Standing at over eight million views on YouTube in just a few days alone, Eugene Lee Yang not only stood up for himself, but also represented the LGBTQ community marvelously with his video titled, “I’m Gay”. No words, no blissful chords from a singer, just pure cinematography magic and yet, the video spoke volumes.
We start out with Eugene in a red ensemble where him and his siblings mimic the actions of his parents — actions respective of typical gender roles where the man screams and drinks, while the woman is to be bright, bubbly, and appealing. He finds himself more geared to putting on lipstick and the portrayals of his mother and sister, until his father and brother wack him into masculinity as he should “naturally”. From an early age, we’re taught how we must match what gender we are assigned to at birth, and any kind of expression of the opposite is considered wrong.
Orange is the next scene, in which we follow Eugene in a Naruto-style outfit, dancing around a church set, trying to vividly be himself, only to be corrected by the people around him. He sits along with people on the right side of the benches where those around him are peaceful and obliging by what the church and Bible states, while the left side is full of rowdy individuals challenging the preacher to test these Biblical controversies. Many individuals who come out struggle to find a relationship with God and those in the church on after, as their lifestyle is considered a sin. Eugene’s look at the end of this scene definitively describes the confused state we all face when questioning our faith.
Yellow is the next color, and it was represented in such a sweet light. Not only was this set absolutely beautiful and fairytale-like with draping flowers and a park bench and lights, but the contemporary choreography by Eugene sold us a story of love — the soft side of it, despite how painful or confusing it can be. Eugene, in a pale yellow vest and yellow flared bottoms, dances with a lady until a man passing by catches his eye and they begin to dance with one another. Not only do the men dance elegantly, but the elegance highlights a connection established between the two, and show how natural the movement with one another becomes. The woman recognizes this and sends her best wishes for Eugene and the man. The representation of the woman is a key component to those who have been disowned by others in their life, as all it takes is one person to believe and accept you.
The next scene is green, and one that strikes a cord with nearly any person. We watch Eugene walk down the stairs to a club, gorgeously dressed as Cheyenne Pepper, greeting his new family, his fellow drag queens and inspirations, making his way down to the dance floor with them all to have a great night out. We cut to a man walking up to the dance floor with his hand shaped like a gun and starts shooting. People fall to the floor, with Eugene hoping he doesn’t shoot more. As someone who moved to Orlando, Florida, three months after the Pulse nightclub shooting and still drives by the memorial of the nightclub every so often, it doesn’t get easier. Even if you’re not a part of the community, we’re in a country where mass shootings are the norm, and it’s safe to stay we are all affected and sick of seeing people die for another’s reckless decisions. The green scene is powerful, and yet the story continues to unfold, setting our emotions up for a ride.
Blue, my favorite color, is up next. The scene opens up with Eugene in long blue jeans, covered in blood as he’s beaten up and kicked on the ground by strangers, in what seems like the back of an alley. As they stop and run away, he crawls out for help, bleeding from his mouth, to which his siblings find him but his parents intervene. The family argues, leaving Eugene to hold onto whatever strength he may have left in him to keep moving forward and to get back up. Many LGBTQ individuals are beaten on a daily basis by random people or even by family members, just for the fact that there is a disagreement on who they are. People can find the individuals “disgusting” or a “disgrace”, verbally abused with slurs no one should be attacked with. By Eugene representing this phase he or individuals have been through, he advocates that they are not alone in terrible incidents like this, and how you can make it through.
The last color to be expressed is purple, and I find this to be the most powerful scene. Eugene is dressed in a beautiful purple dress, and walks through a crowd of people that are all pushing on him and/or yelling at him. The people are either dressed in black or white, representing the viewpoints of that person — either they respect the community or not. As we watch and hear the blacks and whites argue with one another in the back, we zoom in on Eugene’s face, trying to maintain his composure amongst the noise. I easily cried in this scene because I know what it feels like to not only have people argue with you on who you are or who you should be, but also how strong your inner voice can yell at you. Your mind gets so cluttered with worrying about satisfying others and meeting their needs that you tend to compromise what makes you happy. The purple scene is empowering, and gives us a glimpse into how Eugene has to stand tall and strong when people use their words, especially on the internet.
Even if you’re not a part of the LGBTQ community yourself, you must know at least one person who is. After you watch this video, soak it in and really feel around in their shoes. No matter how “different” you live your life, it should not be definitive of how you are treated in this world. So long as you do not harm another individual, let others live peacefully. We live in a time where we could not be more accepting of diversity and yet, we still face backlash. I guess that is how the world works.
And while I’m not a part of the LGBTQ community myself, I know many people around me who are, and they are the most wonderful and loving individuals you could ever meet. For me, I feel as though this video can speak out to anyone who feels alone, or feels disgusted for trying to be who they are, especially when family or close people around you try to state otherwise.
I hope what you take out of this video is not only to recognize the genius mind, hard-work, artistry and creativity of Eugene Lee Yang, but also learn to respect others, even if you don’t align with their beliefs.