Roy Tan is a healthcare professional passionately interested in documenting local LGBT history.

He has been one of the most active contributors of local LGBT-related news articles to the Singapore Gay News List (SiGNeL)[1] since the latter's formation and has continued his archival work on SLEMA (Singapore LGBT media archive)[2].

Tan has also recorded and uploaded the most comprehensive collection of local LGBT videos to his YouTube channels - "Homosexuality in Singapore"[3] and "Transgender people in Singapore"[4].

First Singapore LGBT articles on WikipediaEdit

In 2005, Tan realised the potential of the then nascent and relatively unknown Wikipedia in informing local mainstream society and the world at large about Singapore's LGBT culture and history.

The advantage of Wikipedia was that knowledgeable contributors could consolidate widely scattered pockets of information into a one-stop reference site. This was unlike any Singaporean LGBT website that had existed before like Yawning Bread, Fridae or Trevvy in which only authorised writers could pen articles.

Tan created the first Singapore LGBT-related Wikipedia article entitled "Singapore gay movement" on 12 April 2005. He subsequently started all the other articles on Singaporean LGBT culture there in the ensuing months.

Howevever, his hope that other contributors would chip in and expand the articles he pioneered was not realised and he ended up doing most of the updating himself. Moreover, many Singaporean editors of Wikipedia were homophobic and deleted entire articles or huge chunks of extant articles, claiming that they were not significant enough for a prestigious reference work such as Wikipedia.

In dismay, Tan looked for an alternative site to transfer the articles to. He was overjoyed when he found SgWiki, a site hosted on a local server and which used the same wiki markup language as Wikipedia. He then ported all the articles in September 2005 to SgWiki[5], which had a more liberal and LGBT-friendly policy. Even then, some articles deemed sensitive because they rebutted religious condemnation of homosexuality were also deleted by SgWiki's administrators.

Another drawback was that articles on SgWiki did not rank as high up on Google and other search engines as the much more globally popular Wikipedia.

Tan also replicated all the Singapore LGBT-related articles on user-constructed knowledge sites such as the now-defunct Knol (an initiative of Google) and on other wikis such as the PB Wiki[6] and Wikidot[7](now also defunct). These websites enabled registered users to have complete editorial control over their articles and not be subjected to the whims of appointed editors. However, these wikis used different markup languages form Wikipedia, therefore making porting articles much more difficult than just copying and pasting. The articles first had to be translated to the different wiki language used by the site.

In 2012, Tan searched for and managed to find websites such as the current one, Shoutwiki[8], as well as others like Wikia[9] which used the same wiki markup language as Wikipedia. He then transplanted all the SgWiki articles to these sites - easily accomplished by direct copying and pasting with no translation required.

Singapore LGBT video channels on YouTubeEdit

Tan has also recorded and amassed the most comprehensive collection of local LGBT videos on YouTube, divided into 2 channels because they deal with separate sets of issues - "Homosexuality in Singapore"[10] and "Transgender people in Singapore"[11].

First outdoor LGBT speech in SingaporeEdit

Singapore's first outdoor LGBT speech - by Roy Tan

Singapore's first outdoor LGBT speech - by Roy Tan

Tan delivered Singapore's first outdoor LGBT-themed speech to an overwhelmingly straight audience at Hong Lim Park at 5:15pm on Saturday, 13 December 2008. He spoke on the discrimination which gay Singaporeans faced at work. The event was organised by MARUAH and entitled, "Human Rights and Dignity of Workers". It marked the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which promotes the values of justice, fairness, equality and non-discrimination.

Registration of first LGBT pride parade and Pink DotEdit

Tan intended to organise Singapore's first gay pride parade at Hong Lim Park[12],[13][14],[15],[16],[17] in 2008 after the government legalised protests there. This later morphed into Pink Dot SG[18][19],[20],[21][22],[23], an event which supported the "freedom of LGBT people to love" and which later spread worldwide.

The Online Citizen interviews the organiser and participants of the inaugural Pink Dot, 16 May 2009

The Online Citizen interviews the organiser and participants of the inaugural Pink Dot, 16 May 2009

First gay Chingay contingentEdit

Together with fellow citizen Tien Kim Chuan, Tan marched in Singapore's first and only gay Chingay contingent when the public were allowed to form their own marching group in 2010[24].

Singapore's first gay Chingay contingent, 19 February 2010

Singapore's first gay Chingay contingent, 19 February 2010

Internet TV interview on homosexualityEdit

On 31 August 2012, Singapore Internet TV station in988 interviewed Tan on the subject of homosexuality. It was the longest interview conducted with a medically qualified doctor in Singapore on the topic published on the Internet to date. The following clip is an excerpt of it.

Well known showbusiness celebrities Abigail Chay and Roger Poon were in the studio.

Interview with Dr

Interview with Dr. Roy Tan on homosexuality

See alsoEdit


  • 18 September 2008, Pride Source article by Rex Wockner, "Pride to be staged in Singapore"[25].
  • 25 September 2008, The Straits Times article, "First gay protest at Speakers’ Corner?"[26].
  • 25 September 2008, The New Paper article, "‘Hong Lim Green’ to turn somewhat pink"[27].
  • 19 October 2008, PinkDotSg news list on Yahoo!Groups set up by Roy Tan to facilitate discussion amonsts Pink Dot committee members:[28].
  • 1 November 2008, The Straits Times article, "Gay protest at Hong Lim Park postponed"[29].
  • 16 May 2009, The New York Times article, "Singapore's Gay Community Holds First-Ever Gay Rally"[30].
  • 16 May 2009, Associated Press article, "Singapore's gay community holds first-ever rally"[31].
  • 17 May 2009, BBC News article, "Singapore gays in first public rally"[32].
  • 17 May 2009, The Sunday Times article, "1,000 turn up in pink at event"[33],[34].
  • 17 May 2009, The Online Citizen article, "A thousand gather to celebrate diversity and the freedom to love"[35].
  • 17 May 2009, TODAY article, "Pink in the name of love"[36][37].
  • 18 May 2009, Fridae article, "Singapore's gay community holds first-ever public rally"[38].
  • "25 Singaporean Heroes Of The LGBT Community Millennials Don’t Know About", Dear Straight People, 4 July 2016[39].
  • "Out Of The Closet: Roy Tan Shares His Story", Dear Straight People, 11 August 2016[40].
  • "5 Asians Over The Age Of 40 Reflect On How Growing Up LGBT Was Like For Them", Dear Straight People, 11 October 2016[41].
  • Ng Yi-Sheng, "A compromising position", Overland, Issue 227, Winter 2017[42].

External linksEdit

  • Roy Tan's YouTube channels, "Homosexuality in Singapore"[43] and "Transgender people in Singapore"[44].
  • Archived news articles on SiGNeL (Singapore Gay News List):[45].
  • Archived news articles on SLEMA (Singapore LGBT encyclopaedia media archive):[46].
  • Roy Tan's archived news articles on Facebook:[47].

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