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Short write-up on Becca D'Bus and IndigNation in I-S Magazine.

The main organiser of IndigNation 2014, the tenth year of both IndigNation (Singapore's LGBT pride season) and ContraDiction, was Eugene Tan, better known by his cross-dressing persona of Becca D'Bus.

It was his maiden attempt at being the main organiser, taking over from Miak Siew as the latter headed overseas for a break.
The theme for the year was "One united people".

The graphic designers were Gary Lim and Kenneth Chee.

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Programme[edit]

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The table on the left, a general listing of events, and the one below, containing a more detailed description of each, were produced before the opening of IndigNation 2014 and therefore do not include events added after the LGBT pride month started.

Items highlighted in pink were not IndigNation events, but the organisers thought that they would be of interest.

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Opening event - ContraDiction: 10 year series[edit]

Held on Friday, 1 August 2014 at 8pm at Chamber at The Arts House.

Organised by Stephanie Dogfoot, Eugene Tan, Vanessa Victoria and Ng Yi-Sheng.

Event page of Facebook:[1].

It was advertised thus:

"This year marks the 10th Anniversary of Indignation and its annual queer literary night ContraDiction.

And we are going to start it with a bang.

ContraDiction - The Ten Year Series will celebrate a decade's worth of queer writing and performances at the Arts House. Come and celebrate with some of Singapore's most acclaimed LGBT writers who have read, written sung, performed and otherwise grown up with us over the past ten years!

Featured guests include poet Cyril Wong, artist Tania De Rozario, novelist Ovidia Yu, playwright Joel Tan, songwriter Iris Judotter, Stephanie Dogfoot, Jason Wee, Adrianna Tan, Fikri Alkhatib, Amanda Tee and Koh Jee Leong."

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The queer do was called "Pens & Pride" by I-S magazine and listed under "Essential Events " August 1- 14 (photo of article shot by Eugene Tan).

  • Watch videos of the performances recorded by Roy Tan:


Kenny Leck of Books Actually set up a table outside the event venue selling books and works by some of the performers at unbeatable discount prices.

An after party was held at 10.30 pm at Art Bar, ButterFactory, One Fullerton. Free Cover. Marla Bendini performed her personal favourite, t.A.t.U's "Not Gonna Get Us" at 12.30am.

Human worth and dignity: two stories of the LGBT community in Singapore[edit]

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Sunday, 3 August 2014 from 1pm to 4:30pm in Function Rooms 4.1 and 4.2 on level 4 of the SMU Administration Building, Singapore Management University, 81 Victoria Street. Attendees who had paid were notified by e-mail.

Organised by the Humanist Society.

Event page on Facebook:[2] and the Humanist Society website:[3].

The advertisement for the event ran:

"“I believe that everybody should be treated equally and also that we should all really try to get along, not judge people based on certain things you don’t agree with, or you don’t really know about.”

(Interview with gay activist- an excerpt from "Mobilizing Gay Singapore").

The Humanist Society (Singapore) presents a discussion on human worth and dignity, by looking at two perspectives of the LGBT community in Singapore. Tickets at: [4]. As this is a ticketed event, Facebook RSVPs will not count.

Mr Alex Au, of the Yawning Bread blog fame, will present his personal journey as a high-profile member of the LGBT community, and how he continues in the face of the odds.

The 2nd speaker, Asst Prof Lynette J Chua, will present her new book: “Mobilizing Gay Singapore: Rights and Resistance in an Authoritarian State”, which analyzes the development, strategy and tactics of Singapore’s LGBT movement.

Asst Prof Chua will examine the meanings of rights that emerge from the book’s ethnographic study of Singapore’s LGBT activists and discuss how they influence the ways in which these activists continue to mobilize in face of legal and political obstacles.

The talks will be followed by a Q&A moderated by President of the Humanist Society, Mr Paul Tobin. Attendees are welcome to purchase the book: “Mobilizing Gay Singapore” at the event and join Asst Prof Chua for a special book-signing session.

$12 for Humanist Society (HSS) members and $15 for non-HSS members. Please RSVP to make payment and confirm your booking. Only 200 seats available."


Reviews[edit]

Grace Boey[edit]

A summary of the forum was uploaded by Grace Boey to the Humanist Society website on 10 August 2014[5]:

"On 3rd August 2014, the HSS hosted a talk — Human Worth & Dignity: Two Stories of the LGBT Community — at Singapore Management University’s Administrative Building. Guest speakers Alex Au and Professor Lynette J. Chua spoke to a full house of about 120 audience members: the biggest turnout yet for an HSS event.

HSS President Paul Tobin opened the event with a short speech. First, he shared how his 8-year-old son’s accepting attitude of same-sex marriage showed how prejudice isn’t something we are born with; it is something learned over time. Next, Tobin noted the surprisingly rich history of diverse sexuality in Asian tradition. Last, Tobin said that while the anti-LGBT have the right to their beliefs, they have no right to discriminate against those with different sexual orientations. This, he noted, is part of HSS’s charter: non-discrimination on the basis of race, class, disability, gender, sexual orientation, age, or nationality.

First speech by local blogger Alex Au

Next, prominent Yawning Bread blogger Alex Au took the floor to recount his journey over the years as a gay man and activist in Singapore. Au’s talk was a reflection on three main ideas he believed in as a young man: liberty, equality and rationality. Twenty years down the road, Au said he still believes in liberty. However, he’s no longer sure what he knows about equality, and is no longer convinced that homo sapiens are rational animals.

On rationality, Au asked: how do we move society to a better place, when human beings are fundamentally irrational? Au, interestingly, concluded he had been “wasting his time” for the past decade by presenting facts and arguments to people who would not listen. What makes a difference instead, he said, is the visibility of the LGBT community. For example, coming out has the following value: when people know of others around them who are gay it makes a “world of a difference to how they see the issue.”

