On this week’s episode of Talking Radical Radio, I speak with Jen Sung, Andy Holmes, and David Ng about Love Intersections. It is a community and online project based in Vancouver that emerged out of the complex dynamics of identity and oppression during last year’s updating of a local school board’s LGBTQ anti-discrimination policy, and that aims to go beyond that beginning and use storytelling to explore complex intersections of identity, power, solidarity, and love.
It has been something like 30 years since Audre Lorde observed, “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives,” and even then it resonated because it captured something that a lot of people — particularly women of colour — had been experiencing for a long, long time. Yet still today, most communities and movements and organizations and groups manage to act from critical conscious around one way that power shapes and plays out in people’s lives, but not the full spectrum. This means that far too often, people who experience marginalization along more than one axis have their marginalization reinforced even in spaces that are supposedly for or about them. And far too few of us do the work to build meaningful solidarity within our communities, our movements, and our groups that extends across those complex differences in how we experience benefit and harm from the ways our social world is currently organized.
In 2014, the Vancouver School Board updated its anti-discrimination policies, in particular in ways responding to the needs of transgender students and lesbian, gay, bi, and queer students. There was vocal opposition to these changes, as well as community mobilization in support of them. Much of the support came, not surpisingly, from LGBTQ students and parents and the broader LGBTQ community in the city, but it happened in a way that tended to centre white queer voices. And the opposition, though it certainly extended beyond, often had at its core Chinese-Canadian Christian women, generally mothers of students.
Jen Sung, Andy Holmes, and David Ng all supported the updates to the anti-discrimination policy. However, as queer people of colour, they also saw close-up a great deal of anti-Chinese racism mixed in with the broader support for the policy update, including in queer contexts that they are a regular part of. They also saw a generalized failure to recognize that, for all of the differences between the two sides in that debate, both were acting out of what they saw as love and care for young people, and they believe that point of similarity held and holds the potential to build understanding, bridges, and solidarity.
The name of their project is Love Intersections, and it originally came into being when Jen and David created a website and wrote pieces (which circulated broadly in British Columbia and around the world) calling out the racism they were seeing in the Vancouver queer community. And now that the catalyzing issue has receded — the policy passed, though it is being challenged in court — they have taken on a broader vision for Love Intersections as a community-based and online project using storytelling as a way to explore intersectionality — that is, all those messy complexities of power and experience and identity — and build solidarity throuth the lens and language of love. They talked with me about their experiences of the policy reform process, about intersectinoality, about the broader Love Intersections project, and about their vision for social change.
To learn more about Love Intersections, click here.
Talking Radical Radio brings you grassroots voices from across Canada. We give you the chance to hear many different people that are facing many different struggles talk about what they do, why they do it, and how they do it, in the belief that such listening is a crucial step in strengthening all of our efforts to change the world. To learn more about the show in general, visit its website here. You can learn about suggesting topics for future shows here.
Talking Radical Radio is brought to you by Scott Neigh, a writer, media producer, and activist based in Sudbury, Ontario, and the author of two books examining Canadian history through the stories of activists.