THE BLOG
09/04/2014 03:59 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

'Citizen Gino' May Retire His Race and Gay Cards

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Friends attend Chi-Ming "Gino" Kuo's swearing-in ceremony as a United States citizen at Manhattan's United States Southern District Court on Aug. 22 with homemade, tongue-in-cheek "Gino for President" signs

Chi-Ming Kuo is known to all his many friends and acquaintances as "Gino," a name he says he saw on an Italian water ices sign at a pizza parlor after getting off from a subway station when he first arrived in New York from his native Taiwan. Many of his New York City friends were with him on Pearl Street in lower Manhattan on Aug. 22 when Kuo, 35, finally took the oath as a United States citizen in a jury room of the United States Southern District Court.

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A name-inspiring sign

Kuo, who is single, works at Macy's Inc. on Herald Square as a marketing manager for all company-wide digital media incrementality measurement, whatever that is, but almost every evening he can be found with friends at spinning class at his health club.

Kuo came to New York after completing his military duty after college in his hometown of Tainan City in Taiwan, where his father, now retired, was one of the borough presidents. Kuo was the student conductor in his high school wind ensemble and later a prize-winning athlete in aerobics competitions. After earning a degree in economics as a member of Taiwan's Phi Tau Phi Scholastic Honor Society at National Central University, he made the momentous decision to come to the United States to study for a master's degree in marketing at New York University, which he completed in 2006.

Two of Kuo's closest friends, Joe and Anthony, both New York City bus drivers, are a longtime couple who make up a regular trio for with him for pre-theater dining at Becco on 45th Street's "Restaurant Row." To them, "you can't get more American than Gino. He's very never afraid to voice his opinions and yet has a great sense of humor. Not only can he dish it out, but also take it."

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Gino Kuo, wearing patriotic colors this past July Fourth

Another close friend, Kimo Jung, a shopkeeper and friend from the gym, says, "Gino has a lust for life that will make him the very best of Americans; he's always doing, going, tasting, trying. He has a joie de vivre that, I am certain, bumped up our country's average the moment he completed his naturalization pledge."

Kuo himself says, "It was extremely surreal for me when the judge handed me my naturalization certificate that Friday morning. I went from not knowing how to order a proper roast beef roll the first week I arrived in New York for school -- I literally got a roll with a whole bunch of roast beef, nothing else -- to now looking forward to voting at the next election. I can finally feel legit when I watch Bill Maher on HBO and Meet the Press on Sunday morning."

Dropping his insouciant humor for at least one sentence, Kuo says, "Growing up in democracy, it pained me in the past few years that I was living here, paying the same amount of taxes, if not more, yet not being able to vote. I'm so glad my opinions finally count! In addition, I'm very hopeful about the equal rights developments in my new country as I plan to retire my race card and gay card very soon!"