She may not be able to pinpoint the year it happened, but Jen Sung will never forget the way she felt when she saw her first gay film on the big screen.
Sung remembers driving from her parents’ home in Port Moody to a Queer Film Festival screening of a Taiwanese film at the now-closed Tinseltown theatre in Vancouver.
“I was just blown and floored,” she says. “From then on I was like, ‘I’m forever dedicated to this work, and I want to be involved in it in any way possible.’”
After stints working with the Asian Society for the Intervention of AIDS (ASIA) and Women Against Violence Against Women (WAVAW), Sung is now the program coordinator for Out in Schools. She leads a team of facilitators who use films to discuss queer issues, homophobia and bullying in classrooms across the Lower Mainland and in rural BC.
“It’s about harnessing the powerful medium of film and video and media as a way to engage young students and youth in a discussion that is otherwise seen as sensitive in nature,” the 27-year-old says.
“After a presentation at a school, an ally or a student will come up to me, sometimes in tears, because they have never seen an Out in Schools presentation or haven’t heard anyone say the words queer or gay or lesbian out loud in front of their whole school.”
Sung has also recently joined the board of Our City of Colours, a group she hopes will continue to make a difference for young queer people of colour.
“As a young person and as a woman of colour, I didn’t see a lot of positive representation growing up in the Lower Mainland. I think that we can help change that.”
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And check back tomorrow when we reveal #22 as Xtra celebrates BC’s best and brightest young queer leaders.