Sunday, July 31, 2016

Pink dot virgin no more (part 2)

Here is part two of my series on my first-ever Pink Dot (part one is here).

The drag queens were all out in full force that day and I knew I had to take a picture with each and every one of them. I've always wondered why are most drag queens so tall and overpowering (and that is even before they start unleashing their quick and oft-acidic wit). Why aren't there more petite and soft-spoken drag queens?

Here's another in drag and this time with a Japanese flavour. They must have found it hard to source for their pretty pink costumes for the event. Thankfully I know I look horrendous in drag otherwise I'd be stressing over my getup as well. I'm lucky in the sense that I'm more fabulous when I'm in barely nothing at all, which is the perfect look for a person as lazy as me.

There were performances from local artistes as well as speeches and presentations on the stage throughout the event. After being away from Singapore for so long, I knew none of those acts which was totally fine with me since most of my time was spent at the community stalls section. I was stationed topless in front of my friend's booth for a social group called MOVE Community and in the process helped attract lots of traffic to it which really put my abs to good use. Needless to say I loved all the attention of course!

Drag queens come in all shapes and sizes and it's events like Pink Dot when we can all be ourselves. For me it's putting my best assets in full public display and making all my time spent in the gym worthwhile. I got a lot of compliments that afternoon and no one can ever get too many of them.

Although it was drizzling slightly at times which meant that the weather wasn't that oppressive, it must still have been uncomfortably stuffy in that costume so I really admired the effort. Fortunately I wore sandals and so the muddy ground from the rain didn't bother me a single bit. I was too busy taking pictures and letting others take pictures of me. Behind me was the stall promoting the annual IndigNation event a.k.a. Singapore's Pride season. There were a large number of stalls with various causes and there were also some that gave out free popcorn and cotton candy which added further cheer to the carnival atmosphere.

This was taken in front of the stall I was stationed at and these were the folks from the MOVE Community social group with their placards. I contacted my friend who runs this group (third from the left) and asked if I could hang out at the stall as I didn't want to be at Pink Dot alone and he was more than happy for that to happen. I did wander away and walked around the jam-packed park once in a while to soak in the atmosphere and to let more people admire my body. I can't help not being an attention-whore when I have the body I have!

This is the moment before we were told to raise our placards to form a pink dot. The air was electrifying and thick with fervent intensity and was the best moment of the day. To prepare for the climactic moment that's Pink Dot's never-changing hallmark, we had to be herded into the area of the park where "protesting" is allowed (i.e. something foreigners couldn't do without breaking the law). Such is the environment the LGBT community has to survive in daily and is one of the main reasons why I left my homeland for good in 2008.

This was the spectacular result of the pink dot formation that can only be fully-appreciated from up high. Pink Dot attendance has grown exponentially which has resulted in numbers exceeding the location's capacity for a few years now and hence the organisers have stopped counting the number of attendees this year. The pink dot has now become a pink mass but that's something no one will complain about.

This is my favourite shot of the day and was my Facebook cover photo for many days after Pink Dot. As soon as I posed for my phone camera (held by an onlooker) to get this shot, a lot of reporters from various media outlets also started snapping and that was why this shot appeared in many news articles. Being able to attend Pink Dot this year was awesome and having my picture get so much exposure is the icing on the cake.

I have attended New York's Pride and Sydney's Mardi Gras so I've seen it all and although Pink Dot is much milder in comparison, one must be reminded that being able to hold such a massive event in a country as discriminatory towards the LGBT community as Singapore is already an enormous feat. Hence I'm glad I made this trip especially for it. Now I can tell myself and others I've been part of this major Asian gay event as an out, loud and proud gay Singaporean. For those who have never been to one, it's highly recommended!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Pink dot virgin no more (part 1)

Pink Dot started in Singapore after I left the country for good and since then I've always not been able to attend this major annual event in the Asian gay calendar due to work and poor timing. With the end of my stint in Papua New Guinea, the stars were aligned and I finally had the chance to go. I was hoping for a night event like the previous few years but I heard from the organisers that it was easier to enforce the no-foreigner rule in the day. You see, foreigners are not allowed to protest whilst locals can only do so in a specific location (Hong Lim Park in Chinatown). People who are against the Pink Dot movement often make lots of trouble for the organisers by pointing out breaches to this rule to the police and so the only way to solve this problem is to hold the event when there's daylight. Despite this Pink Dot has been held successfully annually since 2009 and in the next two posts (second post is here), I shall share with you how much fun I had during this year's event.