On equality, Au pondered the question: what are the boundaries of equality? What kinds of rights should we extend, and to whom? Should certain employment rights, for example, be limited to locals? Taking the question even further, Au asked: what about the rights of our closest animal cousins, chimpanzees? The idea of equality in general troubled him, although he believes that LGBT individuals should have the same rights as everyone else.

The one thing Au remained certain about was liberty. The state, he believes, is only a tool for the individual to achieve liberty, happiness and personal growth; if one is treated badly, it is the state that has failed.

Second speech by Professor Lynette Chua

After a short break, Lynette J. Chua, Assistant Professor at NUS Law School, spoke about the ideas in her book Mobilizing Gay Singapore: Rights and Resistance in an Authoritarian State. Tracing and analyzing the history of the local lesbian and gay rights movement, Chua gave the audience an insight into the unique issues surrounding LG activism in Singapore.

Chua began by introducing four political norms that govern local activist mobilization. First, the mobilization must come across as being non-confrontational to the government. Second, the mobilization must emphasize the idea and intention of preserving social harmony. Third, political credibility in Singapore hinges crucially on the perception of legality; in other words, any transgression of the law (former, present or future) will cause an individual or group to lose its legitimacy. Last, the ruling political party must not perceive that their hegemony is under threat.

Next, Chua introduced what she called ‘pragmatic resistance’ — the usual strategy driving lesbian and gay mobilizations in Singapore. Pragmatic resistance involves toeing the line while simultaneously pushing boundaries. Both components, Chua noted, are important: toe the line too much and nothing changes; push the boundaries too far and find yourself in trouble.

Chua then traced the history and phases of the local LG movement, incorporating interesting anecdotes she gleaned from research and interviews with people involved. As she recounted these stories, it became clear just how much the four political norms — especially the idea of lawfulness — played a part in local LG activism.

She ended off by noting the difference between gay politics in the West and in Singapore. While challenging anti-gay discrimination on the basis of ‘rights’ is the way to go in America, that approach does not work in Singapore.

Q&A session

Wrapping up the event was a Q&A session with Au and Chua, moderated by Tobin. Audience members raised interesting questions — for example, given how the visible LGBT movement in Singapore is dominated by educated English-speaking individuals, how should one go about helping an elderly Chinese gay man? — Will bringing him to Pink Dot do any good?

Another point discussed was the recent IPS Survey on Race, Religion and Language, which included statistics on public perception of same-sex rights. In response to an audience question, Au noted that the inconsistent results on the survey potentially revealed more about respondents’ irrationality than it revealed actual public perception. Another audience member pointed out that, amongst other things, phrasing and methodology meant that the survey’s results should be taken with a pinch of salt.

After the Q&A session, audience adjourned to a reception outside the function room to mingle and share thoughts on the event.

HSS President Paul presents gifts of appreciation to our two speakers after the event:

Reflections on the event, and ‘human dignity’

I left the event with an enriched perspective on local LGBT activism. Chua’s descriptive analysis of the movement opened my eyes to many facts and issues I hadn’t known before. Au, on the other hand, raised normative questions that made me examine my personal beliefs on rights and activism.

What of ‘human dignity’, or human ‘worth’? Despite the event’s name, neither of the speakers discussed these ideas, which I’d actually come to the event to hear about. However, I still left with lots of thoughts on the matter.

As a philosopher, I am skeptical about lofty appeals to the abstract concepts of ‘human dignity’ and ‘worth’. The terms, to me, are amalgamations of several issues that are really distinct. Historically, they have also been used to mean different things. The talks managed to cover many of these different interpretations.

A common idea is that freedom from discrimination, stigma and oppression is required for someone to live a ‘dignified’ life. Tobin’s speech, in particular, reminded me that all human beings have the right to live this way. Sadly, LGBT individuals in Singapore face discrimination from both the law and society.

Another common interpretation of human dignity is the right to be treated with respect. Chua’s speech opened my eyes to the roundabout way in which local activism had to take. Ideas of ‘rights’ and ‘oppression’, regardless of how much they are hashed out in social discourse, are not taken seriously in arenas where they matter most. Instead, change is only effected by tip-toeing around minefields of authoritarian rule, and appeasing those who hold the key. To me, there is something quite embarrassing about a community having to dance for their freedom this way.

‘Worth’ is also commonly seen as the basis for dignity. Au’s speech reminded me of my own view on equality: that all beings ought to receive equal consideration of their interests. LGBT individuals share the same fundamental human interests with heterosexuals – such as love, relationships, and sex. To deny them such things is to ignore the value of their human interests; in essence, it is to deny part of their ‘human worth’.

Turning things around, Au’s talk also made me consider how I hope for the pro-LGBT movement to view and treat its ‘opponents’: with the same respect we would like from them. Like Au, I am resigned to the fact that most people (myself included) are irrational creatures. But I think we must guard against the increasing trend of liberals deriding conservatives for their extreme irrationality. We must also guard against viewing them as silly puppets to be manipulated for a cause. These are people too, worthy of respect. And as Kant would say, to view persons as a ‘means to an end’ would violate their dignity.

Alongside the goal of LGBT rights, I think there is another worthy goal: that of introducing, or re-introducing, fellow human to rationality. Billions of years of evolution has gifted homo sapiens with the unique faculty of reason. Wouldn’t it be a waste of human worth if we didn’t seek ways to encourage everyone to use it?"

Simon Vincent[edit]

The Independent published a report of the event on 12 August 2014 by Simon Vincent:

"What gay activism means for these two

“You can’t talk about gay issues without talking about politics,” said Alex Au in a discussion hosted by the Humanist Society of Singapore on ×Sunday afternoon at the SMU Administration building.

Called Human Worth and Dignity: Two Stories of the LGBT Community in Singapore, the talk also featured Lynette Chua, author of Mobilizing Gay Singapore: Rights and Resistance in an Authoritarian State.

Au shared poignant and humorous anecdotes about his engagement, as a gay man and activist, with the Singapore state and society.

He said it had been 21 years since he first joined People Like Us, a local gay advocacy group, which had “run into trouble with the authorities.”

