This 30-minute video, by gay, Trinidad-born, Toronto-based Richard Fung, is the story of the 1915 trial of two Sikh mill-workers, Dalip Singh and Naina Singh, entrapped by undercover police in Vancouver, Canada, and accused of sodomy, in four tellings – as period drama, documentary investigation, musical agit-prop, and a deconstruction of the court transcript.
Between 1909 and 1929, an inordinate number of men tried for sodomy in Vancouver were Sikhs. Rex vs. Singh, a collaboration with Ali Kazimi and John Greyson, explores the little known interplay between homophobia and racism in this chapter of Canadian history, better known through the 1914 “Komogata Maru” incident, in which South Asians tried to challenge efforts to regulate the “brown invasion” of Asian immigrants into Pacific Canada through racist immigration policies such as “continuous journey”. The 2008 film was commissioned by the Vancouver Queer Film Festival.
Much of Fung’s work explores race, family history, migration and gay and Canadian identities. He teaches at Ontario College of Art & Design, and is currently working on a project on roti. Rex vs. Singh will be screened as part of Fung’s talk about this and other work at Alice Yard, 80 Roberts St. (btw. the Woodbrook Playground/Murray St. & Brooklyn Bar/Carlos St.) on Tuesday 11 January at 7:30 pm.