There's always a symbolic gesture for Pink Dot participants that not only represents the conscious protest they're partaking in, it also creates the pink dot formation that's an awesome sight to behold from up high. This year we had to write messages on placards and I went with an extremely optimistic one. Although I know the legalisation of gay marriage will never happen in Singapore during my lifetime, I still wish my Singaporean friends could have this basic human right which my husband and I enjoy (albeit under British and not Australian law). The positive message must of course be conveyed by a positive image and so I had to go topless which was also perfect for the hot and humid weather. Any excuse to show my hard-earned muscles right?

The dress code for the event is anything pink and so I searched high and low for the smallest pair of hot pink shorts I could find. These mini wings and the feather boa I used as an accent (seen in the previous picture) were all from the Chingay parade I marched in topless back in 2010 (as documented in this post). That Chingay effort was billed as the first gay "contingent" to ever marched in the event (even though there were only two of us). Do you think I wore my pink ensemble well?

So many people came to take pictures with me that day and I joked on Facebook that I should have charged a little something for every snap and I'd be rich. Although it's a gay event, I was the only completely topless guy there. This not only proves that Singapore is indeed a conservative country, it tells me that the reasons why I left Singapore back in 2008 are all still valid. Perhaps there were just no one with my body who was as daring to show off like me. That second line of reasoning works well with me too. Hehe.

People from all walks of life attend Pink Dot and the 2016 event was no different. In this fight for equality what we need are straight and religious allies to show that sexuality and religion are no justification for bigotry and ignorance.

This is me with one of the Pink Dot organisers and my dear friend (who marched with me in that Chingay parade). I never fail to catch up with him whenever I go back home. That being said, maybe Pink Dot wasn't the best place to catch up as he was kept very busy on that day. Fortunately we already had a good long chat days before in another meeting.

Here is another friend (on my left) whom I haven't met for a number of years now. He was originally from Melbourne as well and now lives in Singapore with his partner (beside him in the picture). If you think I look especially lean here that's because I am. I always get more shredded when I'm back in Singapore because of how much walking I do and the how much I perspire in the tropical weather (which makes water-retention close to impossible).

Apart from meeting up with old friends, I made some new ones as well and here is one of them. I just love his bright pink hair! He also had make-up on and he told me that was to prepare for the many pictures that would be taken of him on that day.

The biggest progress for Pink Dot this year was the big increase in the number of corporate sponsors from 10 to 18 with Bloomberg was one of them. Naturally the conservative anti-gay camp voiced their concern purporting that foreign entities should not be interfering in domestic affairs. The government who always panders to these naysayers gave a predictably knee-jerk response to appease them by saying that these companies are not allowed to sponsor Pink Dot next year. This problem will not go away as long as these pesky and vocal religious nuts who are in the minority give us a break to actually get to know their own religion better and get that vile hate out of their system.

If you want to see more of me topless at Pink Dot, stay tuned for my next post in a week's time!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Musical journey (72)

The first half of 2016 has passed us by and it looks like the next half is going to be a challenging one for me trying to figure out what my next move is in my continued search for something that can pay the bills. Although there is intermittent non-full time work coming in (which I've expected), the situation I'm in right now is still far from ideal. Fortunately Ision and I have finished moving into our new apartment in Hawthorn and the rent I have to pay him has dropped quite a bit which makes bill-paying less stressful. That being said I now have my husband as a landlord and it's interesting to find out if that changes the relationship dynamics in any way.

Now that we are almost fully-settled in I can continue focussing on securing more work by applying for jobs online, building and maintaining a wide LinkedIn network and extending my feelers to their maximum length whenever I am in the Melbourne office. I hate to beg for work (or for anything!) but I have to and have been doing that (in a professional way of course). However it's not all bad news as I'm having a job interview over the phone next week (after 35 job applications no less!). This job requires a relocation to Sydney and Ision is not too keen on that on many fronts so I guess I'll just go ahead with the interview and cross bridges when I encounter them. It's a promotion though if I do get it so the job is not totally unattractive even though it's only for a five-year project.

In the meantime I have to get used to commuting to work again now that we no longer live in the city. Hawthorn is a nice suburb though and I'm sure we'll enjoy it as much as the city now that we've fully explored our new neighbourhood. This is the fifth place I've lived in since I moved to Australia (the first one with a balcony) and to be honest we're both quite sick of moving. Fortunately we'll not be doing that for a long time. We've just finished cleaning up the old apartment and are returning its keys next week which will provide us with the much-needed closure of this old chapter in our lives. I'll post more updates when they become available.

OK, whingeing and updating are now over and now it's on to this month's musical post which features a cover of Owl City’s “Take to the Sky” (one of my favourite animation soundtracks). This singer does this genre perfectly as evident in the lyrics and tune which when combined brings out the magical wonder of the story so well. However all his songs do sound similar and he can do much better by diversifying his style. I'm curious though as to whether or not there is any relationship between the movie and the name adopted by this singer. Anyway this up-tempo piece is my musical offering for the month and I hope you like it.