R.I.P.

Remembering Masaki Koh: What Made The Late Gay Porn Star So Special?

tumblr_mnka2v1mAW1qcochxo1_r1_500It’s been nearly a month since the gay porn industry experienced the passing of Masaki Koh, one of its most prolific stars, but discussion of the late star’s contribution to Japanese LGBT culture is still raging on social networks across the web.

It’s difficult for Westerners to imagine an adult star being an unsung hero and proper role model for gay youth struggling to find acceptance, but to Eastern cultures that harshly demonize and discourage an openly gay lifestyle, Masaki Koh was just that. He provided a face and injected pride into the Asian LGBT scene, and by doing so, encouraged a huge number of his fans to accept themselves and reclaim the beauty of their sexuality.

Unlike many gay porn stars in Asian countries who often wear swim goggles or surgical masks while performing in order to protect their identities, Masaki Koh was one of the first and most recognizable stars to ditch the norm and appear without censors in his many gratuitous flicks. Koh found fame in being unashamed of his sexuality and, more or less, an abundantly proud gay man.

In the years before his untimely death from peritonitis brought about in the process of treating appendicitis, Koh began traveling to events in Thailand and China to meet with the fans he inspired in the East—something that Asian stars before him wouldn’t dare do, fearing both social and legal repercussions. Koh even appeared with his partner, Tien Tien, in music videos and web series to spread his message of acceptance and openness. In Ayumi Hamasaki’s video for “How Beautiful You Are,” the couple is seen kissing, which is still a rarity in Japanese media.

Whether or not you’re a fan of porn is irrelevant. At the end of the day, regardless of his profession, Koh was a life force for a number of LGBT Japanese kids struggling to find acceptance in a traditionally conservative culture. Though his groundbreaking work will live on in the hearts of a younger, more accepting generation, he’ll be sorely missed.

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Koh with his partner, Tien Tien, just days before his death