Radio personality Joshua Simon was so nervous when he was about to share a photo and a video on Facebook ten years ago. The images portrayed were of him, his friends, and a plethora of other people enjoying the 2011 edition of Singapore’s Pink Dot rally, a gathering of Singapore’s LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community.
Ever since it was founded in 2009 the rally has attracted thousands of supporters and sponsorship from companies like Google and Facebook, albeit gay sex is technically illegal in Singapore. Under the law of Singapore (although one the government has said it will not implement), gay sex between men has consequences with a jail term of up to two years.
First Attempt of Coming Out
The 30-year old radio presenter stated in Asiaone news that he didn’t know how his friends would respond to the images of him at the rally. He felt that sharing the photos on social platforms could suggest he was “part of that community”, even though he hasn’t been open about his sexuality.
Simon said, “I remember just being scared to even post it or share it … then I started seeing likes from people that I never thought would get it, or would support me. So that was quite incredible.”
Simon became one of the recognizable faces for Pink Dot in 2019. He left a TEDx talk hosted by a local university after he was demanded not to make “sensitive” remarks about his sexuality. That incident made headlines across Singapore and Simon “pretty much had to then come out to the rest of the country”.
SG Boys Era
Nowadays, he is part of the group called the SG Boys and they hosted a podcast about gay issues, in the show, they tackle most of the stuff from depression to coming out experiences to the family members.
Simon was never alone because across Southeast Asia, activists became aware that many people are more willing to come out, discuss, and campaign for LGBT issues and rights in their respective countries.
The transition was evident, they say, it started about a decade ago but then has increased in the past five years or so.
LGBT Support Advocate
Simon correlated his increasing awareness and the need to discuss LGBT issues to several reasons: shows on Netflix portraying LGBT characters as regular, the attendees at Pink Dot presenting him it was fine to openly identify as a gay guy, allies, and an accelerated number of straight people in Singapore showing support to the cause.
LGBT in Southeast Asia
Protestors in other parts of the country, such as the Muslim-majority countries of Indonesia and Malaysia, claim the change is a reaction to rising religious extremism, which has resulted in LGBT oppression. Lini Zurlia, an advocacy officer with the ASEAN Sogie (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression) Caucus in Indonesia, pointed to the increasing number of straight K-pop fans as a counterweight to the rising conservatism.
She said that K-pop fans in Indonesia had taken to social media to respond to homophobic tweets and that some celebrities had openly expressed support for the LGBT community in recent years.
Because Southeast Asia is mostly conservative, advocating for LGBT rights can be a difficult pursuit.
The only exception to this is Thailand. The government now allowing same-sex marriages and there is a full acceptance of LGBT people. Thailand is also home to the BL or boys love dramas, it is a subgenre portraying sexual relationships between two gay male characters and it is widely popular across Asia, and in these dramas gay relationships are ok.
Full acceptance of LGBT in ASEAN countries is a long battle but there is nothing more competitive than the competition between online casinos for offering bonuses. Create an account now and enjoy these perks.