33-year-old actor, writer, and Internet personality Eugene Lee Yang achieved viral fame as a member of the Try Guys. He and his former Buzzfeed coworkers Keith Habersberger, Ned Fulmer, and Zach Kornfeld go on a series of wacky adventures where they try unconventional or misunderstood activities and experiences.
Yang previously dabbled in drag with his father in an early episode of the web series. He had also established himself as a firm advocate and supporter for LBGTQIA rights in recent years.
However, on June 15th, Yang officially came out of the closet as gay with a poignant, big budget artistic dance video. Acting as writer, director, choreographer, and star, Eugene weaves an intricate narrative movement tapestry. It begins with Yang acting out a scene with performers based on his family.
He adores watching his mother and sister engage in traditionally feminine activities and tries to emulate them to the chagrin of his conservative father.
Next Yang, tries to dance and make his way through what appears to be a stern church setting where a preacher gives a stormy, presumably anti-gay sermon.
In the following scene, Yang dances elegantly with a female partner before setting his sights on a male dancer who he leans into almost kiss.
The most lively vignette shows Yang in drag dancing in a gay bar with other drag queens and liberated individuals.
Sadly, the moment eventually devolves into violence and chaos with the threat of bigotry and homophobia manifesting in the form of metaphorical gunfire and physical brutality. Yang is seen, stripped bare and bloodied.
Yang painfully takes in the discord of the current political scene before assembling in a well-dressed tableau with his LBGTQIA friends from the bar.
Beneath the great production values, the video is a compelling look into both the fears and insecurities Yang had about coming out. However, he ultimately recognizes that a person in his position must be brave and act as a role model for other vulnerable people who can relate to his experiences.
In a behind the scenes video, Yang admits that in the past, he had remained deliberately quiet about questions regarding his sexuality and personal life. He felt like he had to separate his celebrity persona from his true self.
He explains that while growing up “I had a strong belief that I was not only bad, but I was wrong. There was something wrong with me.” On the receiving end of both racist and homophobic bullying, he was deeply worried that many of his close friends or family members might abandon him for coming out.
With funding and emotional support from the other Try Guys, Yang worked for months to plan and produce the video by Pride Month.
Yang’s friend and teammate Ned recalls that Eugene “really put up a wall, and like, a shield” regarding his sexual orientation.
Yang also notes that in early videos “I always had to be the best at something” because he was afraid that if he showed weakness or failures, he would somehow be hurting both the Asian and LBGTQIA community”
Near the end of the BTS video, Yang expresses that he believes the work is an “imprint of his experiences” growing up gay and coming out, but that it is only the beginning for his exploration of his identity.
At the conclusion of shooting the music video, Yang addressed his cast and crew with an emotional statement while still in full drag regalia:
I’d like to thank everyone for being a part of this project. It’s a very deeply personal and a very different type of thing for to film not only as a video, but in general it’s a very a large concept to grasp, but I hope that I can only tell my version of what I experienced growing up gay, realizing I was gay, and I hope it touches other LBGT people, other allies…. I’m so thankful for all of the crew and the cast for being huge part of making this, something I imagined over and over in my head, into a reality. I can’t thank you all enough, and yeah, I need like a stiff drink.