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Artavia is the former editor in chief of The Advocate, and previously helmed Plus and Chill magazines. 

„I can’t wait to see her continue to prove what she’s capable of.“

“Like every fundamental civil right, equality is worth expanding and fighting for. And Mike doesn’t stop until the job is done and the fight is won.”

„We need a president who sees us. We need a president who believes in us.“

„The first step to a better future for LGBTQ+ Americans is getting Donald Trump out of the White House, but equally as important is what happens next.“

„[T]here are millions of LGBTQ+ people struggling to find a path to parenthood in the face of financial insecurity, legal complexity, and continued discrimination.“

„Cory… knows that beating Donald Trump is the floor, not the ceiling, of what we must achieve in 2020.“

How This Openly Gay Influencer and Entrepreneur Is Navigating China

When you first come across Edison Fan’s Instagram feed, you may just assume he’s another hot Insta-model thirst trap. From „casual“ pictures in revealing underwear, to shots with his equally model-esque friends, he clearly knows his audience. What you may not know is that he’s also one of China’s most well-known openly gay influencers, with more than 1 million followers on the Chinese social media platform, Weibo, along with over half a million followers on Instagram.

Fan, 33, is a model, entertainment personality and the founder of brands OMG Sportswear, a performance gym wear line currently available in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, China, and Taiwan, and U-Touch Underwear, one of China’s first premium underwear lines that caters to the Asian market, and heavily features Asian models in their campaigns.

Edison Fan (right) and a model in a shoot for his brand, OMG Sportswear

Born in Nanjing, Fan moved to New Zealand in 2002 and lived there for thirteen years, during which time he met and married New Zealander Josh Taylor (the two later divorced in 2016). In 2015, he moved back to China where his companies are currently based and, a year and a half ago, welcomed the arrival of his son, Frederic Y. Fan.

In a country where members of the LGBT community still frequently face discrimination, Fan — and the success he’s had in China — stands out. Starting his entertainment career in 2015, he began appearing on Chinese variety shows and on a Chinese version of America’s Next Top Model. But with success and visibility has also occasionally come criticism from fans who wish he’d use his platform as one of the few out gay entertainers in China to be more of an activist for the LGBT community and speak out on their behalf.

Despite homosexuality being decriminalized in 1997 and declassified as a mental disorder in 2001, social and institutionalized discrimination against LGBT individuals in China is still rampant. In a 2018 Human Rights Watch report, the organization reported that China still lacks laws „protecting people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.“ In its assessment of LGBT rights in China, HRW also cites incidents like canceling LGBT events to banning dating apps that facilitate „abnormal sexual lifestyles.“ Another survey, this one compiled by German housing website Nestpick in 2017, ranked Beijing as one of the worst places for LGBT individuals to survey used criteria like dating, LGBT nightlife, openness in the city, safety and LGBT rights on a scale of 1-5 to set the standard. At the same time, China is also a country that’s churning out progressive tools like BluedBaby (an app that connects gay Chinese parents with surrogates in America) and has a vocal LGBT community demanding equal rights.

And, adding further complexity, China is currently in the midst of restructuring its entertainment industry (cracking down on both the infamous yin-yang contracts that lead to Fan Bingbing’s arrest as well as more heavily censoring hip-hop lyricism, for example). So in a country where gay individuals still suffer stigma and entertainers are starting to be more firmly scrutinized by the government, it’s understandable why public figures like Fan may choose to have a more neutral web presence as well as why some critics might see him as being complicit. But is he? What does it mean for a gay man to function — and even thrive — in a culture that still discriminates against his community? And does every marginalized yet privileged person need to be an activist?

We called Fan via WeChat to discuss his thoughts on fatherhood, his unlikely rise to stardom, LGBT life in China, his thoughts on being a gay influencer, LGBT activism and more.

How has it been pursuing an entertainment career in China as a gay man?

I moved to China in 2015 with no knowledge of the industry. I imagined it’d be similar to New Zealand — meet the right people, sign with the right agency, and get where you want to be. That wasn’t the case. At first, it was great. I got a guest role on the Chinese version of Top Model for six episodes. Then I was on the Qi Pa Shuo show (奇葩說) (Editor’s note: Qi Pa Shuo is a variety show that features celebrity guests, a very common and popular TV format throughout Asia), which got me a lot of Chinese followers, and that lead to some commercial jobs. Then I signed with the show’s producing agent and told them I really wanted to act. But then I realized that I only got these gigs because of Qi Pa Shuo’s popularity. And once you’re less relevant, opportunities dry up because you’re cast as an influencer, which only guarantees certain types of jobs.

Then in 2017, the industry changed. Everything became stricter, so producers were not willing to hire „high risk“ entertainers — that included those publicly out. They couldn’t risk production because they only make money by going on the air. Chasing an [entertainment] career in China is like chasing a unicorn. It’s fun at first, but eventually, you realize there was nothing to chase to begin with.

Edison Fan (center right) and models in a shoot for OMG Sportswear

Before the interview, I asked if you feel your sexuality has affected your career — sounds like a yes.

Well, my sexuality put me on the map in the first place. So without that, I wouldn’t have gotten my early gigs. But it’s different when you go mainstream. And then going towards my own businesses, it’s a whole different ballpark. I can’t say whether it’s been a negative or positive impact, but I do feel satisfied with my career.

Was there ever a moment where you wished you hadn’t come out?

I didn’t come out for attention. I came out because it was empowering and freeing. Then my first marriage put me on a map, which coincided around digital media’s boom. I didn’t aim to capitalize on my personal life, but opportunities did come up — like book deals and guest slots on TV shows. Then I realized I could do more with this. Again, wherever you go, you play by the rules. My fan bases were and are in China, so that’s where I went.

And while the [industry] game is here, I’m not here to change the rules. That’s why I’m not an activist — because I choose to carry my message through my actions and career. I’m not in a position to change those rules. My goal is to survive, live my life, make money, and have a child. And that’s what I did.

I’ve actually only lived in China with Freddy for six months. At first, because he was too young, so we barely went out due to the weather. But when we did, most people would say, „Oh it’s a cute dad with a cute baby“, not „Oh it’s a single dad.“ Maybe they’d notice that Freddy is mixed race and think Is that a Eurasian baby or where is his mom from? but those aren’t questions you ask strangers. I don’t feel any pressure or judgment from anyone. I have very supportive people around me. Right now, Freddy lives in New Zealand with my parents. Of course, there’s no textbook about how to raise a baby, so I’m just very cautious about protecting Freddy’s well-being.

