Walking In These Shoes – documentary examines the tragic circumstances around the death of an HIV+ individual who was denied health services
Walking In These Shoes has been a work of love for and by the Poz BIPOC community who reside on the Dish with One Spoon Territory, Turtle Island/Toronto, Canada. The documentary is a celebration and tribute to the legacy of the late activist Derek Yee, affectionately called by those who loved him as DYee, who passed away alone at home during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021 after he was denied admission ahead of the Easter long weekend at Casey House, the world’s only HIV-specialty hospital.
As a long-time volunteer at Casey House for more than a decade, DYee often spoke fondly of the hospital. Yet DYee’s dedication and love for the institution were not reciprocated to him towards the end of his life. Out of anger and frustration, Dee called on the Thursday before he passed to be informed by hospital staff that despite there being three empty beds, the institution would not admit him until the following Tuesday. Unfortunately, Dee passed away alone at home on his couch on Easter Monday evening.
DYee was a queer Trinidadian-Canadian of Chinese and Indo-Caribean heritage. Director Christian Hui is a first-time student filmmaker of East Asian queer cis-man settler heritage. The film’s co-director, co-producer, co-writer and one of the leads in our film, Samuel Lopez, is an award-winning 2-Spirit filmmaker originating from the The Nahua/Nonualco Pipil people of El Salvador and now resides on the Dish With One Spoon Territory/Toronto, Canada.
“As friends, fellow AIDS activists living with HIV, former colleagues, and chosen family members of DYee, my co-director Samuel Lopez and I, along with other close friends from the Poz BIPOC and 2SLGTIQ+ communities whom we interviewed in our documentary short film, were troubled that our friend, a well-connected activist who knew how to navigate the system, fell under the cracks of the system,” Hui explains.
He continues, “While both Samuel and I have lent our faces to support Casey House in its #SmashStigma fundraising campaigns in previous years, we made a difficult and conscious decision to make “Walking In These Shoes” as a call to action for the world’s only HIV+ specialty hospital to ascertain the Poz BIPOC community and stakeholders can have coordinated access to services 24/7/365.”
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist based in Toronto with a focus on tourism, lifestyle, entertainment and community issues. He has written several travel articles and has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He’s willing to take on any assignments of interest, attend parties with free booze, listen to rants, and travel the world in search of the great unknown. He’s eager to discover the new, remember the past, and look into the future.