"Top Shot" Chris Cheng Gay for Guns. Also, Gay for Gays
On December 17, the History Channel's "Top Shot" shooting champ Chris Cheng revealed that he is gay, saying that the producers knew, and that he wanted to show that gays and geeks could "shoot guns as good as anyone else."
"While it's something my friends and family have known for years, I believe now that I have become a television personality and public figure, it is important to be honest and upfront about who Chris Cheng is," he said on his blog. "One reason why I chose to come out publicly is that I'm a gay guy in a gun world."
On his blog, the 34-year-old Cheng said that being gay is no longer something to hide, citing the support given to out NBA star Jason Collins and British Olympian Tom Daley, and the straight allies like NFL football players Chris Kluwe and Brendon Ayanbadejo. Cheng said that he wanted to be defined by his skills and accomplishments rather than his sexual orientation.
"Hunters, sport shooting enthusiasts and collectors are too often stereotyped as part of efforts to politicize guns, as we witnessed last week on the anniversary of the horrific Newtown tragedy," he wrote on his blog. "Take it from someone who in a single package is not only gay, but Chinese, Japanese, California-born, a college graduate, a tech geek who worked on cool Google projects, a gun enthusiast and a passionate Second Amendment advocate. Our community is as diverse as anyone's."
Cheng, who has been with his boyfriend for more than four years, went on to thank the National Rifle Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation for supporting his decision to come out. He said that the "Top Shot" producers knew of his sexuality during the show, and that he was surprised that competitors were for the most part accepting.
"I wanted to make a point that gays, and geeks for that matter, can shoot guns as good as anyone else," he told Recoil.com. "As part of my audition, I decided that being a token gay guy could increase my chance of being selected."
He added, "I'm pretty sure it factored into the casting panel's decision to accept me, but it was one of many factors they considered. I had to demonstrate that I could shoot well. 'Top Shot' isn't about personality conflicts and drama like other reality competitions. It's a marksmanship competition to see who can master a wide variety of weapons in unpredictable, challenging situations."
Cheng is now developing a TV show pilot in which he hopes to spotlight diversity among marksmen. "Shoot to Win," his book on leadership and shooting, will be available in July.