What Is Love

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.