With your entertainment career going, why venture into underwear and sportswear?

When I was a kid, I had three dreams: Become a Disney animator, become an actor, and be a fashion designer. Aside for the first one, I’ve done the second one, and now I’m pursuing the third. Sportswear boomed in China in 2014 because of fitness trends, which directly tied to my personal brand. For me, it was a no brainer. But another reason is because of a conversation I had with an agent. He said if he signed me, I’d have to stop posting sexy pictures on Instagram because luxury brands won’t sponsor me and I’d end up only selling Speedos and underwear. And I believed that. But I thought If sportswear and underwear are all I can sell, then why don’t I become the best in the field? If I become the best, I’ll have nothing to be ashamed of.

In the States, when people think of Asian men, there’s a negative stereotype that prevents people from associating them with sex and desirability. Then you come into the picture.

So my underwear brand [U-Touch] has been in development over the last six months. At first, we just focused on the product. Then in 2018, the more we evolved, I got more comments from people — including PoC men — saying that they appreciated me putting Asian men forward. It surprised me because this wasn’t intentional. But once I got that message, I wanted to do more. I also noticed that in many Chinese gyms and on party pictures, I only saw Western brands like Addicted and Andrew Christian. I thought, Why don’t we have a brand that celebrates our own ethnicity? That’s why for 2019, our main hashtag is #AsianPride.

Right now [U-Touch] is very new. In November we had a soft launch, and I’m hoping the main launch will be at the end of this month. That’s why I can’t say our competitors are brands like Andrew Christian yet.

But for my sportswear brand [OMG] we’re not copying anyone. It’s purely based on my aesthetic and vision. While we’re focused on the Chinese markets, we’ve also spread to Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Japan. And tying back into #AsianPride, I believe this is where we were started and where we should focus on. We’ve had offers from the UK and US, but I don’t think it’s the right time yet. As a brand, we need time to grow. Right now we’re a team of fifteen only, and I need to learn more about this industry to grow my business.

Tying into the last question: How do your Western and Eastern fans differ? And do you present different images to each different demographic?

Good question. Before on Instagram, I would cater my images, post at certain times and timezones, but now I take it less seriously. Before 2015, most of my fans were in China. And I think it’s because I carried a hopeful message. Because even now, many LGBT people in China are depressed. I can’t give a specific percentage, but definitely, over 50 percent of them can’t come out.

At first, I couldn’t relate to that, since I’ve been out for years. But after living here for a while, I finally understood that my lifestyle isn’t easy to duplicate — coming out to your parents, having their support, having a beautiful wedding, making a career out of nothing, living comfortably, having a child. It’s not relatable for many LGBT Chinese people. That’s why after my divorce, people became really upset. My fans turned on me saying that I disappointed them. Because they could only hear my side of the story, everyone just assumed I had left him. It was a lot of backlash. And after signing with a Chinese agency, they were strict about my posts — I wasn’t allowed to post anything gay-related for two and a half years. That’s when my Chinese gay fans really turned on me because they felt I’d stopped being vocal for the community.

I left my agency last year around September or August. And while I became vocal again, I grew out of it. While everyone can say a message, I choose to show through my actions: Be who you want to be! Marry the person you love, and if you don’t get along, you can get a divorce! Chase your dreams!

Once, I was a civil engineer. Then I became an actor and model. Now, I have my own business. I wanted a child and now have one. Don’t let people define you. I don’t have to write consistently „it gets better“ or „It doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight“ — it’s not my method. We all have our ways of supporting the community, and I do it through showcasing my life candidly.

Going to the West, I believe my US fans grew after shooting for [underwear line] Charlie by MZ. Generally, you get positive comments from the Western fans, especially on Instagram. People are nicer [there] versus China’s Weibo users who literally hide behind the screen to say nasty things.

But again, it’s hard to offend through a simple picture, unless it’s paired with a controversial caption. And I don’t want to offend anyone. When you’re being vocal about something, it’s easy to offend, because you can’t please everyone.

So my method of action is to simply post positive things, and post pretty pictures.

Fan, 33, is a model, entertainment personality and the founder of brands OMG Sportswear, a performance gym wear line currently available in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, China, and Taiwan, and U-Touch Underwear, one of China’s first premium underwear lines that caters to the Asian market, and heavily features Asian models in their campaigns.

Edison Fan (right) and a model in a shoot for his brand, OMG Sportswear

Born in Nanjing, Fan moved to New Zealand in 2002 and lived there for thirteen years, during which time he met and married New Zealander Josh Taylor (the two later divorced in 2016). In 2015, he moved back to China where his companies are currently based and, a year and a half ago, welcomed the arrival of his son, Frederic Y. Fan.

In a country where members of the LGBT community still frequently face discrimination, Fan — and the success he’s had in China — stands out. Starting his entertainment career in 2015, he began appearing on Chinese variety shows and on a Chinese version of America’s Next Top Model. But with success and visibility has also occasionally come criticism from fans who wish he’d use his platform as one of the few out gay entertainers in China to be more of an activist for the LGBT community and speak out on their behalf.

Despite homosexuality being decriminalized in 1997 and declassified as a mental disorder in 2001, social and institutionalized discrimination against LGBT individuals in China is still rampant. In a 2018 Human Rights Watch report, the organization reported that China still lacks laws „protecting people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.“ In its assessment of LGBT rights in China, HRW also cites incidents like canceling LGBT events to banning dating apps that facilitate „abnormal sexual lifestyles.“ Another survey, this one compiled by German housing website Nestpick in 2017, ranked Beijing as one of the worst places for LGBT individuals to survey used criteria like dating, LGBT nightlife, openness in the city, safety and LGBT rights on a scale of 1-5 to set the standard. At the same time, China is also a country that’s churning out progressive tools like BluedBaby (an app that connects gay Chinese parents with surrogates in America) and has a vocal LGBT community demanding equal rights.

