“My parents aren’t aware,” Latiff shared with an enigmatic smile - a smile animated by his lively surroundings but also tempered by his unfulfilled desire to come out to his whole family. His sister’s brilliantly pink tudung has not completely stripped away his veil of silence. Yet, Latiff was hardly despondent as he uttered his simple request: “We just want acceptance.”
When interviewed, another middle-aged participant had a simple request, “I would rather remain anonymous.” He was a teacher at a prestigious institution. These words harked back to an open letter composed by a teacher at Raffles Institution in 2007, who removed his blog post at the behest of the headmaster. The thistles of reality - Section 377A of our penal code, the otherisation of people belonging to a different sexual orientation - still prick and hurt outside of Hong Lim Park.
Because of, and not despite, these thistles, Hong Lim Park was brimming with much chatter and cheer for the fourth year running.
There was an abundance of food too: cocktail sausages paired with bright pink quail eggs, Old Chang Kee curry puffs, potato salads, etc. One group of picnickers who were supporting their LGBTQ friends from polytechnic laid out a jumbo box of strawberry Hello Panda biscuits and a party-size bag of strawberry gummies. Free strawberry bubble tea attracted a snaking queue. An uncle doled out strawberry ice cream cones to temporarily dispel the tropical humidity.
There was an abundance of loving people. 15,000 Singaporeans and Pink Dot supporters, each clutching a pink light. When dusk eased into darkness, every person shone her individual light at a camera perched on Furama City Centre Hotel just down the road. As the record-smashing dot flickered to life, the crowd erupted into a rapturous cheer. This cheer did not smother the recognisable sound of a peck: the lips of two individuals came together.
“Me? I’m a double minority!” Kumar, the renowned comedian clad in a pink sari, called out to his pink sea of audience. He was alluding to his dual identities of a racial minority and a gay Singaporean. Article 12 of our constitution forbids discrimination against Kumar’s race while amputating the other half of Kumar’s minority identity from legal protection.
There was a clear exhortation that withholding protections and rights from the LGBTQ community was un-Singaporean. Lim Yu Beng, Singapore’s theatre veteran, reminded the crowd, “There is a lot of pink between the red and white.”
Escorted by two Apaches, a droning Chinook bearing our massive red and white national flag travelled above a distinctly pink blob. The helicopter-cade was returning from the National Day Parade rehearsal at the Marina Bay Floating Platform. The theme of 2012’s parade is “Loving Singapore, Our Home.”
Just over a month before National Day, 15,000 people have gathered to live this theme. In the words of Sharon Au, the former City Beat host, “We’re not only for a Pink Dot, but a Pink Country.”
Watch the video of Pink Dot 2012 at Hong Lim Park.
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