Daniel (Tiane) Le, Men’s Sexual Health Promoter, received the Outstanding Community Bridge Builder Award from the LGBT Giving Network. The award presentation was held at the LGBT Philanthropy Conference in Toronto on Saturday, April 9, 2011.
In the last ten years, Daniel has been a role model, leader and community activist for the LGBT Asian community in Toronto. He started his activism by volunteering with Gay Asians Toronto (GAT), a non-profit organization that promotes the rights of Asian LGBT.
Sharing similar struggles with other young gay Asians on such issues as self-esteem, pride and sense of belonging, Daniel knew well there was a need for alternative safe spaces for young gay Asians within the broader gay community. In early 2001, he and other concerned peers decided to organize Scented Boys, monthly dance parties as a means to instill pride, restore self-esteem and foster community-building among the young gay Asian population in downtown Toronto. Scented Boys managed to raise their own funds and enter a float during a previous Pride Toronto parade showcasing an all-Asian men in a float using a fun and innovative theme.
When Daniel started working with ACAS in 2005, he has brought his excellent skill in networking with various sectors in business and non-profit sectors. He started doing HIV/AIDS outreach at bathhouses and dance clubs. He developed a monthly outreach/social event at a local Toronto bathhouse called Asian Bathhouse Night to address the marginalization, stigma and racism experienced by Asian bathhouse users. This innovative outreach strategy, bringing fun and interactive educational workshops to the bathhouse where patrons are, has been recognized by other members of the AIDS service communities as one of the best practices in Ontario.
As a result of the monthly Asian themed events, previous patrons have gone on to volunteer or work for ACAS, acted as mentors to the next generation, initiated similar themed monthly events in their organizations or agencies or donated resources to ACAS and similar initiatives to encourage active community participation and continue cultural celebrations. He brought that insight and a wealth of skills to ‘connect’ with members of the Asian LGBT community, the wider gay community, and local leaders and artists to ACAS. These links or bridges continue to be strengthened through mutual respect, understanding and common values that Daniel believes are the key to continuing his legacy.