I was at Pink Dot 2014, on June 28th; I think it was my fourth—2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014. The organisers have claimed that 26,000 people showed up at Hong Lim Park. The numbers certainly keep increasing every year. But after six Pink Dots, it feels like the event hasn’t changed much since the first one I attended (I think that was in 2010; I’ve been to four of them). There are a few speeches and song-and-dance items, and everyone chills out casually till it’s time to turn on the pink (corporate-sponsored) torchlights and point them upwards for the camera drone.
An article published online on the day of Pink Dot this year argues that Pink Dot’s organisers have drummed up a siege mentality among LGBT groups in order to impose a false homogeneity within them, and that groups promoting safe sex or raising awareness about transsexual sex workers have been prevented from setting up booths at Pink Dot. I can’t verify the accusations, but I do know that Pink Dot is feeling more and more vanilla. The idea of gathering in one place, wearing and holding up something pink, was revolutionary in 2009; today, it feels like stagnation, even normalcy. The feel-good videos (of families supporting their LGBT loved ones or bringing their young children to experience compassion for queers of all stripes) haven’t changed either.
There are things that Pink Dot can still do for the gay community. I’d suggest three. First, it should promote awareness of the diversity within the community—in particular transgender people—and the community’s needs—AIDS and STD testing. Second, it should continue to push boundaries. The next frontier in acceptance is not just visibility of gay people, but of gay people showing affection and intimacy (portrayals of which the mainstream media still can’t carry, because they can’t “normalise” the “gay lifestyle”). Let’s have a kiss-in next Pink Dot, and make it impossible not to report on it. Last, there are a lot of things that can be done at a physical gathering—surveys and petitions especially. If ever the time is right for another parliamentary petition like the one in 2007, one round of signatures at Pink Dot should be enough.