Panel 3

Reclaiming Our Oral Histories and Our Stories


This panel will discuss the significant types of community work and stories often “absent” in dominant narratives of queer communities in the Greater Toronto Area. By sharing everyday stories of belonging, group formation, and resilience, the speakers will focus on their work with and experiences as non-cisgender male individuals. In the process, the speakers will ask the following questions: What do we know about the experiences of lesbian and non-gender comforming individuals in the Toronto area?  What communities used to exist, or still exist to this day? How are we able to form and transform social spaces and communities in Canada and beyond? How might we begin to add our stories to the histories of other LGBTQ communities in the city?a indigeneity, in order to understand and create new forms of belonging within and beyond Canada.

About the Speakers

Lisa Valencia-Svensson

Producer, Storyline Entertainment inc.


Lisa Valencia-Svensson is an award-winning documentary film producer based in Toronto who has been involved in the industry for over a decade.  Her first feature length documentary was Herman’s House, which won an Emmy for Outstanding Arts & Culture Programming and was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award: Donald Brittain Award for Best Social/ Political Documentary.  Herman’s House was broadcast on the PBS documentary series POV and on documentary channel in Canada.  She associate produced several films, including The World Before Her, which have garnered Emmy nominations and Canadian Screen Awards, have been broadcast internationally, and been screened and won awards at festivals including TIFF, Tribeca, Hot Docs and IDFA. Her passion is for film projects which explore issues of inequality and social justice, and which encourage audiences to view their world through a constructively critical and creatively unique lens. She has also been involved in Filipino, Asian and queer cultural and political organizing in Toronto off and on for over 20 years, and is a board member of Native Earth Performing Arts.


Pj Carayoan Alafriz & Melanya Liwanag Aguila


Pj Carayoan Alafriz is of Tingguian descent from Abra, Philippines. Pj came to Canada through the Foreign Domestic Movement in the 1990s. Melanya Liwanag Aguila is a first generation Canadian of Pinay descent. She graduated from OCAD U with honours in the Integrated Media program in 1999. They have contributed to the lives and history of queer Philippine diaspora through hosting social events and activities, connecting art, activism and people and supporting the diversity in the Philippine community.