Queer KPop Stars Breaks Cultural Barriers with New Music, Sexual Expression

On July 6, South Korean musician Holland released his second single, "I'm Not Afraid." Since his debut 5 months ago with the video "Neverland," Holland has been recognized internationally as an unprecedented figure in Korean pop with his status as the first openly gay music idol. Both "Neverland" and "I'm Not Afraid" are unapologetic celebrations of Korean gay life and love, relationships and community. The new video showcases gay, lesbian, and interracial relationships as well as drag culture--something typically taboo and not represented in mainstream Korean culture.

In addition to openly expressing his sexual identity, Holland also greatly differs from other Korean pop musicians because he is unaffiliated with a record label and he personally finances all his music and videos, with all of his marketing and publicity done entirely through social media. "Neverland" has gotten nearly 10 million views, with "I'm Not Afraid" already racking up 2 million views. He is currently #1 on Dazed Magazine’s 100 list.

Despite his growing success overseas, his videos have been repeatedly censored by Youtube in South Korea. Both videos were marked as Rated “R,” despite the most “inappropriate content” being a gay kiss.

Hopefully, Holland's music will be a vital step in the acceptance of LGBTQ+ people in Korea and international pop music community.

Further reading:

Holland Says 'I'm Not Afraid' in Inclusive, LGBTQ+ Positive Music Video (Billboard)

The first openly gay K-pop idol is fighting for a more inclusive Korean media (Dazed100)

Holland Reveals The Full Story Behind The Homophobic Bullying He Suffered During Middle School (Koreaboo) 


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