Success Story: Asian Queer Alliance Toronto

We’re pleased to present to you this week’s incredible Rainbow Grants Success Story from Asian Queer Alliance (AQUA)! AQUA is a space created by and for queer Asians (meaning those identifying as people from Asia, including South and Southeast Asia) of marginalized genders (including cis and trans women, non-binary folks, trans men and gender diverse people) in Toronto.

Could you tell us a little about the initiative your 2020 Rainbow Grant has supported?

Through Community One Foundation’s 2020 Rainbow grant, our initiative (called Asian Queer Alliance) was enabled to continue empowering our racialized community. This year, we have continued with our original direction of “Creating and nurturing spaces for educational, community building and social networking purposes that center on the experiences of queer Asians of marginalized genders”. However, this year, we have drastically overhauled the delivery of our initiative to means outside of in-person activities.   

Was there a particular thing that sparked this idea/initiative?

This is the fourth year and iteration of AQUA. The initial spark set this idea into motion as QAW (in 2015) and evolved into QAW+ and then evolved into its current form which is AQUA. AQUA has been passed along through many hands but the intention has always been to create a dedicated space for Queer Asians of marginalized genders. This includes cis and trans women, nonbinary folks, trans men and genderdiverse people. 

Many organizations have been faced with a set of new challenges, due to COVID-19. How is your team adapting?

COVID has not slowed our progress in terms of reaching a broader audience, building our social media presence and continuing to engage our community. COVID has affected the methods we use to deliver our programs and platforms we use to engage our community, as well as the type of programming we are able to provide. 

What has the response/impact been like so far?

We have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from conclusion surveys from our many programs this year. This includes our Pen Pal Project, Nothing New Gift Exchange, Lunar New Year Lantern Making and LNY Red Pockets, Participants have expressed that these programs have continued to allow them to engage, maintain and foster connections to their queer Asian identity and community. In addition, participants have expressed through our annual general survey (or as we like to call, our Futurecast Survey), that AQUA has successfully maintained a sense of safety and welcome in our community’s online presence. 

How do you see this project evolving into 2021?

We believe that this project will continue to evolve in 2021 along with the regulatory and human characteristics of the pandemic. Thanks to our work in 2020, we have created a framework for years to come.

Is there any other projects coming up that you’d like to share with our supporters?

We are going to continue to focus on growing AQUA’s online presence via an email newsletter and perhaps a Twitter account. We would like to expand our Pen Pals Project as it has been very successful in connecting members.  

Learn more about AQUA at

Stay tuned for more Community One Foundation Success Story interviews coming soon!