The Dancing Baby

In 1999, a group of gay and bisexual men came together to form a peer-led social support group. They chose the name ‘Oogachaga’, referencing the computer-generated dancing baby from the American TV series, ‘Ally McBeal’.   In the TV series, the dancing baby appeared as a recurring hallucination to the protagonist, Ally.

This baby might represent different things to different people – shame, fears, hopes, dreams. These are things we often keep hidden to ourselves, which may re-emerge when we least expect it. The dancing baby is a reminder for all of us to embrace all these thoughts, feelings and experiences we keep hidden.

Also, the song that accompanies the dancing baby when it appears on the show is 'Hooked On A Feeling', which starts with an opening chant: “ooga-chaga-ooga-chaga-ooga-ooga-ooga-chaga”. The first line of the song then goes: “I can’t stop this feeling, deep inside of me". That is a line that many people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning (LGBTQ+) can certainly relate to. 

Over the years, Oogachaga has grown to become more than just a dancing baby and support group for gay and bisexual men.

Key Milestones

1999   Started first men’s support group, called Oogachaga Men (OCM) at a residential unit along Zion Road

2000   Started face-to-face counselling service by volunteers

2003   First professional workshop for practitioners, titled “Homosexuality and Homophobia - Applied Therapeutic Issues for Counsellors”

2004  Oogachaga is formally registered under ACRA, along with parent organisation SPACES Counseling and Community Limited, a registered charity 

2005   First community forum and women’s support group, Oogachaga Women (OCW)

2006   Publication of  ‘SQ21: Singapore Queers in the 21st century', and launch of OC Hotline, Singapore’s first LGBTQ phone counselling service (initially known as the MSM Hotline) on 16 February  

2008   Setting up of counselling centre with full-time professional staff, in The Office Chamber, 230 Jalan Besar

2009   Staff and volunteers attend Singapore's first-ever Pink Dot; published collection of gay short stories in Mandarin 同类 (Tong Lei); launched Project Undress Your Soul 

2010   Celebrated A Decade of Embracing Diversity; conducted survey for Mature Men Project; launch of CARE email counselling, Singapore’s first LGBTQ email counselling service; office moved to 41A Mosque Street in Chinatown 

2011   Launch of Take Action!; conducted online needs assessment survey of social service professionals; started one run of transgender support group called OC Trans  

2012   Launch of Congregaytion, a resource portal for the LGBTQ+ community; conducted survey of LGBTQ+ community's experiences of discrimination; co-authored paper in the Annals, Academy of Medicine, Singapore  

2013    Launch of Singapore’s first LGBTQ Whatsapp counselling service; launch of 'Sexuality Explained' video series

2014   Involved in the 'HPB FAQs on Sexuality' saga; conducted OC Women's needs assessment survey; launch of Women On Wednesdays, Singapore’s first LBTQ+ women’s hotline run by women hotliners; launch of Take Pride safer sex campaign; counselling services exceed 1,000 service-units per year; started collaboration with Dr Tan and Partners; office moved to 57B Pagoda Street, Chinatown

2015   Successful trade mark of the name ‘Oogachaga’ with the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS); staff meet Law Minister K Shanmugam to discuss discrimination faced by Singapore's LGBTQ community, school bullying and employment opportunities for transgender persons; submitted a joint report to United Nations Human Rights Council, and lobbied diplomatic missions in Geneva  as part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process for Singapore

2016   Pilot run of ‘Snapchat from the Closet’, in collaboration with Ogilvy & Mather Singapore, winning Silver in the media category at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity; launched fundraising campaign video 'Hate Hurts'

2017   Organised first-ever fundraising gala, 'Cirque du so Glam'; joined The Commonwealth Equality Network as an organisational member; filmed conversation with Law & Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam, talking about drug use in the LGBTQ community and public harassment of Pink Dot volunteers   

2018   Reprint of ‘SQ21’ by Math Paper Press; revamp of Oogachaga.LGBT and Congregaytion websites; launch of Singapore's first LGBTQ community-led drug-free campaign #OurStoryIs   

2019   Oogachaga celebrates ‘20 Years of Supporting Singapore’s LGBTQ+ Community’