Korean Rainbow United is a network of The United Church of Canada for Korean queer people and allies, with involvement and leadership in our Regional Council. Members of the network work along with affirming Christian alliances in Korea, as well as with the “Rainbow Jesus” activist movement to end the discrimination and hate caused by homophobia/ heterosexism. The national EDGE Network’s Zoë Chaytors recently spoke with Yoonjoo Shin, a member of Korean Rainbow United living in Tisdale, Saskatchewan.
Yoonjoo talks with Zoë about the work of Korean Rainbow United, which includes:
- A yearly prayer vigil each April in remembrance of Yukoodang, a Korean gay poet and activist who committed suicide in 2003 at age 18. During the pandemic, Rainbow Korean United virtual contributions to the vigils have included recorded English translations of Yukoodang’s poetry, and a recording of a song that Yoonjoo Shin wrote using one of his poems, sung by their virtual choir.
- Translating The United Church of Canada’s LGBTQ inclusion materials and queer theological materials into Korean.
- Participating in regular online worship with Korean Rainbow United members in North American churches, and filming the services so that other members can view them. Videos are provided with subtitles available in Korean and English.
Yoonjoo identifies the videomaking as an especially important part of Korean Rainbow United’s ministry. She believes that their videos provide a Biblically based perspective on how queer people can be part of their communities of faith that young people will especially find accessible and relevant. Yoonjoo’s young daughter appears in one of the videos, pointing to what she hopes will be an ongoing trend of young people wanting to help create them.
“Representation matters,” she tells Zoë.
Yoonjoo also believes that allies have a vital role. “I think to stand up as an ally is as important as standing up as a queer person themselves. We all are part of this big community in this society…we need more allies.”
Yoonjoo’s smile through the interview tells us that while Korean Rainbow United is about solidarity and activism, it’s also about spreading the joy that comes from feeling that you’re in a space where you’re truly welcome and where your contributions are valued. May all of us experience that joy and strive to pass it on to others!