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Why all this fuss? Gays peeved as spotlight turns on N-Day bash (Today [Singapore])
7 Aug, 2001

The news wire agency, AFP, called it a "coming out" party to celebrate gay and lesbian pride, coinciding with the nation's biggest event of the year, National Day.

And to top it off, the party, dubbed Nation, at Sentosa's Fantasy Island tomorrow, was even mentioned in the same breath as the Sydney Mardi Gras, a politically-charged gay and lesbian bonanza.

The organisers, Fridae.com, an online gay and lesbian Internet community, have taken umbrage at these "undesirable" labels.

Dr Stuart Koe, the website's CEO, told Today: "There's no political content…we're Singaporeans just like everyone else and we're here to celebrate just like everyone else…we're not about to demand any rights. For us, this is just another dance party."

Neither were there any anomalies about staging the event.

The prerequisite Public Entertainment Licensing Unit (PELU) application was approved without any glitch, said Dr Koe.

"PELU was very cooperative. There was no reason for them to drag their feet."

The typically low-profile gay and lesbian community in Singapore had intended for this to be a private and exclusive event.

The sudden unwanted attention has thrust them into the discomfiting public glare.

"Nation is about the community affirming itself and its feelings about living in Singapore. We never intended to make this public but to make it discreet and to keep it within the ranks," explained Dr Koe.

Now, the party from 9pm to dawn is open to all, homosexuals or otherwise.

Ten per cent of the proceeds will go towards Action for AIDS (AfA) to alleviate the burden of HIV patients.

"The money will go towards helping them buy life-enhancing drugs. We're grateful to the organisers for raising this money for us," said AfA administrator Mr Benedict Jacob-Thambiah.

Central to this mini maelstrom is the fact that it reflects a new ethos of live and let live.

"This is an acknowledgement of the fact that there are homosexuals in Singapore. We can't pretend that everyone is straight, that they'll all grow up and have families. Everyone has a right to their own sexual orientation." Said Mr Terence Kuan, general manager of Preventor Condoms, one of the sponsors of Nation.

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