by Sarah Amyot
When Koyume Fukushima, age 17, was at her home in Japan, one of her friends revealed his sexual identity as being gay.
The students in her school, including her, ostracized and ignored him until he changed schools. When Koyume came to Victoria as an international student, she realized the injustice of her actions. “I saw this [same-sex] couple walking down the street and thought, ‘Wow, they look so beautiful.’”
She was determined to make amends and raise awareness about homophobia here in Victoria as well as at home in Japan. Although English is her second language and she had no prior experience with theatre, Koyume wrote ‘My Forbidden Disorder,’ a play that is both sophisticated and heart-breaking.
Koyume teamed up with five other multicultural youth to produce ‘My Forbidden Disorder.’ The diverse cast of youth comes from Japan, the Philippines, Mexico and Canada.
Though they all grew up with divergent cultural perspectives on same-sex relationships, all the youth agree that homophobia is a problem that needs to be dealt with.
They invited youth from the South Island Pride Community Centre Society to be involved in the production and a truly youth-led project was born. With the support of a small youth- action grant (called SPARK grants) from BC Healthy Communities’ YouthCore program, and in-kind support from several other community partners, the youth were recently able host a ‘standing room only’ two- night engagement for over 150 parents, friends, and community members.
The play is a powerful tool that illustrates the disastrous effects of homophobia in a way that speaks to the youth and adults in our community and a poignant example of the power of ‘learning to lead through action’.
If you live in the greater Victoria area and have an idea for a youth-led change project you may be eligible for support through the BC Healthy Communities’ SPARK: Learning to Lead Through Action program.
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your idea. To learn more about the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society visit their website.