BODY #2 Wherever I go, it is my transfer point. Citizenship is like a sports trophy. It gives you access to benefits. You get to use the spa, the clubhouse. Membership. You get connected with people who might offer you wealth. Canada is not my destination. Because my destination is gonna be somewhere much more magical than this. But I have a thing for trophies that give me VIP membership. ACCESS. If access is for all, I really don't care about how my passport looks like. But when itʼs not, whenever I cross the border, I am put into a box. What is your citizenship? Hong Kong. Illegal immigrant. What is your citizenship? Canada. Model minority. What is your citizenship? Um. I hold a British National (Overseas) passport? British wannabe. Yes. I am the colonized trying to be the colonizer. As a teenager living in the British Hong Kong, I had an obsession with the United Kingdom. My favourite bands were Blur, Pulp, Suede, and Radiohead. My favourite actors were Jude Law, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Christian Bale. I had a total crush on him when he was twelve playing Jim Graham in the Empire of the Sun. I watched it twelve times throughout my life, I believe. I suppressed my love for Leonardo DiCaprio even after Titanic because heʼs American. And as far as I understood as a teenager, Americans are jerks. Nobody is truly proud of being American, other than the white Americans. I bought Reeboks sneakers with the British flag on the shoelace plates. My favourite accent was the British accent, and I still find it hot. I didnʼt know nothing about the politics among England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. But there was one thing that I thought they had in common—“they are all really cool.” My favourite brand of cookies was Walkers Shortbread. My favourite musical instrument was the bagpipe. You know that song Scotland the Brave? I almost got moved to tears every time I heard it. As if I found my roots. And I still have some of those feelings nowadays when that memory is triggered. But now I have to first relive the experience of admiring the British. And then remind myself of why I admired them. And then I try to unlearn that idea without invalidating myself too much. But most of the time, Whenever it happens, when some random Scottish guy in a kilt decides that he should play the bagpipe on the street in Toronto, I still allow myself to indulge in that sense of prestige. Being British is not in my blood; itʼs in my head. I heard that the British were the worst people, historically speaking. But whatever that means, they still have a special place in my heart.
I’m a self-taught writer and artist. Being challenged by a mentor will help me build confidence, proceed to the next phase, look at Love Behind the Bargain [collection of stories] from a new perspective and see where it can go. And learn what a professional writer does; I can only break the rules when I know them.
Love began as a script of a walking tour for the closing event of the Contemporary Urgencies of Audre Lorde’s Legacy about the intersecting histories around Chinatown. When I was invited to do the tour I decided to tell personal stories and my memories rather than give a history of the place. I later performed a developed version at SummerWorks 2013.
I’ve been in Toronto for 2.5 years, most of that time in Chinatown isolated from both the arts and queer communities, of which I’m now vaguely a part. Love is about that period. I hope to expand the stories to the rest of Toronto, to recall the things that linger. I am interested in processing/evaluating/redefining the meaning of living in this familiar yet still foreign city.
The sites in Love create a map of consequences to a love story. The protagonist flew to Toronto with two suitcases and a duffel bag, pursuing freedom and privilege to love. I trace the early footsteps of a queer person of color in the city from a micro perspective, through small interactions with people that make up the collection, which is not only about romantic love but also about strangers. When alone, you notice little happenings between strangers because you expect less from people you barely know. Kindness is more comforting from strangers or acquaintances: that brief relationship is more of a treasure. Those memories of momentary kindnesses rarely fade.
I don’t have a writing process. I let it happen. It’s very stream-of-consciousness at first. Start something on my phone or on a piece of paper. Only when I review do I start working toward a goal. I am also an amateur hairdresser, and a community breakfast club founder. There is only one menu item: peanut butter Nutella French toast sandwiches stuffed with banana and cinnamon. It’s irresistible.
One of the ideals in my dream world is that people’s bodies would evolve according to their professions. No carpal tunnel or arthritis for writers. And writers would be prophets that imagine a hopeful future. They foresee and write and people believe. Fiction would not be a way to escape, but to imagine and change.
I refuse to think about what my life will be like in 2024. I read a queer prophecy about a change in the idea of growing up. The heterosexist obsession with reproduction will no longer be the mainstream. In the future we will grow sideways, not up. As I get older I do feel pressure to think strategically about my career, but that’s boring. I prefer a non-linear approach to life, challenging the existing hierarchy and our perception of time.