Pink Dot SG, (more commonly referred to simply as Pink Dot) was held on Saturday, 16 May 2009. It was Singapore's historic, first open air LGBT-supportive event. It established a record for the greatest number of participants to turn up for any event at Speakers' Corner, Hong Lim Park since the latter's inception. It was given extensive coverage in the international and local media.,,
Pink Dot SG is a non-profit movement started by a group of disparate individuals. Dr. Roy Tan, a medical practitioner with a passionate interest in archiving the history of Singapore's LGBT community, wanted to take advantage of the liberalisation, with effect from 1 September 2008, of rules governing activities that could be conducted at Speakers’ Corner, Hong Lim Park. He initially registered with the National Parks Board to stage a traditional pride parade on Saturday, 15 November 2008,. Other community activists were concerned that such a parade might not gain the larger public acceptance that was its aim, and Pink Dot SG evolved out of the discussions that ensued,.
The novel concept of forming a giant pink dot itself, never before employed in any LGBT-supportive event in the world, was the brainchild of Pink Dot organising committee member Choo Lip Sin. However, it must be mentioned that the first activist-inspired public gathering of people dressed in pink was organised by Miak Siew and took place 1 year earlier, in 2007, during the Pink Picnic held at the Botanic Gardens during the third year of IndigNation, Singapore's LGBT pride month. Also, Bian Tan was the first person who suggested, on SiGNeL (the Singapore Gay News List), that a gathering of people togged out in pink would have more broad-based appeal than a gay pride parade. This was because LGBT Singaporeans were still largely afraid to be seen at a pride parade, which would be indirectly outing themselves . A gathering of both straight and LGBT people dressed the same way to support a cause would circumvent the problem as it would not mean that just because one was seen at the event, that would mean that the person was gay.
The design of the Pink Dot mascot, affectionately named "Pinkie" was later provided pro bono by straight graphic designer Soh Ee Shaun,,. Soh's help was solicited by Dominic Chua, who helped Roy Tan immensely in the recruitment of stakeholders and in the organisation of the event. The crafting of the PR-friendly slogan "Support the Freedom to Love", which was a concerted attempt to move away from using the word "rights" and which later gained widespread currency both locally and internationally, was the work of Ash Lim. Dr. Stuart Koe, CEO of Fridae.com, kindly agreed to his LGBT portal being Pink Dot's first corporate sponsor, providing technology (website), creative, marketing and logistics support, the use of the Fridae office for meetings, and at least $2,000 to get the inaugural event off the ground.
Prior to September 2008, Pink Dot would have been an illegal event, with the police regarding it a form of demonstration in violation of the rules governing the use of the Speakers' Corner. For 8 years since its inception in 2000, users of Speakers' Corner were required to register themselves at the police post and were prohibited from employing any audio amplification equipment or conducting themselves in a manner which may be deemed a public protest or demonstration.
The status quo changed on 1 September 2008, when the Government decided to relax the rules to allow for protests, demonstrations and self-powered sound systems, all made permissible by just a simple online registration with the National Parks Board (NParks). However, this newfound right was secured through years of effort by activists to open up political space and to persuade Singaporeans to accept the idea of peaceful protests. It took arrests, fines and prison sentences suffered by activists, in particular by Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) leader Dr. Chee Soon Juan. Chee made a decision in 1999 to risk imprisonment by embarking on a long-drawn campaign of civil disobedience to bring the government to bear for its refusal to honour its citizens' rights to free speech and assembly.
The Pink Dot SG movement was built around a community event, which called for Singaporeans to converge at Hong Lim Park dressed in pink, to form a giant Pink Dot, a tongue-in-cheek reference to Singapore being a "Little Red Dot". Pink Dot’s overarching objective was to focus mainstream attention on LGBT issues, under a “Freedom to Love” slogan. Recognising the importance of garnering support from all segments of society, its organisers positioned the event as one promoting inclusiveness and diversity, leveraging on the theme to create resonance across various demographic groups,.
