Before I sat down with these people born in 1984, I googled the year 1983. What was going on during this time when these now-thirty-somethings were just beginning their existence? (Google results indicate a whole lot of Madonna, by the way.) That year saw a shining moment against the backdrop of racial discrimination in the United States: the first African American Miss America, Vanessa Williams, was crowned. Labor worker Lech Walesa won the Nobel Peace Prize for leading Poland to democracy. But while the spirit to fight for the dignity of all human beings was alive and fresh, there was still so much ugliness and hate. Born right in the midst of it all? These 1984 cuckoos.
To simply call these pioneering 1984s a group of outspoken LGBT people would be a grave understatement. That’s why Time Out Seoul had to have this round table and get the inside scoop on the true strength of their characters.
The Round Table
Name/ Nickname (occupation, personality trait)
TO Seoul: Last year, at the 2014 Queer Parade, you were all at the forefront of the battlefield with your faces in the press. How was it? Were you afraid? I heard you were literally stoned by counter-protestors.
Anchovy (drag artist, seductive): It hurt (laughs). With the opposing forces there and the violence and boos, my mind was a blank. I thought it would lead to PTSD, but instead I found my calling. Nowadays, I get so much love, it's a bit suffocating. But I am going to continue.
TO Seoul: Young transgendered people say that they would like to become an entrepreneur like you, Sevin.
Cha Sevin (Musical actress and entrepreneur, voluptuous body) That won't be easy (laughs).
TO Seoul: With your business savvy, you’ve expanded the occupational horizons of transgendered people.
Cha Sevin: There isn't anything I haven't done before. I have a lot of dreams, so when I worked as a thespian, a rapper, a performer, I received a lot of hate. But I have a lot of talents, what can I say?
TO Seoul: There are many transgendered people who look up to you.
Cha Sevin: That's unexpected but at the same time, it shows I can't afford to fail. I'm going to work hard.
TO Seoul: You are already quite popular in the gay community for your toned and sexy body. And with that kind of reputation follows a lot of gossip. Any advice for people in the LGBT community who are suffering from spreading rumors on social media, etc?
Jack Jack (Personal trainer, hot bod): The more well known you are online, the more you need to hide your face in real life. That's why I love Itaewon after dark. Hate? I get a lot of hate.
TO Seoul: You currently work at the National Assembly. How did you begin your career in politics?
Pawngdui (Secretary to congressperson, elegant but unfiltered speech): I majored in politics, but it has also been a dream of mine since I was young.
TO Seoul: It must've been hard coming out to the National Assembly.
Pwangdui: I didn't care (laughs). I did it for the diversity of our society and as a sexual minority I knew it was just one obstacle I had to overcome.
TO Seoul: The things you write and the things you do are becoming topics of interest in the LGBT community. Are you aware of that?
Jay Lee (Media, sweet and nasty): Yes, I am. Most of them are intentional and calculated. I did so as an activist, and to be a bridge, to bring down the walls amongst the people who go to Jongtaewon.
TO Seoul: Why do you think those born in 1984 stick out from the crowd?
Jay Lee: 1984... that's the number of the devil. There is a theory in our community that it’s like the cycle of the Olympics, because those born in 1980, 1988 too, they're all very much like us. That is the trend (laughs). They have strong personalities, and are multi-talented.
TO Seoul: You are married to director Kim Jho Gwang-soo. It must've been a tough decision, to publicize your dating life and marriage.
Kim Seung-hwan (Film producer/importer/PR/distributer, intelligent and good looking): I came out to the LGBT community in 2005. I got a lot of support and love from older people in the community. It made me want to do something about it. But human rights activism wasn't my cup of tea. Pwangdui is good at stuff like that! (laughs) Marriage might not seem like a big deal but I think my role in the community is to show that my gay partner and I can get married and exist in this society. Married life is no easy task. (laughs)
TO Seoul: You were an art student 10 years ago, but now you're a business owner. What brought about the change?
Im Chan-hyeok (Director, smile): I didn't do it for the money. I was working at a company and I wanted to start my own club around age 35. But the opportunity came to me a lot faster and I was lucky enough to start earlier than expected.
TO Seoul: You organize all sorts of LGBT events and parties.
Im Chan-hyeok: I started the parties because I wanted to build a fun culture for gays in Seoul who are wasting their time idly! Things went a lot smoother than I could have imagined and I’m so grateful to everyone who took part in the process.
TO Seoul: Your faces and interview material will be published online and offline. Unlike the positive vibes here today, you might get negative attention from the public. Aren’t you worried?
All: What are we if we're afraid? We're not the 84 cuckoos for nothing!
TO Seoul: Everyone here has a really distinct personality. You share the same zodiac with those born in 1996. What advice do you have for them?
Anchovy: Go do bad things. Go do it while you're young and pretty! Of course, within the confines of the law...
Cha Sevin: Love yourselves! You can do it.
Jack Jack: Work out! Your body is your life. It is the alpha and omega.
Pwangdui: Challenge yourself to dream, and don't be afraid just because others haven't tried it yet.
Jay Lee: Throw out the stereotypes you have. The world is big and diverse. Face it head on.
Kim Seung-hwan: You are precious. Don't lose your self-worth.
Im Chan-hyeok: Enjoy your life! That's the most important thing.