It’s already challenging enough to grow up as a teenager, what’s more when you don’t fit into what society typically expects of you. That’s what happened with transgender student Ashlee who was reported to have experienced discrimination by the school regarding having to conform to a boy’s dress code.
This is not the only incident that showcases the everyday challenges the LGBTQ+ community has to go through. You may also have read about a man throwing the Pride rainbow flag at a staff member in a Lau Pa Sat restaurant.
In a society which is still learning to accept and understand more about the LGBTQ+ community, it can be difficult to find people you can connect with.
Founder of Prout, a meetup and support platform for the LGBTQ+ community, Kyle Malinda-White, aims to create a safe space for the community through events, resources and emergency help. This is why he and his co-founders have launched Prout, their Telegram channel Qurrent and the Prout Pride Shop.
The Prout Team: Kyle Malinda-White (Middle, Top Row), Wakka Kong (Right, Top Row) and Cally Cheung (Middle, Bottom Row)
“That was a surreal moment and made me realise just how far Prout has reached. It was humbling,” Kyle said.
“In wanting to solve social issues, I remembered the feeling of loneliness I had when I was sexually assaulted in my polytechnic years through stealthing. Prout came about so we could offer the ‘me’ at that time — and many other folks — a safe space to seek help and find community, outside of hookup apps.”
Launching of Prout
Finding his tribe
Thankfully for Kyle’s entrepreneurial spirit, he met his co-founder and Chief Operations Officer Cally Cheung while working on his previous start-up. It was also through his active participation in university activities such as the Inter-University LGBT Network that he reconnected with his other co-founder and Chief Technical Officer Wakka Kong.
Once the web app is launched, it will offer several functions: the ability to sort events by your interests, see attendees of those events and chat with those you have mutual interests with. They will include a resources section which is a collaborative page featuring guides provided by the Prout team and other LGBTQ+ community groups. There will also be a section providing emergency helplines for those needing to seek help.
The journey thus far
“Working on a start-up is hard work and can sometimes be demoralising and cause burnout. Working on a queer start-up is even harder when you have to contend with structural blockers that other start-ups don’t face,” Kyle said.
Although he acknowledges that the path ahead isn’t going to be easy, he is heartened and motivated when he hears stories of people they’ve touched and lives they’ve impacted.
“Hearing of other problems and facing them sometimes makes me realise our work is not done. I recently had struggles finding good rental units that were queer-affirming, and I realise there is a lot of work we need to do to educate landlords of the need to be queer-affirming and not assume the sexuality of your tenants. It’s a long road ahead, but we’ll get there.”
Prout is currently working on various events for the upcoming Pride Month, which coincides with Pink Fest — a month-long celebration by the LGBTQ+ community in Singapore.
You can support their cause in a few ways. At the moment, their main revenue streams are through their Pride merchandise and Prout-run events. You can support them by making donations and Prout also conducts educational activities and workshops throughout the year for corporates.