Our City of Colours shatters LGBT visibility barrier in Chinese Canadian community

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      They're here. They're queer and Chinese Canadian. So get used to it.

      Our City of Colours, an initiative to fill the void of LGBT people visible in local ethnic and linguistic communities, has released its first poster, which will go up in public spaces around town.

      The taboo-busting poster (shown above) features two guys, 25-year-old Aaron and 24-year-old Spencer, holding hands. A list of their interests are written in both English and Chinese. And at the bottom, it states that each guy loves the other one.

      Links to the City of Colours Facebook page are also provided.

      (The graphic designer is Derek Reynolds and the photographer is Ken Yang.)

      In an interview in August, Darren Ho told the Straight that he was inspired to create the project after seeing parents, particularly those of Chinese descent, protesting the Burnaby School Board's attempt to institute an anti-homophobia policy. He realized that there is a lack of LGBT images in media aimed at ethnic or linguistic communities. He pointed out that although visible minorities appear in LGBT media, these are often only in English or set in a very Westernized context that sometimes does not speak to cultural minority groups.

      While their first poster is aimed at the Chinese Canadian community, other posters are being made for the Persian, South Asian (Punjabi), and Korean Canadian communities. They'll be released throughout November.

      What sort of impact they'll have remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: they'll stir up plenty of discussion, which is what Darren is hoping for.

      Darren also says that they're looking for volunteers for putting up the posters, which will go up next week in Richmond, Coquitlam, Burnaby, North Vancouver, and Surrey. If you're interested in helping out, get in touch with them through their Facebook webpage.

      What's your response to the posters? Do you think that they are effective in increasing LGBT visibility?

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at twitter.com/cinecraig. You can also follow the Straight's LGBT coverage on Twitter at twitter.com/StraightLGBT.



      Alex S

      Nov 1, 2011 at 2:54pm

      Great job.

      Very unique and needed initiative especially for Chinese Canadians who are queer and feeling alienated and alone.

      Nikitas C

      Nov 1, 2011 at 5:10pm

      The only problem I have with this is that is doesn't take into consideration the (potential) plight of other LGBT youths with varying ethnic backgrounds who are as Canadian as the rest of us. There are large Iranian, Turkish, Indian, Latin American, etc... communities in the GVRD and so I would be happy to see similar campaigns. We are after all an ethnically diverse region and not solely affected by the local Chinese communities.

      Simon Lam

      Nov 1, 2011 at 6:32pm

      Hi Nikitas, we have a total of six posters, and we do have one for the Punjabi and one for the Iranian community. We do realize that there are lots of different cultures, but we are limited by our time and resources (everyone on the team are volunteers). We are very much interested in producing more posters for different communities and if you can help us out, that would be awesome! Our email is ourcityofcolours@gmail.com if you have any suggestions or comments for us.


      Nov 1, 2011 at 7:40pm

      about bloody time! way to go.


      Nov 1, 2011 at 9:02pm

      I've heard things are very rough for Chinese LGBT youths as it is something that is simply not ever discussed in their culture. Almost thought of as a mental illness sort of thing, which they already have a pretty shitty outlook towards.

      I think that cultural intolerance is also reflected in the fact that that Burnaby parents group who was (and still is) fighting any kind of gay tolerance stuff being introduced into the schools is pretty much entirely Chinese parents with a smattering of white "Christian" bigots thrown into the mix as well.

      Things like this can only help. I'd hate to be a gay kid living with a parent like that, knowing that to even give a hint of your true self would get you basically disowned. Kudos.

      Darren Ho

      Nov 1, 2011 at 9:35pm

      That is a valid concern, Nikitas. When we first began this project we were hesitant to use the vauge word"ethnic" in any of our texts, on the basis that everyone has an ethnicity and is therefore ethnic.

      Our goal for Our City of Colours is to outreach to audiences that usually looks pass LGBTQ related issues, as they feel that such issues are not relevant within their community.
      We are targeting underserved communities that otherwise do not get a lot of positive exposure to gay issues and images: Specifically, the Chinese, Korean, Punjabi, and Iranian communities (people, immigrants families, etc).

      Due to scope, resources, and the fact that we are a grassroots project with little–to–no funding, we’re not at the moment able to focus on every cultural community in Metro Vancouver, so we picked these four groups due to their demographic salience and population. Also, we feel most comfortable addressing these visible minority groups at this initial stage of the project as they happen to be four communities that some of my team members and I have personal experience in, coming from these backgrounds.

      Having said that, we hope to eventually expand to cover more cultural communities that make up Metro Vancouver, like the ones you mentioned, as well as the Filipino and Japanese communities as well in the near future.

      Thank you for your interest in our cause and campaign, and we will do our best to address as many communities as we can.

      Darren Ho
      Our City of Colours Project Lead

      Tami Starlight

      Nov 2, 2011 at 2:01am

      Pretty damn awesome and a good start!

      Let's continue on the road to true diverse representation and inclusion in this colony called Canada!

      All my relations


      Nov 2, 2011 at 11:40pm

      I don't think those cultures truly care who these people fuck, as long as they have children.

      Peter Mussallem

      Nov 3, 2011 at 3:29pm

      I do not belong to the LGBTQ community. I am, however, a member in good standing of the human race, and I salute any and all efforts to bring together diverse cultures. We are able to wreak destruction on one another at a global level with terrifying speed and power, but it takes hard, personal commitment to initiate and maintain the kind of mutual respect that we must have to survive as a race.


      Nov 12, 2011 at 4:12pm

      This is a fantastic concept in helping all youth feel accepted into the greater fabric of society; I do have to point out, however, that the term 'visible minority' as it relates to Chinese people is totally untrue in Vancouver. They are not a minority here and we need to stop using this terminology. Good luck with the project but please stop using this reference to the Chinese community. It's misleading and opportunistic.