How to Build, Sustain & Grow a Queer Asian Collective by The Bitten Peach

Welcome to The Bitten Peach

The Bitten Peach was founded in January 2019 by Evelyn Carnate, Lilly SnatchDragon and ShayShay, who, as prominent figures in London’s drag, queer cabaret and burlesque scenes, saw the need for better Asian representation across the board. Through hosting a series of Lunar New Year events that year, we witnessed a need for spaces where queer Asian people could feel safe and celebrated. The Bitten Peach collective was thus created to mount our own events and platform marginalised performers of East Asian, Southeast Asian and South Asian descent. 

The collective quickly grew to encompass performers and artists across the creative industries. With over 100 members and still growing, The Bitten Peach is now a well-respected force in London, regularly mounting shows at queer venues such as The Glory and The Royal Vauxhall Tavern, as well as at The National Theatre, The Bridge Theatre and Underbelly Festival. Here we will share two of the main ways we support our community: building safer spaces for queer Asians and public outreach both online and in person

A. Building safer spaces for Queer Asians “Chosen Family”

A major focus of our collective is creating safer spaces for queer Asians – both physical and digital.  Although queer safe spaces and Asian safe spaces both exist, we seek to foster both physical and online spaces where queer Asians are able to embrace and explore their racial and gender identities. This consists of chosen family gatherings and The Bitten Peach Family WhatsApp group. 

With family being such an important part of Asian cultures, one of the most valuable offerings of The Bitten Peach is the practice of a ‘chosen family’. We refer to ourselves as ‘The Bitten Peach Family’ because we have chosen to play significant roles in each other’s lives, despite not being biologically or legally related. 

Because our chosen family consists of people of East, Southeast and South Asian descent, there are a lot of cultural differences between us. In spite of this, we are able to cultivate cultural exchange to form new traditions for our melting pot of a family. We help each other learn, especially in regards to cultural sensitivity and gender diversity, by allowing room for mistakes and offering grace when mistakes are made. 

Because queer Asians are sometimes rejected by their families or are just unable to speak to their families about their queerness, we seek to provide a familial atmosphere within our collective. We understand that there must be a sensitivity around speaking about biological families, as everyone will have different relationships with them. Some may not want to discuss the ins and outs of these relationships and we respect that.

The Bitten Peach Family congregates in physical and online spaces to socialise and support each other:

A.1. Food Gatherings

a. Most of the social gatherings of our chosen family revolve around food. With food being such a large part of Asian cultures, we are able to share our food cultures with each other. 

A bring-and-share potluck dinner for members of The Bitten Peach and their partners, March 2020

A.2. Family WhatsApp Group

  1. The Bitten Peach family has a group chat on WhatsApp that serves as a 24hr online safe space where members can exchange knowledge, seek advice and provide support. The chat feed ranges from sharing light-hearted selfies to difficult professional or personal encounters. In this space, we are able to:
    1. Discuss queer issues and how to approach them with our biological families.
    2. Talk about and work through traumatic or triggering events.
    3. Collaborate on how to respond to racist incidents, from problematic language or micro-aggressions to explicit discrimination or cultural appropriation.
      1. Example: When a Latex design brand released a series of images on culturally appropriated design on their Instagram account, we were able to air our grievances, vent our anger and share the responses we received when we contacted the brand. 

B. Public Outreach

B.1. Fostering a Safe Environment at Live Events

Our cabaret shows are prioritised as safe spaces for queer Asians to gather and celebrate together. Our events provide a supportive safe space free of judgment for individuals to learn/grow/develop their queer Asian identity. This is especially vital for those who are at the start of their queer journey. 

In the pursuit of making these spaces safer for a queer Asian audience, we implement three methods:

  1. Discounted ticket scheme
  2. Safe Space Policy
  3. Anonymity Option

  1. Discounted ticket scheme

In order to make our spaces more accessible, we have reduced the financial barrier of participation through our discounted ticket scheme. Our policy is:

If you’re Asian or a QTIPOC and can’t afford a ticket, please use our ‘Bitten on a Budget’ pay-as-you-can ticket option on our ticketing platform. 

If this option does not appear, please email with ‘Bitten on a Budget’ as the subject, and we will arrange this for you.