The official Pink Dot SG event took place at the Speakers’ Corner of Hong Lim Park in Singapore on 16 May 2009. The event date was chosen for its significance, as it fell between the International Day of the Family (May 15) and the International Day Against Homophobia (May 17).
An estimated 2,500 people participated in the inaugural Pink Dot event. It was a double watershed, being both the first ever large-scale gay-supportive demonstration to take place in Singapore, as well as the largest gathering to take place at Hong Lim Park since the creation of the Speakers’ Corner in September 2000.
Leading up to the main event the committee undertook a series of publicity-generating activities to drive awareness, particularly in galvanising support from heterosexual quarters. These were primarily digital initiatives such as the creation of a Pink Dot SG website, blog, Facebook profile and YouTube account, and provided the committee the flexibility in being able to quickly and relatively freely disseminate information to relevant parties, while retaining control over the content being published.
Further driving the movement’s focus on inclusiveness and diversity, three non-LGBT celebrity ambassadors were identified, and they constituted a second key component in efforts to engage audiences. The ambassadors, actors Neo Swee Lin, Timothy Nga and radio deejay Rosalyn Lee, generously lent their presence on-event and made appearances at fundraising activities in LGBT-friendly clubs,.
Directed by an acclaimed filmmaker, Boo Junfeng, the videos were a touching montage of comments made by the Ambassadors and supporters of Pink Dot – the first calling on the public to "come make Pink Dot", the second building on the momentum, titled “Red + White = Pink”. Significantly successful, both videos were viewed a total of more than 48,000 times.
Garnering support was crucial to the campaign’s success, but the committee was also very mindful of the legal implications surrounding the event. Male homosexual sex remains illegal in Singapore because of the existence of Section 377A of the Penal Code. Despite the government's approval of demonstrations at the Speakers’ Corner without a permit, the organisers were not certain if the authorities, fuelled by their conservative support base, would nonetheless disallow the event. It was also a concern if the police, who maintain a post in a building adjacent to the park, would be called in to harass those who chose to participate. It was important to allay such fears in the minds of potential participants.
- Main article: AWARE saga
The breakout of the AWARE saga which stretched from late March 2009 to early May 2009 gave rise to an immense amount of indignation amongst the LGBT, human rights and feminist communities in Singapore, as well as interested observers from the general public.
The debacle began as an orchestrated takeover of the leadership of Singapore's best known women's organisation, the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE), by a group of women (and some men) with strong anti-LGBT and right-wing Christian leanings. It garnered intense publicity in the media and ended with the ousting of the new guard by over a thousand women outraged by the inexperienced new executive committee's questionable actions and agenda.
The AWARE saga galvanised people to attend the first Pink Dot to make a stand against the underhanded modus operandi and homophobic values of the disgraced ex-new exco, in addition to supporting the "Freedom to Love". This boosted the attendance to some 2,500, far surpassing the Pink Dot organisers' modest expectations. Some participants even wore T-shirts emblazoned with the quote, "Shut up and sit down!", in mockery of how the new exco attempted to quieten the audience during AWARE's extraordinary general meeting at Suntec City on Saturday, 2 May 2009 when a vote of no confidence was passed against it.
Pink Dot 2009 - The EventEdit
A feeling of anticipation permeated Hong Lim Park on the afternoon of Saturday, 16 May 2009 when people congregated at Speakers’ Corner dressed in all manner of pink. Many came with friends, family members and partners; some came bringing their pets, but everyone came with the sole objective of celebrating the "Freedom to Love".
Three LGBT-friendly cultural performance troupes contributed to the carnival-like atmosphere, representing Singapore’s major ethnic groups and challenging perceptions of such cultural groups being opposed to participating in a LGBT-related activity. They were complemented by 2 other contemporary dance groups – Voguelicious, and Dance2Inspire.
Volunteers formed the crucial backbone of the operation, with over 60 taking up a range of tasks from photography to crowd control.
