Fierté a Quartier: The First Pride in Montreal’s Chinatown
Q&A’s with Viet Tran
Where are you from? What place do you currently call home and why?
I was born and raised in Montreal and lived here for most of my life. After every enjoyable trip abroad, I always felt a great sense of comfort and security returning home. I believe that this feeling stems not only from familiarity, but from the kindness that I have experienced from the people who live here. Montreal offers the excitement of a big city with the humility of a smaller village.
What community/communities are you part of ?
I have always found myself gravitating towards different Asian communities throughout my life. They have taught me the importance of committing to friendships and other relationships in a way that resonated with how I was raised. The friend groups that I have been part of remind me how important it is to honour your relationships and to work towards social harmony.
What are you passionate about? What are your hobbies?
I find it difficult to name specific passions of mine, because I am interested in so many things. What drives me is my desire to learn and grow, so I am drawn towards creative fields that push the limits of our collective consciousness, such as music, cinema, and fashion. While they are very stimulating subjects, they also create space for deeper introspection.
How did the idea for this project come to you?
I imagined a Pride event that felt not only inclusive, but home for Asian folks and their allies. Pride to me does not always equate confettis, parades, and overt expressions of sexual freedom, which is what you can expect in most pride events. For many, pride is about yearning for belonging, working through internalized shame, and experiencing expansive love. So it made sense for me to organize a pride event in Chinatown, a place where families gather around food to celebrate important events or just to share delicious food with friends. I wanted to see people of all ages and walks of life enjoying a party hosted by queer Asian folks, because I thought that in itself was radical.
What was your motivation behind this project?
It felt like a good opportunity to hit two birds with one stone. Not only did I want to direct the spotlight on Asian and queer Asian creatives, but I also wanted to bring attention to the economic and cultural displacement brought by real estate pressure in the neighborhood. I felt like “pride” could take on a larger meaning, encompassing both pride for your authentic self, and for your cultural heritage. What kept me going when encountering difficulties was simply a commitment the team’s vision and values.
How did your community react to your project? Have they been encouraged to get involved in any other ways?
It was easy to involve the community in this project that intuitively made a lot of sense to a lot of people. There was a need to open the dialogue around queerness in Asian communities and it felt like this was something that everyone understood needed to be normalized. Many volunteers wanted to contribute to creating a memorable event. In the end, around 200 people attended and enjoyed watching the musical performances while eating street food sold by the local vendors. The neighborhood vibrated to the beat of the DJ and other artists that day.
In retrospect, what was the impact of your project?
The event brought together many creatives, community workers, and friends after months of isolation. Reconnecting with loved ones and making new acquaintances was much needed after having been separated by the ties that built our resilience. More importantly, it gave people an experience what could be made possible, and to inspire them to do the same.
How has the project impacted you in your everyday life?
It is always a learning experience when you turn something from your imagination and bring it into the tangible world. To be able to connect so many different people and have the different components run smoothly (including guided walking tours, street food vendors, and performances) was a challenge that was overcome thanks to our team spirit. Making an event like this happen takes a lot of respect and mindfulness for the people you work with.
Were there some bumps along the road or things you may do differently in the future?
We had a short deadline to complete the planning and operations of the event. I would have planned at least 3 months in advance to be able to coordinate things less reactively. We were lucky enough to have the Asian Night Market and the Quartier des Spectacles agree to partner with us in order to make this event happen on such notice. We are very grateful for their generosity without which I am not sure the event could have been organized succesfully on such short notice.
What would you say to a youth who is thinking about doing a #RisingYouth project?
Trust in your vision, be kind with the people you work with, and be ready to put in the work to fight for what matters to you.