TORONTO, ON — Asian Community AIDS Services (ACAS) and Queer Asian Youth (QAY) are inviting you to COME MARCH with US at this year’s Pride 2016 Festival! With a host of activities planned for Pride Month in June, ACAS is mixing community building, activism, and celebrating the diversity of the LGBTQQI2S to showcase Asian Pride at its best!
Our theme, COME MARCH with US is a play on words off this year’s Pride Toronto theme: You Can Sit with Us. With Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau marching at this year’s Pride Parade and Toronto Police Chief Saunders making a public apology of the Toronto Bathhouse Raids 30 years ago, this year’s Pride in Toronto is promised to be an especially special one post-Orlando Shooting.
“Our sincere and heartfelt condolences to the families & friends of victims of violence at the Pulse bar in Orlando, Florida,” says ACAS Execuitive Director Noulmook Sutdhibhasilp. “We at ACAS are in solitary with the LGBT communities all around the
world in an effort to bringing an end to homophobia and the senseless use of violence towards innocent and vulnerable people.”
With two pre-Pride Events already completed, the ACAS Pride Celebration during Pride Weekend is promised to be a festive one. ACAS first launched an anthology “Telling Our Own Stories” written by 11 queer Asian youth who have been mentored by acclaimed LGBTQ Asian writers Carrianne Leung, Rain Chan, and Kym Elisse Nacita at the historic Glad Day Bookshop on June 15, 2016. The book launch took place with award-winning writer Wayson Choy and Councilor Kristyn Wong-Tam with queer Asian youth reading their work informed by their own lived experiences, ranging from realization of one’s queer identity, to struggling through turmoil as queer Asian youth as they relate with the outside world, and ultimately finding hope and healing. Led by our Queer Asian Youth (QAY) Project Coordinator Euan Hwang, the “Telling Our Own Stories: Queer Asian Youth Writing Project” was supported by Art Reach and the Toronto Arts Council.
“I am so proud of the Queer Asian Youth community,” says Councilor Kristyn Wong-Tam. “Racialized queer voices are missing from the halls of the government. We do not have all the luxury of being complacent.” Adds award-wining author Wayson Choy, “You can demand the space you deserve.”
The second pre-Pride event, the second annual #MissACAS2016: A Pride CelebrAsian, took place on June 23, 2016 at OCAD University to a sold out crowd, with all proceeds going toward ACAS’ QAY program, after having lost funding from the City of Toronto two years ago. Three talented contestants showed their fierceness and talents for the title of #MissACAS2016, with first-time drag-performer Isabel Mendoza taking the reign with huge support from the audience. Miss Mendoza succeeds Miss Lara Bonita as #MissACAS and community ambassador for the East and Southeast Asian LGBTQ and HIV community. ACAS’ QAY Program provides a culturally-appropriate safe space for East and Southeast Asian LGBTQ youth in the Greater Toronto Area and empowering future community leaders through capacity-building initiatives. The #MissACAS Pageant was co-sponsored by Dr. Robert Diaz of the Office of Diversity, Equality, and Sustainability Initiatives (ODESI) at OCAD University, Dr. Jorge M. Jose Dental Office, Moss Park Pharma Care, Dr. Alan Li, and Mr. Paul Cadiente, and ‪#‎StyledbyMissTrish,.
“ACAS and QAY have always provided a welcoming and inclusive space. I have always felt safe and made many good friends here!” says Ryan Tran, a QAY former member and ACAS Men’s Program staff. “When I started coming out when I was only 16, QAY and ACAS helped me feel accepted and comfortable with my own sexuality.”
Join ACAS at this year’s Trans March with Miss ACAS 2016 Isabel Mendoza on Friday July 1, 2016 to celebrate Trans Pride, Dyke March on Saturday, July 2, 2016 and the main Pride Parade March on July 3, 2016 with our amazing contingent of Asian LGBTQ community members and allies. Come march with us this #ACASPride2016!
The following is a list of upcoming #ACASPride Events during Pride Month 2016:
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Asian Community AIDS Services (ACAS) provides HIV/AIDS education, prevention, and support services to the East and Southeast Asian Canadian HIV and LGBTQ communities. Our programs are based on a pro-active and holistic approach to HIV/AIDS and are provided in a collaborative, empowering, and non-discriminatory manner.
Queer Asian Youth (QAY) is an initiative of ACAS and has been providing social spaces for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, queer, curious, undecided, or questioning East and Southeast Asian youth and their friends since 2000. Regular QAY Events include the famous Bubble Tea Lounge, Movie Nites, and Games Nites.
Come March with ACAS and QAY this Pride! #ACASPride2016 !
Copies of “Telling Our Own Stories: Queer Asian Youth Writing Project”
Newly crowned Miss ACAS Isabel Mendoza and outgoing Miss ACAS Lara Bonita with Hong Kong gay-rights activists Guy Ho and Henry Lam at the #MissACAS2016 Pageant: A Pride CelebrAsian to benefit Queer Asian Youth (QAY)
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See you at Pride!