The LGBT+ community in Singapore has limited means to make meaningful connections. Cally Cheung hopes to change that through the app called Prout.
“We realised that there is a problem in our community where people are actually restricted from forming connections through dating apps such as Tinder,” Cheung said.
Cheung said this presenting a case study on the online social support platform at the recently held frayintermedia and fraycollege of Communications “Claiming our stories, Raising our voices” global virtual summit.
Cheung co-founded the Telegram-based platform with fellow LGBT+ advocates Kyle Malinda-White and Wakka Kong to champion for a healthier LGBT+ community in Singapore.
The platform combats the restrictions the community faces when trying to make connections. Those restrictions send out a wrong message, Cheung said.
“It really sends a message about how these connections are perhaps not meant to last or that they steer heavily towards being sexualized or toxic,” she said.
Those “toxic” relationships occur in a Singaporean society that largely does not welcome the LGBT+ community. According to Ipsos research, 55% of all Singaporeans still support Section 377A of the Singapore Penal Code that criminalises same-sex relationships between men.
Support groups can offer some relief to people under difficult circumstances. A Winchester Hospital article says support groups are “places where people can share personal stories, express emotions, and be heard in an atmosphere of acceptance, understanding, and encouragement.”
Pulling from a survey Prout conducted, Cheung said many LGBT+ individuals actually reported that they suffer from issues such as loneliness and alienation from not being able to make meaningful connections or be part of a network.
“Some are also subjected to abuse in their relationships because they believe they cannot find or recreate their support network,” she said.
The Prout network also spans Facebook, Instagram, Medium and an online store. From the journey of running the Prout community, a key lesson Cheung has learnt is sustainability.
“If we are not sustainable then our commitment to change to supporting the communities is also not sustainable,” Cheung said.
Watch Cheung’s presentation here.