Henry Golding has explained the reason behind his decision to play Kit, his first major LGBTQ+ role in the upcoming film “Monsoon.”
The movie, written and directed by Hong Khaou, first premiered at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in June 2019.
Golding’s character, Kit, is a Vietnamese British man who returns to Ho Chi Minh City 30 years after his family fled the Vietnam War.
The drama focuses on “a rich and poignant reflection on the struggle for identity in a place where the past weighs heavily on the present,” according to its official description.
In a new interview with Attitude, Golding acknowledged the fact he is a straight actor taking on a queer role at a time when LGBTQ+ representation can use more visibility in film.
But he justified his decision by pointing out that the story has much more to tell than Kit’s gender identity.
“We live in times where it is a sensitive topic to have a straight actor playing a gay role. From my point of view, with this particular role, it was the fact that his journey wasn’t hinged on the fact he is gay,” Golding told the magazine. “It’s almost like, yes, he’s a young gay man, but the bigger issue is who he is as a person.”
According to the film’s description, Kit struggles “to make sense of himself in a city he’s no longer familiar with,” but nonetheless embarks on a journey that “opens up the possibility for friendship, love and happiness.”
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Golding, who rose to fame in 2018’s “Crazy Rich Asians,” added that he understands the importance of considering a role carefully, especially if it represents a particular community.
“I’m going to accept this role because of the journey it represents in this man. It’s not a journey into his queerness. It’s a journey into his history,” he told Attitude.
Kit’s love interest is an American designer named Lewis, played by Parker Sawyers. Golding said he had no issue filming love scenes.
“A lot of people were like ‘Are you worried about having love scenes with a man on set?’ I was like ‘No!'” he recalled. “I come from an understanding that love is love. It doesn’t matter if you’re Black, Latino, gay, straight, bi, it’s that feeling of yearning and that return of that.”
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As someone who moved to the U.K. from Malaysia as a child, Golding understands Kit’s struggle in finding his identity. He recalled countless experiences of racism while growing up in Surrey.
“Casual racism was rife back then because there weren’t many Asians. We were called every racist name under the sun. It wasn’t even the right racist names, but they would just say them because they were kids. It was like: ‘Oh, s***. I’ve never experienced this,'” he told The Guardian in another interview.
However, Kuala Lumpur does not exactly feel like home, either. For this reason, Golding finds his sense of belonging “wherever my loved ones are.”
“I felt like a fish out of water,” he said about coming to Malaysia. “I was like: ‘Whoa, I thought I was Asian. But this isn’t the experience that I thought I would be having.’ So that just makes you all confused again.”
“Monsoon” will release in the U.S. this fall.
Feature Image Screenshots via Peccadillo Pictures