In a conservative culture where the subject of homosexuality is still largely taboo, three Singaporeans braved the norm and created a safe space for LGBT+ voices to be heard.
Radio DJ Joshua Simon, student Kennede Sng, and journalist Sam Jo are the hosts of a “new gay podcast from Singapore”, The SG Boys, which largely focuses on the discussion of issues faced by LGBT+ people in the country such as their portrayal in the media, discrimination in the military, and more.
The podcast was started by one of the hosts, Joshua Simon, who was asked to tone down a speech he was going to give at a TEDx talk in 2019 on coming out as gay. He said about the experience, “When you’re denied a space, you’re going to create your own space.”
The name of the podcast came from a trend in Singapore a few years back when men would post photos with the hashtag #SGBoy, #SingaporeBoy, #AsianBoy and other variations as coded language that they are gay. However, this was usually accompanied by hypersexualized photos that eventually led to a misrepresentation of the gay community. “There’s a certain impression when you hear the words SG Boys. We want to grow this definition,” said Simon.
Since the launch of their first episode in November, the podcast has had several popular guests such as American singer-songwriter, Lauv, and Melanie C. a.k.a. Sporty Spice from The Spice Girls.
The podcast aims to raise awareness on challenges faced by LGBT+ people today and to hopefully change public perception about the community in Singapore, which currently is largely negative due to outdated notions seen and heard in media, slurs, and everyday conversations.
Singapore still lacks anti-discrimination laws for LGBT+ people and same-sex sexual activities are illegal as well as child adoption by same-sex couples.
A Yahoo News Singapore survey in 2019 also found that 53% of Singaporeans would react negatively if a family member came out as gay while 80% of Singaporeans believed LGBT+ people experience discrimination in the country.
Still, the country and its Southeast Asian neighbors have definitely come a long way and acceptance of the LGBT+ community is starting to making its way through, especially among the youth. A popular annual event in Singapore called Pink Dot SG has been celebrating the LGBT+ community in the country since 2009 through a day of festivities and the activity highlight of forming a pink dot by its thousands of attendees.
If you’re interested, check out The SG Boys Podcast on Spotify.