Post submitted by actor, producer and “Try-Guy” Eugene Lee Yang
When I was 13-years old, I wrote my future self a letter with a question: “Are you finally happy?”
I got it back five years later, but I still didn’t have that answer. The truth is I read that letter as the same sad, angry, scared kid who wrote it. Growing up in small-town Texas with a conservative Korean-American upbringing can do that to you, especially when you’re in the closet.
It was important for me to come out in a way that was most comfortable for me. I started privately, then I got the chance last year to produce and star in a video, “I’m Gay,” that allowed me to introduce my authentic self to millions of viewers all over the world. It changed my life.
Like many Asian and Pacific Islanders (APIs) in the LGBTQ community, I am living at the intersection of two identities that experience senses of “otherness.” I’m constantly looking from the outside in at myself, unable to make sense of these sometimes at-odds parts of me.
Today, I am a proud gay Korean-American man and humbled to have a platform to do so publicly. But we still have so much work to do. As we honor and celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month this May, I hope you join me in fighting for the next generation of history-makers who will push us further into the future.
It starts by uplifting and protecting our youth. The Human Rights Campaign is doing that work day in and day out for all our young leaders.
Last year, they partnered with the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) to release Coming Out: Living Authentically as LGBTQ Asian and Pacific Islander Americans. I can only imagine where I’d be if I had something like this growing up. Take a moment to share with the LGBTQ/API youth in your life and check out the resource to see how you can be an even greater advocate and ally.
We must also continue our crucial work to dismantle systematic racism all around us and make the world a safer, more inclusive place for us all.
Right now, it’s especially difficult being APIs in this country given the COVID-19 crisis. We’re facing not only the increased economic and health-related hardships of this virus but also a horrifying uptick in anti-Asian discrimination and rhetoric … even from our leaders.
This is unacceptable, period. We cannot allow racist, divisive rhetoric to go by unchecked. It’s on all of us, LGBTQ and allies alike, to speak up and out against these injustices every time we see them. I know HRC members and supporters take action every time and fight for what’s right. This time, we need you now more than ever.
Our path forward must be toward the ballot box. If we can elect pro-equality leaders that will put in the hard work for us in the White House, in Congress and on the state and local level, we can make the country a better place for us all. Make sure you’re registered to vote.
Thank you for letting me share my story with you. Happy Asian Pacific American Heritage Month to all my LGBTQ APIs out there. I see you, I love you and I hope you’re happy.