2000 was a “seminal year” for Au because it was the first time that The Straits Times had interviewed him. Au recalled how for the sake of “balance” an interview with a psychologist was positioned alongside his article.

“I got the bigger share of the feature, so that was progress in a way,” he said, drawing laughter from the audience.

While highlighting organisations like 7-11 which have hired LGBT people as front-line workers, Au expressed scepticism over just how much progress has been made. “How many people have we convinced with our arguments?”

Following Au’s talk, Lynette Chua discussed the main themes of her book. She likened gay activism in Singapore to “pragmatic resistance.” Gay activists, according to her, have to balance between “toeing the line” and “pushing boundaries.”

“You have to come across as non-confrontational,” she said.

When a gay haunt called Rascals was raided by the police in 1993, its patrons wrote a letter of protest. Chua said the protest was framed as a complaint against the police officers for overstepping their boundaries. “There was nothing about gay rights.”

While noting the greater acceptance of the LGBT community today, Chua drew attention to what she saw as a “problem of not being inclusive enough.” She said LGBT issues tend to be framed around gay men.

When asked about the recent Christian opposition to the LGBT community, Au said he was quite confident that the movement will eventually lose steam.

Chua felt that opposition from the Muslim quarters of society should also be taken into account. The state is more fearful when it comes to the Muslim community, she said.

Vincent Wijeysingha, who was among the audience members, said “a radical critique of religion” has to take place. The churches would grow, not diminish, because they are “oriented to money.”

When interviewed about his stance, he noted that people would have to negotiate laws such as The Religious Harmony Act. Nevertheless, he felt that it was important to “begin the process of questioning religion.”

“The radical critique will have to occur, it will be painful,” he said. “My experience of critiquing the archbishop was painful as well, but it has to start somewhere.”

Sharing his thoughts on how progress can be made on LGBT issues, Paul Tobin, the president of the Humanist Society, said: “I think it’s about getting people on your side, people who may be your opponents at the moment, but as long as they accept you for who you are, everybody wins.”"

Seeking/Looking: A Sex Library | Marla Bendini: I'm Nervous[edit]

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The opening of the exhibition was on Thursday, 7 August at 6pm - 8pm.

The duration of the exhibition was from 7 August to 30 August 2014

Grey Projects (art gallery)

6B Kim Tian Road, Tiong Bahru, Singapore 169246

Tel. 6655 6492

Gallery Hours:

Wed - Fri : 1pm - 7pm

Sat: 1pm - 7pm

Organised by Grey Projects.

Event page on Facebook:[6].

It was advertised thus:

"‘Seeking/Looking: A Sex Library’ is an exhibition-as-library, and an open invitation for readers to contribute volumes of their favorite queer literature to this pop-up library.

The library cheekily suggests that even in our private reading spaces, one can be looking for sex and sexual gratification. For a brief moment, readers at the exhibition will be able to seek out these otherwise undisclosed sexual narratives.

'Marla Bendini: I’m Nervous' is the first solo exhibition by Marla Bendini, where in a series of daring photographs, she gives an intimate glimpse into an exciting and playful side of her public image as Butter Factory's Head Freak and transgender performer. The dance club becomes Marla’s social space where she plays with queer forms of self-representation, transforming herself through wildly expressive costume changes.

The exhibition is a development of her work from 'No Approval', the previous edition of Grey Projects’ annual queer show held in 2013."

The Boys in the Band[edit]

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"The Boys in the Band" premiered in Singapore with an all-male, multi-national cast in the seminal hit which sparked the gay rights movement in America.

7 to 16 August 2014, 8pm at the Alliance Francaise Theatre, 1 Sarkies Road (tel: 8118 8432).

Presented by Tim Garner Productions.

Tickets available at SISTIC:[7].

Facebook page:[8].

Advertisement:

"Mart Crowley’s The Boys in the Band - the second in a series of LGBT plays presented by Tim Garner Productions encouraging discussion on diversity, equality, and inclusion in Singapore.

It’s Harold’s 32rrt birthday. A good time goes bad as the amiable turns fraught, prejudices are exposed, and true personalities are unleashed, ultimately leading us to question the characters’, and our own, concept of friendship.

Information and tickets: Timgarnerproductions.com[9]"

Synopsis[edit]


It's Harold's 32nd birthday. A good time goes bad as the amiable turns fraught, prejudices are exposed, and true personalities are unleashed, ultimately leading us to question the characters', and our own, concept of friendship.

Tim Garner Productions announces its follow-up to the critically and audience-acclaimed "Take me out" - the 2014 Singapore premiere of the off-Broadway hit play "The Boys in the Band", by Mart Crowley.

Described by The Wall Street Journal as "A play of real substance, one that deserves to be performed not occasionally but regularly" and "Witty, bitchy, revelatory and dazzlingly entertaining" (The New York Times), "The Boys in the Band" premieres in Singapore with an all-male, multi-national cast performing the seminal hit which sparked the gay rights movement in America.

Starring: Chris Bucko, Marc Checkley, Nelson Clemente, Tim Garner, Rob Jenkin, Rob Schilling, Andrew Sutherland, and Frédéric Soumaré.

Directed by Tony Knight

The Unofficial Pink Picnic[edit]


Saturday, 9 August 2014 (National Day) from 4:30pm - 7:00pm.

Symphony Lake, Singapore Botanic Gardens, 1 Cluny Road, Singapore 259569.

Organised by Gary Lim.

Event page on Facebook:[10].

The event was advertised thus:

"Hi Everyone,

It's that time of the year again for The Unofficial Pink Picnic! As it's the 10th Anniversary of IndigNation, let's make this a huge success by supporting it!

Just come by and join us on the picnic mattress for food, drinks and lots of gossips :p It's also a great way to reuse your Pink T-shirt from Pink Dot!

Please bring some finger foods (in order not to end up with boxes of KFC chickens, please 'chope' what you want to bring in the comments) and your own drinks.

