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Final Fantasy Island? (The New Paper [Singapore])
9 Aug, 2001

A National Day celebration not seen before here as gays and lesbians gather for Sentosa party

The event was billed as "Singapore's first ever national pride party".

Others called it a "coming out" party.

But the organiser of Nation, a homosexual-linked event at Sentosa last night, would rather call it a "coming together" party.

You can say it was a National Day celebration unlike any Singapore has seen before.

Men, dressed in the national colours of red and white, were sashaying hand-in-hand with their boyfriends to the beat of techno music.

Short-haired female revellers had their arms around the waist of their girlfriends as they mingled with the crowd.

And interspersed among the two groups were boy-girl couples who just wanted to have a "fun" time.

Held last night at Sentosa's Fantasy Island, Nation turned out to be a discreet celebration for homosexuals.

The event attracted a mixed crowd of about 1,000 revellers.

The event's co-organisers were Fridae.com, an online gay and lesbian portal based in Hongkong, and Sentosa Development Corporation, a well-established statutory board. (See report on the right.)

However, no ads were placed in the main media here. Ticket were sold discreetly by eight retailers including Ritz salon, according to AFP.

Reporting the event on Aug 6, the international news agency AFP called it a "coming out" party for the low-profile homosexual community in Singapore.


But Fridae.com's chief operating officer, Dr Stuart Koe, told The New Paper that it was not meant to be a "coming out" party, but more of a coming together party for all Singaporeans.

The party organisers obviously had a sense of humour, judging by this notice. "Nation is merely a National Day dance party that welcomes gays, lesbians and friends," said Dr Koe, who is also a volunteer with Action for Aids, which helps Singaporeans diagnosed with Aids.

"Like any other National Day celebration, we are celebrating our progress as a nation, our achievements as a people."

And celebrate they did.

The scene was reminiscent of the cabaret shows at the Boom Boom Room.

Drag queens, dressed in traditional costumes like the kebaya and sari, performed dances and skits to local songs like Stand Up for Singapore and Burung Kaka Tua.

Actor Lim Kay Siu and his wife, Neo Swee Lin - better known as Phua Chu Kang's mother - joined the drag queens on stage and waved little national flags to welcome National Day.

One gay reveller, who wanted to be known only as David, hoped there would be more such parties here.

"Singaporeans are still conservative and I don't think they can accept our behaviour in public," said the 29-year-old marketing executive.

He declined to give us his full name for fear of losing his job if his boss found out that he is a homosexual.

Straight couples interviewed, however, appeared to be attracted by the National Day theme.

Wind Goh, 26, was there with his wife, Serene, despite not knowing any gays and lesbians there.

"We're enjoying ourselves here even though we are not gay," said Mr Goh, who works in the entertainment industry.

"In fact, we're waiting for another 20 of our straight friends to join us so we can party here all night."

However, not everyone feels the same way as the Gohs.

Some, like teacher Siau Choon Fui, believe that Singapore is not ready for a public homosexual party.

"It sends the wrong message that it's cool and it may encourage more young people to indulge in it," said Mr Siau, 29.

Ten per cent of money raised at the party will go to Action for Aids.

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