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Singapore’s Gay Pride Rally attracts record Sponsorship despite Tighter Reforms

The rally gained recognition and this year's sponsors were mostly small and medium-sized enterprises.

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Gay Parade. Pixabay
  • Singapore Government stated last year that foreign companies would not sponsor or participate in gay rallies
  • Gay pride rally in Singapore has gained recognition despite curbs this year
  • 18 companies contributed in 2016, out of which 13 were multinationals like Alphabet Inc’s Google and Facebook

Singapore, June 02, 2017: This year Singapore’s gay pride rally attracted sponsorship from a record number of companies despite strict government regulations aimed at stopping foreigners from supporting it, organizers said on Wednesday.

Organisers of the Pink Dot rally have raised S$253,000 ($183,000) from more than 100 Singaporean companies for the July 1 rally at a “Speaker’s Corner” in a downtown park.

18 companies contributed last year, out of which 13 were multinationals like Alphabet Inc’s Google and Facebook. Organisers did not mention how much amount was raised last year.

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Days after last year’s rally conservative Singapore’s government stated that foreign firms would not be allowed to sponsor or participate in the rally.

Foreigners were not legally allowed to join rallies in the city-state, but many lurked around the restriction by observing such events.

However, changes to the law announced in October removed the distinction between “participants” and “observers”, organisers said, leaving them with the only decision of barring the foreigners.

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A Singaporean executive, Darius Cheung, who led the funding drive, said the rally gained recognition and this year’s sponsors were mostly small and medium-sized enterprises.

“The more important part is to engage local companies to finally cement the position that the LGBT community is very well respected and accepted here and I think we did it,” Cheung told Reuters.

The event has been celebrated since 2009. People attend the event by dressing in pink and glowing pink flashlights.

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Under Singapore law, sex between men is culpable by up to two years in jail, though prosecutions are rare.

Adeline Yeo said she was disappointed that she would not be able to attend with her Polish girlfriend.

“I feel let down … we were looking forward to attending together,” said Yeo.

“But this has definitely made us stronger,” she added, referring to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

“It’s all the more reason to pull all your friends and colleagues together for the Pink Dot.”

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The LGBTQ movement in other conservative Asian countries has faced pressure this year.

Two men were last week publicly caned after being convicted by a Sharia court of engaging in gay sex in Indonesia. In another part of Indonesia, police have formed a special force to investigate LGBTQ activity.

On Sunday, Police in China detained nine gay activists after they tried to organise a gay rights conference, one of the activists told Reuters.

However, a court in Taiwan, last week legalised same-sex marriage, first ever in Asia.

– by Staff writer at Newsgram

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‘In Standing up for Herself, Edie Also Stood up for Millions of Americans’, Tweets Bill Clinton as the World Mourns the Death of Gay Rights Activist Edith Windsor

Paying his tribute to Edie, former US President Barack Obama rightly said, "Few were as small in stature as Edie Windsor - and few made as big a difference to America."

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Edith Windsor
Edie dearly loved the LGBTQ community which loved her right back and held her in reverence for her fight for freedom, equality, and justice. Wikemedia

New York, September 13, 2017 Gay rights activist Edith Windsor, whose same-sex marriage fight led to a landmark US ruling, has died aged 88.

Her death was confirmed to the New York Times by her wife Judith Kasen-Windsor. She died in New York.

“The world lost a tiny but tough-as-nails fighter for freedom, justice and equality,” the BBC quoted Kasen-Windsor as saying.

“Edie was the light of my life. She will always be the light for the LGBTQ community, which she loved so much and which loved her right back,” she added.

Edith Windsor’s Supreme Court case struck down the Defence of Marriage Act in 2013, granting same-sex married couples federal recognition for the first time.

She had sued the US government after being ordered to pay $363,053 in federal estate tax after her previous wife, Thea Spyer, died. The couple had been partners for 44 years and had married in Canada in 2007.

Windsor, known as Edie, argued that the provision of the law which defined marriage as between a man and a woman prevented her from getting a tax deduction due to married couples – and was “unconstitutional”.

In the landmark 2013 ruling, the US Supreme Court agreed – and that decision became the basis for a wave of further court rulings increasing the rights of same-sex couples.

