The Kpop Industry, and South Korea, in general, do not often include or provide a space for the LGBTQ+ community. In fact, there have often been reports of homophobia in the country, and also in the KPop industry. Although there have been some KPop idols and groups such as BTS, BoA, the late Jonghyun from SHINee, Heechul from SuperJunior and others who are proud allies who support the community, there has not been an openly queer idol in the industry.
However, on the 21st January 2018, we were introduced to the first openly gay Kpop idol. Holland released his debut track, “Neverland”, which comforts people who are coming to terms with their identity, and the music video complements it perfectly by depicting himself in a loving, same-sex relationship. Since his debut, Holland has gained fans around the world who admire and support his music and for being himself.
Holland is independent, meaning he is currently not signed up with any major agency in the Kpop industry. Despite this, he has been able to achieve many views and streams on platforms such as Youtube, and various media groups often request to interview him. In these interviews, Holland expresses the importance of having LGBTQ+ representation in the KPop industry, and also his experiences of homophobia and bullying throughout his life.
Holland aims to create music that people can relate to and feel confident in who they are. He often tweets LGBTQ+ themed tweets and tries to engage with his fans. In his second, and latest song, “I’m Not Afraid”, Holland expresses how he is no longer afraid to be himself. We definitely see this in his music video, where he proudly and happily kisses a man at a party.
The music video has also been praised for its diversity, as it includes a drag queen, people of different races, and multiple sexual orientations and identities.
There is no doubt that Holland is making a mark in the KPop industry. It has been a long time coming and finally there is an amazing KPop idol leading the way in ensuring that the LGBTQ+ community is represented in KPop, and as a result, the Korean society will become more accepting of the community.