Bowen Yang shines in lead roles during Pride month

The actor, who grew up in Aurora, stars in “Fire Island,” his first of two queer rom-coms. “Bros” is out next.

Josie Sexton The Denver Post
From Left to right: Matt Rogers, Bowen Yang and Tomas Matos in “Fire Island,” a new film on Hulu.
Jeong Park/Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures

WARNING: This article contains spoilers of the movie “Fire Island,” which was released by Searchlight Pictures on June 3 and is streaming on Hulu.

There’s a scene toward the end of the new Hulu rom-com, “Fire Island,” in which Bowen Yang’s character, Howie, sings a cover of Britney Spears’ “Sometimes,” sweetly and with progressing self-assurance while facing the person who just broke his heart by getting back with an ex.

It’s one of many tender moments throughout “Fire Island’s” tale of boy meets boy; boys fall in love; boy spots other boy grinding on an ex at a drug-fueled island nightclub.

In case it’s not obvious, the movie, which is named after the iconic gay community haven on New York’s Long Island, is not your tired summer rom-com, which is exactly why you should watch it now, during Pride month. It’s about a group of friends who take an annual trip to Fire Island and revel in its queer spaces, while also searching for love — or at least a good hook-up.

That’s one important distinction of the film. The subject of “Fire Island” is its unabashedly queer relationships. And its nuanced stories are told through the lenses of both the characters and the actors who portray them. In Yang’s case, that’s as a comedian, a Chinese American and also a gay man.

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Yang broke boundaries with that background as the third openly gay man and the first Chinese-American cast member of “Saturday Night Live,” for which he started writing in 2018 and acting in 2019. A decade earlier, just before graduating from Smoky Hill High School in Aurora, Yang was voted “most likely to be an SNL cast member” in his senior class superlatives. (Can’t make stuff like that up.)

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