By Marcus Lee
Disclaimer: This is my opinion. Screenshots have been taken from my Instagram Stories, and may contain some of my scribblings. Yes, I am pro-equality. I am also pro-decency.
The social media story lines of Pink Dot 2019 have been a disaster.
Pink Dot 2019’s theme was #AgainstDiscrimination, meant to highlight stories of discrimination against the LGBTQ community. In line with discrimination, the lineup of Pink Dot 2019’s ambassadors were also exclusively straight: Preetipls, Subhas, Beatrice Chia, and Tosh Rock. I believe Pink Dot’s aim was to tap into each celebrity’s capability to educate their fans on manners.
Understandably, some of my friends expressed their discomfort over this choice; they felt straight ambassadors would further remove spaces for LGBTQ leaders to be heard.
Shortly after Tosh was announced as ambassador, a social media user surfaced his old tweets, where he expressed disgust over gay guys hitting on him. He quickly apologised for his old tweets, assuring that he’s grown up since then. Social media blew up. Bypassing the Pink Dot committee, Tosh expressed grief over his critics, and announced he’d step down as ambassador.
She commented, “The tweets were disgusting. I’m glad he apologised. But when you apologise, you give time for the other parties to forgive you. I had issues with him feeling entitled to forgiveness. Industry people were commenting, “You don’t need to apologise!” No. I don’t respect his decision to step down. He could’ve done more.”
I agree. Social media should not be used exclusively to define people’s character, especially over time. But there’s a right way to apologise, and respond to criticism. I’m going to assume Tosh does not have a deep understanding of the LGBTQ community, and that is why I sympathise with his clumsy responses. However, I also read some media industry people’s comments on his Instagram posts, suggesting he didn’t need to apologise at all! There’s no statute of limitations on disenfranchising the LGBTQ community.
I also want evidence to Tosh’s assertion that he will continue to be an advocate for the LGBTQ community. And, no, IG stories GIFs don’t count!
Straits Times “Removed” Lee Hsien Yang
Lee Hsien Yang attended Pink Dot 2019! Unless you only read The Straits Times, then you wouldn’t have been informed because they recently removed any mention of his participation.
A few months ago, his son, Li Huan Wu, and Huan Wu’s now-husband Heng Yi Rui, married in South Africa. This was a huge win for the LGBTQ community in Singapore, who look up to the couple as the voices of LGBTQ reason within The Lee Family.
In support of his son and son-in-law (but only legally in South Africa), Lee Hsien Yang was seen at Pink Dot 2019. Watchdog The Online Citizen noticed that the original article covering Pink Dot 2019’s attendees changed over time, removing Lee Hsien Yang’s photos proving he participated.
Attendee Videoed and Mocked LGBTQ Member
I woke up the day after Pink Dot to @themalcolmchew‘s Instagram Stories, where he secretly videoed an LGBTQ member at Pink Dot with the caption, “What’s That?” before turning to his three girl friends and laughing.
I reacted to it on my Instagram account:
View this post on Instagram
Part-time homophobe, part-time pro-LGBTQ? . @leehsienloong @papsingapore recently commented on #377A, “Whatever your sexual orientation is, you’re welcome to come and work in Singapore. Some people have an issue w 377A, which is our legislation on… I’m not sure exactly what the clause says, but basically, it’s against homosexual acts. Which remains legislation and it will for some time.” 👴🏼 . If LGBTQ foreigners are welcome to work in Singapore, their workplace safety should be protected. One way: punishing employees who spread anti-LGBTQ sentiments like this boy did, on his @instagram stories while attending @pinkdot yesterday. . Attending @pinkdot is not an excuse to impress your girl friends. It is more importantly not the time to feel insecure about your self-image and lash out on others. “What’s that?” More like, “Who’s that?” . @toshrock, we noticed you had work last night and could not attend @pinkdot. We’re sure you can work your influence beyond Instagram stories GIFs; a little birdy told us how much you make to appear 5 minutes at a store opening. You’re doing well! 💰 Suggestion: reach out to your 16-22 Chinese male demo, and teach them not to participate in @pinkdot just for clout. That can easily backfire… 🔥 #pinkdot11 #againstdiscrimination
I continued over on Instagram Stories, which I saved in my Highlights. Click on the rainbow flag emoji for my full real-time coverage on the social media responses!
Here’s Malcolm’s apology:
Here’s his Instagram account today. Read what the bio says?
Instagram Model Stood Up For The Attendee!
Lukas Koshy, a model and drama police, subsequently stood up for Malcolm’s comments and defended him against a majority of the LGBTQ community who took issue with him filming and laughing at the LGBTQ member. Here’s what I said:
View this post on Instagram
#pride is over. Here’s #shame. . @brenebrown defines, “Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging.” . Internalised #homophobia happens when gay people add to the hate they receive from others by hating themselves. In this person’s post he says, “I’m #gay too but I don’t want to be part of your community […] Y’all are the minority remember that.” In direct message he continues, “This incident ruined our chances of us being accepted in #singapore. As much as we cannot accept it, we need their acceptance.” It is sad to read the despair in his voice. That the #LGBTQ community in Singapore has been so discriminated he would rather dissociate himself from it, and defend the bullies than the bullied just to be “accepted” by them. . This is one of many harms of #377A. It enables the mainstream to reinforce prejudices of the #LGBTQ community. Understandably, many within the community adopt heteronormative standards to survive; some even punishing their friends for not trying hard enough. . How can we better? 😔
Throughout the day, he continued posting thoughts and replying comments…
Here’s him and Malcolm justifying their actions via Telegram:
I’m almost reluctant to post a response Lukas shared from his follower, a “rap” about social issues in Singapore. The “songwriter” tackles issues like the LGBTQ community, abortion, mental health, gender inequality, among others:
Thankfully, some LGBTQ (and ally) heroes stood against these hate/hate-adjacent crimes.
Here’s what Preetipls posted:
kokoshyshy: "Victims and perpetrators alike have feelings… I'm speaking up for a human."
Also koko: pic.twitter.com/nqfrNX9ZQZ
— Lokies Khan (@Lokies) July 2, 2019
so ms kokokrunch has backpeddled on his entire “bad bitch, unapologetic” persona because people have begun to @ his modeling agency and surprise, surprise, said agency is concerned that being problematic might not be a cute look….
🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡 one word. CLOWN. 🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡 pic.twitter.com/oXpooYe9fr
— timothy bon (@Timothy_Bon) July 2, 2019
Pink Dot is about repealing 377A, promoting safety within the LGBTQ community and a conducive environment for allies to learn. Unfortunately, the conversations surrounding the event has slowly derailed into banal arguments about clout-chasing.
i.e. Influencers and straight people attending for the sake of aligning their “brands” with being socially progressive, shooting content for social media rather than to learn how to better treat the LGBTQ community. Reinforcing stereotypes by trying to appropriate the dressing styles and language of the community. In 2019, attending to impress girl friends; at the expense of mocking the community within their event.
Pink Dot 2019 has survived a train of bad PR. Moving forward, I would encourage supporters of the LGBTQ community to focus on: learning more about and spreading awareness of the adversities of 377A. It is by-book an anti-gay sex law, but it has clearly set a poor precedent how the media and people in real life are allowed to mistreat the community.
Read what PM Lee Hsien Loong said about 377A on The Straits Times (the same newspaper that “removed” Lee Hsien Yang from Pink Dot 2019). In it he says, “On inclusiveness, I think we are open.” Open to what?