And, adding further complexity, China is currently in the midst of restructuring its entertainment industry (cracking down on both the infamous yin-yang contracts that lead to Fan Bingbing’s arrest as well as more heavily censoring hip-hop lyricism, for example). So in a country where gay individuals still suffer stigma and entertainers are starting to be more firmly scrutinized by the government, it’s understandable why public figures like Fan may choose to have a more neutral web presence as well as why some critics might see him as being complicit. But is he? What does it mean for a gay man to function — and even thrive — in a culture that still discriminates against his community? And does every marginalized yet privileged person need to be an activist?

We called Fan via WeChat to discuss his thoughts on fatherhood, his unlikely rise to stardom, LGBT life in China, his thoughts on being a gay influencer, LGBT activism and more.

I moved to China in 2015 with no knowledge of the industry. I imagined it’d be similar to New Zealand — meet the right people, sign with the right agency, and get where you want to be. That wasn’t the case. At first, it was great. I got a guest role on the Chinese version of Top Model for six episodes. Then I was on the Qi Pa Shuo show (奇葩說) (Editor’s note: Qi Pa Shuo is a variety show that features celebrity guests, a very common and popular TV format throughout Asia), which got me a lot of Chinese followers, and that lead to some commercial jobs. Then I signed with the show’s producing agent and told them I really wanted to act. But then I realized that I only got these gigs because of Qi Pa Shuo’s popularity. And once you’re less relevant, opportunities dry up because you’re cast as an influencer, which only guarantees certain types of jobs.

Then in 2017, the industry changed. Everything became stricter, so producers were not willing to hire „high risk“ entertainers — that included those publicly out. They couldn’t risk production because they only make money by going on the air. Chasing an [entertainment] career in China is like chasing a unicorn. It’s fun at first, but eventually, you realize there was nothing to chase to begin with.

Edison Fan (center right) and models in a shoot for OMG Sportswear

Well, my sexuality put me on the map in the first place. So without that, I wouldn’t have gotten my early gigs. But it’s different when you go mainstream. And then going towards my own businesses, it’s a whole different ballpark. I can’t say whether it’s been a negative or positive impact, but I do feel satisfied with my career.

Was there ever a moment where you wished you hadn’t come out?

I didn’t come out for attention. I came out because it was empowering and freeing. Then my first marriage put me on a map, which coincided around digital media’s boom. I didn’t aim to capitalize on my personal life, but opportunities did come up — like book deals and guest slots on TV shows. Then I realized I could do more with this. Again, wherever you go, you play by the rules. My fan bases were and are in China, so that’s where I went.

And while the [industry] game is here, I’m not here to change the rules. That’s why I’m not an activist — because I choose to carry my message through my actions and career. I’m not in a position to change those rules. My goal is to survive, live my life, make money, and have a child. And that’s what I did.

I’ve actually only lived in China with Freddy for six months. At first, because he was too young, so we barely went out due to the weather. But when we did, most people would say, „Oh it’s a cute dad with a cute baby“, not „Oh it’s a single dad.“ Maybe they’d notice that Freddy is mixed race and think Is that a Eurasian baby or where is his mom from? but those aren’t questions you ask strangers. I don’t feel any pressure or judgment from anyone. I have very supportive people around me. Right now, Freddy lives in New Zealand with my parents. Of course, there’s no textbook about how to raise a baby, so I’m just very cautious about protecting Freddy’s well-being.

When I was a kid, I had three dreams: Become a Disney animator, become an actor, and be a fashion designer. Aside for the first one, I’ve done the second one, and now I’m pursuing the third. Sportswear boomed in China in 2014 because of fitness trends, which directly tied to my personal brand. For me, it was a no brainer. But another reason is because of a conversation I had with an agent. He said if he signed me, I’d have to stop posting sexy pictures on Instagram because luxury brands won’t sponsor me and I’d end up only selling Speedos and underwear. And I believed that. But I thought If sportswear and underwear are all I can sell, then why don’t I become the best in the field? If I become the best, I’ll have nothing to be ashamed of.

So my underwear brand [U-Touch] has been in development over the last six months. At first, we just focused on the product. Then in 2018, the more we evolved, I got more comments from people — including PoC men — saying that they appreciated me putting Asian men forward. It surprised me because this wasn’t intentional. But once I got that message, I wanted to do more. I also noticed that in many Chinese gyms and on party pictures, I only saw Western brands like Addicted and Andrew Christian. I thought, Why don’t we have a brand that celebrates our own ethnicity? That’s why for 2019, our main hashtag is #AsianPride.

Right now [U-Touch] is very new. In November we had a soft launch, and I’m hoping the main launch will be at the end of this month. That’s why I can’t say our competitors are brands like Andrew Christian yet.

But for my sportswear brand [OMG] we’re not copying anyone. It’s purely based on my aesthetic and vision. While we’re focused on the Chinese markets, we’ve also spread to Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Japan. And tying back into #AsianPride, I believe this is where we were started and where we should focus on. We’ve had offers from the UK and US, but I don’t think it’s the right time yet. As a brand, we need time to grow. Right now we’re a team of fifteen only, and I need to learn more about this industry to grow my business.

Tying into the last question: How do your Western and Eastern fans differ? And do you present different images to each different demographic?

Good question. Before on Instagram, I would cater my images, post at certain times and timezones, but now I take it less seriously. Before 2015, most of my fans were in China. And I think it’s because I carried a hopeful message. Because even now, many LGBT people in China are depressed. I can’t give a specific percentage, but definitely, over 50 percent of them can’t come out.

At first, I couldn’t relate to that, since I’ve been out for years. But after living here for a while, I finally understood that my lifestyle isn’t easy to duplicate — coming out to your parents, having their support, having a beautiful wedding, making a career out of nothing, living comfortably, having a child. It’s not relatable for many LGBT Chinese people. That’s why after my divorce, people became really upset. My fans turned on me saying that I disappointed them. Because they could only hear my side of the story, everyone just assumed I had left him. It was a lot of backlash. And after signing with a Chinese agency, they were strict about my posts — I wasn’t allowed to post anything gay-related for two and a half years. That’s when my Chinese gay fans really turned on me because they felt I’d stopped being vocal for the community.

I left my agency last year around September or August. And while I became vocal again, I grew out of it. While everyone can say a message, I choose to show through my actions: Be who you want to be! Marry the person you love, and if you don’t get along, you can get a divorce! Chase your dreams!

