Dear Straight People,
This is me at my first Pink Dot, having been in Singapore less than a year.
I had left a large group of friends back home and felt isolated and lonely for the first time in years, finding it hard to make quality connections. Where was the Singapore LGBTQ community? Where were the voices of hope, love and happiness? It turns out they were at Hong Lim Park.
I remember looking around, astonished and elated at this glorious sea of pink. To be universally greeted with happy smiles, warm hugs and laughter from complete strangers was quite overwhelming and I will remember that feeling forever. For the first time in a year, I felt like I was in the right place; I was home. For that I will be forever grateful.
One of the proudest moments of my life was being able to take my parents to Pink Dot.
Proud of my parents, excited and wide eyed, decked out in ill-fitting pink polos, who had come so far (literally and emotionally) to stand with me on a small patch of grass in an entirely different country. I was also proud to have them meet my wonderful friends and many strangers, local and expat, listening to their stories, celebrating their journeys and affirming to them that people can change and grow if shown patience and respect.
However, I was mostly proud of Singapore, for successfully creating an event where young, old, foreigners, locals, men, women, children and families can feel welcome, safe, happy and truly accepted – a unique achievement unmatched in our corner of the world.
It’s hard to describe the feeling of being on the Hong Lim Park stage in front of thousands of people, standing side by side with my Singapore Men’s Chorus brothers.
Coming from many countries and all walks of life, standing together on stage to sing our host nation’s national anthem was important and incredibly moving for me. As we sang our hearts out, a helicopter with a giant Singapore flag underneath flew past, the park erupting in joyous, passionate cheers and applause. In that moment, everyone was Singaporean – proud, strong and connected. I felt so fortunate and appreciative to be able to share that moment with my community. Majula Singapura.
I don’t know who took this final photo, but I love it.
They managed to capture an intimate moment between my partner and me, which somehow found it’s way onto a range of international news websites and articles. I remember when this was taken, dancing with him, lost in a special moment. His face makes me smile – defiant, strong and cheeky. Embracing my partner, a Singaporean citizen, in the middle of the park, surrounded by amazing friends and a community who celebrate and affirm our relationship was magical and memorable.
But this year I can not attend. But I am not angry.
I am not angry because I am a guest in this country and I respect its laws, beliefs and cultures. I am appreciative that I get to live here and it is my duty to follow Singaporean laws and decisions. Me imposing my beliefs and attitudes is not appropriate or respectful, no matter how deeply important they are to me.
I am not angry because love is not angry. From attending many Pink Dot events, I have learnt that love is kind, love is patient and love is accepting. The powerful (and true!) message that Pink Dot shares with us all is twofold – love always finds a way, and love always wins. The extraordinarily pragmatic, clever and quietly determined Pink Dot movement deserves our continued support, applause and appreciation. I am not angry because I know that Pink Dot is not one day – it is a nation wide community of love and equality that we are all a part of 365 days a year, stronger as each day passes.
Finally, I am not angry because I see positive actions, large and small each day. The tide is turning, slowly but surely. Look around. Individuals, groups, companies, families, standing up, having their voices heard and their actions seen. Singaporeans, not foreigners. I am not angry at those trying to block foreign ‘influence and change’ – it is Singapore that has influenced and changed me, not the other way around, as my memories above show.
For me, attending Pink Dot is not just about getting dressed up, dancing around and having fun with my friends and loved ones. It is also to, in a very small and humble way, show appreciation and support for a community that has given me so much over the last few years.
So, thank you Singapore and Pink Dot. Thank you for your care, your commitment and your compassion. Even though I can not physically be with you this year, me and hundreds of thousands of others in Singapore and around the world are with you in spirit and mind, supporting the freedom to love; a love that no barricades can contain.
Written by Tim Burch
SINGAPOREANS/PRS, SEE YOU AT PINK DOT 2017!
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