University of Toronto Magazine University of Toronto Magazine

Samuel Chow

Artist and activist tackles racism and homophobia

At the first public showing of his short video Banana Boy last year, Samuel Chow (BA 2004 Innis) sat in the dark Toronto theatre and felt, well, sad. Thrilled, of course, to be attending the premiere of something he wrote, produced, starred in and directed, but saddened by his story of coming to Canada as a Chinese immigrant and coming out of the closet as a gay youth.

Banana Boy addresses issues like racism, homophobia, home and belonging, and there’s an underlying theme of trying to find peace,” says the 23-year-old, who just graduated with a bachelor of arts in visual studies. “Making it was extremely draining – emotionally and spiritually.” 

Video is only one of the media Chow uses to explore the concepts of identity and community. He does not call himself a video artist, painter or photographer – though he has won awards and exhibited his work in all of these fields. “It’s more about finding the right medium to express what I want to say at a given moment.” Community activism is another way Chow expresses himself. “Everything I do is related,” he says of his volunteer work with youth in the areas of race, culture and sexuality. He began university as a computer science student who hadn’t yet revealed that he was gay, so he can relate to young people’s struggle to find their place in the world. “Over the years I’ve grown up and realized who I am and what I want to do. But in order to go somewhere, you have to know where you 
came from.”Artist

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