Dehumanizing Gay Asian Men
Series writer Quincy Morris describes the premise of web series In Between Men (2010- ) as one “that follows four friends in NYC who live “in between” a gay world, whose clichés they don’t relate to, and a straight world they don’t belong to. They are successful, professional men not defined by their sexuality. Through wild adventures, racy story lines, joys and pains, underscored by the pulse of New York City, In Between Men examines the relationships the men have between each other, their lovers, and the greater community” (IMDB).
Jennifer Gelfer, the director of the web series’ two seasons, has highlighted the show’s progressive stance with regards to representations of gay men: “Everyone is looking for a place to belong, someone to love and a fulfilling career. The world needs to see that gay men are more than the stereotypical camp characters media has portrayed them to be. They need to see that gay men are no different than everyone else” (Mark’s List).
Unfortunately, however, she really only means white gay men: the show’s three leading male characters are all played by white actors (Nick Mathews, Ben Pamies and Chase Coleman).
While African-American actor Mark Tallman plays a recurring character that appears in 7 episodes, the only gay Asian character that features in the series is credited as ‘Hookup Guy’, a brief and demeaning role played by Beatus Hoang in episode 2 (“Under the Big Top”) of season 2.
In this episode, Dane Sullivan (Chase Coleman) invites a stranger to his house for sex, who turns out to be an Asian man. The Asian man appears pleased to see Dane and says “You look like your picture”. Dane hesitates before responding with “Thanks, you…too?’’, while looking weirdly at him.
The Asian man then asks to use his bathroom while hiding something behind is back. Dane waits for him for a long time, and begins to become irritated and impatient. After a while, the Asian man awkwardly comes out of the bathroom in his boxer briefs, with an enema in his hand.
Asian man: “Ok! I’m ready.”
Dane (disgusted): ‘’Oh damn, did you just do an enema in my bathroom?”
Asian man (laughs): “Yeah”.
The scene then cuts to both of them at the front door. The Asian man gives the enema to Dan and says “asshole”’. Dane responds with “You should clean before you got here”.
With this kind of representation, it would have been preferable if In Between Men had left out gay Asian men from its’ fictional representation of gay life in New York altogether.
The nameless ‘Hookup guy’ not only perpetuates the stereotype of gay Asian men being ‘total bottoms’, it also dehumanizes them by presenting them as a disposable sex toy (with insufficient social skills) for the white male character.
OFFENDER: Qubed Productions
CATEGORY OF OFFENSE: Denigration
MEDIA TYPE: TV Show
OFFENSE DATE: February 1, 2013