In the first year of the Daily Hart, I featured Holland, who is widely considered to be the first openly gay K-pop idol. At the time, I hoped that he wouldn’t be the only one for very long. And while I wouldn’t exactly say that the Kpop industry is now swimming in openly queer idols, it would appear that Holland is no longer alone in waving the Pride flag for the industry. I recently learnt about the idol group QI.X, and immediately fell in love with both their music and message. They claim to be the first openly queer, transgender Kpop acts, and I love how unapologetic they are about this fact. QI stands for Queer Idols, and X stands for limitless possibilities. Love, love, love.
QI.X performed “Lights Up” at Seoul’s Queer Culture Festival for Pride last summer. The festival had traditionally been held in Seoul Plaza, but this year city officials refused organizers the needed permits. The city denied it was discrimination; a stance that is hard to take seriously when a Christian youth concert was given permission to use the space instead. But it is also not surprising given that South Korea still lacks any sort of legal protections for LGBTQ people when it comes to discrimination based on sexual orientation.
It continues to be hard to remain optimistic about the future for queer communities around the world. But I’m always hopeful. Groups like QI.X give me hope. As one of my favourite TV characters once said, “Every time someone steps up and says who they are, the world becomes a better, more interesting place.“ I couldn’t agree more. Kpop is certainly a more interesting place now that QI.X has joined the party.
Suggestions for artists I should check out? Please contact me with your ideas. I hope you enjoyed your daily helping of art!