Date: August 9th 2014 (National Day)

Time: 4:30pm

Venue: Botanic Gardens' Symphony Lake

Hope to see you guys at Botanic Gardens!

Much love,

Gary"

Dr Sketchy Birthday feat. Noris[edit]

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Tuesday, 12 August 2014 at 8pm at Artistry.

Organised by Becca D'Bus.

Facebook group page:[11].

It was advertised thus:

"Dr Sketchy is your favourite life drawing class with loads of drinking and drawing! And yes, there are prizes to be won too! August is the month of BIRTHDAY. Indignation turns 10. Singapore turn 49. Madonna turns 102. And our model Noris, she celebrates, err, one more year of his life.

Come DRINK, DRAW her and WIN prizes you won’t want to tell anybody about. Bring your own drawing supplies, we'll have a good time! Bring friends!

$10 at the door."

Review[edit]

A report of the event was posted by James Leong on his Wordpress blog, "James Leong Arts"[12]:

"The evening was breezy up till the hotness of Dr.Sketchy’s event began. The traffic jam caught hold of our model of the evening, thus, ‘she’ was late. Nevertheless, I pushed the host to kickstart with some volunteers for posing instead of waiting. Waiting is a killjoy. So began with two wonderful young men who stood in for Noris. Lovely poses they made.

And also, Dr. Sketchy will be featured on different days next month onwards. Yes, twice monthly! Please check on the FB group for updates.

...It was a wonderful evening. I had fun. Also met up with few regulars and some new faces. You know who you are."

Pink Run[edit]

Saturday, 16 August 2014 at 9am.

Starting point: behind Nicoll Highway MRT station.

Organised by Nicholas Deroose.

Event page on Facebook: [13].

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OCRed text of the poster:

5 reasons why you should go for the Pink Run

1. It's the perfect event to reuse your Pink Dot outfit.

2. You enjoy checking out the hotness that is usually at these events. And give you the suspicious

eyebrow if you say you don’t aka “I don’t check out people at the gym.”

3. It's a great way to meet people with similar interests. “Oh you like FBT shorts too?”

4. You enjoy the smell of the vodka/gin/whiskey from last night leaving your sweaty pores.

5. You will post about it on Secrets later.
The event's advertisement ran:

"7 years ago, the first and only Pink run was organized as one of the many events of Indignation. The run, a causal affair along the Singapore river, never officially happened. As we were about to flag off some 40 runners, plain clothed policemen came up to the organizers and told them that we were contravening the Miscellaneous Offences Act. The police did not cite which part of the act we were contravening but only that a gathering of four or more people is consider illegal. Fast forward to the present, we would like to try again and stage the second Pink run in Indignation's ten year history. What would happen? We don't really know but we would certainly like to find out.

An account of the original Pink Run: [14]

We will be gathering behind Nicoll Highway MRT before the flag off. A detailed map of the route to be released soon.

More information about the rest of the 2014 Indignation event can be found here: [15]"
2 weeks before the event, its organiser announced the logistics requirements on its Facebook event page:

6 marshals

2 photographers

1 rainbow flag

1 loudspeaker

1 first aid kit

Event cancellation[edit]

On 14 August 2014, the organiser, Nicholas Deroose, issued this announcement:

"1. The Pink Run is officially canceled because we do not have a police permit to carry on with the activity. (please see below for the official response) I have sent some follow up questions but they have yet to be answered. Calls have also been unanswered.

2. However, people are still free to show up and run in their own personal capacity. There are no laws against running. You just won’t be a participant of the Pink Run.

3. I will still show up at the agreed meeting point to tell anyone who has missed this message that the run is cancelled but you are free to run on your own.

4. If you like to read a more in depth analysis of the rejection issue, Vincent has written a blog post http://vincentwijeysingha.com/2014/08/13/yet-another-lgbt-ban-2/

Thank you all for your responses so far. I hope to try again next year.

Dear Mr Nicholas Deroose,

Please refer to your permit application, PP/20140630/008.

The purpose of the proposed event you have stated in your application is related to LGBT advocacy, which remains a socially divisive issue. We regret to inform you that your application is rejected in the interest of public order. You may wish to consider conducting your event at the Speakers’ Corner instead.

Please contact Inspector Patrick Koh Kok Keong of Compliance Management Unit at DID: 6557-5133, should you have any queries.

Regards Loi Yong Tang Compliance Management Officer Central Police Division | Singapore Police Force DID: + 65 6557 5132 | Fax: +65 220 6742 | E-mail:Loi Yong Tang@spf.gov.sg cid:image001.png@01CCCB0E.495D6560"

Vincent Wijeysingha wrote the following article on his website[16]:

"Yet Another LGBT Ban

Yet again, the authorities have shown us that, contrary to the objects of the public order legislation, the motive force behind official attitudes to homosexuality is straightforward bigotry. Yaacob Ibrahim and his colleagues, cowards as they have shown themselves to be, take shelter beneath the oft-repeated but essentially meaningless maxim of ‘community norms’. But when you examine all the liberation struggles that bigots of every stripe have made necessary throughout the centuries, it cannot escape the notice of anyone who thinks for a moment about these things that the real purpose of controlling and silencing communities which, for the time being, exist outside the pale of polite society, is the resistance to extending the dignity of equal citizenship to those against whom they have built some form of prejudice.

The struggle for women’s liberation, black civil rights, against Jewish discrimination, against the appointment of colonial subjects to positions of authority, indeed the very colonial struggle itself, came about because some group thought themselves superior to their antagonists in the freedom struggles and considered themselves to possess a right to circumscribe their behaviour, their rights, and the protection of the fundamental freedoms.

Thankfully, most societies across the world have come through the principal struggles against prejudice. But with the exception of one: against LGBT people. Societies, and very modern societies at that, together with their governments still believe that to oppress and discriminate against LGBT people is acceptable – and if the Singapore government is to be believed, desirable.

