By Sian Shin
While Vancouver is home to the largest LGBTQ+ population in Western Canada and has a significant presence of Asian residents, Vancouver’s queer community has not created space for a prominent presence of queer Asians.
46.5% of Vancouver residents are of Asian origins, with the biggest subgroups being of East and Southeast Asian origins and South Asian origins, according to the Statistics Canada 2016 Census.
Recognizing the importance of intersectionality within queerness, six Vancouver artists shared their stories of how they experience being queer and Asian.
Shay Dior is a drag artist and event organizer. They identify as gender-fluid, queer and Vietnamese-Canadian. Two years ago, they started the House of Rice, becoming the house mother of Vancouver’s all-Asian drag family. Dior also founded Ricecake, Vancouver’s queer and Asian dance party, to host events celebrating queer Asians.
Jag Nagra is an illustrator. She identifies as Punjabi, queer, a mother and a wife. Nagra creates art that focuses on South Asian themes that empower women and works to end the stigma against LGBTQ+ people within the South Asian community.
Candie Tanaka is a writer and artist. They identify as trans and multi-ethnic, mixed with Chinese, Japanese and Indonesian. Tanaka currently works at the Vancouver Public Library and is studying to become a librarian to create positive change in policies and public spaces.
Jen Sungshine is an artist, facilitator and community mentor. She identifies as queer and Taiwanese-Canadian. As the co-creative director and founder of Love Intersections, Sungshine focuses on creating space for queer Asians to write their own narratives and be more visible in a way that is missing from mainstream media.
Skim is a drag artist who uses he/she/they pronouns out of drag and he/they pronouns in drag. They identify as gender-fluid, queer and first-generation Korean-Canadian. Skim is part of the House of Rice and currently studies visual art with a focus on themes of racialization and queerness.
Paul Wong is an artist and curator. He identifies as queer and Chinese-Canadian. Wong’s art is interdisciplinary, including videos, public art, photography and books. Since the 1970s, he has been working to celebrate and create space for queer Asians.
Sian Shin is a social justice reporter at Medill, covering the LGBTQ+ community in Vancouver. You can follow her on Twitter at @sianshin.