Once, I was a civil engineer. Then I became an actor and model. Now, I have my own business. I wanted a child and now have one. Don’t let people define you. I don’t have to write consistently „it gets better“ or „It doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight“ — it’s not my method. We all have our ways of supporting the community, and I do it through showcasing my life candidly.

Going to the West, I believe my US fans grew after shooting for [underwear line] Charlie by MZ. Generally, you get positive comments from the Western fans, especially on Instagram. People are nicer [there] versus China’s Weibo users who literally hide behind the screen to say nasty things.

But again, it’s hard to offend through a simple picture, unless it’s paired with a controversial caption. And I don’t want to offend anyone. When you’re being vocal about something, it’s easy to offend, because you can’t please everyone.

So my method of action is to simply post positive things, and post pretty pictures.

 How This Openly Gay Influencer and Entrepreneur Is Navigating China

Eugene Lee Yang Is Making the Internet More Gay

Eugene Lee Yang never thought his „I’m Gay“ video would do well. In fact, he wasn’t really sure what to expect at all.

Sure, he could use our obsession with the cult of internet celebrity to give „I’m Gay“ an initial push, a reason for people to watch, something for his millions of followers and subscribers to talk about. But after the buzz blogs had picked apart the announcement, how would his fans react? Especially to a decidedly high-brow piece of art combining interpretative dance, dramatic camerawork, and a downtempo Odesza track? Something, undoubtedly, a far cry from the relatable, nice guy authenticity his audience had grown to expect from him.

„I had this inherent fear and assumption that people would not respond to it,“ he admits, crossing his legs on the sofa of his VidCon hotel room. „I carried that old assumption people have about internet — that it’s quantity over quality. I had the old-guard assumption it wouldn’t do well.“

Yang takes a deep breath, „But the output I’m getting from it is so much more important.“ He pauses, before describing the similar responses he’s received for the „severely-abridged queer history“ lesson he performs as part of The Try Guy’s national tour, Legends of the Internet.

„It’s not just magnified, it’s important. I’ve never felt more invested in being more bold with the work I want to make in the future,“ he smiles — that small, side-mouth quirk that’s propelled him into fan-fiction stardom. „Now, I can finally dash this assumption.“

For those unfamiliar with Yang, the 33-year-old internet personality initially shot to fame as one of The Try Guys — a group of BuzzFeed video employees whose goal was, simply put, to try out new things that would normally be considered outside of the straight, male comfort zone. And while they tackled everything from becoming bald to UFC fighting, some of their most infamous videos were the ones in which the Guys did drag, donned high heels, or wedding dresses — tasks designed to push straight, white, heteronormative men outside of their comfort zone. Except, Yang didn’t actually fit into any of these categories.

That said, Yang’s always occupied an interesting position within the group as the sole person of color and only openly queer member. And while he’s always been a vocal proponent and advocate for the LGBTQIA community, he had never definitively said, „I’m gay,“ until the making-of this video.

„I was clearly queer to a general Western, younger audience. Constantly winking at the camera in regards to people knowing I wasn’t heterosexual,“ he says, before crediting his fans — some of whom told him that his videos had inspired them to come out to their parents — as the catalyst for „I’m Gay.“

„I was skirting the subject, sort of beating around the bush, even when I was directly asked about it, because I’d kind of revert back to the family dinner table where nobody’s talking about it, even though they may know,“ he said. „And when I realized that this was a direct reflection of my relationship with the audience… I realized I wasn’t giving [my fans] as much as I could.“

However, this metaphorical family dinner table proved to be a difficult thing to overcome. The son of Korean immigrants, Yang grew up in a small Texas town attending a conservative Korean Presbyterian church in the shadow of the AIDS crisis — a moment in history that posited the queer community as a potential threat within mainstream American media.

„It was this classic cocktail,“ Yang reflects. „I had this sense of otherness, where I was constantly looking from the outside in at myself. I never had full-fledged ownership of my identity until I graduated college, because I was so informed by all these external factors that were so oppressive.“

For many Asian-Americans, otherness is something we’ve been conditioned to co-opt as a formative identity. As Yang points out, while every minority group can attest to the idea that we’re been trained to view ourselves through the perspective of older, straight, white, cis men, it’s „hard to hide our ethnicity,“ and that became the first hurdle he had to overcome.

„I was clearly detaching myself from a lot and distancing myself from a lot of truths, which were very hard to confront, because I was seeing it from the side of people who were saying it was bad. So I saw myself as bad,“ Yang says, pausing for a moment to collect his thoughts. „It took me a long time, even in college. That came with its own set of trials… this whole set of stereotypes and rules I had to confront.“

Because though he attended USC in Los Angeles, he continued to feel like a subject within his own story — continually being told by his professors that his identity as an Asian filmmaker was „edgy.“ Yet, like many minority creators in the arts, Yang continued to wrangle with the question, Why is my perspective even considered transgressive in the first place? Why am I not allowed to just say what I want without having arbitrary qualifiers attached to my work?

„I was always told, again and again by others, that I was different,“ Yang says. „But weirdly, what oppressed me in my childhood was what I could sell in my career.“

At this point, we begin talking about his time in media as a producer for BuzzFeed — as a content creator who was forced to embody the quintessential millennial affect of upbeat candor — and occupying this platform at a time when media decided diversity was profitable. For his part, Yang isn’t as cynical as me about the identity-focused shift that occurred during this time, though he does admit that it is a very real issue he hopes dissipates in the next 10 years or so.

„There’s been this evolution to see the ways we represent ourselves and how we speak about it,“ Yang notes. „There’s a progression of what do we have to do or say to first be seen as ‚mainstream‘ or ‚accessible‘ or ‚relatable‘ or ’sellable.‘ You have to think in steps.“

He refers back to when he „first started doing videos about my Asianness“ and „pimping out the right jokes from my perspective about my identity“ — something embodied by the things like the (incredibly on-the-nose) „If Asians Said Stuff White People Say“ concept.

„We see these things happening, and now we’re experiencing this culture where we’ve at least broken through enough of that ceiling,“ Yang pauses for a moment, before rephrasing, „Perforated it enough. To where the people who don’t want it to happen are swinging so hard against it, which explains the nature of discourse today on social media.“

Yang hypothesizes that this is perhaps a factor in his more cerebral work finally been able to flourish — this desire to explore the unique intersections of identity each of us occupy.

