Pink Dot: Singapore’s yearly pride celebration gets bigger and brighter

The island of Singapore has a land mass of only 270 square miles, so locals affectionately refer to it as the “little red dot” — a country smaller than the tiny red mark that indicates its location on world maps.

On June 29, 2013, that red dot will turn shades of pink when thousands of Singaporeans dressed in fuchsia, rose, blush and cotton candy gather at Hong Lim Park to form a giant circle. “This human pink dot represents the acceptance and understanding of the LGBT community in Singapore,” says Pink Dot representative Paerin Choa.

The goal of the gathering is simple: “Pink Dot is about spreading the message of love,” says Angie Lim, who will be attending this year’s event with her partner and their young son. “It’s not a gay or straight thing, just a human thing. It’s that simple.”


Each year, this convivial celebration draws a crowd donning pink outfits and accessories that range from wigs and feather boas to balloons and umbrellas. Friends and family picnic on the vast lawn, visit LGBT-related booths and enjoy musical performances under the stars.

After the concert, Pink Dot’s celebrity ambassadors rally Singaporean citizens and permanent residents to form a colossal circle. According to park regulations, foreign nationals are not allowed to participate, so non-citizens and tourists congregate at a special observation area. “It’s truly a beautiful sight to behold when everyone began turning on their pink lights and the pink dot began to shine,” Choa says.

Pink Dot attendance has grown exponentially since the first event five years ago. “2009 was a different time. It was the first time an LGBT-related event was being held in the open,” says Choa. “We knew of many people who were afraid to be seen in public supporting a cause which at that time was still considered taboo.”

So organizers kept their expectations low. “We thought if only 200 people came, we would form a small pink dot and hope that we will be able to fill the space in 10 years,” Choa says. “We can hardly contain our excitement when 2,500 turned up on that afternoon.” Last year, more than 15,000 people attended the event.

Elaine Quek has been to all of the Pink Dot rallies. “For me, it was a very simple way as a straight person to show support for our LGBT friends, to show people that it’s not just gay people who support gay rights, but the rest of us, too,” she says. “Every small dot made up this large dot that conveyed a powerful statement to the world.”

Over the years, Pink Dot has also inspired similar — though much smaller — movements around the world, including in Hong Kong, Japan, the Philippines and the U.S.

“And as the dot grows,” Choa says, “it will be a reflection on how Singapore is changing into a kinder and more inclusive society.”

Rachel Ng, Brand Publishing Writer