Of course, religions play a fundamental role in maintaining these prejudices and, of course, liberal, moderate adherents of those religions, by their silence, connive in these programmes of chauvinism, but that is a debate for another day. At least the first salvo in that argument was fired when I challenged the hypocrisy and hatefulness of the Catholic Archbishop (and by implication, the sub-educated chicanery of Laurence Khong and the ×Wear White movement) over his Pink Dot pronouncements but perhaps the continuance of those hostilities can wait for another day.

Today, the issue is the refusal – yet again – for the LGBT community to hold a jogathon as part of our community’s annual IndigNation event. Resorting to the usual officialese in which the authorities couch their bigotry, they said that as homosexuality is a divisive issue, therefore public order concerns arise. This is Orwellian doublespeak shrouding the basic bigotry that is the government’s official attitude to homosexuality.

It is also faulty logic. That homosexuality is a divisive issue may be accepted as axiomatic although it can, and should, continue to be argued that the authorities have no real basis to make the claim except the repulsive ×Institute of Policy Studies survey sometime last year that broke every canon of academic research. The necessary premise that should link divisiveness to public order is missing from the syllogism.

So, we are entitled to ask on what basis the link between divisiveness and public disorder is made. In simple terms, which perhaps Yaacob and his friends in government might better understand, how does a run by a group of people which happens to occupy a contested social category give rise to social disorder. Since the main objection to homosexuality emerges from religion, shouldn’t it be asked, not entirely tongue in cheek, whether we should ban religion since the objection to gay people jogging would, if it did, proceed from religious people? It is only a slightly funny question.

The suggestion in the police refusal letter, that the run be held at Hong Lim Park, is ridiculous, although no doubt within the mental capacity of a Singaporean police officer. It also negates the public order concerns. If an activity has the potential to give rise to public disorder, it arises wherever the activity takes place. To deny the jogathon outside of Hong Lim Park is simply to say that the powers of the police are being exercised where they can but not where they cannot. By refusing to allow the run in one place but not another, the police clearly indicate that their concern is not public order but an exercise of prejudice against LGBT people which they are content to exercise when and where they can. In doing so, the police, which should take its mandate to protect the public more seriously, is merely defending the claims of those who demand that their bigotry have official sanction.

It should also be asked of the police how a run might promote public disorder or limit public order. Touch Community Services, whose chairman is Lawrence Khong, recently held a jogathon. Given Khong’s incendiary views about LGBT people, did the police not consider his jogathon to give rise to public order concerns. Apparently not, which gives the lie to the reason for turning down the Pink Run.

To prevent an LGBT event on the grounds that it is publicly divisive is to assume that LGBT issues do not already occupy space in the public discourse. Pink Dot in June attracted upwards of 25,000 attendees. The banning of books by the National Library recently occupied an immense media footprint, resulting in an embarrassing climbdown by the authorities. IndigNation, an entirely public series of LGBT-themed events, is ongoing this month. And only last week, the Sunday Times reported on the marriage in London (because gay marriage is illegal in Singapore) of ×Cultural Medallion winner, Ivan Heng, and his now spouse, Tony Trickett. (Congratulations again, dear friends!) So, this so-called divisive issue is firmly a part of the public discourse. To ban the ×Pink Run makes the police and their political masters look boorish and bigoted.

The suggestion that you can contain the divisiveness of the LGBT issue by banning a jogathon when you decline to apply the same ruling to an identical event by a vocal, if rather asinine, religious leader, gives the lie to the police’s decision. Let us say it, and say it clearly for the avoidance of doubt, the police (and their political masters) are simply and straightforwardly bigoted and no amount of cowering under the non-existent umbrella of ‘community norms’ is going to erase it, much less disguise it.

The hallmark of a mature society is divisiveness. The public debate occurs precisely because we are diverse, with differing opinions and values. It is on the bedrock of constant public debate that we progress. The authorities make too much of the virtue of unity, of harmony and consensus, not because it is either possible or desirable. They do so because it allows for a curtailed framework of public norms that are essentially dictated by those with the power to do so. This is not harmony. It is a bovine uniformity and complacency aided and abetted by those whose views on societal organisation we should be working to abandon not defend."

News of the ban was reported in The Straits Times[17],[18], Channel News Asia[19] and TODAY[20], as well as on overseas news websites like Thailand's The Nation[21],[22].

The police stated that "the application had been rejected in the interest of public order, as LGBT advocacy remains "a socially divisive issue"."

On the time and date the cancelled Pink Run was supposed to have taken place, seven individuals turned up of their own accord to run separately.

A Long Table Discussion About Strategies for the Future[edit]

Saturday, 16 August 2014 at 8pm at Artistry.

Organised by Eugene Tan.

Event page on Facebook:[23].

It was advertised thus:

"How will queer activism create our future? What will we do now to make this possible? What do we want the future to be?

Join us and bring your voice and thoughts in a freely flowing conversation that will go wherever attendees want it to go in discussion that will be moderated by a table.

The room will be full of experts in the field, like you. Nobody has been appointed as speakers.

The discussion will be started by EugeneTan at 8pm sharp, do come earlier. At 10pm, Eugene will allow the person speaking to finish their comments and end the discussion.

The Long Table is a means of generating open discussion about a specified topic, using a stylized environment and participation protocol to heighten ordinary conversation. The Long Table experiments with participation and public engagement by combining re-appropriating a dinner table atmosphere as a public forum and encouraging informal conversation on serious topics. The Long Table format was created by Lois Weaver."

FACE featuring JuJuBee[edit]

IndigNation2014-016.jpg


Wednesday, 20 August 2014 from 8pm to 10pm.

TAB[24], 442 Orchard Road, #02-29, Singapore 238879.

The event was thus advertised:

"IndigNation is proud to present a 1 night only event!, JuJuBee from RuPaul’s Drag Race will be performing in Singapore!

You’ve seen her online, now see her live!

Serving you beauty and face and gorgeousness, JuJuBee might just read you for filth. YES! The Library is Open. And the penguins are out to play, community standards be damned!