„It did take time for me on these different paths for it all to converge,“ he admits, before we launch into a conversation about the next barrier that he continues to grapple with internally. Namely, the ever-present conflict between his external presentation as someone who feels the need to rebel against media-perpetuated emasculation of Asian men and his internal desire to occupy a truthful space in which he is able to explore his more femme side.

„We all grew up with a certain amount of binary, Koreans and lot of East Asians, especially,“ Yang says, before recalling the ways in which he was treated differently from his sisters as the only boy in the family. „It was just ingrained in everything we did — you’re a boy, you’re a girl. Like, I didn’t know how to work a stove or microwave until I was 13.“

However, when Yang was 13, his parents divorced. And while it was a shock to him, Yang credits the divorce as the „catalyst“ that helped both of his parents become „way more open-minded“ and something that has inspired a lot of his subsequent work.

„[I want to ask], ‚What’s the dynamite that some of these structures need to crumble?“ he says, adding that both of his parents have since moved on and flourished. „Mine was the divorce, which was the craziest but most amazing thing that could’ve happened to my family.“

That said, the divorce still didn’t erase an entire childhood of having rigid gender binaries and the notion of filial piety ingrained within him. Yang notes that at the beginning of his video career, he felt the need to „police“ his dress or the way he spoke, „because I didn’t want to look soft.“

„When I first became notable online, people generally didn’t know I was gay. And as one of the first Asian faces in casts of non-Asians, I had to beat everybody. I had to be better. I had to be stronger. I had to be smarter which, again, fed into my Asian complex,“ he says, explaining that he felt burdened to be seen as the antithesis to the Asian male stereotype perpetuated by mainstream pop culture. „It was complicated, because I didn’t want to be the soft, submissive, wilting, quiet Asian person. There’s nothing wrong with that, but we are constantly in flux with that relationship.“

For Yang, it took years of self-reflection to even reach this point where his family and fans, „could witness me proclaiming… this thing I’ve been screaming in my head for 33 years.“ Naturally, he now hopes that his art acts as a revelatory shortcut of sorts for other young, queer Asian-Americans questioning their identities.

„Sometimes we think it’s us versus something else and that’s what gets us into these weird quandaries of how to police our own gender and race. And that’s the most difficult thing — for gay people and Asians, in particular — [stopping them from] releasing that self control,“ Yang speculates. „So I want my work to speak from this idea of, ‚How does one maintain and navigate these very particular relationships under circumstances that sometimes take more time, more care, more self-discovery?'“

And the first step for him? Well, it all comes back to the making-of „I’m Gay“ — that definitive, unquestionable proclamation of an identity he spent so long being scared of. Something that signaled the ushering-in of a Yang who felt empowered enough to finally own his identity, even if it happened to be something completely at-odds with the disparate cultures he was raised in. But it’s also something he believes is necessary for his growth — not just as a person, but as an artist as well.

„There was the framework I was operating in, and I had to confront that,“ Yang concludes, that impish grin appearing on his face once last time. „I needed to inhabit myself in order to be an effective artist-filmmaker and be a more fully-realized person.“

Welcome to „Internet Explorer,“ a column by Sandra Song about everything Internet. From meme histories to joke format explainers to collections of some of Twitter’s finest roasts, „Internet Explorer“ is here to keep you up-to-date with the web’s current obsessions — no matter how nonsensical or nihilistic.

Sure, he could use our obsession with the cult of internet celebrity to give „I’m Gay“ an initial push, a reason for people to watch, something for his millions of followers and subscribers to talk about. But after the buzz blogs had picked apart the announcement, how would his fans react? Especially to a decidedly high-brow piece of art combining interpretative dance, dramatic camerawork, and a downtempo Odesza track? Something, undoubtedly, a far cry from the relatable, nice guy authenticity his audience had grown to expect from him.

„I had this inherent fear and assumption that people would not respond to it,“ he admits, crossing his legs on the sofa of his VidCon hotel room. „I carried that old assumption people have about internet — that it’s quantity over quality. I had the old-guard assumption it wouldn’t do well.“

Yang takes a deep breath, „But the output I’m getting from it is so much more important.“ He pauses, before describing the similar responses he’s received for the „severely-abridged queer history“ lesson he performs as part of The Try Guy’s national tour, Legends of the Internet.

„It’s not just magnified, it’s important. I’ve never felt more invested in being more bold with the work I want to make in the future,“ he smiles — that small, side-mouth quirk that’s propelled him into fan-fiction stardom. „Now, I can finally dash this assumption.“

For those unfamiliar with Yang, the 33-year-old internet personality initially shot to fame as one of The Try Guys — a group of BuzzFeed video employees whose goal was, simply put, to try out new things that would normally be considered outside of the straight, male comfort zone. And while they tackled everything from becoming bald to UFC fighting, some of their most infamous videos were the ones in which the Guys did drag, donned high heels, or wedding dresses — tasks designed to push straight, white, heteronormative men outside of their comfort zone. Except, Yang didn’t actually fit into any of these categories.

That said, Yang’s always occupied an interesting position within the group as the sole person of color and only openly queer member. And while he’s always been a vocal proponent and advocate for the LGBTQIA community, he had never definitively said, „I’m gay,“ until the making-of this video.

„I was clearly queer to a general Western, younger audience. Constantly winking at the camera in regards to people knowing I wasn’t heterosexual,“ he says, before crediting his fans — some of whom told him that his videos had inspired them to come out to their parents — as the catalyst for „I’m Gay.“

„I was skirting the subject, sort of beating around the bush, even when I was directly asked about it, because I’d kind of revert back to the family dinner table where nobody’s talking about it, even though they may know,“ he said. „And when I realized that this was a direct reflection of my relationship with the audience… I realized I wasn’t giving [my fans] as much as I could.“

However, this metaphorical family dinner table proved to be a difficult thing to overcome. The son of Korean immigrants, Yang grew up in a small Texas town attending a conservative Korean Presbyterian church in the shadow of the AIDS crisis — a moment in history that posited the queer community as a potential threat within mainstream American media.