The event’s piece de resistance, the formation of the titular Pink Dot, was preceded by 2 smaller formations by several dozen people of the words ‘LOVE’ and ‘4 ALL’, in relation to the ‘Freedom to Love’ slogan.
Finally, the afternoon’s highlight took place with more than 2,000 people coming together to form the giant Pink Dot, marking a milestone for the LGBT community, and making for a great photo opportunity that would gain the event international awareness,,,,.
Media coverage was garnered locally in The Straits Times, and TODAY newspaper,, which came as a pleasant surprise given the prevailing media gag on positive portrayals of homosexuality. The event also received significant international coverage from the BBC and The New York Times with reports being syndicated to various publications around the world through wire services Associated Press (AP), Reuters and Agence France-Presse (AFP).
The fallout resulting from the AWARE saga helped bring the topic of LGBT acceptance in Singapore into the spotlight and had considerable impact on the momentum created leading up to the Pink Dot event. It seems to have been something of a double-edged sword for Pink Dot: on the one hand, it helped to galvanise what might be loosely referred to as a ‘liberal constituency’; on the other, the pronouncements of senior political figures in the wake of AWARE’s Extraordinary General Meeting had a dampening effect on media coverage.
Impact on the LGBT communityEdit
There were generally positive reactions as seen from myriad comments and responses on the Pink Dot SG website, Facebook page and corresponding news sites, with some individuals even saying that the event had directly impacted their psychological outlook for the better, regardless of the ultra-conservative vitriol that was also posted.
The event was important insofar as it tangibly demonstrated to the local gay community the existence of a sizeable heterosexual population that is interested in and concerned about LGBT issues; this indirectly lessens the paranoia that many LGBT individuals experience with regard to their work and home environments.
In its own way, the Pink Dot event has aided the process of demystifying the generally negative pre-conceptions of LGBTs as paedophiles, drug abusers, immoral & deviant among mainstream segments. It has helped to bring about a more positive perception of the LGBT community in ongoing efforts to engage with the still largely conservative populace, further complementing other efforts and campaigns such as PLU’s annual IndigNation season.
Impact on international human rightsEdit
The event was deemed significant enough to be included in the U.S. Department of State's human rights reports for 2009, released on 11 March 2010  :
"On May 16, a rally in support of "the freedom of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons in Singapore to love" took place at Speakers Corner. Participants held pink umbrellas aloft and arranged themselves to form a large pink dot when seen from nearby high-rise buildings. The rally took place without disturbance."
It was also featured in the documentary film "Courage Unfolds", produced in 2011, which formed a central part of the Courage Unfolds Campaign of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC).
During the debate in April 2012 at Yale University over the appropriateness of setting up the Yale-NUS College in Singapore given the latter's perceived lack of respect for civil, political and LGBT rights, an article by Ng E-Ching used Pink Dot as an example of the common values shared by Yale and Singapore:
"... the best way for Yale to effect change is not by stressing differences, but by showing Singaporeans how much we have in common. Singaporean gay movement Pink Dot has borrowed selectively from the U.S. gay marriage and adoption debates. By stressing family relationships and acceptance of diversity - both values at the core of Singaporean identity - last year's rally drew over 10,000 people."
Pink Dot 2010Edit
Encouraged by the success of the inaugural Pink Dot event in 2009, the organisers decided to hold a second one in 2010. The theme for that year was "Focusing on our families".
Pink Dot 2010 was held on Saturday, 15 May at 5 pm. Another record turnout of 4,000 people was achieved. For the first time, it received video coverage from the local media, namely, Channel News Asia. The Sunday Times also carried an article with a large photograph of the event. Again, there was widespread interest in the international media,.
Pink Dot 2011Edit
In 2011, Pink Dot was held later on in the year, on Saturday, 18 June so as not to clash with the Singapore General Elections which took place in May.