In 2015, another crucial Supreme Court ruling gave same-sex couples the right to marry.

Remembering the gay rights trailblazer Edith Windsor, former US Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama also paid their tributes.

“Few were as small in stature as Edie Windsor – and few made as big a difference to America,” Obama said. While Clinton tweeted: “In standing up for herself, Edie also stood up for millions of Americans…” (IANS)

 

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Gaydio: India’s First LGBTQ Radio Show will help People understand Gender and Sexuality in a better manner

Earlier there was a radio station by the name Q Radio which operated from Bangalore, dedicated solely to LGBT community.

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Participants dance under a a rainbow flag as they attend the sixth Delhi Queer Pride parade, an event promoting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights, in New Delhi. VOA

New Delhi, July 24, 2017:  India’s first LGBTQ radio show Radio ISHQ 104.8 is hosted by Harish Iyer, an LGBTQ activist and this show will not only disclose people’s narrative about their struggle stories of coming out of the closet but will also bring to light the experiences and anecdotes of individuals who have chosen a different road in life.

Gaydio being the first of its kind radio show in India hails for all inclusive love. It will serve as a platform to highlight the different voices which were silenced by the society till now, will come out in the open. It will spread the message that this is the time for people to reveal their true selves to the nation.

According to ANI report, the show is on air from July 19 and regarding this Harish Iyer said, “my intent is to keep it as inclusive and personal as possible. Radio is a very personal medium. The fact that it is a sound only medium makes it a more universal and a widely accessible medium. I am sure initiatives like these would give the listener a better understanding of gender and sexuality. This show would focus on the lives of LGBTQ people and understand that we are all the same and that #LoveIsLove without tags.”

 

Gaydo, India’s first LGBTQ Radio Show

Earlier there was a radio station by the name Q Radio which operated from Bangalore, dedicated solely to LGBT community. It was an online platform, which also had a mobile app, launched in 2013, but since 2015 there has been no active news on its existence.

Further, Shivangini Jajoria, National Head – Operations said, ” As a station, we always want to provide exceptional content to our listeners, with Gaydio we want to reinstitute the fact that Love is not conditional to sexuality. We as a station finally want to hear the unheard voices of the nation.” The new radio show will air every Sunday at 12 noon.

Here are few famous LGBTQ radio channels worldwide. In 2015, USA came up with the first online radio channel for LGBTQ- 96.7 Pride Radio in Minneapolis. Australia has its very own Only Gay and Lesbian community radio station, 94.9 Joy in Melbourne. There is a radio station in The UK by a similar name, 88.4 Gaydio. It is one of the biggest LGBT media platforms in the UK, garnering around 850,000 listeners per month.

– prepared by Kritika Dua of NewsGram, Twitter @DKritika08


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 Prumsodun Ok: Cambodian-American Born to Refugee Parents wanted to be “apsara” Dancer from Age 4

Prumsodun Ok, a Cambodian-American born to refugee parents, is the founder of Prumsodun Ok & NATYARASA, the country’s first gay dance company

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Prumsodun Ok stands in the middle of a street in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Prumsodun Ok stands in the middle of a street in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 19, 2016. (Courtesy of Lim Sokchanlina). VOA
  • Prumsodun Ok is the founder of Prumsodun Ok & NATYARASA, the country’s first gay dance company
  • The troupe’s passion for classical Khmer dance has not gone unnoticed
  • Ok has learned “that service is not just about being comfortable: those who are comfortable are not always necessarily right”

Washington, July 1, 2017: Prumsodun Ok, a Cambodian-American born to refugee parents, knew he wanted to be an “apsara” dancer from the age of 4, when he was entranced by a performance captured on one of his family’s home movies.

No matter that the dance dated back to the seventh century, or that traditionally apsaras were beautiful, heaven-born females, destined to entertain gods and kings at the Angkor temples in the ancient Khmer Empire, modern-day Cambodia. Ok focused on the stylized grace of the dancing and thought little about the fact that the dancers were women, because he was a kid and he had a dream.

But he put that on hold for 12 years.

