South Korean gamer Hyeon Hwang, better known to his fans as Effect, has come out as bisexual in a post published on Twitter on December 22.
The tweet was first posted in his native Korean. The gamer then retweeted a translation of the post.
“It is true that I am bisexual. I’ve been hiding it since young and never even showed a hint to anyone except my family (even they got mad immediately). I [am] finally putting down this burden after the hard time of hiding. Sorry for causing the confusion with such sudden announcement,” the post read.
The tweet received hundreds of retweets, likes, and replies—mostly positive, as his fans reacted with messages showing affection, support and solidarity.
Gaming is a popular source of entertainment in South Korea, where professional esports players are treated as stars. Effect plays for the Dallas Fuel team in the Overwatch league, a team-based multiplayer first-person shooter video game by Blizzard Entertainment.
Being LGBT+ is still a huge taboo in much of South Korea.
Effect later shared screenshots of a conversation between he and his father, which was translated from Korean from one of his fans, translator Hajinsun.
“I talked for the first time ever with my dad without my ‘mask’ after the coming out. Thank you dad for your understanding during this long conversation. I have to talk with mom now… I wish all the problems get solved one by one,” Effect posted as a caption to the images.
In the exchange with his father, Effect said he was afraid to go back to his ‘dark times,’ and that he is feeling happy at the moment. His dad promises him to be in touch more often, before giving his son permission to upload the exchange on Twitter. “People who worry about me will like it,” Effect explained.
Effect is one of the few openly LGBT+ celebrities in South Korea
Being LGBT+ is still a huge taboo in much of South Korea, where more than 200,000 people signed a petition opposing the annual Pride parade in the capital Seoul this year.
While homosexuality is not illegal in the country, same-sex marriage and adoption are prohibited and protections against discrimination remain limited.
A ban on gay sex persists among the armed forces—and two years of military service is compulsory for men aged 18 to 35.
Earlier this year, K-Pop star Holland came out as gay and is currently the only openly LGBT+ performer in the hugely popular genre.
The star told Dazed about his struggles growing up: “I had a very hard time in my school life…I confessed my love to a boy I loved when I was a secondary school student, and the response was not good, so that made my school life very hard.”
He also said he hoped to be a role model to other LGBT+ South Koreans: “Although at that time there wasn’t a single role model to look up to in Korea, I was very consoled by foreign celebrities. So I thought, ‘I want to be a famous person like them’… I’m working harder because I want to be a special person to my fans too.”