“Work hard in silence, and let success be your noise.”
In just six weeks, Pink Dot has surpassed its own targets, raising over $201,000 and attracting 103 local sponsors. It was forced to turn to local funding after the government introduced a controversial ban on foreign sponsorship, which threatened the event’s success.
Without question, Pink Dot’s sponsorship success is a clear showcase of the never-say-die spirit that we often speak of when we talk about Singapore’s first world success. Indeed, the odds were stacked against them. In addition to being victims of an onerous sponsorship ban, they have long been subject to the subtle (sometimes overt) disapproval of numerous conservative figures in the existing political establishment. However, due to the determination and hard work of its organizers, this year’s Pink Dot looks poised to be an even bigger success than last year’s.
There are some who wish to curtail civil society, especially in the case of civil society groups that do not conform with a certain conservative idea of what Singapore society ought to be. Unfortunately, some of these individuals wield immense power and influence, both inside and outside of government. Yet, Pink Dot’s success demonstrates that there is support within our community for non-violent, lawful activism that is both inclusive and engaging, and which is geared towards positive change in our society.
Furthermore, the vast support from local companies demonstrate that the support for LGBT-rights is not some fringe movement but something that Singaporeans are beginning to embrace as an important issue that is essential to a modern, pluralistic society.
Therefore, Pink Dot’s tenacity and never-say-die spirit is an inspiration, not just to other civil society groups, but to all Singaporeans. It is a reminder that with enough perseverance, we may be able to overcome the odds to make things happen, even when others try to get in our way.
So often, when I write about issues such as elitism and women’s rights, I receive messages from people who recognize my efforts, but who at the same time comment that the social forces surrounding these issues are too massive for anyone to impact any real change, so I might as well give up. Indeed, swimming against the tide can be difficult; but it is far better than drowning. While it is far easier to give up, we must remember that many good things in both our personal lives and our nation’s history did not come about by giving up when things got tough, but by pressing on even in the face of adversity. Furthermore, it may be difficult for one person to create meaningful and positive change. However, if we are willing to throw our lot in and come together as a community, it is amazing how much we can accomplish together.
I will always remember this quote from The Lord of the Rings, told by Sam to Frodo on Mount Doom:
“Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t. Because they were holding on to something…. that there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.”
I sincerely hope that our political leaders will see Pink Dot’s sponsorship success as an indication that times are changing. Some might see this as a reason to erect more barriers to civil society, and they would be seriously wrong. Pink Dot’s success is an indication that we need to reconsider the traditional approach towards the relationship between the government and civil society, and recognize the importance of civil society in bringing forward meaningful change in a pluralistic world.
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