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On 4 May 2022, Pink Dot uploaded a video to its Facebook page announcing that Pink Dot 14 would take place on Saturday, 18 June 2022 from 3pm to 7pm and that it would only be a one-day event instead of the two-day one announced earlier. It emphasised that the date was double confirmed and that there would be no further changes. Participants were encouraged too bring along their friends and family, picnic with everyone and enjoy a day out at Hong Lim Park listening to speeches, catching performances and visiting the community tents[2][3].


Pink Fest 2022[]

As in previous years, a hefty slew of LGBT events coinciding with Pride Month was organised in the lead up to Pink Dot 14. The Pink Fest initiative was again helmed by Harris Zaidi who had also been on Pink Dot's steering committee and served as Pink Dot's master-of-ceremonies for many years.

Event line-up[]

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Event day[]

On Saturday, 18 June 2022, a crowd of thousands gathered to welcome Pink Dot back to Speakers' Corner and to show their enthusiasm for the in-person event after a hiatus of two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic during which only virtual online rallies were held[4],[5]. The organisers were “encouraged” by the number of people who came to the event and were glad that it could be run physically that year despite the "rushed" planning since the Covid-19 rules were relaxed. They wanted to “drive home” the theme of the changes they wanted to see in the community and called on participants to speak out on the issues that affected the community, especially if they were struggling with discrimination and prejudice.

As early as around 3pm, Hong Lim Park was already considerably packed with long queues forming as many waited to enter the area and participate in the festivities. Capacity limits for all events were removed on 26 April 2022 as Singapore eased Covid-19 restrictions in a move to live with the coronavirus. But as with all events over 500 persons, participants had to show proof of vaccination and scan a SafeEntry code after queuing to enter the park. Like past rallies, they also had to show a photo identification to confirm that they were Singaporeans or permanent residents, and their bags were searched as part of security measures. One of the attendees, aged 33, said that the queue was definitely very long, but it was fairly well-organised. He added: "I was very surprised that nobody attempted to cut the line. Everyone was in high spirits despite the very hot weather.”

At 5pm, snaking queues continued to be spotted as more people gathered for the concert scheduled to begin at 5pm. Some individuals were even spotted standing at the pedestrian bridges. The area around the main stage was almost entirely occupied, with most either seated on picnic mats or reclining on foldable chairs. The year's rally called on participants to envision what an inclusive Singapore would look like for them, to speak out about the issues that impacted the LGBT community and to call for change by writing on placards. Similar to past events, most attendees were dressed in various shades of pink with some donning elaborate pink-themed costumes. Others waved rainbow flags and held up pink balloon. One dog was also spotted resting on a rainbow flag.

William Chong, 46, a payroll manager, who attended the event with his partner, said he was there "to show support for the freedom to love" and equal treatment for all. He had attended Pink Dot since the inaugural one in 2009. One attendee, a 25-year old named Drima who worked in the media industry said: "It's great to be back because there's always more unity when we are in person. It's not as impactful online, so it's great to be back. We're still as determined as we used to be... we haven't lost our numbers." Another attendee, 34-year old Joanna, who worked in an admin role, said that she likewise felt that the mass attendance of the event sent a strong message to the authorities and the general public against discrimination. We are happy to see everyone here, as three years has been a long time. There's so many people here for a reason... the Government should start listening. Other attendees echoed their sentiments, saying that they were happy to be back at the physical event, adding that the virtually-held Pink Dot over the last two years had not been as galvanising for the community. Jeanne Lim, aged 44, who was having a picnic with a few friends, said that she was attending the event to support her friends in the LGBTQ community and to protest against Section 377A, adding: "It’s an unjust law that is discriminatory against the community. It’s archaic...society has now evolved since the colonial days."