The campaign video for Pink Dot 2011 left the "talking heads" format used in the past 2 years behind and embarked on a new concept, using volunteer professional actors and production staff to create a montage of real-life scenarios in which LGBT Singaporeans often find themselves, with mainstream members of society showing their support. The video garnered worldwide acclaim, with over 150,000 views within two weeks of its release. It was translated into all four official Singaporean languages as well as into French, Spanish and other international ones.
For the first time, Pink Dot 2011 was listed as an event in Time Out Singapore, with a full article devoted to it. It was also the first time The Straits Times listed an LGBT-supportive event in its pages, classifying it as a "gig" because a concert featuring up-and-coming local music icons was slated to be part of the festivities.
On 18 June, over 10,000 people thronged Hong Lim Park to form Pink Dot, setting a new record for the largest gathering there, far surpassing the estimated 4,000 person limit that an earlier newspaper report said the park could hold.
The event was even more widely reported in the mainstream media than in the previous year, with coverage by Channel News Asia, The Straits Times,, Yahoo! News Lian He Zao Bao, and TODAY.
It also spurred LGBT people in New York,, Utah,,,,,,, London, Montreal, Anchorage, Alaska, the Philippines, Kao Hsiung, Taiwan, and Malaysia to organise their own Pink Dot events using the same concepts and principles upon which the original one was built.
Reports and comments on the event were also made on citizen journalism websites like The Online Citizen,,, socio-political blogs such as Yawning Bread and others, and in online magazines locally, and online news sources internationally,,.
The National Day (9 Aug 2011) edition of TODAY newspaper featured a full-page article on Pink Dot, implying that the LGBT community was regarded as an integral part of Singapore society on her 46th birthday. It interviewed committee member Alan Seah and published a huge photo of Seah and his mother, seated on a wheelchair.
Pink Dot 2012Edit
On Thursday, 5 April 2012, the mainstream media announced that Pink Dot 2012 would be held at Hong Lim Park on Saturday, 30 June 2012 and that for the first time, it would be a night time event. Later the same day, the video featuring Pink Dot 2012's ambassadors - Kumar, Sharon Au and Lim Yu Beng - was unveiled to the public on YouTube. The ambassadors turned up in person with Pink Dot committee member Alan Seah at nightspots Play, Taboo, DYMK and Avalon during the long weekend stretching from Thursday, 5 April (the eve of Good Friday) to Sunday, 8 April 2012. Pink Dot plush cushions (plushies) were made available online as well as at the above venues to raise funds to help defray the cost of staging the event. LGBT websites announced details of the event soon after.
Pink Dot 2012, under the campaign "Someday" was held on Saturday, 30 June at the Speakers' Corner in Hong Lim Park. It was the first time Pink Dot was held at night. Also for a first, Barclays was an official supporter of the event with Google Singapore returning as an official supporter. The 2012 event flew under the theme song "True Colours" with former-actress Sharon Au, actor Lim Yu-Beng as well as actor-comedian-diva drag queen Kumar being the ambassadors of the event.
With mobile phones, torches and flashlights, a record of over 15,000 Singaporeans turned Hong Lim Park into a sea of shimmering pink lights, the largest turnout at the Speakers' Corner to date. Pink Dot SG 2012 once again was widely reported in the mainstream media, with coverage by Today, Yahoo! Singapore, ChannelNews Asia and also widely covered by international media agencies like The Wall Street Journal, Taiwan's lihpao, Thailand's PBS, and Egypt's bikyamasr.
The event inspired the start-up of Pink Dot Okinawa.
Pink Dot 2013Edit
Pink Dot 2013 was held on the night of 29 June at the Speakers' Corner in Hong Lim Park marking its fifth year with aims to recognize the efforts of Singapore's LGBT community. This year's list of Corporate Contributors for event has grown to include global financial firm J.P. Morgan, local hotel PARKROYAL on Pickering, contact lens specialist CooperVision and audio branding agency The Gunnery, in addition to giant Google and international banking group Barclays.
The event ran under the title "Home", which is also the title of a national day song, which doubled as the event's theme song. The campaign features a video directed by local filmmaker Boo Junfeng, which depicts three individual true life experiences.
