Two prominent members of the gay community have been recognized for their advocacy work and tireless dedication to various organizations throughout Vancouver.
Dean Malone and Joel Nim Cho Leung were among four West End citizens to receive the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal on Nov 21 at a ceremony hosted by Vancouver West End MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert.
“Dean is the type of citizen that makes the West End a wonderful place to live,” said Vancouver Councillor Andrea Reimer, before presenting Malone his medal.
“Dean exemplifies what it means to be a community leader. This is demonstrated by his decision to devote his career to supporting services in our community, as well as his tireless volunteer work in many non-profits.”
Malone is actively involved in seniors housing initiatives, including a planned residential community for gay seniors; is co-chair of Vancouver’s LGBTQ advisory committee; sat on the mayor’s West End Advisory Committee; sits on the board of Out on Screen; and is chair of the Fillmore Family Foundation, whose popular annual fundraiser, the Prairie Fairies Fowl Supper, not only supports local charities, but is highly anticipated by many as one of the friendliest gay events of the year.
Malone was humbled by the acknowledgment. “It really isn’t about the recipients,” he said. “What it’s about is that people in the community truly do appreciate people who make an effort.
“I am very fortunate to live here in Vancouver, and I don’t take that for granted,” he continued. “The little bits that we all do to make it even better is what I am supposed to be doing.”
For Malone, the fact that two of the four Queen’s medal recipients are gay didn’t go unnoticed.
“That tells me that our presence in our community is being recognized,” he said. “We are not overlooked. We are included as participants and as those who contribute to society.”
Chandra Herbert agrees. “I think it is so appropriate. In the West End we have many incredible GLBT leaders [who] inspire me every day.”
“We don’t say thank you enough to volunteers,” Chandra Herbert added. “When you give back to your community, you are really giving back to yourself, and that’s the lesson we learn from these people.”
“I feel honoured,” said Nim Cho Leung, who is the co-founder of Average Joe’s, a supportive social group for HIV-positive gay men, sits on the board of several health-centred community groups, and volunteers with AIDS Vancouver, the Pride Society, the Queer Film Festival and the trans- and genderqueer-friendly Saige Community Food Bank.
“Being gay, being HIV-positive, being Asian, being Canadian, I have to give back to my community that supported me,” Nim Cho Leung said.
Charged with the responsibility of selecting medal recipients, as were other members of Canada’s federal and provincial legislatures, senators, lieutenant governors and territorial commissioners, Chandra Herbert asked the community to decide who to honour, rather than deciding himself. An independent panel adjudicated the two dozen nominations received.
Honoured alongside Malone and Nim Cho Leung were Cameron Cathcart and Clive Richter Mallory.
“I am so proud of these recipients and all of the incredible local nominees whose service each and every day makes the West End an even better place to live,” Chandra Herbert said.
Sixty thousand Diamond Jubilee medals will be distributed to deserving Canadians this year.