„It was this classic cocktail,“ Yang reflects. „I had this sense of otherness, where I was constantly looking from the outside in at myself. I never had full-fledged ownership of my identity until I graduated college, because I was so informed by all these external factors that were so oppressive.“

For many Asian-Americans, otherness is something we’ve been conditioned to co-opt as a formative identity. As Yang points out, while every minority group can attest to the idea that we’re been trained to view ourselves through the perspective of older, straight, white, cis men, it’s „hard to hide our ethnicity,“ and that became the first hurdle he had to overcome.

„I was clearly detaching myself from a lot and distancing myself from a lot of truths, which were very hard to confront, because I was seeing it from the side of people who were saying it was bad. So I saw myself as bad,“ Yang says, pausing for a moment to collect his thoughts. „It took me a long time, even in college. That came with its own set of trials… this whole set of stereotypes and rules I had to confront.“

Because though he attended USC in Los Angeles, he continued to feel like a subject within his own story — continually being told by his professors that his identity as an Asian filmmaker was „edgy.“ Yet, like many minority creators in the arts, Yang continued to wrangle with the question, Why is my perspective even considered transgressive in the first place? Why am I not allowed to just say what I want without having arbitrary qualifiers attached to my work?

„I was always told, again and again by others, that I was different,“ Yang says. „But weirdly, what oppressed me in my childhood was what I could sell in my career.“

At this point, we begin talking about his time in media as a producer for BuzzFeed — as a content creator who was forced to embody the quintessential millennial affect of upbeat candor — and occupying this platform at a time when media decided diversity was profitable. For his part, Yang isn’t as cynical as me about the identity-focused shift that occurred during this time, though he does admit that it is a very real issue he hopes dissipates in the next 10 years or so.

„There’s been this evolution to see the ways we represent ourselves and how we speak about it,“ Yang notes. „There’s a progression of what do we have to do or say to first be seen as ‚mainstream‘ or ‚accessible‘ or ‚relatable‘ or ’sellable.‘ You have to think in steps.“

He refers back to when he „first started doing videos about my Asianness“ and „pimping out the right jokes from my perspective about my identity“ — something embodied by the things like the (incredibly on-the-nose) „If Asians Said Stuff White People Say“ concept.

„We see these things happening, and now we’re experiencing this culture where we’ve at least broken through enough of that ceiling,“ Yang pauses for a moment, before rephrasing, „Perforated it enough. To where the people who don’t want it to happen are swinging so hard against it, which explains the nature of discourse today on social media.“

Yang hypothesizes that this is perhaps a factor in his more cerebral work finally been able to flourish — this desire to explore the unique intersections of identity each of us occupy.

„It did take time for me on these different paths for it all to converge,“ he admits, before we launch into a conversation about the next barrier that he continues to grapple with internally. Namely, the ever-present conflict between his external presentation as someone who feels the need to rebel against media-perpetuated emasculation of Asian men and his internal desire to occupy a truthful space in which he is able to explore his more femme side.

„We all grew up with a certain amount of binary, Koreans and lot of East Asians, especially,“ Yang says, before recalling the ways in which he was treated differently from his sisters as the only boy in the family. „It was just ingrained in everything we did — you’re a boy, you’re a girl. Like, I didn’t know how to work a stove or microwave until I was 13.“

However, when Yang was 13, his parents divorced. And while it was a shock to him, Yang credits the divorce as the „catalyst“ that helped both of his parents become „way more open-minded“ and something that has inspired a lot of his subsequent work.

„[I want to ask], ‚What’s the dynamite that some of these structures need to crumble?“ he says, adding that both of his parents have since moved on and flourished. „Mine was the divorce, which was the craziest but most amazing thing that could’ve happened to my family.“

That said, the divorce still didn’t erase an entire childhood of having rigid gender binaries and the notion of filial piety ingrained within him. Yang notes that at the beginning of his video career, he felt the need to „police“ his dress or the way he spoke, „because I didn’t want to look soft.“

„When I first became notable online, people generally didn’t know I was gay. And as one of the first Asian faces in casts of non-Asians, I had to beat everybody. I had to be better. I had to be stronger. I had to be smarter which, again, fed into my Asian complex,“ he says, explaining that he felt burdened to be seen as the antithesis to the Asian male stereotype perpetuated by mainstream pop culture. „It was complicated, because I didn’t want to be the soft, submissive, wilting, quiet Asian person. There’s nothing wrong with that, but we are constantly in flux with that relationship.“

For Yang, it took years of self-reflection to even reach this point where his family and fans, „could witness me proclaiming… this thing I’ve been screaming in my head for 33 years.“ Naturally, he now hopes that his art acts as a revelatory shortcut of sorts for other young, queer Asian-Americans questioning their identities.

„Sometimes we think it’s us versus something else and that’s what gets us into these weird quandaries of how to police our own gender and race. And that’s the most difficult thing — for gay people and Asians, in particular — [stopping them from] releasing that self control,“ Yang speculates. „So I want my work to speak from this idea of, ‚How does one maintain and navigate these very particular relationships under circumstances that sometimes take more time, more care, more self-discovery?'“

And the first step for him? Well, it all comes back to the making-of „I’m Gay“ — that definitive, unquestionable proclamation of an identity he spent so long being scared of. Something that signaled the ushering-in of a Yang who felt empowered enough to finally own his identity, even if it happened to be something completely at-odds with the disparate cultures he was raised in. But it’s also something he believes is necessary for his growth — not just as a person, but as an artist as well.

