I attended my first Pink Dot with two intents in mind: first, to help out a collection of passionate students from Yale-NUS looking to work on gender, sexuality, and feminist issues; second, to continue my experience as a pseudo-journalist with the Breakfast Network (here).
The atmosphere was festive, and the events very unlike the usual happenings at Hong Lim Park. Angry political speeches and indignant proclamations gave way to concert performances and impromptu sing-alongs (that is, until the very end). Hand-made protest placards and banner-signing booths were replaced by huge balloons and a crowded community tent. No rallying cries for change, but a chorus of celebrations.
It was an evening to remember.
I met friends; cherished friends whom I hadn’t met for a long time. I made new friends; beautiful friends whom I have so much to learn from.
Everyone was dressed spritely in pink. Especially the many foreigners I spoke to. There was a Colombian who had arrived at Singapore just for the event. An American professor who had touched down from Kuala Lumpur an hour earlier, after her academic conference. French undergraduates who had made a special summer trip to Pink Dot, to soak in this joyous occasion. International students who had gathered despite being jet-lagged, because they believed in the freedom to love regardless of one’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Under the moonlight, the shimmering pink torches were an incredible sight to behold. Yet what truly stood out for me, as I scrolled through posts and photographs on the train home, were the individuals criticising the event. I speak not of the bigots spewing vitriol on various online news sites, but of the participants – past and present – articulating perspectives on the way ahead. Has Pink Dot, with the growing numbers, deviated from its true purpose? While the sponsors provide legitimacy and render the event (and its communities) more mainstream, should we embrace such commercialism so readily? Even as the attendance skyrockets, what else can or should be done, beyond present legal challenges?
I suppose, this is the democratic discourse we truly deserve. I am convinced, after exchanges with friends and readers, that we can all do our part (here, the comments section).
I went to Pink Dot for two reasons. But, I left with many more reasons to return next year.