Spring is finally here! The ACAS and QAY crew have definitely not wasted any time to take advantage of the warm weather (as you can see for yourself!):
Did you get S.L.A.M.-ed?! For REAL!!!
Yes, S.L.A.M.-ed as in did you attend our “Sex, Love, Asian, Men: REAL” sexual health forum put on by the lovely Richard, Ryan, and Ly of the ACAS Men’s Program? Over 40 Asian gay, bisexual, and queer men came together on April 25, 2015 to examine the realities of living as a sexual and racial minority within a culturally safe space. Participants not only showed each other their favourite dance moves but also participated in various discussions on oppression and privilege, the sexual hierarchy, love and relationships, and a “Talking ‘straight’ ” session presented by Christian Hui, Straight Talk Coordinator, on Asian heterosexual men who have sex with men. We would like to thank the planning committee and our dedicated team of volunteers for making this event such a success, as well as all the participants who had shared so openly and courageously as we build a stronger and healthier community of queer Asian men!
Due to popular demand, our Women’s Program once again held a free Self-Defence Class at the ACAS Women’s Social on Thursday April 16, 2015. Our first Self-Defence workshop took place in January 2015, and because it was so popular with our participants, we had to schedule another one in April! ACAS Women’s Program events are open to all self-identified East and Southeast Asian Women and Trans* Women.
Fighting HIV Stigma with the Rotary Club
ACAS was very honoured to be fighting HIV stigma with the Rotary Club. On April 15, 2015, our Community Engagement Coordinator, Christian Hui, along with community members from other local AIDS service organizations, spoke at the “Talking About Social Justice – Lived Experiences of HIV and AIDS” event organized by the Rotary Club Toronto Sunrise, the Toronto Twilight Rotary Club, and the Church of St. Mary Magdalene. It was an evening where community members had an opportunity to meet and hear the stories of people infected with or affected by HIV and AIDS. Thank you Mary Lou Harrison of the Rotary Club for inviting us to take part in this meaningful event!
Rotary Trump AIDS Poker Walk
Aside from the “Talking About Social Justice – Lived Experiences of HIV and AIDS” event, ACAS also made our presence at this year’s Rotary Trump AIDS Walk. This is the second year ACAS outreached at the walk. The Rotary Trump AIDS Walk raises funds for international and local HIV initiatives to promote HIV education, prevention, treatment, support for orphans, surviving guardians and people living with AIDS. Thank you our QAY Coordinator, Euan, for representing ACAS at the event!
Bettering the Broader Community
For so many years, ACAS support Asian migrant workers in Ontario through our outreach activities. On April 5, 2015, Noulmook Sutdhibhasilp, Executive Director of ACAS, along with activists from Justice for Migrant Workers, were at Pearson International Airport to say goodbye to Thai migrant farm workers who had to leave Canada because of the controversial “4 and 4″rule. You can read more about the “4 and 4 rule” at
Training Community Service Providers on Working with LGBTQ Youth of Colour
On April 10, 2015, ACAS facilitated a workshop for service providers from Malvern Family Resource Centre and TAIBU Community Health Centre today on the topic of working with LGBTQ youth of colour. While the topic is complex and layered, ACAS is very excited to have this open dialogue with agencies in Scarborough doing LGBTQ programming.
Volunteers, Volunteers, Volunteers!
We at ACAS rely heavily on our volunteers to help build a stronger community. On April 11, 2015 at the ACAS Spring Volunteer Core Skill Training, another group of ACAS volunteers successfully completed the training. We thank all our new volunteers for their time and support, and look forward to the amazing contributions they will make.
On the same day, ACAS once again participated at the popular 519 LGBTQ Volunteer Fair. It was a great day as we had a chance to talk to many community members and also share a space with many other amazing social service agencies at the volunteer fair.
Queer Asian Youth: Building Strong Future Leaders
The Queer Asian Youth program definitely took advantage of the nice spring weather and kept themselves very busy this month!
