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Alumni Profile: Darren Ho, Our City of Colours

September 01, 2014

This profile of Darren Ho is part of a series exploring the impact of SFU Semester in Dialogue alumni on our local and global communities.

By Justin Wong

Darren Ho (Fall 2013) is the founder of Our City of Colours, a non-profit organization supporting under-served groups in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Queer (LGBTQ) community.

Darren feels that the media representation of the LGBTQ community does not take into account its full cultural diversity. This can cause a real disconnect for minorities in the LGBTQ community who are not visually represented in the media. 

“For many people, if we want to be accepted into the mainstream gay community in Vancouver, we feel that we have to separate ourselves from our own cultural community.”

Darren and his friends created a poster campaign that would help bridge the gap with cultural minorities. The posters “showed positive images of queer people from different cultural communities.” These culturally diverse posters were well-received in the LGBTQ community.

The Semester in Dialogue gave Darren the opportunity to hone his skills in facilitation and networking. Darren had the opportunity to facilitate “a workshop on anti-oppression to a group of young gay men.”

“I’ve been getting a lot of offers to facilitate workshops since then. It’s been really good because facilitation was really fresh in my mind from Dialogue. If I never facilitated in Dialogue, I wouldn’t have the same type of confidence.”

Darren attributes his facilitation style to Sean Blenkinsop, an Associate Professor in the Semester in Dialogue program. “I like his style a lot because he facilitates in a way that brings a calming presence to a room.”

In Dialogue, Darren had the opportunity to discuss community-based issues with a multitude of thought leaders. This has played a major role in how he goes about creating new networks.

“Before Dialogue, I thought non-profits were in a separate world from business…I didn’t realize how these avenues were relevant to my activism work.”

Darren had an epiphany when thought leader David Fushtey, a lawyer and a Fellow with SFU’s Centre for Dialogue, visited the class to discuss “Fairness of Outcome vs. Fairness of Process."

“Fushtey helped me make the connection between terminologies used in Law and terminologies I'm more familiar with in the social justice field.” This helped Darren see the value in considering perspectives from other disciplines.

“It helped me actualize a concept that I had always thought about in my social justice work, but didn't know the words to explain.”

As Darren continues to grow professionally, he hopes that “in the future, organizations like Our City of Colours do not need to exist because if cultural communities start talking about queer issues and gay community starts talking about cultural issues [their goals would be accomplished].”

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