In an unprecedented turn of events, actor-singer Tosh Zhang of Ah Boys To Men fame has stepped down as one of Pink Dot’s Ambassadors for this year, after a slew of homophobic tweets from 2010 to 2013 were unearthed just hours after he was announced as one of four notable individuals who had taken up the role for the movement’s 11th edition.
Pink Dot SG, in a Facebook statement on Sat (18 May), said that while Mr Zhang’s decision to withdraw himself from the role of a Pink Dot Ambassador came as “a surprise”, given that they were seeking to discuss the recent incident with him, the movement respects his decision to step down from the role, and expressed its hope that Mr Zhang will “continue to stand up for love and equality as a strong ally of the LGBTQ community”.
“We believe the evolution of Tosh’s views over the years is a demonstration of the empathy and understanding that many Singaporeans are capable of,” said Pink Dot SG.
Many netizens appear to be disappointed over Mr Zhang’s decision to step down as Pink Dot 11’s Ambassador, as they believe that he has demonstrated a genuine change of heart as a straight ally for LGBTQ persons through his advocacy over the years, which is a far cry from his days of perpetuating homophobia several years ago:
A couple of commenters have also urged Pink Dot to continue reaching out to Mr Zhang in the hopes that he will retract his decision to step down as the movement’s Ambassador:
Sarah Yip, the netizen who had first brought Mr Zhang’s “problematic” tweets to light, came out in defence of her actions, suggesting that her intention for exposing his tweets was not an attempt at “dragging” him or “cancelling” him, but to “confirm that he has the capacity for growth and change by admitting his faults” and to highlight that “discrimination isn’t always overt”, as words have the potential to harm in a situation where power dynamics and privilege are skewed:
One commenter in particular raised the issue of the Pink Dot’s organisers’ choice to opt for celebrities – the majority of whom are straight – to represent the movement, instead of “ordinary citizens” who are LGBTQ persons themselves, as he was sceptical that the celebrities, with their fame and heterosexual orientation, could relate firsthand to LGBTQ Singaporeans who face “prejudice every single day”: