Personal Connection

by Kaythi

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Artist Statement

Personal Connection is a series of missed connections written for several disappeared women’s spaces in Toronto. The text explores the process of learning Toronto’s queer of colour histories and of learning how women of colour have negotiated queer space across generations.  

Artist Bio

Kaythi is a textile artist working at the intersection of craft tradition, dissemination, and pedagogy. In 2017, she was one of eight artists, activists, and curators to co-create a public wheatpaste installation at Pride Toronto celebrating queer activist histories. Kaythi holds a BFA in Printmaking from OCAD University (2017) but doesn’t print anymore. She currently lives and works in Toronto but misses the prairie sky.

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An (incomplete) annotated bibliography


Aguilar-San Juan, Karin. “Exploding Myths, Creating Consciousness: Some First Steps Towards Pan Asian Unity”. In Silvera, Piece of my Heart, 185-192.
Aguilar-San Juan discusses how Asians communities are stratified by differences such as sexuality, nationality, immigration status, gender, and class. She suggests that anti-imperialist action and analysis could form the basis of a pan-Asian unity and build solidarity between communities.

Allen, Carol. “Interview: Carol Allen; Fighting Racism in the Women’s Movement.” By Judi Stevenson. Cayenne: A Socialist Feminist Bulletin 3, no. 1 (January 1987):14-17, Rise Up Feminist Archive.
Carol Allen discusses her involvement with Lesbians of Colour and International Women’s Day Coalition. She discusses some of the political disagreements between white women and women of colour, including her perspective on how and why they arose as well as what should be changed or worked towards in future organizing.

Asian Lesbians of Toronto. Textual records. 1983-1988. F0015-02-28, Box 2. Khush: South Asian Gay Men of Toronto fonds. The Arquives, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
This file includes: a business card for ALOT; an interview conducted by Barbara
Hammer with “Jivan”, a bisexual Chinese-Malay person in Connexions (Fall 1983);
and a one year report from ALOT about their past and upcoming activities.

Chambers, Stephanie, Jane Farrow, Maureen FitzGerald, Ed Jackson, John Lorinc, Tim McCaskell, Rebecca Sheffield, Tatum Taylor, and Rahim Thawer, eds. Any Other Way: How Toronto Got Queer. Toronto: Coach House Books, 2017.
An broad anthology that discusses queer communities and histories in Toronto.

Chow, Ritz. “coming out.” In Silvera, Piece of my Heart, 31-32.
Dedication: “for each of every Asian Lesbian of Toronto” “Classified Ads.” Diva: A Quarterly Journal of South Asian Women 3, no. 4 (January/March 1993): 32-34, Rise Up" Feminist Archive. A series of unattributed, humorous classified ads.

Douglas, Debbie. “That Collective House on Dewson Street.” In Chambers et al., Any Other Way, 176-177.
Douglas describes the house on Dewson Street that Sister Vision Press began in. She also discusses other Black organizing that took place in that house.

Farrow, Jane. “I Was in Charge of Kitty Litter.” In Chambers et al., Any Other Way, 51-53.
Farrow describes “queer houses” in Toronto during the 1970s and 1980s, including one that was on the same street as my first apartment in Toronto.

Gottlieb, Amy. “Toronto’s First Unrecognized Dyke March.” In Chambers et al., Any 
Other Way, 330-332.
Describes Toronto’s first dyke march. The march route visited sites that the organization Lesbians against the Right identified as major political sites of the era.

Haritaworn, Jin, Ghaida Moussa, and Syrus Marcus Ware, eds. Marvellous Grounds: Queer of Colour Histories of Toronto. Toronto: Between the Lines, 2018.
An anthology of art and activism. Marvellous Grounds is about the queer of
colour communities, movements, and organizing that has shaped Toronto but are
often ignored or erased.

———., Ghaida Moussa, and Syrus Marcus Ware, with Alvis Choi, Amandeep Kaur Panag, andRio Rodriguez. “Marvellous Grounds: QTBIPOC Counter-Archiving against Imperfect Erasures.” In Chambers et al., Any Other Way, 219-223.
Discusses the Marvellous Grounds Collective’s efforts to counter-archive queer of colour histories, challenging the colonial legacies of the archive and how often “queerness” and “queer history and culture” is often imagined to be white.

Hogan, Kristen. “The Feminist Shelf, A Transnational Project: 1984-1993.” In, The Feminist Bookstore Movement: Lesbian Antiracism and Feminist Accountability, 107-144. Durham: Duke University Press, 2016.
This chapter discusses the Toronto Women’s Bookstore’s work on the Women of Colour Bibliography, which was compiled by Sharon Fernandes

Fireweed Asian Women’s Guest Collective. Invitation to launching of “Awakening Thunder”. 1990. F0015-02-35, Box 2. Khush: South Asian Gay Men of Toronto fonds. The Arquives, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Invitation to the launch of “Awakening Thunder”, issue #30 of Fireweed Journal. The event took place on Thursday, April 12 1990 at 140 George St.

Kingston, Maxine Hong. The Women Warrior: Memories of a Girlhood Among Ghosts. New York: Vintage International, 1989. First published 1976 by Alfred A. Knopf

Kobayashi, Tamai. Prairie Ostrich. Fredricton: Goose Lane Editions, 2014.