Like the previous year, the highlight of event saw the formation of a large Pink Dot with mobile pinks and torchlights. It saw a turnout of 21,000 supporters of the LGBT community, the strongest-yet turnout, with 6,000 more participants compared to last year’s crowd of 15,000. The event was the largest ever civil-society gathering in the countryGay rights in South-East Asia: Fifty shades of pink. To accommodate the increase in participants, a second ‘satellite’ focal point was created beyond the traditional gathering spot to help channel traffic away from high concentration areas. Prior to the formation of Pink Dot, participants were treated to a range of activities and offerings – courtesy of more than 20 community groups and partners.
The event was covered even more widely than the previous year by both local and international media like Indonesia based Asia Calling, The Economist, BBC, The Guardian and Reuters. The event was also featured in YouTube's 'Proud to Love' video which features of collection of videos supporting the LGBT community, equal rights and marriage equality.
Before the event, band Fun made a shout out in a video support of Pink Dot 2013.
Pink Dot 2014Edit
Pink Dot SG 2014 was held on 28 June 2014 at Hong Lim Park.
The success of Pink Dot SG 2011 inspired many LGBT activists around the world to organise similar events in their own cities. Facebook pages have been created to organise events in Utah, Montreal, New York and the Philippines. Pink Dot events were held in Utah in 2011 and 2012 and in 2012 Pink Dot Montreal held a Pink Dot event. Smaller gatherings were also organised in locations like Anchorage, New York, Malaysia and Taiwan.
Pink Dot AnchorageEdit
As an Alaska PrideFest event, Pink Dot Anchorage organised a gathering on 18 June 2011 at the Anchorage Town Square where around 100 participants turned up. The participants massed into a heart-shaped formation(content removed).
Pink Dot HKEdit
Pink Dot LondonEdit
On 18 June 2011, Singaporeans in London organised a picnic at Hyde Park, London in conjunction with the Pink Dot event occur in Singapore that day.
Pink Dot MTLEdit
Pink Dot MTL is a movement inspired by the Singapore event which believes that love is best built on a foundation of trust and honesty, not fear and shame. The group hopes to bring LGBT individuals in Montreal closer to their families and friends where change for the better happens through conversations, not cover-ups and covert lives.
On 18th Aug 2012, a Pink Dot event was organised where nearly 300 attendees gathered at Place Émilie-Gamelin, Montreal, Quebec. A competition was organised where LGBT individuals were invited to submit their personal coming out stories. The top three writers were sent an invitiation to the event and their stories were read out in front of other participants.
Pink Dot NYEdit
A Pink Dot picnic was held on 7 June 2011, on 6 October 2012 and on 22 June 2013 in Central Park, New York. Around 30 participants turned up for each event.
Pink Dot OKEdit
Pink Dot Okinawa was inspired by Singapore's Pink Dot. The event is the island's first LGBT event and is held on 14 July 2013 with a turnout of 800 people. It was held in a park in Naha city, Okinawa which was specifically chosen for its large tourist crowd and mixed culture. Unique from Singapore's Pink Dot, Pink Dot Okinawa features pre-night club events, a pre-event beach party and a LGBT book fair and an after-party.
The event was covered by local media like the Okinawa Times and Ryukyu Shimpo.
The mascot of the event is Pinkmaaru, a winking cartoon animal with the event's name, ‘Pink dot OK.’ 
Pink Dot OK 2014 is planned to be held on 20 June 2014.
Pink Dot PenangEdit
A Pink Dot event was planned to be held in Penang, Malaysia on 29 March 2014 by SUARAM. Flying under the slogan "Sit in solidarity in the day, Dance together in the night", Pink Dot Penang was meant to be a two-part event including a workshop in the day and a party in the night at the 1926 heritage hotel.
