Come July 21 this year, Pink Dot SG, Singapore’s landmark LGBTQ-affirming event, marks its milestone tenth edition with an expanded array of activities and a strong message to Singaporeans.
“For the past nine editions, Pink Dot has worked hard to win the hearts and minds of Singaporeans, to help bring the message of inclusion and diversity to everyone on this Little Red Dot,” said Pink Dot SG spokesperson, Paerin Choa.
“Hence, as we celebrate this important milestone, we want to call on every Singaporean who seeks a more open-minded and inclusive Singapore to stand with us, to say We Are Ready. We Are Ready to embrace diversity. We Are Ready to stand with our LGBTQ friends and family members. We are ready to engage in meaningful conversations on this issue that matters dearly to us. We Are Ready for a Singapore that truly celebrates equality and inclusion.”
As the community grows more inclusive in its programmes, but the same cannot be said about the manner in which the organisers are forced to carry out the event. The event will continue the last year’s use of barricades and check points and attendees will still be required to show photo ID (pink/blue NRIC or passport) to volunteers and security personnel before being admitted into the park. This year, attendees will come in through one dedicated entrance with twice as many checkpoints as the previous year.
The organisers noted that while foreigners will not be able to attend the Pink Dot rally, they will be allowed to attend the fringe events at Pink Fest.
The Pink Dot Concert will also be hosted on a purpose-built stage as Telok Ayer Hong Lim Green Community Centre undergoes renovations. This means higher operating cost for the organisers. In a media conference on Tuesday (22 May), Pink Dot spokesperson Paerin Choa said, "The increase in cost this year comes from having to build a stage."
In fact, organisers say that they are struggling to raise sufficient sponsorship funds for this year due to the weak economy and lack of publicity for the event. In November 2016, amendments were made to the Public Order Act (Unrestricted Area) which barred foreigners from participating in assemblies and processions at the Speakers' Corner. Sponsorship from foreign companies was also restricted.
So far, only 65 local corporate sponsors have signed on to date, these include business leaders including Ho Kwon Ping (Executive Chairman of Banyan Tree Holdings), Adrianna Tan (Founder of Wobe), Gwendolyn Regina (Founder of SGEntrepreneurs), Royston Tay (Founder of Zopim), Goh Yiping (Venture Partner, Quest Ventures), and Mohan Belani (Founder of e27).
The fundraising initiative was also launched last year by Mr Darius Cheung, the founder of property portal 99.co. Called Red Dot for Pink Dot, it is a website for local companies to sign up as Pink Dot sponsors.
The organisers are aiming to get more on board in order to meet their sponsorship target. In comparison, 2017's event at Hong Lim Park drew a total of 120 sponsors and raised S$201,000, exceeding their initial goal of S$150,000.
The organisers stated that there is still "some way to go" to achieve the funds required to stage the annual rally on 21 July, though they did not reveal their fundraising target for this year.
One key highlight, PinkFest, will see close to a dozen businesses, groups and individuals, LGBTQ and straight allies, organising an assortment of privately-run activities and events geared towards greater engagement with Singaporeans. Spanning the two weekends before Pink Dot, PinkFest is conceived as a festival of reflection, collaboration and jubilation; a platform on which everyone can join in supporting the Freedom to Love.
A major mainstay, the Pink Dot Community Tent will continue welcoming 25 LGBTQ community and support groups. As always, each group brings their unique brand of love and support for the LGBT community. Attendees to Pink Dot are encouraged to visit these groups and learn more about them and stand strong together for a truly inclusive Singapore on Saturday, 21 July 2018.
Pink Dot 10 will also see the roll-out of three community-led campaign videos by three notable local filmmakers: Christopher Khor, Quen Wong and He Shuming.
All three campaign videos focus on continuing challenges faced by LGBT individuals and families, told from the perspectives of a teenager behind the Love, Simon petition, a mother-and-daughter volunteer team, and a queer person from a Malay-Muslim family.