Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

PUBLIC DANCER: Gay Vietnamese-American Ballet Dancer John Lam Hopes to Inspire Young People to Pursue Their Goals despite Cultural Taboos

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

PUBLIC DANCER: Gay Vietnamese-American Ballet Dancer John Lam Hopes to Inspire Young People to Pursue Their Goals despite Cultural Taboos

Article excerpt

JOHN LAM, the first Vietnamese-American to be a principal dancer with a national ballet company and a gay man, is out to inspire aspiring dancers.

Lam, who dances with the Boston Ballet, premiered his first short film, Movement in Structure, this year, and he makes an appearance in the award-winning documentary Danseur. The doc focuses on men and boys pursuing ballet, the challenges and prejudices they face in doing so, and why they love dancing in spite of it all.

"I am happy to be a part of a conversation that gives a lens for younger generations to see that they are not alone [in] choosing a profession that may have societal presumptions of what they are. ... I hope it gives everyone the opportunity to know it's possible to dance and create a beautiful family and be married to whom you love," Lam, who is married with two children, says of the documentary.

In Vietnamese culture, Lam explains, both the existence of the LGBTQ community and the reality of gay ballet dancers are very taboo subjects, often buried under a "don't ask, don't tell" mentality. "I've only met two Vietnamese ballet dancers in the USA and Europe in my 18 professional years of dancing," he tells The Advocate. "I'm hoping that my role gives hope to young aspiring Vietnamese or any child that wishes to dance but their culture frowns upon them doing so. I hope my role gives them strength and persistence in striving for what they love to do and essentially what defines who they are."

Lam's identity as a gay man is important to him and his art. …

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