Pink Dot TWEdit
Pink Dot UtahEdit
Pink Dot Utah is a campaign inspired by the Singapore event and flies under the theme "Support, Love, Courage" aiming to engender an appreciation of Utah's diversity – regardless of race, language, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. The campaign encourages individuals of the LGBT community to share their life stories which are then featured on the campaign website. It is organised by the Support Love Courage Council.
On December 20, 2013, District Judge Robert J. Shelby struck down the same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional. 
Pink Dot Utah 2011 was held on National Coming Out Day, 11 October 2011, at the Spring Mobile Ball Park in Salt Lake City, Utah. More than 3000 participants showed up for the inaugural pink dot event in Utah and gathered at the baseball field near Spring Mobile Ball Park. Several community organizations and businesses were in attendance at the event, including representatives from First Baptist Church and Utah's Latino community. Denise Winslow came on behalf of Wells Fargo Bank with her family.
Pink Dot Utah organisers invited Emmy award winning composer, Kurt Bestor and Anchor of Fox’s Live at Five andNews at Nine Newscaststo Co-host, Hope Woodside as celebrity ambassadors of the event. The event was also covered by local media like The Salt Lake Tribune.
A Pink Dot event was held on 22 September 2012 in Jordan Park, Salt Lake City, Utah, featuring an edited campaign video of the 2011 version. A "pinkdot Baby" contest was held for the first time where parents submit a photo of their child, that capturing their unique personality while highlighting the color pink and, to the extent possible, the theme of "Support, Love and Courage". Pink Dot Utah 2012 also featured an entertainment programme with performances by invited celebrities as well as speeches by speakers. Pink Dot Utah 2012 was supported by Mormons Building Bridges which encourage hetereosexual Latter-day Saints to offer love and support to their LGBT brothers and sisters. The event was mentioned by popular LGBT blogsite JoeMyGod.com.
Another Pink Dot event, Pink Dot St. George, was held in Utah on 3 November 2012 in Vernon Worthen Park, Saint George, Utah, featuring speeches by three speakers. The programme received local media coverage by Dixie Sun News.
- 18 August 2008, Asia One/Reuters article, "S'pore to ease bans on political films, demos",.
- 25 August 2008, Channel News Asia article, "Singaporeans can demonstrate at Speakers' Corner from Sep 1",.
- 25 August 2008, Channel News Asia article, "Singaporeans have mixed reactions to relaxation of Speakers' Corner rules",.
- 28 August 2008, TODAY article, "A more open field".
- 26 August 2008, The Straits Times article, "More freedom, speeches?".
- 18 September 2008, Pride Source article by Rex Wockner, "Pride to be staged in Singapore",.
- 25 September 2008, The Straits Times article, "First gay protest at Speakers’ Corner?".
- 25 September 2008, The New Paper article, "‘Hong Lim Green’ to turn somewhat pink".
- 19 October 2008, PinkDotSg news list on Yahoo!Groups set up by Roy Tan to facilitate discussion amonsts Pink Dot committee members:.
- 1 November 2008, The Straits Times article, "Gay protest at Hong Lim Park postponed".
- Sequence of events leading to the conception of Pink Dot SG:.
- 16 May 2009, The New York Times article, "Singapore's Gay Community Holds First-Ever Gay Rally".
- 16 May 2009, Associated Press article, "Singapore's gay community holds first-ever rally".
- 17 May 2009, BBC News article, "Singapore gays in first public rally".
- 17 May 2009, The Sunday Times article, "1,000 turn up in pink at event",.
- 17 May 2009, The Online Citizen article, "A thousand gather to celebrate diversity and the freedom to love".
- 17 May 2009, TODAY article, "Pink in the name of love".
- 18 May 2009, Fridae article, "Singapore's gay community holds first-ever public rally".
- Martyn See, "Chee Soon Juan, Freedom of Assembly and Pink Dot", Facebook, 6 June 2011.
- Loh Chee Leong, "Grasping the Gay: The Politics of Collective Identity in the Pink Dot SG", Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore, 2014.
- Ng Yi-Sheng, "A compromising position", Overland, Issue 227, Winter 2017.
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