Flashback to almost a half year ago, when I was sitting in the LGBTQ safe zone training class at California State University Monterey Bay. I saw people coming from different walks of life, but mainly young people coming together to learn about the LGBTQ community. But suddenly there’s an elderly man. He drags a chair and joins the class. To break the ice, we had to tell everyone the reasons we sign up for the class. When it was the elderly man’s turn, he said: “My name is Joe, and I am here because my son is gay and I love him.” At that exact moment, I knew I wanted to make a documentary about him.
After I returned home from the Global UGRAD Program, the Ministry of Health in Malaysia organized a short film competition, themed “Value Yourself, Healthy Lifestyle Practice,” which asked participants to produce videos focusing on “prevention” and “control” of gender confusion. The competition made headlines and caused the LGBTQ community and allies to fly into an uncontrollable rage. I was one of them. But the society bounced back as a YouTuber and a stand-up comedian organized another short video competition with the theme of Pro-LGBT as the counteraction. I submitted the documentary to the competition thinking it’s the least I can do as a filmmaker to help the community. Unexpectedly, my documentary rose as the winner and sent a powerful message to all those possessing anti-homosexual sentiments in my home country.
A few days ago during the debriefing session for my Global UGRAD scholarship, I remember mentioning how tough it is coming back home as a struggling artist. But seeing my work make positive impacts is honestly all I need to keep creating. I pray to God to grant me perseverance in the challenging future. And my Global UGRAD memories will always be the fuel to keep me going.