Having a gay, Asian friend has been a “life changing” experience for Joel Kim Booster.
SNL member Bowen Yang recently appeared on comedian Joel Kim Booster’s SiriusXM series Joy F*ck Club. While the two talked, Joel Kim Booster opened up about how Yang was his “first other gay, Asian friend” and how the friendship “affected the trajectory of my own life in the ways I saw myself.”
“It broke me out of a certain mindset about being the only one in existence,” Booster explained, according to People. “There’s a sort of thing that happens, especially when you’re a double minority, that makes you feel [alone] especially when you’re socialised to believe you’re the only one.”
“I feel the same,” Yang replied. “With you, it was very, very natural.”
The two met through a mutual friend. The friend, who was notably white, brought them both into the same Facebook group message. Seeing as they both are gay, Asian and comedians, the friend thought they would make a good fit. Booster and Yang, however, were hesitant and waited a full year before meeting.
“[The friend] literally said the words, ‘You’re both gay and Asian, and do comedy. You should be friends,'” Booster recalls. “I believe we put off meeting [for] a full calendar year, if not longer. Because we were so stubborn — I was immediately suspicious.”
But when they did meet, Booster recalled thinking, “oh this is so much better than trying to forge a path as the only one.”
As PinkNews reports, the conversation then transitioned into talking about the intersection of being queer and Asian. Specifically, the two talked about how it shaped their lives, careers, and personalities. They both agreed that, at times, the two parts of their lives feel at odds with each other.
“It might be fair to say that at first consideration, it feels like they’re identities that are somewhat at odds with each other. In terms of Western gay identities, which in a lot of ways sort of devalues Asian people or sort of puts Asian people in this weird purgatorial status in the gay community,” Yang explained. “That feels like it’s at odds with my Asian identity, which in a lot of weird, bizarre ways is also messaged something around like ‘You don’t be gay, don’t be gay’.”
He added: “So having those two things be weird, diametrically opposed poles in some ways, having those two things have to be tightly wound together is really, really, really tough.”
Yang, however, notes that, “holding those two identities of being gay and Asian have, I guess, made my skin a little thicker.”
“You and I have been through traumatic things, and I feel like we have relatively good heads on our shoulders,” he told Booster. “I feel like that is a virtue of us having to build so many coping mechanisms out of thin air, and pull them out of nowhere, and just be like, ‘Well, I have to survive this and so this is how I’m going to deal with it.’ I don’t know, I feel like it’s made me cope better. But I do kind of spiral every now and then. That’s the reality.”
Both comedians have done well in the entertainment industry since meeting. Bowen Yang is the co-host of the Las Culturistas podcast and is the first Chinese-American star on Saturday Night Live. He also became the second openly gay man to appear on the show and the first openly gay man to be featured longer than one season. Yang also just appeared in Awkwafina’s HBO Max show Nora from Queens.
Meanwhile, Joel Kim Booster hosts the Joy F*ck Club and the Urgent Care podcast. Booster also has appeared on several late night shows like Late Night with Seth Meyers or Late Night with Conana O’Brien. Booster co-starred on the short-lived NBC comedy series Sunnyside.