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Newsflash: Bowen Yang Is Not Joel Kim Booster, Despite What You May Have Read in Other Queer Outlets 

Out gets it wrong, tries to fix it, does not fix it

Sarah Bricker Hunt

At this point, we almost feel bad for the editorial team at Out magazine, who just cannot seem to nail down the basics when it comes to the apparently Herculean task of correctly identifying two entirely separate human beings who happen to both be Asian and gay. It’s a situation best explained via a Flowchart of Fuckups:

1. Everybody Fucks Up

Various outlets including The Hollywood Reporter have repeatedly mixed up the two comedians — for years. Hilarity does not ensue and over time, Yang and Booster have become less patient (because is it really that difficult?).

2. Out Writes About the Mix-Ups

Queer outlet Out gives voice to the comedians’ frustrations. We think. In any case, Out writes a retelling of a moment between Yang and Matt Rogers on an episode about The Hollywood Reporter incident on their podcast “Las Culturistas”:

 “How ironic is that? It made me so upset,” Rogers added. “It’s an article reporting on the racist bullshit of ‘Saturday Night Live comedian Joel Kim Booster.’”

“For the second time! For the second time! What is going on,” Booster cried.

“This is your job, these trades, this is your f*cking job to get this shit right,” Rogers added.

Booster and Kim continue to be two of the funniest comedians working today, and continue to be two very different comedians and men.

Umm. 


Yeah.

It really does say “Booster and Kim.” Where is Yang in all this? Who knows! One can only hope this latest, highly ironic fuck up leads to a fantastic “SNL” sketch involving Yang (as Booster) and his split personality or the next craze in ice cream partnerships (“Move over, Ben & Jerry?”), but wait, it gets worse.

3. Out Posts an Apology… But Another Outlet Swoops in to Continue Fucking Up

Out posts a correction and an apology. Phew!

Screenshot 2023 12 07 at 1 18 01 PM

This has been deeply embarrassing for them, and truly, we’re cringing on their behalf as a fellow LGBTQ+ outlet. We have a deep and abiding love for Yang over here and the whole thing was giving us cold sweats. But, then…

BUT THEN.

Pop Crave pops by to save the day, posting this gem:

G Aubjpib MA Ajym T

At this point, it’s surely time to just shut down this shit we call the internet, because clearly, not only has journalism fully imploded, but we’re apparently all sharing a single, struggling brain cell. As Booster writes on X, are we in some kind of social experiment? A queer Asian “Inception” moment? Is someone going rogue behind the scenes on the Truman Show set we’re all living in?

Anyway, jokes aside, none of this is OK. It’s amusing and maybe a little too self-satisfying to jab at Out and Pop Crave (and The Hollywood Reporter and…), but it’s not great that these are just the latest prominent examples of a certain flavor of racism that seems to fly under the radar.

To be very, very clear, Bowen Yang is a 33-year-old Chinese-American actor (by way of Australia) who has been a part of “Saturday Night Live” since 2018. He’s queer. He’s hilarious. We’ve interviewed him and never once called him Booster or Kim (or Booster Kim or Margaret Cho), just for the record. He looks like this:

Bowen Yang, who is not Joel Kim Booster. Courtesy photo
Bowen Yang, who is not Joel Kim Booster. Courtesy photo

Joel Kim Booster, a fully separate human being, is a 35-year-old comedian who was born in Korea and adopted by American parents. He’s also queer. And hilarious. He’s even starred alongside Yang in “Fire Island” on Hulu. But he is not, in fact, Bowen Yang. He looks like this:

Joel Kim Booster (for real). Photo: Instagram
Joel Kim Booster (for real). Photo: Instagram


Still unconvinced about their individual autonomies? Here they are side by side:

From "Fire Island." Photo: Hulu
From "Fire Island." Photo: Hulu

Sadly, this funny/not funny situation happens constantly, and all too frequently, it’s on the part of white people conflating the identities of people of different races. When it comes to Asian people, it doesn’t even seem to matter that places like Korea and China are quite literally completely different countries. So Booster’s tweets about the mix-up(s) are appropriately pointed and important:

“Listen. People have been confusing Bowen and I for almost a decade now. It’s so weird and draining to realize just how many people scan us and stop collecting data beyond our race and sexuality. Freaks stay away from us,” he tweeted

A follow-up tweet read, “Bowen and I promised each other that this year we’d suppress our urge to make the people who mix us up feel better afterwards. No more “no worries you’re okay, haha” to assuage people’s guilt. I still give people a lot of grace but sometimes it’s good for people to sit in it.”

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