„There was the framework I was operating in, and I had to confront that,“ Yang concludes, that impish grin appearing on his face once last time. „I needed to inhabit myself in order to be an effective artist-filmmaker and be a more fully-realized person.“

 Eugene Lee Yang Is Making the Internet More Gay

Historical Overview of Homosexuality

Abstract Progression of Homosexuality: Evolution of a phenomenon over time Some authors believe that homosexuality is not a kind of conduct, as commonly supposed, but a psychological condition (Woggon, 1981). Thus, it is important to understand that the genuine homosexual condition or inversion, as it is often termed. This condition is something for which the subject is in no way responsible. Some literature suggests that homosexuality in itself it is morally neutral. Like the condition

Historical Overview of Homosexuality

Same Sex Marriage Should Be Legalized

called gay marriage, is a marriage or a civil union between couples of the same sex. I would continue to explain it as a controversial and moral issue discussed worldwide today, due to many gay couples coming out and openly expressing their need for equal rights. I would add onto and explain how supporters of equal rights and those who oppose the topic have both participated in highly publicized legal and social battles for their beliefs. I know that many are against the legalization of gay marriage

Same Sex Marriage Should Be Legalized

Sex Orientation And Sexual Orientation

He didn’t believe that homosexuality is a fixed psychological identity, but thought of it as being fluid. He argued, there were only sexual behaviors, and behaviors alone did not make a person gay, lesbian, bisexual, or heterosexual. Kinsey and other researchers such as Havelock Ellis, William Masters, Virginia Johnson, viewed sexuality positively. Conversely, phycologists Richard von Krafft-Ebing and Sigmund Freud viewed sexuality as “inherently

Gay Teens: Accepting the Unaccepted

teenagers have been brought up to think that homosexuality is wrong, so that’s one of the reasons that teens don’t make these thoughts known to everyone. I think gay people deserve to be treated like every other person in the United States. Just Facts At this time in their life, gay teens may not make their

The Issue Of Same Sex Marriage

supportive of same-sex marriage in the past decade” (Mitchell). In relation to Lewis and Gossett’s research, their research aligns in their claim that people “born in each decade tend to be more accepting of gay relationships and more willing to grant them legal recognition than those born the decade before” (Lewis and Gossett). The patterns of the research support the claim that the factor of

Same Sex Marriage Should Be Legalized Essay

allow you to? That is the position that many homosexual Australians have been in since the settlement of this country. Same sex marriage is currently not allowed in Australia but I and a proven 60% of other Australians strongly believe it should be. Gay people pay taxes, serve in the military, participate in the workforce, are our neighbors, friends and family. Logic and decency would suggest that they should have the right to marry, just as any heterosexual couple can. However, there are people who

Relationship Between Support Of Same Sex Marriage

If these statements are proven to be true, then there is a direct relationship between support for gay marriage and the level of a person’s religiosity.A Literature Review of the Correlation between Support for Same Sex Marriage and Religiosity There is still division and debate by academics, government officials, and American citizens on whether or

Against Legalizing Homosexual Marriages Essay

equal rights activists angry. Courtrooms should be nervous though. „Our courts, which have mishandled abortion, may be on the verge of mishandling homosexual marriages“ (Wilson 34). The judges of the Supreme Court of Hawaii might possibly legalize gay marriages in the near

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Catch up on Dekkoo Originals!

While the team at Dekkoo searches the globe for the finest in gay-themed entertainment, we’ve also been hard at work bringing you new original content. We thought this would be a good time to step back and take assessment of all of the Dekkoo Originals currently available for you to discover! And rest easy knowing there’s a whole lot more in the works.

Starring: Kyle Cabral, Nathan Brown, Kai Liu and Sarah Elizabeth

In a brash decision, Cole (Cabral) secretly moves to San Francisco under the guise of his straight best friend’s engagement party. But when his friend, Daren (Brown), reveals his engagement was an accident, Cole uses the mysterious powers of a forgotten sketchbook to try to put both of their lives back on track, whatever the consequences.

Starring: Jordan Nichols, Seth Daniel, Leah Beth Bolton, Tristan M. Garner and Chase Brother

Best friends Billy (Nichols) and Daniel (Daniel) are faced with a conflict when they are forced to kick out their roommate, Jordan (Garner). Finding a new gay/gay friendly roommate turns out to be no easy task, and they end up relying on the help of their fun and whimsical friend Emily (Bolton) who introduces them to the mysterious new guy in town.

Is there really such a thing as love at first date? Love Is Blind is going to find out! Each episode introduces two sexy gay singles, both looking for love, then sends them on a zany, unpredictable, and totally blind first date. Best of all, we take you along for the ride. You’ll get a voyeuristic peak into their day-long courtship and watch as these men turn each other on – and sometimes turn on each other.

Draw the shades and dim the lights for this one. Born in Guatemala, Marco Ovando discovered his love of photography while studying science and communications. Inspired by the work of Avedon, Ellen von Unwerth and Herb Ritts, he moved to New York in 1999 and quickly became a fixture on the nightlife scene. His work has appeared in such publications as Paper, OUT and The Advocate. This erotic video collection captures Ovando’s love of human expression and the beauty of the male form.

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Cute, 20-something Nate isn’t hurting for dates. Even his best friend Jeff confesses his feelings in a moment of drunken vulnerability. Nate, though, is still hopelessly obsessed with his ex-boyfriend Joey. Poignant and funny, this positively adorable series follows Nate as he tries to find closure and break himself out of romantic purgatory. Start binge watching both seasons today!

DEKKOO DISPATCH 071 – ‘PAPER BOYS’

Starring – Kyle Cabral, Nathan Brown, Kai Liu, Sarah Elizabeth

Hey Dekkoo’ers! It’s almost June which means the shirts are about to come off! Although technically here on Dekkoo we almost always have guys with their shirts off and you don’t have to leave your couch to stare at them. Today on the dispatch we’re very excited to feature the newest member of the Dekkoo Original Series family: ‘Paper Boys‘!!! Wooooo!! It’s always super exciting for us to show off new talent and rising star Curtis Casella who directed all 6 episodes of this new series that takes a close look at a young creative gay man and his immersion into a new life in San Francisco.

Cole is your typical creative type. Shy, cute, and looking for love. For circumstances we’re unaware of (maybe something to explore in season 2?) Cole decides to use the excuse of an engagement party in San Francisco of his best friend to actually move to San Francisco. He’s a cartoonist and even before he gets to say hi to his hunky best friend who he’s staying with he’s already pounding the pavement to look for a job. Daren, the hunky best friend seems to have it all. A nice apartment in expensive San Francisco, a tech job, and an adorable wife-to-be named Rebecca. Everything seems to be going great until Daren confides to Cole that the engagement is actually something he doesn’t really want to happen. Everything so far has seemed pretty typical right? Well here’s the twist: Daren finds an old sketchbook of Cole’s and gives it to him and once Cole starts drawing in it he discovers that everything he draws happens in real life!!

