By Ng Yi Shu
The fifth annual LGBT gathering at Hong Lim Park drew a record breaking 21,000 turnout today with support from all around Singapore from different walks of life.
Pink Dot 2013 began with a charming rendition of the National Anthem by Vocaluptous, which was (coincidentally) followed by the National Flag flying past Hong Lim Park on its way to the ongoing National Day Parade rehearsals held in the nearby Marina Bay Floating Platform. Renditions of songs from “This Girl is on Fire” by Alicia Keys to “Stand by Me” by Ben E. King were sung by various local singers ranging from Joanna Dong & Wayne Sandosham to Mathilda da Silva. Cheerleading performances were also made by all-men cheerleading group Diamonds.
Corporate sponsors like tech giant Google (which provided a small eight-rotor camera for the photographic mapping of Pink Dot) as well as international multinational banks like Barclays had a significant number of employees attending the event. “…Google firmly believes that having a diversity of viewpoints and beliefs can lead to some really brilliant and inspiring ideas that will benefit us all in the long term,” said Keerthana Mohan, APAC Diversity and Inclusion Manager at Google in Pink Dot’s press release.
21 community groups ranging from lesbian group Sayoni to human rights group Maruah had a presence in carnival booths. The event space was also carefully reconfigured to accommodate the large turnout, with over 100 volunteers assisting in crowd control. In addition, the help of establishment organisations was garnered to assist in the concert – like last year, the concert stage at Telok Ayer Hong Lim Green Community Centre was used with the Speakers’ Corner at Hong Lim Park to create a space large enough to accommodate the record turnout.
This year’s Pink Dot Ambassadors were actress Michelle Chia, sports commentator Mark Richmond; and W!ld Rice Artistic Director Ivan Heng.
“The growing numbers at Pink Dot every year sends a strong signal that Singaporeans want a kinder and more inclusive society, a Singapore we can truly call home,” said Ivan Heng in his Pink Dot speech.
The remarkable difference between last year and this year’s Pink Dot might be a difference in openness, solidarity and community, remarks social activist Lim Jialiang, who told TOC: “We don’t see a lot of events like this in Singapore, and we don’t see people who are LGBT often in Singapore… to see all of them in one place, to see straight allies with them in one place, is incredibly heartwarming.”
Jialiang adds: “The profusion of LGBT groups in Singapore can only be a good thing… the community tent showed that there are people other than Pink Dot who are doing things and speaking out for the LGBT community… For me, as a social activist, Pink Dot really really shows the importance of solidarity in civil society – what we can do and what we can achieve in solidarity.”
The Pink Dot concert ended with the formation of the titular Pink Dot, followed by a rendition of the National Day song Home by songwriter Dick Lee. The song was chosen to reflect the theme of inclusivity and diversity in Singapore, an ideal the LGBT community has sought to strive for – and an ideal that Singaporeans should seek towards.