Once a year, Singapore’s LGBTQA+ community comes out to create an enormous sea of pink in Hong Lim Park. Pink Dot is an event that celebrates the community, and is one of the only legal demonstrations in Singapore. The event protests Section 377A of Singapore law, which states that consensual sex between two men is a criminal act. The name “Pink Dot” comes from the mixing of the Singapore flag colors (red and white) and from the color of Singapore citizen IDs.
This year was Pink Dot’s 9th anniversary, and the first year the Singapore government has required barriers surrounding the park. This was also the first year foreigners were banned from the park, meaning only PRs and citizens were allowed to take part in the demonstration. Due to these restrictions, I felt especially provoked to support the community as a straight alliance member.
Pink Dot Singapore (by Sebastian Tan)
I arrived with my friends at 4:30pm (the event starts at 5pm), and we were shocked by the immense crowd that had already started to form in and around the park. After about 20 minutes in the security line we entered the park and set up our picnic. I was glad to see that the event was very accessible as it had ramped entries accompanied by paved paths, as well as a sign language interpreter for the Speaker’s Corner. The first part of the event – “Community Voices” – is where allies and members share their stories on a small raised stage. The speeches were everything from the victim’s tale of a heart wrenching journey to self-acceptance to the hero’s story of protecting those who couldn’t protect themselves. All the speakers were very motivational and provoked sympathy from the audience.
Next came part two of Pink Dot: the music. The lineup was all Singaporean artists, most of whom were accompanied by a band. Artists like Hirzi, Mars, and the Apex Project performed, showing their support for the community. To finish the performances with a bang, an epic hip hop dance routine was performed to a playlist of the Queens of Pop. The crowd hopped with the dancers to Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Rihanna, and more. This was easily one of the highlights of the entire event.
Along with support from famous names were hundreds of signs, pride flags, free hugs, and pink decor courtesy of volunteers and attendees. Being in such a caring and supportive made you feel like one voice – let alone 20,000 voices – could accomplish anything.
The light up is the last and most famous part of Pink Dot. When entering the park we are all given a pink flashlight, so that when the clock hit 8pm we could all move to the center of the park and turn them on. While we all crushed together to fit into the drone’s picture, ambassadors of the event spoke some final words. Their words were incredibly moving, so moving in fact that most of them teared up or even cried on stage. As the heat began to build up, the speeches ended and it was finally time for the light up. However, this year wasn’t going to be any other light up. For the first time in Pink Dot history, the sea of pink lights would be paired with a pride rainbow (made of umbrellas).
The count down began, and you could feel the excitement in everyone’s voices. This whole day had been building up to this moment, a moment that would be preserved in newspapers the following day, and in history forever. We counted down from 10, and before I knew it, we were yelling “1”. The pride umbrellas lit up, as did all the pink flashlights, and then came the sound of 20,000 people singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”.
There were cheers and tears of joy surrounding me. Families and couples hugged, and in that instant I felt consumed by love. It is truly an incredible feeling to be immersed in a crowd who love and support each other. You feel this indescribable warmth, as if everyone around you was giving off heat as strong as the Singapore sun. I felt gratefulness, love, and kindness streaming through me in those final minutes of the event.
Watch Pink Dot SG’s official video below: