Heezy, in his own words: “To me, this is just a very ordinary yet comprehensive question such as ‘what does being human mean to you?’ or ‘what does being a male mean to you?’. I guess being gay is just one of the many phases that describe me. Something like this; I am an artist, I am Korean, I like watching films, oh and I am gay. Never really thought of it seriously from any specific perspective.
So far, I have been successful at being different from other (Korean) people and being somewhat independent. Koreans usually live with their parents and get allowance from their parents until they get married but I moved out in my early twenties. I know it doesn’t look like a big deal to a lot of westerners but here in Seoul – where being different is almost a sin – it was not so easy. Being independent is followed by responsibilities but I still try to keep my young and wild side as well as the sense of humour and the childlike quality. Challenges? Depression, anxiety and money!
I was out to my friends for a while and that happened naturally because most of my friends are very open minded Koreans who have experienced foreign cultures, artists, or non-Koreans. However, my mom was a Korean woman who have never really been outside Korea so I kept postponing coming out to her because I didn’t wanna deal with all the possible dramas that might have followed the coming out. One day, I just thought coming out to her would free me in many ways so I just did it. Though, I had to bring my gay best friend because I needed someone who would support me and encourage me, haha. I grew up with a lot of American TV series with my family so my mom was pretty open minded and there’s was no drama or anything. I’m lucky because a lot of Koreans struggle so much when they come out.
(With regards to the gay community in Seoul) There are two big categories. One is the category of people who are totally or somewhat out. They are usually also very open minded and well-experienced with foreign cultures. They usually hang out in Itaewon where the clubs are. The other is the category of people who are not out. They tend to be conservative and trapped in traditional/old values. They hang out with their tiny group of friends in Jongno where there are Korean style bars. I am supposed to understand and respect both people but I love clubbing so much so I don’t really know people from the latter category.
(Advice I’d give my younger self) Always make enough money so you can be free and independent but don’t turn into a boring person who doesn’t know how to have fun. I know it’s been hard keeping the balance but keep trying and keep being yourself!”