the status quo”. They even went further to say that we inherited 377A, the law that criminalizes anal sex between men in Singapore. It is disheartening to see the government turn a deaf ear to their fellow Singaporeans who just want the equal rights, and still not turn that same deaf ear to the conservatives who have nothing to do with gay people getting married, and allow them to “retain the status quo”.
Despite that it was heartening to see so many people come down and bring their families to show just how inclusive we Singaporeans can be. It really was amazing to see old aunties and little kids playing in the park wearing pink!
This year Pinkdot did not have a “light up” like in previous years where they raise pink lights to the sky for the group picture. Instead they had placards which were even better! It was such a sight seeing people expressing their supportive opinions on their own cards and showing them off for all to see. Seeing all the gay couples there holding hands and expressing their love for each other in the safe space that PinkDot created made me feel happy and uncomfortable at the same time.
I was happy because they all deserve to love who they want without being oppressed. I was uncomfortable because of the realisation that it was unfair that I as a straight person get to love who I want without discrimination or having to keep it hidden, while they don’t enjoy they same right. I was uncomfortable because even while seeing them treat their partners so lovingly, I was aware that they would never be able to marry and start a family because of Singapore’s current laws and that I could, just because I liked people of the opposite sex. It was not fair to them and that made me feel uncomfortable.
My hope is that PinkDot grows past the boundaries of Hong Lim Park and spreads into the national identity of Singaporeans, regardless of race language or religion, it’s about time we included orientation into our pledge and make Singapore a more inclusive place.
After all, what’s more majulah than moving onwards, away from bigotry and discrimination?
Benjamin Matchap is currently a student in broadcast media from LASALLE College of the Arts. Ben is also a parkour enthusiast in his free time.