Carven Li’s path to the queer community started with looking for a good place to dance.
“Through looking at dance parties, I learned about social-justice issues, and I learned about why I enjoyed some dances more than others,” says Li, who uses the gender-neutral pronoun they.
“I found out that the dances I really had the most fun in, and felt the most safe in, were the most inclusive — they removed financial, physical and cultural barriers,” they say.
Li now sits on the board of Our City of Colours, which has produced a series of culturally and linguistically diverse posters to share queer lives with minority communities in their mother tongues.
A long-time resident of Richmond, the 23-year-old is also working to make the Vancouver suburb a more welcoming space for queer youth.
“Richmond has a huge immigrant population, and it lacks a lot of LGBTQ resources,” they say.
Li is frustrated that the Richmond School District still doesn’t have an anti-homophobia policy in place. They say the lack of clear direction from the top makes some principals reluctant to invite queer non-profits and workshops into Richmond schools.
“It’s very disappointing that the school trustees have not represented the students’ interest by having a queer-friendly policy.”
Li hopes to work with the City of Richmond to create drop-in programs for gay youth and for young people of colour.
A member of the QTIPOCalypse collective for queer or trans indigenous people or people of colour, Li also had the opportunity this summer to be a cabin leader at CampOUT.
“After going to CampOUT, it made me feel that being a youth educator is really rewarding. I was able to see myself in others.”