For the first time ever I am going to Pink Dot on 1st July, because it is important I do so

I feel there is an urgency now to be there, and I cannot neglect to be part of it anymore. It’s funny that I’m finally going mainly because I am so annoyed by the behaviour of the anti-Pink Dot (and therefore anti-LGBT) people who had called for the removal of a banner for the Pink Dot event that is displayed at a mall, and even called for police involvement. What’s worse is that subsequently, The Advertising Standards Authority had asked the mall to remove the tagline “Supporting the Freedom to Love” from the banner.

Related links about that:

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That there are people who have a problem with the words “Supporting the Freedom to Love” just blows my mind! I mean, c’mon, really? Relating to it as a gay man, I just can’t imagine how rotten and decaying a heart needs to be, how possessed with seething hatred do you need to be, to have a problem with a man LOVING another man. Does your dirty mind immediately turn to sex, because you think that’s all we are all about, that that’s all being gay is all about? If that’s the case, not all gay men engage in anal sex by the way, and even if we do it is none of your business. And hey, women have anuses too, don’t they? How do you know if your straight sibling or parent or best friend or neighbour or teacher or that leader you look up to, engage in what you consider right or wrong in bed? You don’t, because it is none of your business. And you would never dream to ask them what they do or don’t do in bed, would you? And yet you consider us fair game, and you consider it perfectly normal and justified to associate us in terms of nothing but sex sex sex, as if we are animals who do not have feelings, who do not need emotional and romantic love and companionship, and who do not have interests and concerns and a life outside the ‘gay’ part of ourselves as human beings.

*

It’s funny and silly it has taken the spite of some anti-gay people to finally spur me to attend Pink Dot, but there you have it. Their action has backfired with at least one person. Because previously I wasn’t going, but now because of them I’m going. Because, you know the expression, “when push comes to shove“? Well for the first time in all my life of 43 years as a Singaporean gay person in Singapore, I feel I am being shoved, and now the seeds of trepidation are sown in me. I am now uneasy and apprehensive, but I also feel upset, and I’m dealing with that by making sure I am part of Pink Dot on 1st July.

What on earth is going to happen to us gay folks in Singapore in the years to come? Do I have to start thinking of migrating to another country, when all this time I have taken for granted that I will grow old quietly here with my partner of 23 years because this is where we belong, this is where I intend to live for the rest of my life? Not that I have the means to leave in the first place, but even if I do, why should I ever? It’s crazy I’m starting to think I might have to leave. Singapore is my country. And Singapore is where my family is too, so this is where my heart is. I’m not going anywhere.

*

I’m a bit nervous, though, I have to admit. I know, it’s not like I’m doing anything dramatic or heroic, it’s just a little token gesture of showing up to show my support, and a way to finally express my thanks and gratitude to the organizers for bravely organizing Pink Dot all these years. 2017 is their 9th year.

It’s just that, firstly, I’m going not so much because I wanted to, not so much because I was planning to, but to make a point to the haterz and that annoys the crap out of me. Does it make sense to feel that way? I never went to a Pink Dot in previous years simply because I never wanted to and never felt I needed to. I don’t celebrate being gay, just like I don’t celebrate or rejoice being Malay or being Muslim, or feel the need to reaffirm my Malayness or Muslimness. These are just some of the things that make me who I am, so I just quietly and privately live my life as who I am, including as a Muslim, Malay and gay man. Oh whatever that means. Well you know what I mean. And I hate crowded events.

* Crowded *

Just thinking of them, or worse, thinking of attending them, gives me a headache. I’ve never even been to a concert before my whole life. I’d rather stay home and listen to the CD. When I say I like a singer, I mean I like their talent and music. I don’t care for their personal lives or gossip about them, and I don’t feel a need to see them in person. So, as much as I love Mariah Carey or Andrea Bocelli for instance, if somebody offers me free tickets, I’d say no thank you. As much as I love these two singers, enough to have almost all their CDs in their considerable discography, I still don’t love them enough to actually haul my ass to a crowded venue to watch them sing live.

I just can’t stand crowded places, period. I can block out the people around me in say, a crowded shopping mall, because I just zoom straight to the shops which have the stuff I’m there for, grab what I need and get the hell out. But to go to an event which I imagine will last a couple of hours? And not to mention in this case: while wearing something pink? PINK? Oh my God. Alright, fine, whatever.

* Alone *

It will most likely be awkward for me as I will be going alone. The one Singaporean gay friend I know to ask and who wants to go too will be away on a work trip on 1st July. So I will go alone, and I’m a bit nervous about that, truth be told. I don’t know what to expect in such an event. I’ve been to things like museums and art galleries and the cinema by myself many many times, and blissfully happy in my own company each time. But in a joyous busy-bee event filled with many happy shiny people, I’m sure I’m going to look like a loser being alone, looking uncomfortable and unhappy and with no one to talk to. Just sullenly stand there with my arms crossed, or pretending to be busy with my phone. In a pink shirt, no less. Pink! Shit.

* Pink *

Actually I don’t mind the colour all that much, come to think of it. And considering my favourite colour is purple, which had gotten me some teasing and ribbing, it’s really not my place to turn my nose up at pink.

* Identification required *

This too has riled me into wanting to attend Pink Dot, perhaps even more than the anti-banner people I mentioned earlier. The newly-installed restrictions sadly mean that foreigners are strictly not allowed to be present at all (which feels so incredibly mean to me because we want their tourism dollars and we want them to come and work here to contribute to the economy but we don’t allow them to support the freedom to love?), so checking the identification of attendees is a way of making sure only Singaporeans and Permanent Residents get past the checkpoint and barricades to gain access to the event. Yes, barricades.

Related links about this:

But surely anyone can see that it will also deter some local folks, gay or straight, from attending? Will our identification be registered and recorded in some way? That would scare off many people. Not only gays who need or choose to stay in the closet for whatever personal reason. What about other people like me, who choose to be open only to family members and friends, and not to casual acquaintances? What about civil servants, even if they are not gay but just big-hearted enough to want to go support a loved one like a family member or a friend, who could very well NEED that support? Wouldn’t having to show their Identity Card make some feel hesitant?  I think it’s reasonable to guess that some people will be put off from attending. And that’s just so damn heartless.

* I still want to go *

I’m still going. I will be there, God willing. Pink shirt, crowds and noise, being awkward and alone. Barricades! Manned by security personnel! Having to show my photo identification to them and perhaps judgmental eyes. Whatever, whatever. I still want to go.

When push comes to shove.

I have been shoved into going, so go I will. It’s the absolute, absolute least I can do. For the community, for myself. And not to be dramatic, but really it’s for the country as well when you think about it, for us Singaporeans as a whole nation, regardless of race, language or religion. I have no choice but to take this first step. I owe it to everyone including myself. It’s like a duty, I see it that way.

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