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Happy Asian Heritage Month! This May, our team is learning more about the significant roles queer Asian Canadians had and continue to have in LGBTQIA+ communities across the country. While much of this history remains buried and overlooked by mainstream narratives, we've found some excellent starting points. 

Learn more about Gay Asians of Toronto (GAT) — one of the first organizations in Canada that encouraged political advocacy and social support for queer Asian individuals. In addition to advocating on issues concerning the community and providing members with culturally sensitive social and support systems, GAT launched a magazine, CelebrAsian, and a book documenting the oral history of gay Asians  — CelebrAsian: Shared Lives

During his time in Gay Asians of Toronto, Richard Fung released a groundbreaking documentary called Orientations: Lesbian and Gay Asians, which featured 14 interviews with queer Asian people speaking about their experiences living as a member of a minority within a minority. In 2016, Fung released Re: Orientations, which followed up with some of the original group he interviewed in 1984.

GAT wasn't the only Canadian organization dedicated to supporting queer Asians. In 1987, Khush: South Asian Lesbian and Gay Association emerged followed shortly by Coalition of Agencies Serving South Asians, and Asian Lesbians of Toronto. You can hear more about ALOT from Nila Gupta via the Archives of Lesbian Oral Testimony

Today, there are more groups, events, and projects for queer Asians including (but not limited to) Sher Vancouver, Invisible Footprints, Kapwa Collective, Dragon Fruit Collective, RICECAKEQueer Asian Youth, Asian Queer Alliance, Tea Base, and Diasporic Intimacies. Many queer Asians across the globe are also finding unity through nightlife

While it's so important that these spaces exist, the responsibility shouldn't fall on the shoulders of Asian communities. We as organizers, participants, and allies of queer Asians need to ensure we are making spaces that are truly welcoming for all 2SLGBTQIA+ members. 
Richard Fung once wrote in The Body Politic that he felt like "a fortune cookie in a tray of cheese Danishes" because gay society in North America was so (and continues to be) centered on the "young middle-class white male" and at best "Black, Asians, and Latin Americans...are a quaint specialty for exotic tastes". A sentiment that still rings true for many who must navigate a layered identity. 

"The fact that there isn’t that much Asian representation in queer history or queer representation in Asian history also speaks to the double marginalization of queer Asians in general and the difficulty in just navigating political and social life today," said filmmaker Patrick G. Lee during an interview with Huffpost about his NBC web series Searching for Queer Asian Pacific America

In his debut novel, This City is a Minefield, Aaron Chan reflects on living life as a Vancouverite, Canadian, Chinese ancestry, artist, and gay man. You can learn more through Chan's interview with Cold Tea Collectivewho also asked 19 queer Asian millennials about their unique experiences with identity

Recognizing the importance of intersectionality within queerness, six Vancouver artists shared their stories of how they experience being queer and Asian with Sian Shin of Medill Reports. Featured in this roundup is Jen Sungshine, founder of Love Intersections, an art collective celebrating diasporic narratives of queer identities. You can hear more from her on episode 84 of the Below the Radar podcast

Writer Avneet Sharma also struggled with being queer and Asian, wondering if he’d always have to choose between the two. Read his musings in "South-Asian, queer and new to life in Toronto —it’s complicated"
Queer spaces and communities are not devoid of racism — a truth made apparent on online dating apps, with phrases like "no Black, no Asian" commonly found in people's profiles. Don't quite understand the problem with this? Learn more about the difference between preferences and sexual racism through the lens of queer people of colour.

If you're a queer person of colour who is frustrated with the dating scene, Kai Cheng Thom has some fantastic and insightful advice to share in her Xtra byline "Ask Kai: Advice for the Apocalypse". On the flipside, if you're in a committed relationship but struggling to talk to your partner about anti-Asian racism, Kai also has advice on that
Have a question of your own? Email

"Dating will always be a struggle as a queer femme Asian because we will never live in a post-racial society and the impacts of settler colonialism will forever be ingrained into our world. However, what makes dating easier for me is to understand that not everyone can see the beauty in what comes with my brown skin," writes Andre Menchavez in an empowering piece about dating and finding power as queer, femme, and Asian

There's no love like self-love. For those struggling to keep their heads up, Toronto drag super princess, makeup maven and dancer, Aurora Matrix has some words of wisdom to pass along
Is our activism and sex life intertwined? Scholar and activist Chanelle Gallant thinks so. She recently talked about her latest project, a six-part series launching on May 17 that features discussions with LGBTQ2S+ activists, thinkers and creators about the connection between their work and sexual liberation.

The model minority myth, a stereotype that puts Asian people in North America on a pedestal, has long suppressed Asian communities but combatting it and the systemic trauma it causes can be difficult. For those looking for a starting point, Cold Tea Collective reached out to their community for experiences and insights

China's LGBTQIA+ community is reeling after a recent court ruling upheld a textbook description of homosexuality as a "psychological disorder" as a mere "academic view". 

On Sunday, May 2, 12 HIV/AIDS patients at the HIV care centre in Yangon, Myanmar (Burma) were arrested in relation to striking.

On a happier note, a Japanese district court has ruled that not allowing same-sex couples to marry is "unconstitutional" — this is a major symbolic victory that may influence the outcome of similar cases being heard in other courts around Japan.
We know we just supplied you with plenty of reading material but we aren't done just yet! 

For those looking to delve even further, we suggest following the Sticky Rice Project. Launched in 2020, this E-Zine and non-profit organization aims to promote inter-culturalism by bringing the experience of Canadians of Asian descent to the forefront. Their second digital issue focuses on belonging and queerness, and is packed full of thought-provoking musings. 

If you're a bookworm and/or history buff looking to learn more about Canada's QTBIPOC history, much of which is rooted in Toronto, you might be interested in Marvellous Grounds: Queer of Colour Histories of Toronto and Any Other Way: How Toronto Got Queer. You can find even more recommendations via Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian
Looking to support local, Asian-owned businesses? Here is a non-exhaustive list that we invite you to add to: Intent Coffee, Honest DumplingsKing Noodle House, TSUJIRI CHAHO, and Jay the Juggling Magician

If you enjoyed this edition of the Prairie Pride News Roundup, please consider donating to the Pride Centre of Edmonton (we'll also accept your recyclables through Skip the Depot!) to help us continue providing a safe space, education, and resources for 2SLGBTQIA+ folks. 
Copyright © 2021 Pride Centre of Edmonton, All rights reserved.

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