When a local hotel reached out to a gay couple to use his photo on social media, Andee Chua didn’t think too much of it until he saw the flood of comments and reactions Monday.
The hate was expected given Singapore’s open antagonism toward the LGBT community, but when the rush of positive comments praising both the couple and hotel began to drown them out, it was heartwarming, he told Coconuts Singapore.
“Reading the comments, I’m not surprised about the harsh ones knowing that we still live in a pretty conservative society with 377A still being around,” the 30-year-old model said, referring to Singapore’s anti-gay sex law. “But I’m pretty touched by the positive ones – I see the positive ones flooding the comment section and that’s pretty heartwarming.”
A photo of his March staycation at W Singapore at Sentosa Cove drew more than 3,000 reactions and over 800 comments on the hotel’s Facebook page mainly because it is so rare for companies in Singapore to overtly acknowledge the LGBT community. Chua said they were celebrating his partner Hugo Liu’s 33rd birthday in the photo.
“And kudos to W for taking the progressive step in posting the picture and having more representations,” Chua added.
Asked what the hotel thought of the response, a spokesperson responded obliquely: “We are in the business of welcoming all and occasionally feature guests with their permission on our social platforms.”
The hotel said the online post was not an advertisement like some people had assumed, but simply a resharing of “user-generated content of guests.”
The bulk of comments praising the couple and hotel for representing the LGBT community said that they would book a stay there because of the photo.
“I booked a staycation just because of this,” social media personality Jade Rasif wrote in the comments.
“Well done W Singapore – Sentosa Cove what an inspiring and uplifting post! Diversity is the lifeblood of success – so great to see every corner of Singapore represented in these ads,” Facebook user Nic Horsfield said.
Then there were nasty comments like this one by user Melvin Tai: “Is this hotel promoting HIV?
Or indirectly selling the expensive cocktail of HIV drugs? Wish them well.”
Since Tai brought up about drugs, this hotel seems to have a very strict policy even when it comes to anything close to looking like narcotics. Staff from the same hotel last year mistook white deodorant powder for drugs and ended up putting its guests behind bars.