It is sometimes difficult to find expression as a Queer-identified-Asian-cis-woman with a personal history in trauma that no words can explain. I have explored many forms of art, including: theatre, drawing, painting, installation, movement, music, and creative writing, just to name a few. Each form of art is able to capture a fragment of what my soul yearns to express.
Just as we live in a society that separates, excludes and fragments the diverse cultures dwelling within one city, so too do these fragments of my self get labelled on a spectrum of acceptability based on class, gender, race and social economic status.
There are gaps between these spaces.
In high school, I was privileged to attend the Advance Studio at the Art Gallery of Ontario. These were classes taught by professional (white) artists in Toronto for anyone who fell between the ages of 14-19. The classes were divided into four sections: painting, digital media, sculpture and installation, and performance art. At the time, sculpture and installation was my favourite. Sculpture and Installation allowed me to explore the external material environment in a tactile way I never imagined to be possible. In working with sculpture and installation, I entered into another universe—a universe that my girlfriend at the time did not know how to appreciate or understand. My identity as an artist became the focal point of much of the conflict we had.
I did not end up pursuing that form of art in university. Instead, I studied theatre at York University and found myself landing in playwriting. Within that program, I was amongst 6 or 7 other students who identified as a person of colour. There were also many queer students who came out. Being queer in the theatre program was not a problem at all – in fact, we celebrated it.
To be a person of colour, however, was a different story. I struggled, jumping back and forth between my gender representation and my race. I struggled to find a way to tell stories that were labelled the “Chinese” experience. I struggled, still, to try and talk about issues such as domestic violence, and homophobia.
Fast forward 10 years later, after seeking numerous ways of healing at physical, emotional and spiritual levels, today I find myself doing three things: studying Traditional Chinese Medicine, working on a Sci-Fi Novel, and becoming increasingly interested in Performance Art. Never would my 16-year-old self have imagined this path as the one I’d take. It is indeed a pleasant and wonderful surprise.
Today, I am at a place where I am comfortable in my own skin. I love my body. I am proud of my sexual orientation, and I appreciate the lessons I’ve learned from my biological family and ancestral history. However, this does not mean I do not continue to face challenges. My external environmental continues to show me that there will always be folks who do not, and will not understand intersectionality. There are people around the world who continue to suffer from racism, homophobia, poverty, war, etc. The list is endless.
Yet, the more experiences I am able to reflect upon, the more efficient and skillful I become at navigating the different worlds and universes I find myself in – whether it be theatre, performance art, literature, acupuncture, the Queer community, or the Chinese community. There are, of course, gaps. There will always be gaps.
It is my intention to fill these gaps with compassion and understanding.
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