Held from 3pm to 7pm, the year's rally featured a concert segment with local acts, including singer Preeti Nair who went by the stage name of Preetipls, dance group Limited Edition, and drag performance group Singapore Drag Royalty. There were also speeches by writer and pro-democracy activist Kokila Annamalai, lawyer and committee member of Ready4Repeal Remy Choo; transman Shan Menon, lead peer counsellor at The T Project, an LGBT support group, and Zuby Eusofe, founder of The Healing Circle, a group supporting queer Muslims. The speeches touched on the trauma faced by the LGBT community and the push towards legislative and social change. Remy Choo said: "Discrimination did not start with 377A and it will not go away when it is repealed. We need to carry that fight forward." He called on people to fight discrimination and to rally for better media representation.

As planned in some previous years' events, the flypast overhead of helicopters bearing the national flag as part of the rehearsal for the National Day Parade was the cue to play the National Anthem and for everyone to stand up and sing it in a show of loyalty to the nation.

First attendance by PAP and opposition MPs[]

The year's event marked the first time that a politician from the ruling People's Action Party (Henry Kwek, MP for Kebun Baru SMC) attended it, symbolising a turning point in the Government's attitude towards the LGBT community and some hoped, the impending repeal of Section 377A of the Penal Code[6]. Kwek, who arrived at around 3:20pm wearing a light pink polo shirt with white trousers, was seen walking among the crowd, shaking hands with and posing for wefies with some fellow attendees. Before leaving just after 4pm, he visited the group stalls at the community tent, including Oogachaga, Quasa, TransBefrienders and The Greenhouse, and chatted with the people manning them. Speaking to Oogachaga executive director Leow Yangfa, he was particularly interested in the counselling agency's work supporting the LGBT community, asking questions about how it had been reaching out to people especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. He even graciously accepted a "Love & Acceptance" rainbow tissue pack to take with him[7]. However, Kwek declined to comment on his reasons for being at the event when approached by the media, replying instead that the emphasis should be on the participants. He also posed for a photo beside a row of "letterboxes" with the names of 31 constituencies in Singapore, a new feature at Pink Dot that year. Attendees could write a message on a placard, hold it up for a photograph, print the photos out and write a message on their backs before placing the cards into the respective mailboxes for each electoral constituency. Pink Dot would then send the photos to the relevant MPs of the attendees along with an enclosed message if the attendee wanted to include one.

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MP for Sengkang GRC, Jamus Lim from the Workers' Party also attended the event in his personal capacity, the first opposition MP to do so. He took a photo with someone named Albert Chua (cellculture on Instagram[8]) who captioned it: "And with the WP MP. Thank you for supporting!" Another photo of Lim without his mask on and posing with his wife and daughter was shot by one of Pink Dot's volunteer photographers.

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Pink Dot spokesman Clement Tan said that the organisers had been inviting MPs to attend the event every year, adding: "For an MP to be here, today, we think that's an encouraging sign of progress. He's met a few of the organisers of the community groups here and heard about the struggles that they have encountered. We think it's important if you want to know more about the community that they meet us face to face, to hear about our issues. So for a Member of Parliament to be here today, we think it’s an encouraging sign of progress." Leow Yongfa, executive director of LGBT counselling group Oogachaga, said that Kwek had stopped by his organisation's booth and they talked about the work his group was engaging in, adding: "It's certainly a hopeful indication that finally we (Pink Dot) are being recognised as a community event."

Community speakers[]

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Kokila Annamalai[]

A video of Kokila Annamalai's speech was posted by Wake Up Singapore to YouTube[9]:


Transcript[10]:

"I dream of a queer movement that will settle for nothing less than our collective liberation. Freedom from oppressive laws, including those that criminalise sex workers, discard drug users and stigmatise people living with HIV. Freedom from violence and surveillance. Freedom from authoritarian control that seeks to dim our shine and diminish our power. Freedom from systems that exploit our labour and the planet, while keeping us from lifesaving resources like housing, healthcare, and community.