First, our QAY Coordinator, Euan Hwang reached out to youth looking for work and employment at the Toronto Public Library – Don Mills Branch Youth Volunteer and Job Fair on April 18, 2015. Queer Asian Youth has been a program known for engaging youth members in capacity building opportunities where they can become future leaders of tomorrow, and it Is definitely an amazing space where queer and questioning Asian youth can come together and explore their gender identity and sexual orientation safely.
Thank you once again RAW! The Raging Asian Women Taiko Drummers (RAW) is a community arts collective of East and Southeast Asian Women in Toronto and serves as a critical response to systemic and internalized oppressions. On April 19, 2015, about 30 QAY members packed a full house performance of RAW and their powerful taiko drum performance. We would like to thank all the RAW members and apprentices for their continual support to ACAS and QAY, their workshops and providing our youth with an amazing performance!
Due to popular demand, our QAY Coming Out Circle is back! On April 30, 2015, we held another coming out circle where we listened to our peer guest speakers and their own coming out stories. Youth participants also got a chance to share our own coming out stories through arts in a culturally safe space! The QAY Coming Out Circle help support everyone no matter what kind of stories they bring: stories about sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, other kinds of status. We recognize the power of listening and being there for one another. At the end the session, everyone was treated to a brief mindfulness exercise to ground ourselves and promote collective empowerment.
It’s Brunch Time! Our QAY Health Promotion Project held a Sunday Brunch event on April 26, 2015. The event focused on learning how to cook easy, healthy, and inexpensive Asian dishes. The best part is that everyone got to eat the yummy food that they had learned to make! Thank you Gabriel for leading the event and to all the participants who joined!
Love to dance? Our QAY members outreached at the latest Asian Xpress on April 24. Thanks to Euan, Gabriel and our volunteers for reaching out at the always amazing club event and helping to ensure everyone stays safe!
ACAS Support Program Health Promotion “HIV Treatment Update” Workshop by Dr. Darrell Tan
We were very grateful and honoured to have Dr. Darrell Tan and our Nursing placement student Emma Chen speak at our ACAS Support Program Health Promotion Workshop for support program service users and their affected family members and/or caregivers on April 10, 2015. Dr. Tan is an HIV specialist and researcher at St. Michael’s and Toronto General Hospital, and his research interest include HIV/AIDS, HIV and sexually transmitted co-infections, herpes simplex virus, syphilis, HIV pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis, non-AIDS comorbidities. The event focused on various HIV treatment updates including new class of HIV treatments available on the market such as the integrase inhibitors and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). While Dr. Tan is a long time supporter of ACAS, it was truly like a homecoming event for Dr. Tan and us at ACAS as, did you know, Dr. Tan was once a Queer Asian Youth member!
#ACASturns20: ACAS is my Home
By Andre Goh, Diversity & Inclusion Manager at Toronto Police Service and Former Board Chair of ACAS
“In many ways, my connection with Toronto is ACAS.
What I mean is that I’ve been a part of ACAS since its conception, participated in its early development, and helped it grow into what it is today. I am connected to the many, many faces and communities that have benefited from the work of ACAS. I am tied to the long lasting friendships and relationships that I’ve gain over the years. And I am stronger, more confident and better grounded because I know that ACAS is here. The work of ACAS is important because it fills a gap in this city and continues to provide unique and creative skills, tools and support. It is this kind of talent that ACAS attracts that makes it relevant and current.
I believe that ACAS plays an important role in the lives of many diverse Asian communities. Its strength is the people – the dedicated staff, the volunteers and the allies. Its energy is the support that comes from newcomers, youth, marginalized individuals, and people like me. While there will always be new faces at ACAS, there are never old faces – just a home with more and more family members. I know that while my life and goals have changed over the years, my heart and my home is always ACAS.”
Thank you, Our City of Colours!
Lastly, we would like to thank Adrian She and the team Our City of Colours, a group based in Vancouver that aims to increase the visibility of, and address the issues facing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people in a variety of linguistic and cultural communities, for writing and publishing a blog article on our AMP2R: Asian Men Pathways to Resiliency Community Launch Event! You can read the blog post here:
May is Asian Heritage Month! Stayed tuned to find out all the amazing events that will take place as we celebrate our Asian heritage and culture this month!