Latin Grammys 2018

Openly Gay K-Pop Star Holland Earns Top Spot on Annual Dazed 100 List

Courtesy Photo
Holland, "Neverland"

For years, the Dazed 100 list has served as a shorthand for which celebrities, artists and actors are helping define and shape modern youth culture. Each year, a winner is chosen for the list who best represents that culture, with past winners including the likes of Kendall Jenner, Troye Sivan and Hari Nef.

On this year’s Dazed 100 list, openly gay K-pop star Holland was voted the winner after going up against Stranger Things actress Sadie Sink, Russian model Sasha Trautvein, The Internet guitarist Steve Lacy and A Wrinkle in Time actress Storm Reid. The singer received over 30,000 votes from the public, placing him on top of this year’s list. Other queer names to make this year’s list include RuPaul’s Drag Race star The Vixen, producer and pop artist SOPHIE and 11-year-old drag queen Desmond Is Amazing.

In an interview with Dazed, Holland said that when he came into prominence earlier this year with his queer love song “Neverland,” he was realizing a lifelong dream of being able to be a role model for his community. “There wasn’t a single role model to look up to in Korea, I was very consoled by foreign celebrities,” he said. “So I thought, ‘I want to be a famous person like them’ ... I’m working harder because I want to be a special person to my fans too.”

The singer’s track, “Neverland,” marked a first for the K-pop community. Not only did the song express an explicitly queer love that had not been seen before in the genre, but his music video put any doubt aside, as it depicts him falling in love with and eventually kissing his male co-star.

Holland mentions in the interview that he worked on the song without the support of a label, saying that he made the song by “working two part-time jobs” and with the help of many of his friends. Due to his openness about his sexuality, he hasn’t been able to find a label, and his debut video was given a 19+ age restriction in his home country.

But the star said that he wants his work to be a way in which he and his fans can breakthrough the pain and negativity of discrimination in the modern age. “[It’s] not only in South Korea -- a lot of my fans across the world have been hurt,” he says. “I hope the problems I suffered before could disappear one day.”

Watch the full video interview with Holland below: