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 a dancing baby and a support group for gay and bisexual men.
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)
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
2014 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 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