Model claims he was dumped by top agency for being gay and Asian
Chufue Yang, a Chicago-based model who has worked alongside brands such as HUF magazine, Urban Outfitters and Nike, has claimed he was dropped by agency Ford Models because he’s gay and Hmong American.
He shared his theory on his Instagram page on August 21, writing: “I can sit here and find multiple reasons to be upset, but measuring my self worth doesn’t really seem like the mindset to wallow in,” alongside an image from a past editorial shoot.
In the post’s caption, Yang also detailed how his height, which at 5′ 10″ is slightly shorter than the majority of male models, has made it difficult for him to get bookings.
“The glass ceiling [is] capped on people of color, especially queer people of color,” he wrote.
“The blame is not on my previous agents,” he continued, clarifying that he is not blaming Ford for the move but rather the lack of openness and willingness to diversify within the industry.
He went on to say that he is also partly at fault “for not having a firmer stance on [his] values.”
“What I’ve learned is to not lose your voice in an industry where your physical features are placed above everything else, especially your identity,” he wrote.
In an interview with Dazed pubilshed on Wednesday, Yang recalled how he joined Ford in November 2017. His relationship with the agency became strained though when, in July, a website assumed his ethnicity and wrote that he was Mongolian.
Yang challenged the outlet on his social media pages and before long, his agent contacted him and instructed him to take it down. “They didn’t want to ruin the relationship they had with models.com,” he said. “This was the first time that my voice was silenced after being signed and unfortunately, I gave in.”
“To be honest, this whole experience seemed like it was a test run and I was the guinea pig,” he told the publication. “Sign on a cool, ethnic-looking person, try to push them out, and if that doesn’t work, drop them.”
Yang also discussed the several microaggressions he experienced throughout his career, which he believes might have proved harmful to his progression as a model.
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Not only did an unspecified agency once increase his height to 6′ on his portfolio, which in turn caused him to make negative first impressions when designers and scouts met him in person, but his ethnicity has been erased from information books too.
“It forced me to follow the illusion and ‘standards’ of the industry.”
The issue of visibility for queer models was recently addressed by British Vogue editor Edward Enninful, a former model himself, in an interview with Attitude magazine.
“It’s like Hollywood’s image of the perfect man, and this old notion of what it meant to be a man and that this perfect man couldn’t be gay. We know that’s wrong,” Enninful said, describing the reason why many gay models fear that coming out may hinder their careers.
Related topics: US