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Comedian, writer and actor Bowen Yang is set to receive a Visibility Award from the Human Rights Campaign at its 25th annual North Carolina Dinner on Feb. 22. Bringing together the HRC’s active members in the Charlotte area, the event raises funds for the civil organization to continue its efforts in advancing LGBTQ equality.
“Through his hilarious representation on and off the screen, Bowen Yang is inspiring LGBTQ young people and many others to embrace their authentic selves,” said HRC president Alphonso David in a statement. “As one of SNL’s openly gay and the only Asian American cast member, Yang is boldly moving visibility forward.”
Since entering the spotlight, Yang, 29, has been open about his sexuality. Earlier this year, in an interview with The New York Times, he spoke about resisting gay conversion conversion therapy in Colorado Springs after his father had arranged for a series of appointments.
“The first few sessions were talk therapy, which I liked, and then it veers off into this place of, ‘Let’s go through a sensory description of how you were feeling when you’ve been attracted to men,'” Yang recalled to The Times. “And then the counselor would go through the circular reasoning thing of, ‘Well, weren’t you feeling uncomfortable a little bit when you saw that boy you liked?’ And I was like, ‘Not really.’ He goes, ‘How did your chest feel?’ And I was like, ‘Maybe I was slouching a little bit.’ And he goes, ‘See? That all stems from shame.’ It was just crazy. Explain the gay away with pseudoscience.”
Yang also said that things have changed in his family since that time. “Both my parents are doing a lot of work to just try to understand [me being LGBTQ] and I can’t rush them,” he said to the Times. “I can’t resent them for not arriving at any place sooner than they’re able to get there.”
Last year, Out Magazine noted that the Chinese American comedian was “bringing the queer agenda to television” and named him one of their top 100 entertainers of the year.
In addition to his appearances on Saturday Night Live, Yang has been seen on television in Broad City and High Maintenance. In the world of digital media, he co-hosts the popular podcast Las Culturistas with Matt Rogers, where the two explore how their formative cultural experiences shaped them into who they are today.
Yang will receive the honor at the Le Meridien Charlotte on Feb. 22. The following month, Schitt’s Creek actor and co-creator Dan Levy will be handed a similar award at the HRC’s Los Angeles gala dinner.
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