At Pink Dot 2019, you might remember seeing a few people picking their way through the pink-shirted crowds of Hong Lim Park wearing giant signs that asked
“What issues does Pink Dot not address for you?”
and asking people to write down their responses. Those people were us and we would like to thank all of you who took the time that day to pen down your thoughts and chat with us! We had some incredible conversations and got some really insightful answers. WHY WE DID IT We recognise that Pink Dot has done a lot of amazing work over the past decade, and that there is no one-day event (no matter how massive) that can ever tackle every single problem affecting our community. So, what are some issues that LGBTQ folks want to talk about that they feel Pink Dot does not highlight enough? We wanted to find out what problems are not being talked about enough, where the gaps are, and what conversations need to happen urgently in our communities. We hope to start conversations and organise dialogues around these issues in the coming year.
In Part 1 of this article, we shall look at some responses we got and 5 of the most common issues that we found people wanted to discuss.
I'm partially deaf and the loud music really hurts my ears, they are ringing please do be more inclusive of the disabled :( ; love y'all tho”
Music can be softer for attendees with sensory issues
Better Accessibility for people w/ visual impairment, deaf individuals, people w/ disabilities (e.g. wheelchair users!)
Many brought up the fact that Pink Dot could take steps to be more accessible for people with disabilities. This raises the bigger point that perhaps the LGBTQ community in Singapore as a whole should be paying more attention to members of the community with disabilities. How many LGBTQ spaces are wheelchair accessible? Who are we excluding when our parties are held in places with no handicapped-accessible toilets? How many communities are being left out when talks and panel discussions do not have sign language interpreters?
2. CLASS INEQUALITY
Social inequality. People from less privileged backgrounds can't afford LGBTQ+ activities that are usually exclusive (eg. clubs)
Capitalism and social divide even amongst the LGBTQ community Why do we not talk about class & privilege in the gay community?????
Singapore has one of the largest wealth gaps in the world, and while it is not easy to exist as a LGBTQ person in this country, there is no question that being poor and working class can make existing as an LGBTQ people have it much harder. Many respondents highlighted the fact that we need more conversations about class and inequality as they impact LGBTQ folks. What kind of support can we as a community give LGBTQ people who are struggling?
When organising our events, do we assume that attendees have a certain level of income, education and lifestyle? If so, are we aware of who we are excluding? We need to have an honest look at this divide as it impacts people in our community and how we will confront it.
3. GENDER IDENTITY AND THE TRANSGENDER COMMUNITY
Talk about gender identities more. Not just the freedom to love, the freedom to BE.
nonbinary issues – toilet is not gender neutral. Is it 2019?
Transgender healthcare for minors in the public health sector Phobia and stigmatisation of non-binary and gender non-conforming people
Many respondents wanted to see more representation and recognition of transgender people, particularly non binary people at Pink Dot. Many felt that even within LGBTQ spaces, transgender people are often pushed to the sidelines and often get discriminated against by other LGBTQ people. It is not enough to talk about the freedom to love when many people are still risking their lives to simply exist. How can existing groups better support non-binary people? Do event spaces have gender neutral toilets and if not, is enough being done to ensure the safety of our trans siblings in gendered toilets? How can we as a community start to make our spaces more inclusive and accepting for trans people in Singapore?
4. MENTAL HEALTH
FUNDING HEALTHCARE especially mental health, IMH's suicide support (where do LGBT youth end up when warded)
MENTAL HEALTH DISCRIMINATION @ HOME, @WORK. Eg. Why do we need to specifically declare mental health issues (medical confidentiality!!)
Suffering from mental health issues can make existing as an LGBTQ person in Singapore, and the alienation and lack of family and institutional support as an LGBTQ person in Singapore can take a further toll on one’s mental health. Many told us that Pink Dot could be talking more about mental health in the LGBTQ community, and how mental health is a massive issue that has a huge impact on our community. How can our community share knowledge and resources to support those among us with mental health issues? How can we educate ourselves on how best to support our friends and partners who have mental health issues? What needs to change in Singapore’s mental healthcare to support LGBTQ people and how do we begin to demand it?
5. INCLUSIVITY AND DISCRIMINATION WITHIN OUR COMMUNITY
Discrimination within people in the community. We should be helping each other not putting each other down <3
Acceptance within the community itself …[the problem of feeling] ‘not gay enough’
Sexism in the gay community - Transphobia in the gay community - Femme & fat phobia in the gay community…
People also brought up the issue of discrimination in our community and how LGBTQ individuals can and do inflict harm on one another and felt that this was something that Pink Dot could address more. Belonging to a marginalised group does not prevent people from being prejudiced against others. Hurt people often hurt people. It is no secret that misogyny, fatphobia and racism are rampant in Singapore’s LGBTQ community, from dating profiles to parties to online communities. How do we as a community begin to tackle these issues and call out bigotry when we see it among our friends? How can we educate one another to stop perpetuating prejudice?