People Like Us was Singapore's first gay web series. It was eponymously named after Singapore's pioneering LGBT advocacy group, whose influence on local LGBT history was so widespread that by the mid-2000s, the term "PLU" had become a common slang word for LGBT people not only in Singapore, but also in neighbouring Malaysia.
The 2016 web series, written and directed by filmmaker Leon Cheo of Cheo Pictures and produced by Jen Nee Lim of Pilgrim Pictures for gayhealth.sg, consists of six episodes. It was conceived for viewing on the Internet so that the producers and stakeholders would not have to grapple with the Media Development Authority's censorship and film classification regulations (see main article: Singapore gay censorship).
The teaser for People Like Us was launched on the gayhealth.sg website after it was uploaded to YouTube on 15 March 2016. Gayhealth.sg is a subsidiary organisation of Action for AIDS (AfA), formed to keep up with the ever-evolving needs of the gay community. It overhauled Singapore’s pioneering and most comprehensive MSM (men-who-have-sex-with-men) Programme with the objective of achieving a zero incidence of new HIV infections.
Before the entire series was uploaded to AfA's YouTube channel, people who wished to view the episodes had to fill in a password request form which, upon submission, would cause a pop-up with the password to appear. The site would then redirect them to http://www.gayhealth.sg/plu/watch to access the videos. If viewers had further questions or encountered any problem, they were requested to send an e-mail to email@example.com
The Pink Carpet service compliments AfA's anonymous testing site by riding on its current service provision, such as pre- and post-counselling, and anonymous HIV and syphilis testing. The Pink Carpet Network, run by gay-identified volunteers and counsellors, focuses on providing a new and more intimate experience at their testing facilities. Their goal is to provide optimum care and support through in-depth discussions about topics that matter to the gay community and to connect its members to their care and supportive networks.
"Based on the true-to-life characters, gayhealth.sg proudly presents ‘People Like Us’. Following the lives of four gay men in Singapore, the web series is a poignant reflection and insightful look at being gay in Singapore. In addition to the sexual escapades and relationships that unfold between them, the show explores critical health issues.
So, it’s Friday night, possibly the most important day on the #gayagenda. Rai, Joel, Ridzwan & Issac are prepping themselves before heading out. Rai, after bookout, is trying to score a date with Joel, while Joel is finishing up his routine at the Gym. Ridzwan is at a sauna, hunting for his next hookup and Issac settles in, and popped a Viagra. Four men. Lust, love, life. People Like Us."
Rai is a 20 year old NS boy, Indian, who just came out and is new to the scene. He is an idealistic, young gay man who goes on dates searching for Mr. Right. His cynical gay friends tease him about his earnestness. Unfortunately, his dates tend to end tragic-comically and he loses faith in finding love in a world where sex is on everyone’s mind.
Joel is a 26 year old, Chinese, yuppie-looking gym bunny type who works in a design/marketing firm. He is out to everyone who cares to know. His parents, whom he lives with, know but do not talk about his sexuality. Attractive, smart but impatient, Joel hasn’t had a relationship that lasts longer than 3 months. He is someone who has sex on the first date and thinks he has a handle on sex and love. One night after clubbing at Taboo, he meets Ridzwan.
Ridzwan is a 30 year old department store manager who is not out to anyone except his best friend. He is your typical “straight acting, discreet, fun only, top here, no place” gay man. He frequents saunas, and meets guys for hookups on Grindr and Jack’d. He meets Joel, falls in love, and has to negotiate the prospect of coming out and being in a relationship.
Isaac is a 45 year old Chinese senior banker. He is quite buff and salt-and-pepper handsome. Isaac is in a long term open relationship with Tommy and they often host chemsex home parties, where condoms can be optional, at his luxury condo apartment on weekends.
It’s Friday night, possibly the most important day on the gay agenda for Joel, Ridzwan, Rai, and Isaac."People Like Us" follows these four men as they navigate lust, love, and life.
Joel and Ridzwan meet for a drink but things become complicated. Meanwhile, Rai chats and connects with Isaac.
Rai goes on a series of dates with guys on Grindr, including Isaac. Will he be rejected or meet the man of his dreams? Meanwhile, Joel mopes over what happened in his bedroom with Ridzwan.
Joel and Ridzwan go on a proper date. Will their relationship blossom or hit a roadblock?
Rai meets a guy for a movie but the date doesn't end well for him. Meanwhile, Ridzwan and Joel disagree about how their relationship should progress.
Joel drowns his sorrow about Ridzwan with his friends at the bars. Rai finds out something about Isaac which troubles him. Will Joel, Ridzwan, Rai, and Isaac find what they are looking for?
Writer & directorEdit
- Steven Lim : Isaac
- Addam : Alvin
- Josh Crowe : Joel
- Dex C. : Michelle
- Hemant Ashoka : Rai
- Irfan Kasban : Ridzwan
- The Gunnery
- Gareth Johnson, "People Like Us – a new series about gay men in Singapore", Gay Star News, 14 February 2017.
- David Artavia, "Singapore's First Series About Gay Life Is a Hit", HIV Plus Mag, 20 February 2017.
This article was compiled by Roy Tan.