Lee, C. Allyson. “An Asian Lesbian’s Struggle.” In Silvera, Piece of my Heart, 115-118.
Lee discusses internalized racism and how other women and lesbians of colour helped her overcome her shame and find empowerment in her Chinese identity. This contribution may make reference to the National Asian Pacific Lesbian Retreat, which, as far as I can tell, was held in Santa Cruz, California over Labour Day Weekend in 1989 (?).

Lee Kam, leZlie. “The Encounter of a Brown, Trini, Carib, Callaloo Dyke with Police at Pride in 1999.” In Chambers et al., Any Other Way, 337-338.
Describes lesbian of colour activism during Pride celebrations in 1999.

———. “Oral History with leZlie Lee Kam, Pt. 1.” By Elspeth Brown. Filmed 27 April 2017. The ArQuives Digital Exhibitions. Video, 1:20:07. http://digitalcollections.clga.ca/items/show/909. 
leZlie discusses growing up in Trinidad, their move to Canada when they were 16, coming out, and some of their early involvement with queer of colour organizing.

———. “Oral History with leZlie Lee Kam, Pt. 2.” By Elspeth Brown. Filmed 16 June 2017. The ArQuives Digital Exhibitions. Video, 1:22:48. http://digitalcollections.clga.ca/items/show/920.
leZlie discusses their experiences with police violence, queer of colour organizing in the 80s and 90s, alcoholism, and their activism in the 00s.

“Lesbians of Colour: Loving and Struggling.” In Silvera, Piece of my Heart, 160-168.
A transcript of a taped discussion that took place between three lesbians of colour in Toronto, 1983.

Lesbian Organization of Toronto. “Open Letter to the Lesbian Community.” Toronto, Ontario, 1979. Rise Up Feminist Archive.
Written in 1979, this letter describes the energy at LOOT in October 1979. LOOT had been struggling financially and many member seemed to be burning out. A common concern that arises in this (and other correspondence) is that, in trying to be an umbrella organization and appeal to “all” lesbians, LOOT instead, had come to appeal to very few. LOOT would disband in 1980. A copy of this letter may also be viewed in the vertical file for LOOT at the Arquives.

———. “Call for Lesbian Dialogue.” Toronto, Ontario, 1979. Rise Up Feminist Archive. Li, Alan. “The Only Time Gay Asians Led the Pride Parade.” In Chambers et al., Any Other Way, 333-336.
Brief history of some gay Asian organizing in Toronto from roughly 1981-2010.

Lim-Hing, Sharon, ed. The Very Inside: An Anthology of Writing by Asian and Pacific Islander Lesbian and Bisexual Women. Toronto: Sister Vision Press, 1994.
Picked this up from Glad Day a couple of years ago because I had never seen anything like it and revisited it as I was conducting research for Invisible Footprints. Many of the contributor’s names have become more familiar to me as I have done more reading. This book has also helped me become more comfortable with reading poetry. It is very special to me and became more so through the course of the project.

Ma, Ming Yuen S. Toc Storee. 1992. Video, 21:00. Distributed by Vtape, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Muñoz, José Esteban. Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity. New York: New York University Press, 2009.

P., Leslie. “Behind Open Doors: LOOT.” 1978. F0002-03-179, Box 36. The Body Politic Fonds. The Arquives, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
This file contains an edited transcript of a conversation between several members of the LOOT Task Force, recorded in March 1978, according to the transcript. At this point, LOOT has been active just over a year and claims to have some 300 members. The recorder/transcriber acknowledges that this conversation happens amongst a small sampling of LOOT’s overall membership. They discuss some of the successes and challenges in LOOT’s year of organizing.

Onodera, Midi, dir. the basement girl. 2000; Toronto: Daruma Pictures Inc., 2009. DVD.

———, dir. The Displaced View. 1988; Toronto: Daruma Pictures Inc., 2009. DVD.

———, dir. Skin Deep. 1995; Toronto: Daruma Pictures Inc., 2009. DVD.

———, dir. Ten Cents a Dance (Parallax). 1985; Toronto: Daruma Pictures Inc., 2009. DVD.

Shervington, Gwendolyn L, ed. A Fire is Burning It Is in Me: The Life and Writing of Michiyo Fukaya. Norwich: New Victoria Publishers Inc., 1996.

Silvera, Makedra. “From St. Helens Avenue to Dewson Street.” In Chambers et al., Any Other Way, 178-180.
Silvera recounts moving into a new home on Dewson Street, which would later become the first home of Sister Vision Press.

———, ed. Piece of my Heart: A Lesbian of Colour Anthology. Toronto: Sister Vision Press, 1991.
Purchased this book about two years ago at Glad Day not really knowing what it was—I only picked it up because I knew that Sister Vision was a Toronto-based WOC press. I re-read it over the course of this project and was pleasantly surprised to newly recognize names of contributors.

Sister Vision Press. “Invitation to ‘Celebration Reception.’” 1995. Vertical files.The Arquives, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Invitation printed on dark green paper for a celebration reception and a presentation on Thursday, May 25th, 1995. The invitation indicates that Sister Vision press had recently moved to suite #433 at 401 Richmond and that the press had been active for ten years.

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