On the heels of releasing his recent coming out video, Eugene Lee Yang sat down with YouTuber Hannah Hart and discussed, among many topics, the influence the movie “Mulan” had in his coming out journey.
The “Try Guys” member, who publicly revealed he is gay on Saturday, explained that Mulan, a legendary warrior featured in Disney’s movie of the same name, was his first Asian hero growing up. Later on, he was able to rationalize exactly why the character had so much significance for him.
“‘Mulan’ is a really clear story where, particularly, her gender expression was so woven into this narrative,” Yang said. “It was this unquestionable part of her that she expressed in ways that everyone accepted. That moved in me ways I didn’t even understand as a kid.”
“Mulan” has long been praised for its perhaps unintentionally LGBTQ-friendly storyline. The character Mulan assumed a male alter-ego, “Ping,” to fight in battle. And Li Shang, an army captain, was able to forge a strong bond with Ping, which eventually evolved into a romance after Mulan was revealed to be a woman. Thus, some have theorized that Shang is actually bisexual.
Yang explained to Hart that he didn’t quite grasp the impact “Mulan” had on him as a kid because, at the time, he wasn’t necessarily aware that he was gay. He added that he also felt expected to adhere to traditional gender roles, coming from a Korean immigrant family that was also somewhat traditionally Texan.
“I think that has these grand repercussions we don’t often discuss across all cultures and sexualities and gender identities that has really fucked up people for the past millennia,” he said.
Yang also acknowledged the stigma that coming out carries in many Asian communities ― one that’s touched his own life as well. As the Human Rights Campaign notes, LGBTQ members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community often confront families and cultures with traditional or less-accepting attitudes toward their identities.
“I know with a lot of other friends who are Asian, sometimes it gets to the point where the best you can even get from your parents is, ‘I don’t and I won’t agree with it, but I love you more than my own ignorance to it,’” Yang said.
“There’s a cultural point that they can’t bring themselves across, but if they love you, that’s the core thing they’re going to express to support you,” he added. “And I have that, at the very least, from people I’m close to.”