Growing up in Long Beach, California, home to 20,000 Khmer immigrants, Ok was bullied because he was “different.” He recalls being branded as gay and “kteu” — Thai or Cambodian slang for someone who is born male but acts or looks female — when he was 5. That name calling led him to self-identify as gay in his teens.

“I don’t know when I knew,” Ok said about realizing that he was gay, “but I can say that I only became comfortable in my latter years of high school. This is me, this is who I am, and no one can change that or take that away from me.”

That was about the time when, after years of watching his younger sister practice traditional Khmer dances, that he found the courage to approach her dance master.

A rising star among dance students

“I really love dance. Can you please teach me?” Ok pleaded, and Sophiline Cheam Shapiro agreed. Teenager Ok quickly became a rising star at her Khmer Arts Academy in Long Beach, which is affiliated with an arts ensemble in Cambodia.

The school, founded by Shapiro, teaches traditional arts to Cambodian-Americans. Shapiro was one of the first graduates from Phnom Penh’s School of Fine Arts after the fall of the Pol Pot regime and is revered as one of Cambodia’s leading contemporary dance choreographers.

In 2015, Ok, now 30, moved to Cambodia and established Prumsodun Ok & NATYARASA, the country’s first gay dance company. Male dancers ages 18 to 24 fill roles traditionally performed by women. The troupe stages Khmer classical dances as well as new works that Ok creates.

“What I’m doing is drawing from our traditions and using these traditions in ways that people could never imagine to create a more inclusive and compassionate and just Cambodia,” he said.

Coming from “a long tradition of people who are in the service of society … of humanity,” Ok said he has learned “that service is not just about being comfortable: those who are comfortable are not always necessarily right.”

ALSO READExpressing Narratives of Panchatantra through Dance in Chennai to teach Lessons of Life

Cambodian society’s tolerance

Srun Srorn, 36, the founder of CamASEAN and a human rights activist, told VOA Khmer that while the majority of LGBTQ Cambodians are marginalized and discriminated against, society is more tolerant of their role in the arts.

Ok’s group “is more professional, so I think it will bring the positive [response] from the community,” Srorn said. “So far, this part of the art — performing — is not getting any negative reaction from the public.

Ok says his role as a teacher of dance goes beyond the classroom.

“Getting them to learn how to see, getting them to have the courage to ask questions, getting them to have the bravery to explore things on their own,” he said. “Those are the most essential things that a teacher of any art form, or discipline or medium, needs to inspire in their students.”

Choung Veasna, 19, of Phnom Penh, says Ok gave him confidence: “I’ve learned from my teacher that no matter what people say about you, it doesn’t matter.”

Tes Sokhon, 24, from Pailin province, the oldest dancer in the group, says his teacher is inspiring.

“He’s more than my idol,” Sokhon said. “He’s the first teacher to train me in classical dance. He provides us with income and makes our lives better.”

‘Combination of beauty and tradition’

The troupe’s passion for classical Khmer dance has not gone unnoticed.

Craig Dodge, director of sales and marketing at Phare, the Cambodian Circus performance troupe in Siem Reap, said: “When I watched the video on their homepage and heard the young men talk about what performing has meant to them, their identity and their self-esteem, it made me cry.”

Dodge worked with Ok to make the troupe’s Siem Reap debut in Cambodia’s artistic center a reality, by tapping into the city’s strong sense of community, which he describes as “the perfect place for nurturing and presenting traditional and new Cambodian creative expression.”

Resident Darryl Collins, an art historian, is providing the venue without charge because “the combination of beautiful and traditional 100-year-old Khmer houses with an elegant contemporary form of classical dance seemed an exciting collaboration.”

Other Siem Reap businesses are pitching in with free accommodations, transportation, security and are helping stage the performances July 14 and 15.

Prumsodun Ok & NATYARASA is scheduled to perform three dances: PRUM x POP, ranging from Khmer classical dance to pop music; Beloved, which explores a 13th century Khmer king’s love for his land; and Robam Santhyea Vehea, a tale of love and marriage of two men.

Ok hopes an open-minded audience will see the performance as a measure of how LGBTQ people can create art in their communities.

“I want the company to be a model for compassion, for bravery, for beauty,” he said. (VOA)