ENCOUNTER: Understanding Homelessness & Its Hidden Barriers

The forty-pound backpack, which hadn’t seemed all that debilitating when I first put it on, was growing increasingly heavier the harder and faster I pedalled. And the harder and faster I pedalled, the more cumbersome the enormous hiking pack was becoming, and the wearier I was starting to feel.

But I had to keep pedalling. Because the instant I stopped, we would be enveloped in darkness, and my Encounter buddy Kit Watson (who was struggling to locate a specific housing form in a stack of about twenty) would be too.

The symbolism of this room wasn’t lost on us: a metaphor to simultaneously represent both the desperate desire to keep pushing despite exhaustion, and the fear that your hopes of a warm home may be dashed in an instant due to circumstances far beyond your own control…

I’d been lucky enough to be invited by a friend of mine at Union Gospel Mission in Vancouver to experience their latest project, ENCOUNTER: an educational, interactive experience (modelled after the ever-popular escape rooms) to help us understand the hidden barriers and obstacles faced by homeless Vancouverites and others worldwide. The project is co-hosted by UGM and EXIT Canada, and developed with formerly-homeless folk (who I found out are paid for their time, which is awesome!) working hand-in-hand with the volunteers and staff to create an immersive learning experience that mirrors a much colder reality.

The fact that I was slightly shaken as I clambered up onto the bike was probably to blame for me being so quick to fatigue. But hey, that’s no excuse. The streets don’t give a shit if you’re tired. They don’t give a shit if you’re anxious or hungry or still smarting from something you experienced five minutes ago. The streets can be cruel and unrelenting for those who are forced to weather them… and, as we had already learned in the room we’d escaped immediately before, the physical and mental barriers you often aren’t even aware exist can hold you back from doing things that otherwise seem pretty damn effortless.

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Thank you for 35,000 views!

It’s been just over three years since we released the music video for TEAR DOWN THE WALL – one of the official songs for TV’s first transgender sitcom, THE SWITCH – and to cap off this year’s Pride Month it has officially hit 35,000 views on YouTube!

Tear Down The Wall started off as a low-key music and lyric writing project on a couch between two queer creative friends (musician Kieran Strange and actress/writer/director Amy Fox) and, under the expertise and guidance of producer Ingo Lou and director Jem Garrard, exploded into a little baby-mini-anthem for the Pride seasons 2014 and 2015 across Canada and in some States of America!

So now, three years later, where are we…?


(Above: The Switch’s fantastic cover art & Amy Fox receiving her 2016 Leo Award.)

After 2+ years of back-breaking hard-work, casting, promotion, fundraising, shooting (six episodes in five-and-a-half weeks in the spring of 2015!), editing, even more promotion, and more behind-the-scenes stuff than can ever be quantified, The Switch: Work. Love. Mortal Danger. debuted on Canadian Cable in 2016 as the first scripted TV show with a trans* actor in a starring role. Since then, it has received recognition, acclaim, accolades, and press from both inside and outside of the LGBTQ+ community. Now in 2017 it’s starting to blow up in a big way; it’s launching on iTunes, Vimeo On Demand, Amazon Prime, Google Play, and Revry, and actress Amy Fox won the 2016 Leo Award for “Best Performance in a Music, Comedy, or Variety Programme/Series” for her performance in Episode 05: Date Night, making her the first trans*-identifying actress to win the ‘Best’ award.


(Above: lunch-on-the-go on tour in Texas & some of my POC Booking family at A-Kon 2017!)

The last three years have been particularly interesting for Kieran (that’s me!). I appeared as a genderfluid girl in the recording studio and the music video, having only very recently understood and started to explore that fluidity. I remember being terrified that I wouldn’t be “trans*” enough to represent the song and the show well, despite my lifelong transmasculinism. Well, my friendship with Amy as well as other factors in my recent life have caused me to finally embrace and accept my reality, that I am in fact “a man trapped in a female body” (for lack of a less cheesy or ridiculous way of describing it). It’s been a journey of self-discovery that is still far from over, and which has led to me in the last ten months being a much happier and healthier person, someone who is able to dedicate himself more wholly to his music, his art, and his fans.


(Above: Kiefer in DC’s Legends of Tomorrow!)

At a time in his life where most toddlers are obsessed with toys and tantrums, two-year-old Kiefer O’Reilly of the Greater Vancouver area seemed much more inspired by the colourful characters he saw on his television set – an interest in acting from an early age that I can definitely relate to! If you recognize his face, or his name, there’s a chance it’s from his recurring role on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, or from one of his dramatically demanding and yet exceedingly well-executed roles for several different Lifetime movies! Kiefer has grown up so much from the cute, easy-to-work-with kid who sat and coloured with us on the set for Tear Down The Wall and, under the care and support of loving, passionate parents (who were open-minded and allied enough to allow a tiny-weeny Kiefer to appear in the music video for an indie transgender sitcom), Kiefer is poised to go household-name-stratospheric into the world of being a young male actor!


If you’re interested in checking out The Switch, or even helping us promote the show if you dig what you see, there are several different ways you can support them and/or help spread the word!

GIVE A SHARE / RT / LIKE / COMMENT TO THE SONG!: The simplest and easiest way to help, and it’s also free! You can share links to the video, or even to the song itself, and tell your friends about it.

COME HANG OUT AND CHAT WITH US ON SOCIAL MEDIA!: Likes, Comments, Ratings, and Subscriptions on any of our channels helps us so much, and we LOVE to meet new people, chat, get to know you, and hear your own LGBTQ+ stories. So check us out on Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram too at @WeLoveTheSwitch and @KieranStrange!

PROMOTE THE SHOW!: If you have friends who love a bit of comedy, a bit of sci-fi, and a lot of LGBTQ+ character development in their lives, you probably have friends who will LOVE The Switch! It’s available on Vimeo On DemandRevry, and more, and you can also share THIS LINK TO THE TRAILER & WEBSITE on your social media!

A gift for our friends, fans, and anyone else who needs a boost… <3

If you’re feeling down this weekend, or feeling hopeless, or feeling like your world is coming down around you, we all hope that this new song helps you remember that you’re not suffering alone, and you’re not going to fight alone either.

There are so many other people out there who feel the same as you, so please… please don’t give up.

Download the song for free here.

Kieran, Dave & Arnell
Kieran Strange & The Chaos

Lyrics under the cut… *click*!

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