“Oppa’s not gay because XYZ…”
Every time I hear one of these arguments about some idol not being gay because of whatever, I want to rip my hair out.
This comes on the heels of more rumors about GD possibly having a girlfriend, possibly Kiko Mizuhara, possibly CL, possibly all this bullshit.
Before I go into this any further, I would like to start by saying I don’t assert that G-Dragon is definitely gay, bi, or whatever and definitely you’re wrong that he’s straight. My beliefs on his sexuality are besides the point, in this case (though you will see my opinion here, too). But my point here is: being in a heterosexual relationship does not disprove the possibility of homosexual attraction/interaction.
Let’s start with the clearest and most obvious reason why it does not, especially in Korea, and especially especially for idols. I have said this about 10,000 times, but I’ll say it again: homosexuality is not, is NOT, accepted in Korea. There is literally one (1) out gay celebrity, and even he had his career pretty much ruined for around 10 years for being gay.
The reason is that being openly gay is extremely difficult in Korea. Men in Korea will often marry a wife, and have sexual and romantic relationships in secret with men on the side. Even for young gay men, a lot of them accept the fact that one day they will marry a woman. Not because they have a desire to be married to a woman, but because they know that their families, jobs, and general society will not accept them & their sexuality.
In the case of idols, being out can cost them their entire career. And in the case of about 99.9% of idols, most of them have not gone to the military yet, and not going to the military is about as bad as being gay, and being gay can keep you out of the military. So, the choice is “be straight, or pretend to be, to keep your career and keep the public on your side” or “come out and risk literally losing your family, your job, and your future as a Korean citizen.”
This part is just my opinion, but I think being an idol is a bit of a jail sentence. For other young(gay) Koreans, they can do things like study abroad, or move from Korea to a country where they will be accepted and can live more freely and be themselves. Also, with the social climate in Korea, they can still live a somewhat happy life being gay within their circles and going to gay bars and things. For idols, a lot of those options are closed. Try to move from Korea before you’ve served the military? You will be condemned by netizens & society for trying to switch citizenship & dodge the draft. Signed to a 5 year contract to a popular label? Study abroad isn’t an option, you have comebacks and shit to do. Going to gay bars is an option (I’ve heard certain SHINee members frequent them), but it’s dangerous and causes rumors. The point is, it’s difficult for young gay Koreans, and even more so for young gay Korean celebrities.
(BTW, here, I’m using gay as a blanket term for LGBTQIA people.)
So, yeah… you’re not going to see an idol come out. Maybe ever. I mean, I’m hopeful that someone will come out some day, in the future, but as for right now? The prospect looks dim.
“But oppa has a girlfriend/rumors of a girlfriend/talked about girlfriends on TV.”
Yep. Of course. It’s not like you’re gonna go on TV and say “Oh, my ex-boyfriend.” Because that’s called outing yourself. So, let’s say, for instance, your idol is talking about former lovers on a variety show, and he’s explaining a time did something romantic for this person. All he has to do is switch everything about a “he” to a “she”. Duh. It’s not like gay romance is so vastly different that changing a he to a she would still make it recognizable as gay, unless they’re talking about sex, and your idol is not gonna go into detail about sexual things on TV. Also, sometimes in Korean, you don’t use gender pronouns, because Korean has a lot of implied meaning. So, if you once say “yeoja chingu”, the rest of the time, you don’t need gender pronouns because it’s implied you’re talking about “girlfriend.”
Now, moving to idols who have had visible or known girlfriends, or idols that have girls that they are strongly rumored to be with, such as Jonghyun & Sikyung, or GD & Kiko/CL/Dara whomever.
There are several things to consider here, so I’ll break it down:
1) There’s the possibility of bisexuality. It’s not like people aren’t bisexual, it’s not like men can’t be bisexual, and it’s not like people don’t suddenly become not-bisexual by dating someone of the opposite sex. A man can genuinely like a girl, but also have genuinely liked other guys. It’s not impossible. Not considering this is heteronormative at best and biphobic at worse. In GD’s case, I’ve always considered him bisexual. To me, I think he genuinely likes girls, and that’s very clear. I just think he also likes guys, and it seems obvious, to me, from the way he is around certain guys. Don’t think “oppa has a girlfriend” automatically means he does not experience attraction to the same sex.
2) There’s the possibility of him trying to be straight and hiding his homosexuality or being in denial about it. It’s called being in the closet, because people who are in the closet try everything they can to not be seen as gay. Many men have been in heterosexual relationships to cover up their homosexuality. Many famous men. Many men in power. Many men who seem like a stereotypically straight man. Men can be gay and still marry women, and this happens all the time. Your idols are not gods who are immune to the problems other humans have. If this exists in every corner of the Earth, and has happened with famous people, politicians, strong pillars of the community, and religious leaders all over the world, it can be happening in K-pop. K-pop is not immune to reality. Sorry. I know it’s hard to accept that K-pop idols are humans who have the same problems as other humans, but it’s true. I know you’ve heard about US senators who troll bathrooms for gay sex, or pastors who have relationships with men in the church, or women who discover their husband sleeping with the (male) gardener and what not. That’s because… gay men often enter heterosexual relationships because it’s easier and it’s scary to be out. Being out, and living as an out gay man, in a gay relationship, is brave and a constant struggle for acceptance and equality. Some people are afraid of that challenge, or are in-denial or afraid of what people will think of them or say about them or to them. The same thing happens in K-pop. (I’m saying happens, because you better believe SOME idols are gay. Are. Not might be. There are enough idols that, you better believe somebody is gay. Even if it’s not one anyone suspects.)
