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LGBTQ Asian-Americans Shatter Hollywood's Glass Closet
These out stars are changing more than just Hollywood.
CRAZY RICH ASIANS may have just been a blockbuster to some fans, but as director Jon M. Chu told an audiences of Asian-Americans in Hollywood, "We made a little movie this year and we made a big movement...."
In fact, Asian-Americans were suddenly everywhere (compared to years past when the word "invisible" best described their roles in film and TV). I was struck by how Chu thanked supporters because he was "truly experiencing and understanding what pride means for the first time in my life. Thank you for showing me that community is power, and we are powerful. We don't need to ask for permission ever again."
While the Asian-American experience has some parallels with the queer and trans experiences (around finding power in community, at the least), there's a group that intersects all this: Asian-American LGBTQs. I asked readers on social media to name their LGBTQ Asian-American icons and leaders, and got 150 names within minutes. So, we honored 100 of them in a timeline on Advocate.com--and put three of our favorite men on the cover. Many of our crew were already Nico Santos fans; after all, his acerbic, shade-throwing but compassionate Filipino immigrant Mateo is the best of NBC's Superstore cast (that's saying a lot because America Ferrera co-stars). But as Crazy Rich Asians became a sensation, (it made over $230 million at the box office in the U.S.), the world suddenly knew Santos as cousin Oliver, the gay fixer "rainbow sheep of the family" who helps make the rom-com come alive. (Read our interview with Nico Santos here.)
Meanwhile, Vincent Rodriguez has spent the last few seasons of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend transforming into a classic TV star: buff, handsome, and ready for action movies. As the critically-acclaimed show on The CW winds up it's fourth and final season, its worth noting that Rodriguez is an out gay man playing the straight star and romantic lead of a network TV series -- and he's Filipino-American. That combination would have been unheard of only a decade ago (much less back when gay, Asian-American pioneer George Takei was still closeted and starring in Star Trek decades ago). (Read our interview with Vincent Rodriguez here.)
Jake Choi may be the "newest" breakout, as star of ABC's Single Parents, but he's a familiar face to TV viewers. He's appeared on at least a dozen shows including Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Gotham, Broad City, and Younger. (He also shares something with Younger star Nico Tortorelli, as they both identify as sexually fluid.) His acting impresses me, but the thought process behind this Korean-American actor's coming out moved me even more. (Read our interview with Jake Choi here.)
Meanwhile Sherry Cola, the Asian-American bisexual actress is playing a lesbian on The Fosters's spinoff, Good Trouble, adding visibility to queer Asian-American women. These are just a handful out of the tens of thousands of badass LGBTQ Asian-Americans that I hope we hear more of in months to come!