Doors at 6.30pm

Showtime 8.00pm

Come early! Have Dinner!

Tickets:

VIP Tables - $400

Upfront reserved table. Includes 4 seats and a bottle

(Glenlivet 12 Years, Chivas Regal 12 Years, Absolut Vodka, Martell VSOP or Perrier Jouet)

General Admission (Online sales) - $25

General Admission (Door) - $30

JuJuBee will be supported by some of your favourite queens from Singapore in a show of songs that they never sang, and costumes that they may never have washed.

Mona Kee Kee is your favourite diva who will make you BELIEVE. Also she does magic better than what you get from that church in Marine Parade.

Noris is finally leaving the confines of those bars along Tanjong Pagar, be nice to her, she just turned … celebrated her birthday!

Becca D’Bus has never been happier to have been Stomped. She likes colour. And being stupid.

FACE is an event of IndigNation, Singapore’s Pride Season, now in its tenth year.

The event will raise funds for IndigNation ensuring its continued presence on the Singapore calendar.

Tickets at : [25]

THIS IS AN 18+ EVENT"

Strategies, Successes and Failures: An overview of the LGBT movement in the US[edit]

Saturday, 23 August 2014 from 2pm - 5pm at Bar Naked, 95 Club Street.

Hosted by IndigNation SG.

Tickets available at: [26].

It was thus advertised:

"In 2011, Hillary Clinton made a historic speech on LGBT rights that helped give the global LGBT movement a good kick in the butt.

Last week, Obama signed an executive order banning workplace discrimination against LGBT workers of federal contractors and the federal government.

To date, 19 States have marriage equality; 18 States have some employment non-discrimination act; 15 States have hate crime legislation for LGBT people. And in several States, LGBT history is made to be taught in schools.

Without over-glorifying the LGBT movement in the US, this session will seek to explore in-depth some of the key organizations that work on LGBT rights, their strategies, successes, and failures.

This session is being conducted by Vanessa Ho, who recently concluded a 3-week trip around the US sponsored by the Department of State to learn more about the LGBT movement in the US.

She met with over 30 different organizations in 4 different States (DC, Alabama, NYC, San Diego), and collected over 5kg worth of resources and information that she is eager to share.

Timeline:

2 - 2:30pm: Introduction to American Federalism, and key highlights and lessons learnt from the trip (Vanessa)

2:30 - 2:50pm: Q&A

2:50 - 3pm: Short break

3 - 4pm: Breakout Sessions (Groups will be formed according to interest areas, and resources will be divided accordingly).

4 - 5pm: Group Sharing and Discussion

Interest Areas to be covered:

LGBT Youth

Direct Services for LGBT

Legal Advocacy Strategies

Non-legal Advocacy Strategies

Political Lobbying

Religion and LGBT

Community Building

Education system and LGBT

Parents of LGBT

LGBT Allies

Trans* Rights Movement

This session is facilitated by Eugene Tan.

Register your interest here now! [27] "

Mass Hysteria: Relapsed[edit]

IndigNation2014-012a.jpg


Sunday, 24 August 2014 at 3pm and 8pm

The Play Den at The Arts House.

Organised by AmOk Collective and Sayoni.

Event page on Facebook:[28].

This was the advertisement for the event:

"Attention: Health Notice

Mass Hysteria has spread beyond detention and secondary school graduation. There are no expiry dates, no LUGs, but some spectres continue to haunt.

Shrugging off uniforms and habits, the queerdos set their sights on the world outside, to re-act and negotiate the hysterical and the historical, great tropes and expectations, memory and homophobic violence, nightmarish dyke drama and the life cycles of lezbo love.

Come quantify the insanity. Come queer the jealousy. Just come.

Featuring words and performances by: Ad Maulod, Germaine Yeo, Mrylyn Tn, Rak Shakalaka, Sage Lee, Stephanie Dogfoot, Vanessa Victoria and music by: Illi Syaznie.

Showtimes:

24th August, 3pm

24th August, 8pm

Tickets available at $15 each, drop us a message to reserve your tickets, or make reservations here:[29]"

Photos of the performers during the event were shot by Kirsten Han (see whole album on Flickr[30]):

IndigNation2014-017.jpg


Review[edit]

Pooja wrote a short review of the event in her Wordpress blog, "notabilia: a crafty new yorker in singapore"[31]:

"I attended the best spoken word performance on Sunday. Mass Hysteria Relapsed featured storytellers/poets/performers Ad Maulod, Germaine Yeo, Marylyn Tan, Raksha Mahtani, Sage Lee, Stephanie Chan, and Vanessa Victoria, accompanied by musician, Illi Syaznie. Mass Hysteria Relapsed was staged as part of 2014 IndigNation, a month-long Pride celebration that features plenaries and picnics and performances.

As I said: best. What better way to spend an afternoon than listening to the voices of creative, queer, feminist women? And while all the performances were, in nearly equal measure, droll and tragic, I found three pieces to be outstanding: “Butch/Femme/What,” “Bisexuals: The Care and Feeding Of,” and “You Are Six Years Old.”

I was also most taken by Stephanie “Dogfoot” Chan’s performances. She has incredible stage presence."

Check-OUT: The Race 2[edit]

IndigNation2014-015.jpg


Saturday, 30 August 2014 from 10am to 5pm at various venues.

Organised by SGRainbow and Young OUT Here.

Event page on Facebook:[32], website:[33].

It ran 2 advertisements:

Old:

"What does it mean when someone asks you,“Who are you?"

Who are you? Somebody, anybody, everybody, nobody.

Join SGRainbow and Young OUT Here in a race across space and time in recovering the history, uncovering the present and discovering the future of Singapore’s LGBTQ community."

Updated:

"SGRainbow and Young OUT Here, will be organizing an amazing race, Check-OUT: The Race 2, as part of IndigNation 2014.