I believe in a queer movement that fights for queer migrant workers, queer youth in rental flat neighbourhoods, older, disabled queers. That fiercely protects every precious life on the margins, that shows up and works in solidarity with all emancipatory struggles. I care about a queer movement that celebrates deviance and countercultures, that doesn’t wrinkle its nose at public toilet sex or campy queers. I don’t care for some of us to be included in social structures that continue to harm and neglect so many others. I don’t care for us to be included if it means we have to assimilate.

Today, schools continue to punish and abandon our kids. The military traumatises so many of our young people. State-controlled media writes us out of history. They want our shame and silence, but they cannot have it. They want our shame and silence, and that is why pride is radical. Pride invites us to fully possess our magical, shapeshifting bodies and desires. When we are unashamed, we are irrepressible, ungovernable.

If we allow it to, queerness can free us all. Queer kinship can teach us to take care of each other beyond narrow notions of family. Queerness is life-affirming, gorgeous, revolutionary, and irreverent to authority – and I want us to never forget it. We do not request for our freedom, we do not plead for acceptance, we do not wait for approval. We do not surrender our bodies and relationships to state regulation. We do not need to bargain with the architects of our oppression. Your dignity and mine are non-negotiable. I want – together with all of you – to imagine fabulous possibilities, a future that belongs to all of us. I want to reclaim what is ours. We’re here, we’re gloriously queer, and we do not fear."

Subsidiary protests by brown and Tamil queers[]

Photo credit: Lune Loh[1].

While the main proceedings of Pink Dot 2022 were going on, a sub-group of brown and Tamil queers staged their own protest to demand justice for Harvey Chettiar, a psychiatrised, autistic, non-operative Singaporean Indian transwoman who filed a civil suit against the National Healthcare Group (NHG), alleging she was raped at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) in 2016. Harvey's suit was dismissed because the NHG's lawyers argued that Harvey did not have the 'mental fitness' to sustain the case in her own name and invoked Section 377A of the Penal Code, which criminalised sex between men, against her (see main article: Harvey Chettiar saga).

After the Pink Dot countdown at dusk, they chanted slogans to protest racism within the LGBT community. The following video clip of the protest was uploaded by transwoman Lune Loh to her Facebook on 19 June 2022[11],[12]:


Countdown and dot formation[]

At the climax of the event at 7pm, attendees held up pink placards with LGBT-supportive messages while volunteers who had been rehearsed on the eve of the rally held up white umbrellas, which formed the word "Majulah" which meant "onwards" in Malay, one of the words of the National Anthem, viewable from above. Pink Dot spokesman Clement Tan explained: "Majulah is a call for all of us to make haste and take material steps towards a more inclusive Singapore. It is clear that Singaporeans are no longer content with the status quo. This is especially so for our youth, who have come in droves to not only stand with us, but to also speak out about the kind of future they want." He said that having attendees back physically sent a powerful message that the LGBT community was rallying for more inclusivity, adding: "It feels great to be back in our first physical event since the pandemic. What we hope to achieve is to say very loudly and very clearly, what kind of Singapore we want to build together, hopefully one that is going to be inclusive, and equal, and free of discrimination. We believe that change happens through collective action. I think it's undeniable that societal attitudes have shifted ... and for a lot of Singaporeans, the lack of meaningful progress and change for the community here is unjustifiable. We also hope that with the Government’s recent call for more dialogue and engagement, participants here feel that they can speak about their lived experiences, not only through placards but directly, in personal, authentic, genuine messages to their Members of Parliament. We have long urged our policymakers to go beyond acknowledging our struggles, and to act decisively to address the stigma and discrimination that LGBTQ+ people face. We hope that our calls for change do not fall on deaf ears."

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Main event videos[]

The Straits Times produced its own video of the event[13]:


The full, official event video by Pink Dot was released the following day, on Sunday 19 June 2022[14]:


The following are other notable videos uploaded by attendees[15]:


See also[]

References[]

Acknowledgements[]

This article was written by Roy Tan.

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