2. Safe Space Policy

  1. Content for our policy was crowdsourced across our collective members through the following process:
    1. We asked all the members of our collective to contribute their suggestions on how to ensure safety and comfort for the Pan-Asian queer community. 
    2. We reviewed all suggestions and then grouped similar ones into categories (e.g. gender, consent, etc.).
    3. Each category was then synthesised into a concise statement.
  2. These rules are broad and focused on respecting one another’s identities, and bodies. They are also useful for non-Asian attendees of our events, and for the Asian attendees who may not be fully versed in queer identity terminologies.
  3. We are committed to our Safe Space Policy and enforce it: 
    1. It has been shared across our social media so it can be accessed and referred to at any time.
    2. It is sent to ticket holders prior to events so they are aware of the rules they need to abide by.
    1. At events we have physical signs posted around the venue. Most importantly, one copy is at the entrance, and the person working the door is able to direct attendees to review and agree to them before entry.
    2. This clear sign-posting of our house rules ensures that those in breach of the policy can be asked to leave. 

3. Anonymity Option

As not all queer Asians are out to their families, we have found the need to offer an option to remain relatively anonymous at our events. If photos or videos are to be taken at an event, everyone in attendance needs to be informed and given the option to opt out of being in the footage.

Photographers and videographers are given an explicit list of who not to photograph or video is not to appear in their documentation of the event. 

B.2. Peach Fuzz Performance Development Programme (Public Talent Building)

As Asian performers are often pigeon-holed into performing racial stereotypes for the ‘white gaze’, The Bitten Peach strives to create a safe atmosphere for new queer Asian performers to tell their own stories. One way in which we achieve this is via the Peach Fuzz Programme.

Peach Fuzz is an open-call programme for new performers interested in cabaret. Selected applicants are provided with free mentoring, training and facilities that support the development of their own ideas and show concepts. The mentorship includes free advice and support to help performers create a new performance for a slot in a Bitten Peach cabaret show, where their performance experiences are safe and supported by The Bitten Peach Family and audience. 

B.3. Online Spaces – Public Criticisms and Reflections

The Bitten Peach’s commitment to creating safer spaces for queer Asians dictates our social media use. We use Instagram and Facebook to disseminate information about issues that emerge from the intersections of Asian diasporas and queerness. We aim to empower the queer Asian community through the content we share online, where we are able to spotlight queer Asian artists from around the world, educate our followers, and foster an online community. We are able to share knowledge from within our collective to our followers. For example, in 2020, The Bitten Peach created this set of tips for supporting Black Lives Matter:


ShayShay (they/them) is a half-Irish half-Japanese non-binary drag performer and nightlife producer, drag artist, writer and director working to empower London’s queer community by raising marginalised voices and educating children and young people .ShayShay has produced work for the Southbank Centre, Hackney City Council, Fringe Queer FIlm & Arts Fest, and is one of the founders of The Bitten Peach

The Bitten Peach (founded in 2019 by Evelyn Carnate, Lilly SnatchDragon, and ShayShay) is the London-based queer-led Pan-Asian cabaret collective made up of performers of Asian descent working in a variety of nightlife performance genres, including drag, burlesque, dance, comedy, music, and circus. Since our founding in Feb 2019, we have produced shows at The Glory, Royal Vauxhall Tavern, Underbelly Festival, National Theatre, and The Bridge Theatre. We are dedicated to increasing and diversifying Asian representation by increasing Asian participation in the cabaret scene, and creating safe spaces for queer Asians. 

The founders of the Bitten Peach (from left to right: Evelyn Carnate, ShayShay, Lilly SnatchDragon). Photo by Corinne Cumming

Author: ShayShay Konno, Founder of The Bitten Peach

Publication Date: 21 May 2021

Category: Reflection

Review status: Peer Reviewed (Editorial Group)

Article DOI:

Cite as ShayShay Konno (Founder of The Bitten Peach), "How to Build, Sustain & Grow a Queer Asian Collective," Tools To Transform, May 2021,

Credit as ShayShay Konno (Founder of The Bitten Peach), "How to Build, Sustain & Grow a Queer Asian Collective," Tools To Transform, May 2021,

Tools to Transform was initiated by Asia Art Activism, in partnership with DAMN*/Deutsche Asiat*innen, Make Noise! (DE), Healing Justice London (UK), House of Saint Laurent Europe (DE), Unthaitled (DE), The Voice of Domestic Workers (UK) and The Six Tones (VN/SE). This project has been supported by the European Cultural Foundation’s Culture of Solidarity award and University of York and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).