By Karilyn Prisco
I sat down with fashion trailblazer, social media influencer, and music artist Tim Shang to talk about his love for the West Village and how fashion has been a huge part of his journey as a gay Chinese artist. I met Tim when I was out and about taking photos for my monthly column Style on the Street. Tim was an immediate standout. Not just with his fashion sensibility, but with his energy, creativity, and kindness. The more he shared, the more intrigued I was by his story…
Where did you grow up?
I’m a Chinese who lives in the States over eight years since college. I’m from a small city in China, but a small-sized city in China still has one million people. My home city is Bengbu City, Anhui Province.
What brought you to NYC?
I went to college in Iowa for my undergrad; I studied finance. I had an internship opportunity in NYC after college, and fell in love with NYC because of the people, fashion, and diverse culture here. I then made the decision to go to graduate school at Fordham Lincoln Center for my master’s degree.
What was your experience when coming out to your parents and friends in China?
My experience coming out to my parents is very tough because they don’t have access to correct information about LGBTQ+ and they can’t understand it. They do not accept my lifestyle. They think I’m brainwashed by American culture. My friends accept it very easily because younger generations in China are more open-minded about homosexuality.
Share what your “Debutante” identity is.
Debutante is a French word that describes a young lady getting started in society. I thought I was like a debutante when I’d just moved to New York City because everything was new to me.
Do your family and friends in China know of your Debutante identity?
My family doesn’t know anything about me and my social media because they do not have access to Instagram and major social media platforms in China. My parents have no idea I have thousands of followers on Instagram. I know they cannot understand that and they worry about what people will think of the family if it becomes known that their son is homosexual.
What impact has social media had on your life?
Connection with people and encouraging more people like me to be themselves. People on social media really like my energy and confidence. I’ve made so many good friends from social media. I also appreciate people’s love and support for me on social media, to motivate myself to be true and authentic.
What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion is a life attitude. You don’t have to buy expensive designer clothes to be fashionable. You can wear whatever makes you feel happy, confident, and yourself.
What do you love most about NYC?
People here are very diverse and open-minded! Also, the fashion industry here is very fashion-forward!
What is your favorite thing to do in the West Village?
Restaurants and cute cafes! I like to hang out with friends dining in the Village because the West Village reminds me of Europe. The neighborhood is cute and chill, which makes me feel like escaping from the city to relax.
Why is the West Village one of your favorite neighborhoods?
It’s gay and fab! Gay bars, good restaurants, and stylish young people hanging out here.
What are your plans for PRIDE?
I love PRIDE and I hosted my first PRIDE party in the West Village in 2019 because the West Village is the origin of PRIDE. This year, I will be visiting China during the summer, but I will have a pride celebration dinner with my gay friends in Shanghai.
You can follow Tim on Instagram at @timsshang. He will be releasing his music single about being gay, this summer before PRIDE. You can support and listen on Spotify, https://tinyurl.com/2p86zrh6
Karilyn Prisco is the Fashion Director of WestView News and Social Media Manager for WestView News’s “Style on the Street” (IG@styleonthestreet_westviewnews). She is a full-time fashion stylist and a graduate of The Fashion Institute of Technology. Her latest projects include the LaQuan Smith Fall 2022 NYFW runway show.