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LGBT Awareness - The South Korean Drag Queen Advocating For LGBT Rights

The South Korean drag queen advocating for LGBT rights. Heezy Yang brings attention to the LGBT community in South Korea with his drag show Hurricane Kimchi.

Alexander McCaslin
Jan 10, 20234 Shares426 Views
The South Korean drag queen advocating for LGBT rights. Heezy Yang brings attention to the LGBT community in South Korea with his drag show Hurricane Kimchi.
According to the BBC, Heezy Yang, in his guise as the drag act Hurricane Kimchi, has been performing for almost a decade at various events, including Seoul Pride in the South Korean capital.
When I first tried drag, I didn't know what it would be like and how into it I would be. It gave me some sort of empowerment and liberation.- Heezy Yang
There are thousands there in the audience at Seoul Pride and I feel like I'm a superstar. I get the tingles and a real adrenaline buzz. I enjoy interacting with people and getting energy from a big crowd.- Heezy Yang
After seeing friends perform in drag, he decided to give it a go himself, thinking it may be a fun way to merge his activism and appreciation for the arts.
The first few times I didn't have any agenda. I did it for fun. The more I did drag, the more I performed, I could see how I could use it and how I could enjoy it.- Heezy Yang
As opposed to places like the United Kingdom and the United States, drag is not as widespread in South Korea. Yang acknowledges that he draws some curious looks when he walks out in public dressed as Hurricane Kimchi.
In the streets sometimes I go to a drag show with my face on, people would be confused. I've never felt physically threatened being in drag in public spaces although I am aware that people may be thinking negatively or looking at me in a negative way.- Heezy Yang
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South Korea Has No LGBT Anti Discrimination Laws

When it comes to LGBT rights, South Korea is severely lacking. Neither same-sex marriage nor anti-discrimination legislation are recognized in the country. Being a member of the LGBT community is stigmatized and treated like a disease.
Being homosexual or trans is seen as a sin by certain influential conservative churches. Discrimination against LGBT individuals is "pervasive," according to a Human Rights Watch study from 2016.
According to Yang, older generations are typically bewildered by drag and LGBT culture, while younger Koreans are more familiar with it.
They grew up watching Hollywood movies and things like Ru Paul's Drag Race so they are very supportive and accepting. Even if they didn't know what drag was, they have quickly learned things. There is a gap between generations but I am very positive about what is to come.- Heezy Yang
When he visits smaller pride events in locations that may not have a well-established LGBT culture, he witnesses the beneficial impact that drag can have. Smaller crowds mean more young people may participate in the celebrations and feel included in the LGBT community.
It's very meaningful to be able to be there and perform for them.- Heezy Yang
In addition to raising awareness about the government's treatment of the LGBT population, Yang enjoys doing so by protesting while dressed as a woman.

Yang's Passion For Drag

Even though he is a queen, Yang has a beard, and his performances aren't always steamy and hip. He also enjoys engaging in political and protest acts. Giving back to the community and being a supporting member of the community is also essential to him.
If we want to achieve things and get things done, we should raise our voice and be seen. People should be aware that we are here and we are just like them and have human rights.- Heezy Yang
In 2018, Yang co-created Seoul Drag Parade out of a desire to showcase the drag community on a larger scale.
I thought I would gather maybe 20 or 30 people and we would just have fun and hang out. At the end of the night, the number of people who had taken part in festivities throughout the day were about 1,000 people. It was overwhelming but good.- Heezy Yang
Drag and events like Seoul Drag Parade have buoyed the LGBT community in Korea.- Todd Henry, University of California, San Diego
If you asked someone 20 years ago what a drag queen is, I don't think they would have had any idea what you were talking about. They probably would have mistaken that person for transgender. In this sense, activities led by individual drag queens and by drag queen communities have expanded historically binary understandings of genders and sexualities- Todd Henry, University of California, San Diego
He elaborates by stating that many people go up to pride celebrations to cheer on the drag artists and express their support for the LGBT community.
In recent years, self-identifying 'sexual minorities' (including many drag queens) and their progressive supporters have increased to more than 100,000 a year at City Hall or wherever else the Seoul Pride Festival is hosted. I'm optimistic about what is to come.- Todd Henry, University of California, San Diego
Yang is committed to his drag and to uniting the neighborhood as a result of it.
Sometimes on social media I get messages and comments from people thanking me for the events that I host and the fact I make my events accessible and friendly. I like to think I open doors for people and they appreciate it. It makes me happy.- Heezy Yang

Final Words

It was anticipated that this year's parade will take place in person once again after being conducted online during the epidemic. Itaewon, a neighborhood in Seoul with many clubs owned by the LGBT community, is where Yang hopes to hold the event.
The recent Itaewon crush, in which 159 people lost their lives, and the pandemic have both had a negative economic impact on the region. Because of a decline in customers, many LGBT-owned companies are in a precarious financial position.
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