by Joey Zhang
The views and opinions expressed in SFU Public Square's blogs are those of the authors, and they do not necessarily reflect the official position of Simon Fraser University or SFU Public Square, or any other affiliated institutions in any way.
A Story-Inspired Project on Gender Diversity and Identity Exploration
“Great deeds give choice of many tales.”
With every great project and venture that came to life, there is a unique and profound story to be told. Today, I would like to take you on a personal journey of identity exploration and share with you a brave story that gave birth to a project that promotes gender diversity in local communities.
Five years ago, my former romantic partner – out of pure curiosity – had asked me to try on a pair of her tights. Having spent two decades of my life conforming to myths of a heterosexual male, this proposal was one that promised to give rise to a new experience. Thinking that it could do no harm, I agreed to dress up in a new look. While I was staring myself in the mirror, she took the time to tell me how funny and bizarre it looked. However, for me, it turned out to be a surprisingly pleasant experience, and one that I would love to try again in the future. I kept this sentiment to myself.
As I spent more time thinking about this experience over the days and the months, I realized that I genuinely enjoyed expressing myself in certain types of non-conformative clothing. Ever since that moment, unconventional self-expression had become a hobby of mine, one that I never want to suppress again.
Over the years, I started to search for events and environments that would allow me to express myself in gender non-conforming manners. After all, unconventional gender expression in public may lead to negative judgments, stigma, as well as safety risks. To my disappointment, most of the events I came across took on two forms: the first involved large-scale queer parties (that are of significant historical importance and electrifying atmosphere) where an introvert like me could easily be lost in the crowd. The second involved activities – such as competitive gaming – that aligned perfectly with my personal interests, but failed to provide sufficient room for gender expression.
That’s when I thought to myself: wouldn’t it be great if I could take an opportunity to combine the best of both worlds and create an event that individuals like myself can call home too? Holding this idea close to heart, I wanted to mold my dream into reality. Today, it is with pride and passion that I introduce to you my project: The DiverCity Games.
DiverCity Games look to bring about small-scale, interactive, and collaborative events that aim to better connect gender diverse individuals in local communities – all in a fun, welcoming, and safe environment. As the founder of this project, I envision a place where people of all gender expressions and races can come together and have a great time with big smiles. As an event organizer, I look to establish a haven where anyone can express themselves freely, safely, and respectfully, all the while sharing their stories and discussing their thoughts fearlessly. Finally, as a human being, I wanted to create and be part of a community where individuals can explore their personal identities and developments while being proud of who they are.
Going forward, a lot of work is still to be done; not just to make the DiverCity Games happen, but also to make progressive social changes happen. An event venue is yet to be determined, and many social connections have yet to be discovered. Even though I have my work cut out for me, I have never before been blessed with such excitement. It is a wonderful feeling to wake up to work when it’s for a wonderful cause.
“Being fearless isn’t being 100% not fearful, it’s being terrified but you jump anyway.”
Do I fear being judged now that this story is out? Of course I do. But there is nothing more fearful than a muted voice that couldn’t be heard and a lack of courage to move forward in the face of adversity. As a believer of the fact that gender exists on a spectrum, I want to remind you all that no matter where you are on the gender scale and how insecure you feel day and night, you are all beautiful for who you are. Let’s all help bring greater diversity to our community, proudly and fearlessly.
Feel free to follow DiverCity Games on Twitter: @DiverCityGaming
June also happens to be pride month! Take pride in stepping forward and supporting gender diversity!
Volunteer, SFU Public Square