The objectives of the race are as follows:

1. Develop and bolster participants’ individual identity and self esteem as LGBTQ youths. 2. Strengthen friendships within participants and provide platform for participants to forge new ones. 3. Increase participants’ understanding of the various LGBTQ organisations and their roles in the community

The race will see groups of participants going around Singapore to various LGBTQ places completing missions.

This race is open to ALL and participants will have to form groups of 3 to 4 members.

On top of all the fun, participants will each get a goodie bag worth $100! Winners of this race will also stand a chance to win cash and prizes worth up to $1,000.

Details of the race Date: 30 August 2014 Time: 0930hrs to 1800hrs (Flag off at 1000hrs) Registration fee: $10 per person

For enquiries about this race, please contact the organisers at contact@checkoutrace.tk

Register here: [34]

Places are limited, so hurry!"

F.A.Q[edit]

Q: Who are the organisers?

A: SGRainbow is a non-profit independent youth group aiming to provide a safe and inclusive platform for young GBQ aged 18 to 25 years old through social and personal development programmes.

Young OUT Here is a youth community group, run by queer youths for queer youths. It aims to provide a safe and inclusive environment for LGBT youths to develop a healthy identity, and to reach out to LGBT youths to engage them in healthy learning, discussions and activities.

Q: What is the age limit?

Participants have to be at least 18 years old.

There is no maximum age limit.

Q: If I would like to join in as a team of 2, would that be possible?

A: We encourage teams of 3 or 4 as the games would cater to the number. In such cases, we may have to match you up with individuals who do not have a team.

Q: Am I allowed to drive or ride a bicycle/motorbike throughout the race?

A: We only allow teams to take public transport (bus, MRT, taxi) and walk/run from point to point. Teams caught taking personal transport will be disqualified.

Q: Will the first team who reaches the finish line first win the race?

A: Not necessary. Teams are scored based on individual stations. In addition, teams have to complete the race within the stipulated time of 7 hours to qualify for the prizes.

Q: How much is the registration fee?

A: The non-refundable registration fee is $10 per person, and will be made payable during the participants briefing.

Q: Who do I contact for enquiries?

A: You may email us at contact@checkoutrace.tk for more information regarding the race.

A minor ContraDiction[edit]

The closing event of IndigNation 2014 was held on Saturday, 30 August 2014 at 7:30pm at the Reading Room Gallery, 21 Tanjong Pagar Road, #04-01, Singapore 088444[35].

Organised by Ng Yi-Sheng, Stephanie Dogfoot, Eugene Tan and Vanessa Victoria.

Event page on Facebook:[36].

It was advertised thus:

"End this year's Contradiction with a night of new queer writing & performances!

To bring Indignation to a close, we invite you to take a peek into the young(ish) side of Singapore's queer community we as present you with an evening of readings and performances by some of Singapore's most exciting emerging LGBTQ voices.

Raw, funny, honest, angry and hopeful, these young writers will share what it means and how it feels to grow up queer in 21st century Singapore.

So GET SUPER FREAKING EXCITED for a night of poetry, drag, fiction, film, rants, music and general awesomeness by the dynamic lineup of performers.

Then go tell your friends you saw them before they were Superstars."

Reviews[edit]

Philip Holden[edit]

Philip Holden wrote a review of event on his Wordpress blog, "Pulau Ujong: Singapore, Literature, Contexts"[37]:

"A Minor Contradiction

August 31, 2014 / alisamayar

Last night I attended A Minor Contradiction the closing event for Indignation SG 2014. Indignation SG 2014 is a volunteer-run, month-long series of events by the LGBT community that seeks to explore issues of sexuality and to chronicle the experiences of queer people in Singapore. Most significantly, I believe that it aims to promote a sense of community for queer people. A Minor Contradiction showcased the literary works of young and emerging queer writers. I thought that it was interesting that a presentation of written works was the means by which the organisers had chosen to close the month, and to me that was a testament to the power of writing in terms of self-expression. I was interested to attend the event because I had observed that in recent times, many queer people in Singapore were writing about their experiences and sharing them not only in printed works but also on social media. I was thus curious to understand how similar or different this reading of works might be from any other readings, such a poetry slams I’d attended before.

The event was opened by Jerrold Yam, who read a few poems including one entitled Museum, in which he talked about reconciliation with his parents after they found out about his sexuality. Jerrold was probably one of the most well-known performers that night and it was clear why from the skill of his writing. His poetry to me, was largely confessional and made use of vivid imagery. One of my faourite lines from his reading was “His mouth receeding with scraps of forgotten conversation”. I thought this line was quite beautiful as it showed how his style of writing was emotive and yet effortless. What I did notice though, was the universality of the issues he talked about. Struggling to re-connect with your parents after a major difference in opinion is something I think many young people relate to. The fact that poetry is often written in a way in which the subject matter is not explicitly outlined, allows people who are not queer to relate to the sentiment expressed.

Another reader who was outstanding to me was Mrylyn. She too read a few poems and her brand of writing was bold and peppered with puns( good ones). She wrote openly about sexuality and many puns were made about every day objects. One of her poems cleverly melded the topics of food, sexuality and her family which created a funny and daring read. Mrylyn is obviously a natural with words, however the sexual innuendos in her writing might not go down so well with everyone. In this way, I felt that her writing while no doubt entertaining, is possibly alienating and thus an acquired taste. The audience really enjoyed her enthusiastic readings, but I suspect that the larger Singaporean audience would not be so readily accepting of the frank and sometimes raw way she wrote about sexuality.

A third reading I thought was note-worthy was Dylan by Lavanya. This was a story about a child of a same-sex, female couple who realises at school that their family is different from the other childrens’. I use “their” when referring to Dylan because the protagonist’s gender was not referenced at all in this story. To me this emphasised how the writer wanted people to focus on the the deeper issue at hand, love, and not the sexuality and gender of the characters themselves. It discussed the idea of family and illustrated the challenges faced by Dylan’s parents in raising a child in Singapore as an “unconventional” family. This story was interesting to me because besides being the first (and only) story of the night, it was also the first that was written for children. I thought this was one of the most original pieces of work because I have not heard previously of writing about same-sex parenting in a Singaporean context. I thought as a children’s book, it was a step forward from the “happy-ending” and one-dimensional stories that already exist because of the ambivalent tone at the end of the story. I thought in this way, it was a realistic and mature piece of writing.

