I recently watched the new Star Wars film (The Last Jedi).
While my partner was far more excited than I was to line up an hour early to get our prime seats (honestly, I was just excited to see Kylo Ren, on whom I have a huge crush :P)…the first 10 minutes got me hooked. Not because of the dramatic opening battle, or the CGI, but because immediately in the first few minutes of the film, I started noticing the Asian characters in the film.
As a Chinese person who rarely gets to see someone like me on screen, I can tell you the feeling the exact moment I saw the first Asian character in Star Wars – the officer on the bridge of the First Order’s ship that had about 2 seconds of screen time in the first 15 minutes of the film – I saw him. The central character, Rose, (who is played Kelly Marie Tran, a Vietnamese-American actor), of course really stole the show. But I can tell you that even with her and Finn taking up most of the POC spotlight, I noticed all three of the other Asian characters in the film as well. The dude on the bridge, Rose’s sister, and a gambler in Canto Bight.
Somewhere in my brain, I’ve parked those memories of representation on screen, from a Hollywood film I watched 2 weeks ago. If something as simple as Star Wars can imprint a memory of seeing someone that looks like me in on screen/in media, how could more frequent, more visible, more empowered images of people of colour – let alone queer people of colour – make me feel?
In August last year, I got a message from Jen (Co-Artistic Director of Love Intersections), that we got a grant from Telus’ Storyhive program, to fund a 6 episode series on “Untold Queer Stories”. This exciting opportunity will allow us to use this platform to share more untold queer stories…including our own, and why we formed Love Intersections – a group of queer people of colour who use the arts to make visible the invisible. We don’t want to just be “represented” on screen: we want to tell our own stories, in a way that WE want them told.
The Storyhive series marks a big milestone for us, as a group of queer artists who started this thing because we were frustrated at the way that we were being represented in media. It marks an opportunity to bring our stories from the fringes into the mainstream, and to seize the means of storytelling into our own hands: to tell stories that could (and should) also be told.
Maybe one day I won’t have to explain why seeing 3 Asian people in Star Wars did something to me. Maybe one day, fighting for visibility will be a thing in the past. Maybe one day, the simple act of sharing queer, untold stories, won’t need to be this groundbreaking, controversial, revolutionary act….but for now it is, and we are looking forward to sharing these stories with you, through a lens of love.
Stay tuned for more about our 6 part series, airing in June/July 2018.