Record-breaking attendance at Pink Dot 2013


An estimated record-high of 21,000 people turned up at Hong Lim Park on Saturday evening for this year's Pink Dot rally, forming a sea of pink at the Speaker's Corner.

Straight and gay, young and old, they were there to show their support for Singapore's LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual) community and to campaign for equal rights regardless of sexual orientation.

[See pictures of the event in our slideshow here]

This year's Pink Dot ambassadors were actress and television host Michelle Chia, sportscaster Mark Richmond and well-known thespian Ivan Heng.

Speaking to Yahoo! Singapore on his appointment as ambassador, Heng, who is gay, said, “I had no role models as a young man.”

“So I felt it was important for me to stand up and in some way dispel the fear, the ignorance, the prejudice,” he added.

Gary Lim and his partner Kenneth Chee are challenging a provision in the penal code known as Section 377A that …

Higher acceptance rates?

The issue of gay rights have been in the news recently. Earlier in April this year, a petition by two gay men to the Singapore High Court asking for Section 377a to be repealed was rejected. They are in the process of appealing again.

For years, activists such as Maruah, a local human rights non-governmental organisation, have been calling for the Singapore government to repeal the section because it is a “critical first step” towards eliminating discrimination against homosexuals.

This year’s Pink Dot turnout of 21,000 is a marked increase from 2012's 15,000. In its first year, 2,500 people attended Pink Dot. This number grew to 4,000 in 2010 and 10,000 in 2011.

According to Pink Dot spokesperson Alan Seah, the importance of such statistics cannot be downplayed.

“We’ve always thought the size of the dot would be a signifier of how open Singapore is, in terms of accepting its LGBT citizens,” he said.

Singapore Democratic Party politician Vincent Wijeysingha, who was spotted at the event, agreed.

“The growing number of attendees suggests to me that the more people hear about the issue of homosexuality, the more straight people understand issues around it, the less it becomes stigmatised,” he said. “And it can only bode well for everyone in Singapore, not just gay people.”

When asked to comment on his “official” coming out as a gay man a day before Pink Dot, Wijeysingha replied that he has “never been anything but open about (his) sexuality”.

“I wanted to say to young people that it’s okay, you can come out, you can attend events like this, you can start living the person that you are,” he said.

Squid Wan, a 28-year-old producer who has attended the event four times now, took her girlfriend Elle to her first Pink Dot experience.

“Every year I come back and it gets bigger and bigger, with better sponsors, better coverage,” said Wan. “It’s really amazing where we’re heading towards.”

Her optimism was echoed by Jau, 33. “I hope that one day, we don’t actually need Pink Dot anymore, because it’s just the normal thing to do (sic),” said the architect.

The 21,000-strong crowd forming the dot and simultaneously lighting up in pink. (Pink Dot SG Photo)

More still to be done

But there were some who were left disappointed by their Pink Dot experience.

“The event is not as inclusive as it should be,” said 23-year-old Low Yim Kuan. “It could have had more representation from groups like female-to-male transsexuals.”

The Nanyang Technological University student felt that Pink Dot should have addressed topics like Section 377a. “With the mainstream success and critical mass that it has achieved, it should be more radical,” commented Low.

Mark Sheng, 32, told Yahoo! Singapore that he was “ambivalent” about the entire event, if only because its predominantly feel-good factor might have glossed over deeper issues concerning gay people.

“Focusing on love is unsatisfactory, to me,” said the artist. “It’s so family-friendly that it almost feels like we have to beg for approval from the straight community.”

But Sheng ultimately conceded that “it’s better to have this event than not to, or else gay people will just stay invisible."

Related stories:
Pink Dot's celebrity faces
Pics: Pink Dot 2013

  • COMMENT: Xenophobia rears its ugly head in Singapore once more Sat, Apr 19, 2014
    COMMENT: Xenophobia rears its ugly head in Singapore once more

    Kirsten Han is a Singaporean blogger, journalist and filmmaker. She is also involved in the We Believe in Second Chances campaign for the abolishment of the death penalty. A social media junkie, she tweets at @kixes. The views expressed are … Continue reading →

  • Driving a $900,000 Porsche 918 Spyder to the future Sat, Apr 19, 2014
    Driving a $900,000 Porsche 918 Spyder to the future

    It’s more than just its inherent speed, or the whooshing noise that fills the cabin like a school choir jamming with James Hetfield. It’s what it represents in an industry full of skeptics. It’s a portal into the future – a time capsule left by some mad scientist born decades too soon. It’s something that shouldn’t exist. And yet it does.

  • COMMENT: Xenophobia rears its ugly head in Singapore once more
    COMMENT: Xenophobia rears its ugly head in Singapore once more

    Kirsten Han is a Singaporean blogger, journalist and filmmaker. She is also involved in the We Believe in Second Chances campaign for the abolishment of the death penalty. A social media junkie, she tweets at @kixes. The views expressed are … Continue reading →

  • Malaysia Airlines jet turns back after tire burst
    Malaysia Airlines jet turns back after tire burst

    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — A Malaysia Airlines flight heading to India with 166 people aboard made an emergency landing in Kuala Lumpur early Monday after it was forced to turn back when a tire burst upon takeoff, the airline said.

Featured Blogs

  • COMMENT: Xenophobia rears its ugly head in Singapore once more
    COMMENT: Xenophobia rears its ugly head in Singapore once more

    Kirsten Han is a Singaporean blogger, journalist and filmmaker. She is also involved in the We Believe in Second Chances campaign for the abolishment of the death penalty. A social media junkie, she tweets at @kixes. The views expressed are … Continue reading → …

  • Alex Lloyd
    Driving a $900,000 Porsche 918 Spyder to the future

    It’s more than just its inherent speed, or the whooshing noise that fills the cabin like a school choir jamming with James Hetfield. It’s what it represents in an industry full of skeptics. It’s a portal into the future – a time capsule left by some mad scientist born decades too soon. It’s something that shouldn’t exist. And yet it does. …

  • Alex Lloyd
    919 reasons to love: Flickr photo of the day

    We've brought you the drive video of the $900,000 Porsche 918 Spyder -- an 887-hp hybrid supercar with two electric motors working in harmony with a big 4.6-liter V-8. But how about this? Porsche's hybrid Le Mans racer -- the 919 Hybrid, sent to us by Kevin Leech. Get on board with electrification, folks. Because it's taking over the world. …

  • Alex Lloyd
    Watch a man drive his three-wheeled Mustang along a Texas highway

    Some things in life are hard to explain, like why a dentist insists on asking you questions when you clearly can't respond. Or why we call pants "a pair" even though it's just one. Or how about this puzzler: Why a person would drive their Mustang along a Texas highway despite it missing a wheel? Life is full of little mysteries, I guess. …