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Why We Need More LGBT Minority Role Models

George Takei (Getty Images)
George Takei (Getty Images)

Writing at the Huffington Post, Jimmy Nguyen — gay, Asian, and an immigrant to the U.S. — says that today's youngsters deserve more than a media landscape devoid of people who identify the way they do.

I don't see many people like me in the media. I am gay and a racial minority (and, oh yeah, an immigrant to the U.S.). When I turn on the TV, go to a movie or read the news, I rarely see any LGBT racial minority stars. That's why it was so powerful in October when HuffPost Gay Voices published a list of "The Most Influential LGBT Asian Icons." Luminaries like George Takei and Margaret Cho headlined the crop of 54 gaysians. Somehow, my name managed to make the roster. But the greater honor was what happened next: After seeing me on the list, two young gay Asians sought me out for advice. That reminded me of why the world needs more LGBT racial minorities as role models.

Growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, I saw no gay role models, let alone LGBT Asian icons. Today we live in a time when LGBT people have rising prominence in media, the arts, politics, business and other fields. But most gay and lesbian celebrities are white: Ellen DeGeneres, Elton John, Suze Orman, Neil Patrick Harris and Anderson Cooper. Fictional gay characters also tend to be Caucasian: The entire main cast of gays and lesbians from Queer as Folk, Will and Jack on Will & Grace, and couple Cameron and Mitchell on Modern Family. We're so appreciative of this rising gay prominence that it's easy to forget those representations do not reflect the full racial diversity of the LGBT community. (Of course, it's doubly challenging to get cast for media projects if a performer is a racial minority and gay.)


Read Jimmy Nguyen's entire piece at the Huffington Post.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.

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