Being gay is nice because I don’t have to deal with aegyo - Interview with Harry


This is a new series that I'm excited about. I'll be interviewing gay Koreans about being queer in Korea. Although I'll be doing these interviews in English for now, hopefully my Korean will become good enough to conduct the interviews in Korean in the future. Here's the first one.
*This interview was conducted in English. Some of the answers have been slightly edited for clarity*
 
Do you have a nickname? Harry
How old are you? 29
What do you do? Job-seeker
Did you go to university? Couple of years of school. Multimedia, computer programming, but I didn’t want to do those kinds of things because it was kind of boring. I prefer design work or something active. Make a bag. Something creative.
When did you realize that you were gay? When I was 6 years old, I sat on my uncle’s lap and I felt really good. That penis feeling. And at that time I didn’t know, but I enjoyed that moment. And when I was around ten years old I saw something not naked picture but an underwear picture. And I got an erection and ‘oh’ after then I looked around rubbish bins and collected underwear boxes. It was my collection.
When was your first gay experience? Let me see. 2009.  December. When I went to the Philippines, and then it was just hookup. And then I didn’t know… I knew Korean gay community site but I didn’t use it much and I never tried in Korea and then I tried it in the Philippines and after one month I went to Australia and started my gay life. I went to my first Mardi Gras festival in 2010. I felt really awful. I went with my straight friend. I didn’t come out to him. I saw a lot of couples and gay people kissed on the street and I felt really awful. I started seeing boys in Australia. It was really nice, but I stayed in a rural town. There wasn’t much choice. I met some old guy, but I never dated anyone in rural towns. I used to go to Melbourne City and I met some guy from Manhunt. I didn’t have an iPhone or anything (no Grindr or Jackd) so I used Manhunt on my computer. I met a guy and he looked quite good, but I saw his picture and it was quite nice. We met at his hostel. I was really shocked because he was too feminine. I was really, not freaked out, but it wasn’t something I was used to. I had never seen someone like that. He was very feminine. He liked me as well and he tried to come to my area, but I didn’t connect with him. I was a bitch towards him.  
When did you start feeling gay pride? 2011 at the Mardi Gras Festival (Number 2). The first one was awful, and the second one was awesome. Accidentally I was in the Mardi Gras festival parade with Thai people. I wore a Thai traditional costume. I screamed, ‘Happy Mardi Gras!’ People crowded around, and it was awesome. I was really proud about that type of thing.  I stopped being judgmental after that point (against other people like cross-dressers or drag queens).
Are you out with your family? Not my family. I have two sisters. My eldest one is a lesbian. I read her diary, and she wrote ‘I’m a lesbian blah blah blah’ in her diary. After that, I thought she knew about me, but she didn’t. Recently, she cleaned my room and found something kind of gay. I think she knows about me.
Are you out with your friends? Most.  I have four groups of friends. School friends. Friends from my teenage years. Swing dance friends. And a mixed group of Koreans and foreigners. I’m out to my school friends and friends from my teenage years. Some swing dance friends know about me as well. Around 50 of my friends know.
How did your friends react? They didn’t care much. Some friends were really shocked about me because I act like a straight man and we had a conversation about having sex with girls before. One girl already knew about me because I used to hang out with a gay Australian. When she saw my picture in Australia, she knew about me.
Do you want to come out to your family one day? I’m not sure yet. My parents are kind of old. They were born in 1944 and 1948, so quite old. Older than my friends’ parents. So, that’s why. My sisters are ok, but my parents… mmm. I don’t know. Not sure.
How is life as a gay Korean man? Actually, when I went back to Korea from Australia I felt really awful because I’ve never experienced gay life in Korea. It actually sucked. And then I went to Homo Hill and the bars were really small and I’m a potato queen and most white guys were kind of weird. They are not that handsome. But they could easily take any Korean guy home. I was shocked.
Are things changing in Korea in terms of gay rights? No I don’t think so. Everybody judges gay people. Even my friends. I came out to one of my friends after he just finished working for Wicked. I was going to come out to him last year, but at that time he was very homophobic. If I had come out, he probably would disconnect with me. But he worked with many gay people for Wicked, so he changed he his mind.
Generally, though, I think people will continue to judge gay people. 70% negative.
Do you participate in any gay rights groups in Korea?No. I will probably help them (donations) but not now.
Do you want to get to married to a man? Yes. I don’t care if it is legal or not. I can just go to a church or somewhere and invite my friends and family. Like Two Weddings and a Funeral. I don’t care if it is legal or illegal. I want to enjoy that day. All of my friends and partners’ friends know our relationship and it makes them know we are committed. I can then take my partner to other friends’ birthdays or events.
Do you think gay marriage will be legal in Korea? Maybe. After 20 years or something like that. You know Korean politics follows American politics. So it will change.
What do you like about being a gay Korean? I don’t have to see girls. I don’t have to deal with aegyo. I won’t have to have the economic burden of a straight marriage.
What do you not like about being a gay Korean? I went to 돌잔치 (a baby’s 100 day ceremony). Most of my friends were married couples, so they talked about babies. Babies babies. And I went alone. I couldn’t join the conversation.
Do you want to have kids? Yeah. I will probably adopt a kid if I can.
Do you have any gay role models? It is kind of weird. Don’t judge me. I had a threesome with an Australian couple. They had one kid. A girl. They have a house. They enjoyed life. They always are together, except threesomes. Their life looked quite good. They enjoyed life.
What’s your ideal type? I prefer older men. Not old men. 40s. Leader guys. I don’t care about height, but I like tall guys. I prefer gay white men or Latin men. I tried to have sex with Asian guys, but it doesn’t work properly. I’m totally a potato queen.
Anything else? I really changed my gay life after the second Mardi Gras festival. I’m kind of out later than normal gay people. I started hanging out with gay people when I was 28 years old. Quite late. But I’ve totally changed after the Mardi Gras festival.