Meet Holland, the first openly gay K-pop Idol
K-pop has, for years, dictated Korean culture. Idols and celebrities dominate television screens where A-list celebrities appear on reality and entertainment game shows and shop windows are plastered with celebrities advertising even the most mundane of products.
Go Tae-Seob, professionally known as Holland, is a South Korean singer. He made his debut in January 2018, with the release of his single ‘Neverland’. Go chose his stage name to be Holland as a tribute to the first country to legalize same sex marriage, Holland.
When he first decided to pursue music, he tried to audition for entertainment companies.
However, no company was willing to work with an openly gay artist.
“It was very hard for me to get my name and music out there publicly. There’s no narrative, representation or programmes supporting the LGBTQ+ community in South Korea,” he told to Vogue “I think that because it’s a country that had to develop so quickly, that even though economically and financially it grew, culturally and socially it didn’t grow at the same pace. The entertainment industry is more open than others, yet LGBTQ+ issues are very taboo and conservative within other fields. It’s an issue that has to be recognised and publicly spoken about, but people don’t want to.”
The 24-year-old has built a sizable and ever-increasing audience.
14 million people have so far viewed Neverland and 5 million have watched the self-possessed I’m Not Afraid. Holland has nearly a million followers on Instagram and when he decided to crowdfund to raise funds for his self-titled debut release, he doubled his $50,000 target in 48 hours.
As well as a fearless trailblazer and LGBTQ+ advocate, Holland has been able to rely on his close and highly committed community to support his art. CTZAR talked to the singer about the relationship he has with his audience on social media.
How would you describe your community?
Holland: My community? I’m in many categories. Kpop, LGBTQ, Asian, etc. I really like being part of so many communities. It seems to broaden my diversity and possibilities. I feel like I’m not alone anymore.
What message are you trying to convey to them?
Holland:I want to express my rebelliousness against hope, courage, positivity, and prejudice breaking, movement, and discrimination. I want to be an icon and a person who can give comfort and love to my fans.
How do you communicate with your fanbase?
Holland:I do communicate with them every day. Although we are all far away from each other, I try to make them feel that I am the one who is always next to them via using Twitter.
You have partnered with Louboutin on numerous occasions, in what ways does the brand inspire you, and why did you choose to take part in these campaigns?
Holland: You’re kidding me, right? There’s probably no one who doesn’t want to work with Louboutin. I think their symbolic and classic shoes are stunning.
Louboutin’s classic shoes are the most beautiful ever. I really love this brand with all my heart and respect you for trying new things every time.
What stands out in your story is your deep activism for the LGBTQ+ community, do you think that brands have a role to play in helping shift mentalities especially in regards to gender and inclusivity today?
Holland: Of course. I’m the first gay idol in K-pop, and that’s how people perceive me. Any kind of action that I did and do represents the LGBTQ image. Such as, I am trying not only to be a better person but also a better entertainer every moment like what Louboutin does.
Who are the people who inspire you today?
Holland: I respect everyone who leaves their own records nicely. Regardless of how it is, I think people who leave works that reveal their own thoughts and values in whether they are in any industry are very inspiring to me.
Does social media allow you today to further your help and implication in causes?
Holland: Just like Louboutin collaborated with Geppetto, the times are gradually coming online, and fans are inspired by me through social media. This is an incredible thing! It’s incredible that I can make my voice sound all over the world from Korea. Thank you for this era.
What are some future plans you have that we should look out for?
Holland: I will try to be an irreplaceable entertainer in variety. Recently, I started another career as an actor, it will be released next year. Also, will focus on making music and I hope we can work again with Louboutin, next year. I always much appreciated having me for that I dreamed of.