Last edited: December 20, 2004

Gay Singapore: A Brief History

I-S Magazine, September 17, 2004

Apr 1983: Opening of disco called Niche, where same sex dancing is allowed.

1988: Three gay plays by local playwrights are banned from being performed.

May 18, 1989: Vincent’s Lounge, the longest surviving gay bar today, opens in Lucky Plaza. Today it is located at Duxton Road.

1992: Censorship Review Committee recommends “materials encouraging homosexuality should continue to be disallowed.”

May 30, 1993: Police raid Rascals, a gay-on-Sunday disco and harass patrons for no apparent reason. In a departure from the usual resignation to official bullying, 22 gay people, including lawyers, doctors, and other professionals, sign a letter of protest addressed to the Chief of Police-and receive an official apology. This is the last documented incidence of police harassment of gays. This is also the catalyst for the formation of PLU.

1996: I-S Magazine’s publishing license is suspended for one issue because of gay content appearing in the personal ads section.

Nov 7, 1996: First application for registration of People Like Us (PLU) as a society.

Nov 1996: Launch of Yawning Bread website, a resource center of essays and political commentary.

Mar 15, 1997: Email forum, Singapore Gay News List (SiGNel), launched.

Apr 9, 1997: PLU’s application is rejected. PLU appeals all the way to the Prime Minister’s Office but is not successful.

1997: Opening of Taboo, the first openly gay club, now an icon in the gay club scene.

Oct 15, 1998: Establishment of RedQuEEn!, an email list for queer-identified women.

Dec 11, 1998: Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew fields a gay question live on CNN International.

Mar 1, 2001:, a regional gay e-portal, is launched.

Aug 2001: First Nation party; turnout of 1,500 people.

Aug 2002: Second Nation party; turnout of 2,500.

Jul 7, 2003: Then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong is quoted in Time (Asia) as saying that gays are allowed to serve in “sensitive positions” in the civil service.

Aug 8, 2003: Third Nation party; turnout of 5,000 people. The party is broadcast on local TV in four languages on prime time evening news on National Day, Aug 9, 2003.

Aug 27, 2003: PELU license approved for “Homosexuality and Homophobia—Beyond the Hype” (Applied Psychotherapeutic Issues for Counselors) organized by SPACES, supported by PLU. This is a conference aimed at helping counselors and teachers to deal with psychotherapeutic issues related to homosexuality and homophobia. (SPACES is a private non-profit counseling agency with gay and non-gay clients.)

Sept 2003: The Ministry for Information, Communications and the Arts (MITA) agrees in principle with the Censorship Review Committee’s recommendations for relaxing the ban on gay themed movies and publications.

Dec 2003: Opening of Pelangi Pride Centre, a GLBT community resource center.

Jan 2004: Government announces review of sex laws, but seems to exclude homosexuality.

Mar 2004: Second attempt at registering PLU as a society fails.

Aug 8, 2004: Fourth Nation party; turnout of 8,000 people.

Aug 2004: Four gay plays, Mergers/Wills in Chinese (Toy Factory), Mardi Gras and Top or Bottom (The Necessary Stage) and Private Parts, are staged. Three gay themed exhibitions are also held for the first time: Red + White = Pink (Utterly Art), Erotica (Art Seasons) and Private Edge (B2G Gallery). They feature gay themed art and gay artists from Singapore and the region.

Groups and Resources

ADventurers Like Us ( Sports- and nature-minded gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) group.

Fridae ( Regional gay and lesbian portal; includes personals.

MenAfterWork ( Group that aims to build support, friendship and positive lifestyles within the gay community by organizing sports and other activities.

Pelangi Pride Centre ( Community space and resource center for sexual minorities in Singapore.

People Like Us ( Gay advocacy group working for the understanding, removal of barriers and fuller integration of sexual minorities with the larger community.

RedQuEEn! ( Women-only general and social mailing list for gay women. The group runs a counseling service, The Looking Glass.

Safehaven ( Gay and lesbian Christian support group.

SGBOY ( City guide and social portal for gay men.

Yawning Bread ( Essays and gay themed news.

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