The 1980s saw a significant increase in the production of queer-themed documentaries. This was aided, in part, by the introduction of videotape, which was not only cheaper than traditional 16mm film but also a lot more flexible. In consequence there was not only a greater quantity of films but also a greater diversity of subjects.
One important area to emerge at this time was the voice of Black and Asian queers, determined to raise their profile and challenge the perception that all queer people were white. Probably one of the first films to look at this was the 1983 film If She Grows Up Gay, a study of an African American lesbian mother. Then, in 1984 Richard Fung began to document the experience of lesbian and gay Asians in Canada with his first film Orientations.
Orientations was based around interviews with fourteen Asian lesbians and gay men from a diverse range of backgrounds. It explored a wide range of areas including first realisation of being queer, coming out, the experience of being ‘a minority within a minority’ and experiencing racism within the wider queer communities. But it wasn’t just a documentation of issues faced by queer Asians; it also looked at ways of addressing some of them. These included working within mainstream Asian communities, trade unions and ‘solidarity groups’ such as Gay Asians Toronto and Lesbians of Colour.
Whilst the film didn’t (and didn’t pretend to) resolve the problems faced by queer Asians, it’s very existence certainly helped raise awareness of both the community and the issues it faced.