Out Celebrity Hairdresser Guy Tang Denounces Anti-Asian Hate

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday March 30, 2021

Guy Tang, out celebrity hairdresser and star of the Netflix series "Bling Empire," spoke against anti-Asian hate and shared his own brush with bias crime, telling Glamour magazine about a terrifying incident in which his life was threatened by a gun-wielding assailant.

"Asian hate is not a new thing for me," Tang, 39, told the magazine. "I suffered a racial attack when I was 16. A guy came to my house, and held a gun to my head and tried to kill me because I was Asian."

Tang addressed possible roots for anti-Asian bias. "You have to look at things like Korean War, the Vietnam War, Hiroshima... a lot of people see Asians, as they see Asia — a threat."

Indeed, China is currently seen as a chief rival to the U.S. on the global stage. Moreover, Donald Trump, during his presidency, spun the global COVID-19 pandemic as a narrative of Asian menace.

The Oklahoma-born Tang noted that not only was he gay - he also departed from what's considered to be stereotypical for Asian-Americans.

"I'm not good at math. I don't know karate. I don't know kung-fu. I had bad grades in school," he said. "I was good at art...and playing instruments. I played the cello and did orchestra."

What's more, the artistically-inclined celebrity ended up being tossed out of school for taking nude self-portraits.

"I wanted to see myself as attractive and being a beautiful, sexual being, because I never saw that in the media," Tang said. "I was trying to find something in me that was beautiful."

It was in pursuit of that sense of beauty...he became a hairstylist, "because it's not only a mission to make people love themselves, but it also helped me discover more about myself through them."

The celebrity hairstylist's comments drew certain parallels between the LGTBQ experience and that of growing up gay in America.

"In Asian culture, we were told...don't cause trouble, don't ever draw attention to yourself, be quiet," Tang said. "The problem with that is that it makes everyone else but you, comfortable; then we're uncomfortable in our own skin. We are silenced.

"So if at any time we decide to challenge that and try to speak up, we are seen as problematic. For the majority of my childhood, I didn't have a voice."

That extended into adulthood as Tang slowly approached his eventual embrace of authenticity.

"I didn't come out of the closet until I was about 27," he said. "Even when I did, I came out as bisexual because I was afraid of embracing who I truly was. It was scary to look in the mirror and own it and say, 'I'm gay.'

"It took so much ownership."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.