I blew through all 6 episodes in two sittings and thought it was a really touching tale of a shy gay boy just trying to figure out this new stage in his life while at the same time trying to support his best friend that he obviously harbors some feelings for. The plot twist was a super cute addition to the ‘drama’ that naturally occurs in their every day lives. The diversity of the cast was refreshing and the setting of San Francisco was used even better than it was in ‘Looking’ I thought.

The director sat down with OUT Magazine for an interview and had some really great remarks about race, gay relationships, and queer content:

CC: The gay-straight friendship is somewhat autobiographical for both Kyle and me. Both of us have really close friends who are straight, and we felt like it was something we didn’t see often enough in gay media. It’s really interesting to see the vast differences in life experience between gay men and straight men. My best friend was having a hard time meeting friends and asked me how I made them when I moved back to San Francisco, and I said, well, I have Grindr, and gay bars, and circuit parties, and I just see people again and again and friendships come naturally. And he says, “yeah, I don’t think that’s going to work the same for me.”

In some way, it was also aspirational. Like, if we could show a friendship that was platonic between a straight and gay man, it might normalize it to an extent that it’s perhaps not normalized now. I think there is still an undercurrent of maybe tension in gay and straight relationships – like this feeling on the part of straight men that gay men might either threaten their masculinity, be secretly attracted to them, or both. And we wanted to show a friendship between two men that didn’t have any of that. Where they were like brothers.

CC: This was one of our most important goals. Kyle is Filipino, and we both have pretty diverse groups of friends, so we felt like it was essential to include a diverse cast in Paper Boys. First, we both were cognizant of the fact that people of color don’t see themselves represented enough in media, so that was one facet. But this also allows us to address issues in the gay community that just wouldn’t ring honest with a cast of white characters – like the racism that exists in dating and hookups, internalized homophobia that some still feel, and themes that white audiences – probably myself included – wouldn’t even think about because of the privilege we’re born with.

That’s also why having a diverse cast is only half of it. I know that there are some things that I can’t see, or that seem innocuous to me but may not be to people with different lived experiences from me. So having writers, editors, cinematographers of color is essential too. We had one line in the 6th episode – which we’d written before we’d cast our series – where Charlie says that Daren and Rebecca would have had beautiful children. It was still there after a couple of rewrites, and when we went into rehearsals, the actress who played Rebecca pointed out that she often had people say that to her and her husband (who was white), and it had a clearly racial tinge to it. That honestly never occurred to me, and we decided to drop the line from the scene because it didn’t advance the story, and wasn’t true to a character who, having grown up with Rebecca, would have seen some of the racism that Rebecca experienced and would not have wanted to perpetuate that.

It’s been amazing working with Dekkoo – they’ve been incredibly accommodating and want to let us tell our story the way we want to tell it. Plus, I think having a service that’s targeted towards queer men is important. Netflix is great, but much of the gay content on there is of the B-movie variety, with a few notable exceptions. So it’s great to have a platform like Dekkoo, especially one that works with independent filmmakers like us.

We’d love to know what you think of a new Dekkoo Original Series that we’re super proud of so be sure to leave comments on the videos and let us know!

New This Week – 5/10/18

In a brash decision, Cole secretly moves to San Francisco under the guise of his straight best friend’s engagement party. But when his friend, Daren, reveals his engagement was an accident, Cole uses the mysterious powers of a forgotten sketchbook to try to put both of their lives back on track, whatever the consequences. The new Dekkoo-original series ‘Paper Boys’ is available to binge watch now, only on Dekkoo!

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– “Paper Boys: The Gay-Straight Friendship Story We Haven’t Seen Yet”

Bobby Schuessler over at sat down with Curtis Casella, writer/producer/director of the new Dekkoo-original series ‘Paper Boys’ to discuss what Schuessler calls, “…the game-changing new series…”

Dekkoo Delivers Diverse, Queer, and Magical Dramedy Series “Paper Boys” May 10

(New York, NY) April 20, 2018–On May 10, , the global streaming media service catering to queer men, will launch the six-episode first season of “Paper Boys,” a romantic San Francisco-based dramedy about discovering who you are–and, with a newfound magical power–becoming who you want to be.

“Paper Boys” tells the story of Cole, who, in a brash decision, secretly moves to San Francisco under the guise of his straight best friend’s engagement party to escape a dead-end career and the memories of a passionate summer fling with a boy in New York.

But when he arrives, he runs into the former fling and old feelings resurface. And after his friend, Daren, reveals his engagement was an accident, Cole uses the mysterious powers of a re-discovered sketchbook to try to put their lives back on track, whatever the consequences.

About the Creators“Paper Boys” was created by Curtis Casella and Kyle Cabral. Casella writes, directs, and edits, and Cabral directed the first two episodes and plays two initially met when they both lived in New York City, and became friends when they realized they shared a passion for storytelling.

Casella and Cabral (above with cinematographer Dan Chen) self-funded the first two episodes out of their own pockets and funded episodes 3 & 4 with Kickstarter. They had shot and released the first two episodes when Dekkoo stepped in to finance, expand and release “Paper Boys” as their fourth original series. Previous Dekkoo original series include “FeralLove is Blind” and “I’m Fine.”

Cabral describes the somewhat-autobiographical “Paper Boys” as “the story of a young, gay Asian-American artist who moves from New York to San Francisco looking to jump-start his career and relationships, and discovers he has a magical power that allows him to reshape his life through his art.”

In real life, Cabral is a director, producer, illustrator, and animator who has created cinematics for video games (The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones) as well as his own queer art.

Three-quarters of cast, crew Asian-American, African-American, Latino, transIn addition to being that rare queer series centered around a gay-straight male friendship and the struggles of millennial friends at disparate stages of their careers, diversity was also important for the creators, so nearly three-quarters of the cast and crew is Asian-American, African-American, Latino, or trans.

“There isn’t much media out there that explores these issues from the point of view of a queer person of color, or even a person of color,” says Cabral, who is Filipino-America. “One of the things that is really important to us is that ‘Paper Boys’ isn’t seen as just a series with gay people of color, but a series with gay people of color with a story and characters audiences like and want to see more of.”

When asked if they planned to expand the show to appeal to straight audiences, Casella says, “I don’t really care about that, to be honest. Straight people have literally every other show on TV that represents the varying experiences of being a straight person in today’s world. I think Kyle and I are proud for people to think of ‘Paper Boys’ as a ‘gay series’. There should be a lot more gay media!”

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