3. There’s the possibility of the label finding out about rumors about these idols being gay, and coming up with girlfriends and girlfriend rumors to quell the gay rumors. This is actually a common practice in Hollywood, and has been happening for years. A celebrity, especially one meant to be a heartthrob for women, is secretly gay and engaging in gay relationships, and rumors start to go around about it, so the company cooks up a hetero relationship for him, and hooks him up with a girlfriend (usually a model or starlet or someone who can also benefit from the relationship.)
This is just my assumption, but I think it’s highly possible that this is the case for both Jonghyun and GD. And here’s why: Jonghyun and Key had very strong… strong relationship rumors for a while, that were getting quite hot. While it’s true that many labels in K-pop like to play up the pairings because people like to ship them, they’re also terrified of idols actually being gay and coming out (because name an out idol. And there are some, because the one openly gay actor has said he knows some personally.) In my opinion, just as the Jongkey shit got too hot, it’s released that Jonghyun is dating Shin Sikyung. That’s a good way to say “look, see? he’s straight, lol, Jongkey is just a fandom pairing.”
And I know that a lot of people think that’s shipper logic. In my opinion, it’s not. I think it’s easier for people to believe that all oppars are straight, and the only people who believe they’re gay are shippers. On the contrary, I like to think about how shit works behind the scenes, and I know for a fact that this is a common practice in Hollywood, and I don’t put it past the K-pop industry.
As for GD… I feel the same way. The GTOP pairing was really hot in 2011 and early 2012… then suddenly GTOP stopped interacting at all… in public. On stage. In interviews…. GTOP barely acknowledged the other one existed. Which was strange, because they had been at least close buddies for the entirety of the group. And anyone who had been following this pairing knows how real shit got in 2011 - early 2012. Then, the thing comes on MNET about the GTOP pairing, showing all their couple shit. And then by Christmas, suddenly Kiko Mizuhara rumors come out again?
The difference between Kiko & Sikyung, in my opinion, is that, at least Kiko is actually and definitely friends with G-Dragon. I just think that the stressed hanging out and the (??) picture in Phuket, and all the stressed rumors about the two of them possibly dating are a little too convenient and almost strategic. It’s like YG wants the rumors out, to me.
Both of these situations remind me of the Taylor Swift & Harry Styles thing, and the John Legend/every model his label has paired him with to make him seem straight. If you don’t know about these “relationships used to cover the homosexuality of the male popstar” stories, I suggest you check the insider Hollywood blogs, link blindgossip. (K-pop needs more of that type of stuff, too.)
(BTW, when I said to boost the career or image of the female starlet or model, I don’t mean that they are nobodies without the male star. I just mean that a celebrity relationship or even rumors of one are good for both stars, because of the idea that “any publicity is good publicity”, and agencies love to do this because of that. In Kiko’s case, she’s a model and people don’t really discuss models. But if they date celebrities, or are even rumored to, their profile is boosted…. Like Willy Cartier being linked to Frank Ocean, etc.)
Anyway, I’ve said this about 10000 times before, too, but I think you all can be pretty sure that your oppars will marry women. I’m pretty sure none of them will come out, especially not any time soon, so that means either you’ll have certain idols not getting married or not doing it for a long time, or you’ll have gay idols doing as other men have done in their country and marrying women. (I have my fingers crossed for Key, though. Here’s hoping.)
So, please stop celebrating that “yay, this proves oppar is straight!” every time a girlfriend is mentioned. Not because of ships, or OTPs, or any of that, but because it’s obnoxious and ignorant and suggests that you think something is wrong if he is gay. It’s sickening, because the reason queer K-pop fans like myself are so interested in this is because of the lack of representation in this industry. At least those of us who live in Western countries have the benefit of having some representation outside of K-pop, but think about kids in Korea, who are gay, who have to deal with the lack of representation and how that must make them feel. Think about how gay idols must feel, having to hide and pretend to be straight, think about how hopeless that must feel. You celebrating that “oppar is straight” is a part of the problem. You are the reason they have to pretend to be straight (not directly, but you definitely feed the culture by acting that way.)
And as stated before, maybe these OTPs are just ships and nothing more, maybe G-Dragon is straight as a line, and Jonghyun, and Key and all of the ones I suspect and most LGBTQIA K-pop fans suspect are straight. But you bet your ass some idols are gay. Some of them are. And pretending they’re not isn’t going to change that. This attitude that something is wrong with thinking an idol is gay, and shit like that… or thinking that no idols are gay or that even suggesting that someone is is wrong… is the reason your oppar cannot come out. G-Dragon might be straight, he might be in love with Kiko Mizuhara, (Or CL, who the other half seems to think he’s with right now), and that’s fine. But stop celebrating it like you won the lottery because “oppar’s straight, this proves it!”
I’m done, I guess. You may discuss.