All in all, while I enjoyed the spirited works of the young writers at the event, I think that there is much more that can be done to make the writing more diverse. Many of the pieces read at the event were poetry and I am not sure if this was done in the interest of time, but it would have been nice to hear more short stories for variety. Also, I felt that there was a tendency to over-sexualize things in much of the writing. Perhaps, this might sound ironic since this was an event about sexuality, but to me it would have been more interesting if some of the writing had focused more on emotions and social stigma for example rather than sex. Ultimately, “queer writing” if I may loosely use the term seems to be in its infancy in Singapore. Having said that, judging by the crowd that showed up last night and the talent I saw, it looks like this is just the beginning of some very beautiful work to come.

Maya"

Yi Ning[edit]

On 31 August 2014, Yi Ning posted a review of the event on her Tumblr blog, "Nebula of mine"[38]:

"a minor contradiction 2014

this is a blog post with a point

I think I was expecting more kids. But turns out the people performing and attending weren’t ///actually minors, so I was probably the only one in the room still with acne problems.

Last night was the closing event for Indignation 2014, which, if you didn’t know, is Singapore’s pride month! It was a poetry event showcasing young(ish) queer writers, organised by Stephanie Dogfoot (who is super cute like what even, her knees) and Vanessa Victoria (with rad pink hair). Ng Yi-Sheng was also there, in a Singapore Airlines (?) uniform dress and a penguin head. I shit you not. The gay penguin opened our show.

There were a bunch of really, really cool people performing, like Marylyn (@blowjobartist), who did one called First Day of Sexual Orientation and another one full of food innuendos (“these lady(’s)fingers are going to be the only ones going up you”) while looking super hot in a corset and stealing everyone’s hearts, probably. Kay (@in__flux) did a poem for baby queers and they were angry and magnificent. Muslim Sahib imagined the gay past of Lawrence Khong, which was more heartbreaking than it had any right to be, really. Fuck. Christopher Kay (@reassembly) wore a Wonder Woman shirt and sang, and you should really check him out because he’s doing a transgender documentary called Some Reassembly Required (@SRR_documentary) and is such a lovely person, what even. There was one other teenage performer called Daniel, who’s eighteen and started with an adaptation of Jeanann Verlee’s The Session. Raksha (from Sekaliwags, the all-woman spoken word group you will fall madly in love with) just. Just blew it away she was that amazing. And then Lavanya (@readmysoul) read her story about having a hypothetical adopted son named Dylan with her partner. Almost cried, Jesus. Not cool. Everything was filmed so fret not you will be able to cyber-bask in the awesomeness of all that transpired. And all that transpired was just really cool, man, everything and everyone was just really cool (Cool Older Queers) and went for an after party we didn’t go to because we’re underage and have curfew. Also. Amanda Tee is our senior, you guys.

So two things struck me about the queer community. The first is that everyone knows everyone. Like, shit you not. The feminist, spoken word and queer scenes are closely related, and people just know one another and stuff. Makes me think of that Mal Blum song about how you can never cheat on each other because the community is small and you’ll always find out. Alternatively, the queer ladies chart in the L Word.

The second thing is that everyone is incredibly warm. Before and after the show and during the break, people just mingle around and shake hands and talk to the few people (okay for me it was everyone) they didn’t already know, and did I mention they were incredibly warm? Plus, we are proof that twitter is an unstoppable force when it comes to networking. I met a few people irl for the first time where it was just like, hi! I’m Melissa. Eightmileswide? We’ve talked on twitter. I was really scared before I went on (probably because they introduced me with a scarring profile I wrote as a joke) that the teenage perspective of my stuff wouldn’t click in the room, but it turned out more than all right, and people who came up to me afterwards threw at me the most generous words I’ve ever received. I met Victoria, also from Sekaliwags, Tania de Rosario, who has a cool as heck tattoo; they both performed at Contradiction and [turns away to fangirl]. Also Leow Yangfa (whom I’ve met before at the BooksActually event), the editor of I Will Survive. These are all people you should check out like now because they’re hella rad and stuff.

The thing is, when you first come to terms with your identity and everything, you feel alone. I felt alone. I was frightened and had only one friend whom I knew was gay at the time, and felt like I had nowhere to go. The first glimpse I caught of a future for a queer girl like myself came in the form of Adrianna Tan’s Medium piece; a while after that, I think, I came out on the nebula and a queer community started to form in our midst and I had the safety of knowing that not only was I not alone, but I also had the ability to help many other queer kids, some younger, by being open and trying to create a safe space for all of us. That’s important and will never cease to be important. Then I started getting to know about people like Steph Dogfoot(knowing she was queer was what gave me the courage to perform Mom Dad at YAWP in the first place), queer Singaporean poets who assured me that I actually existed, and queer events like the IDAHOT thing, like Contradiction and now Minor Contradiction, and now I know for a fact that no one here will be lost, because these are people and places and things that you can turn to with the knowledge that you can belong somewhere, should you be looking for it.

Queer role models are important. Getting kids to think and talk openly about queerness and gender and identities, the way more and more are doing today, is important. Being someone for them to turn to is important and potentially life-saving. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, about how we’re all just one huge chain reaction of one another, and how helping and being helped are conditions of cause and effect in both directions. And that has been another teenage perspective!

All in all, last night was unbelievable."

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • The Indignation SG Facebook page[39].
  • The IndigNation SG website on Wordpress[40]
  • An alternative IndigNation Facebook page:[41].
  • Sylvia Tan, "Singapore celebrates 10th LGBT pride festival", Gay Star News, 2 August 2014[42].

Acknowledgements[edit]

This article was compiled by Roy Tan.