When you’re young, and you’re in elementary school or in your neighbourhood group of kids, there’s no really deep discussion about race or gender or sexuality for the most part. It wasn’t something that I was confronted with until I got a bit older and people start treating you differently. Having a Chinese dad when everyone’s dad looks different and everything around you doesn’t necessarily reflect your reality. And that does something to you as a person of colour or someone who doesn’t fit into that mould. A lot of mixed race people will also say it’s hard to feel like you belong anywhere because you’re not Chinese enough to exist here you’re not white enough to exist here. Even though I’m half and half I’m half white and half Chinese, I feel like I don’t have the ownership over checking the white box. I also felt a lot of shame earlier in my life about checking that Chinese box. Being a gay, Asian man there’s a lot of stigma about being Asian in the gay community as well. In many ways, leaning into my queerness really helped me reconcile my mixed heritage as well. No one gets to set what my identities are that is my experience, it’s my lived reality. What we don’t get to choose is how people react to it. Being a visible minority in a time that we’re in right now of the COVID-19 pandemic, Asian hate crimes are skyrocketing — You can be the best model minority you can be and what model means in this sense is like, how close to white can you get? It doesn’t matter at the end of the day when someone wants to do hateful things to you. Queer Joy is central to a lot of the activism that I’ve done in my work. We’re typically inundated with these messages that when you’re gay or trans, your life will be hard. The counterbalance to that is Queer Joy and you see that in a lot of new media especially more independant media done by queer and trans artists. The power of that positive influence it’s about creating that mental picture of possibility. What would it be like to be your full self? To be seen and to be accepted and to succeed as a whole human being? The more you know yourself, the more you’re able to advocate for your community as well.
A conversation guide has been prepared to assist groups (businesses, organizations, classrooms) explore themes in the “I love my human rights” series. In Brandon Yan’s film he shares the importance of identity, representation and joy. Use the questions provided to explore the film’s themes in a group setting.