OP-ED, Special Features, Original Features
Posted by AllK_Maknae Tuesday, May 30, 2017

[MVP OP:ED] Why do some people perceive male K-pop idols as being Gay?


Are they gay?

You've heard it all before; "Is that a girl?," "Is he wearing makeup?," and the infamous "Are they gay?" These are the questions that have plagued the international K-Pop fandom since the dawn of time YouTube. Because Korean culture and their idols are different in so many ways in comparison to gender norms in other countries, it is becoming so common to question any male idols' sexuality before thinking of their talents, or anything else relevant, first.

SEE ALSO: Perez Hilton's comments about BTS' sexuality angers fans

With the controversy being stirred over Perez Hilton's recent bold tweet towards BTS during the Billboard Music Awards, I decided to settle the flame and join the heated discussion and shed some light as to why K-Pop idols' sexual orientation are put into question and address the negative connotations behind being gay.

First, let's address the real problem here - there is NOTHING wrong with being gay in the first place! It shouldn't be offensive to be questioned as if you're asking if someone has a viral sickness or something. 

The way Perez Hilton handled it was absolutely unprofessional because he already made an assumption and questioned "who in the group is out" - meaning they are gay and in the closet. It's wrong because he already labeled a person in regards to a sensitive topic about being in the closet which, especially in Korea, is no laughing matter. Perez, as a gay man, should know better and set a better example.

Me rubbing my OP:ED in people's faces.

Aside from that, being gay isn't something that is idolized or honored in any country, so it is understandable when someone quickly dismisses any false rumor or idea that they might be gay. However, to refer to someone being gay as slander is like saying someone is disgusting just because they are white, black or Korean. It is your born, natural identity - why is it a problem or used as a way to defame people? The moment people stop doing that, the better the world can be for the LGBTQIA+ community.

Second, we already know that some modern Korean men don't (usually) follow the gender norms most men relate to. Makeup for males is a big industry in Korea and you also see male idols sport girlish clothing, and have concepts like dandy boys and flower boys. In Western culture, to a "Bro," all signs point to yes - you're a homosexual. However, in Korea, it seems they don't put limitations on gender norms when it comes to this aspect. Korean culture view men in a different light than that of Western cultures. For entertainers to partake in these "feminine activities" doesn't emasculate anyone. The irony here is that masculinity used to be much more emphasized in Korea than even compared to the West. Around 20 or so years ago, no Korean man would've dared to use makeup but with K-pop leading the way, a lot of things have changed for the younger generation. South Korea is very competitive and if a male can get an advantage in the job market by wearing BB cream, he's probably going to do it. That's why someone viewed as "Handsome" by your standards might be met with a homophobic slur by someone elsewhere.

Unfortunately, the Western media projects Asian men in a very negative light (the sexless nerd) - so you already have an entry point for people to think in such a way. Whether it has to do with their assets or simply because of the media's bigotry, Korea has Super Junior's Siwon, Jay Park and even Daniel Henney who, in my opinion, are running circles around "Hollywood's hottest celebs." Take that, standards!

I find it inappropriate when I introduce a group like BTS to someone for the very first time and they ask me if the members are gay. I ask them why they think this way and the usually answer, "they are skinny and charming and wear makeup." What? You attribute them being gay from that? 

If I showed my friend this, then yes, I can understand the question of gay being asked:

Besides, when did BTS become the 'look' of all things gay in Korea? Limitations put on things like makeup, self-grooming, style and whatever else is considered feminine is becoming rather ridiculous - which is why I'm all for the latest men's romper phenomenon. Let a man do what a man wants to do - that is what makes you strong.

K-Pop idols are, at the end of the day, entertainers. Like most entertainers, they have an extreme image and concept to uphold. Judging their orientation simply because they are wearing guy-liner (yea, it's a thing) and have on cutesy clothing is, blatantly, immature. The reason why appearance is addressed the most is because it seems to be the trigger that has people jumping to conclusions about sexuality. What you do behind closed doors has no correlation to how you dress (unless, of course, you're dressing up in bed).

In the long run, this is also the image K-Pop idol companies are projecting on them for the public eye, and not necessarily, their own personal styles. If a mother dressed a baby boy in a cute outfit, would it really be necessary to call him gay? Unless you're kissing another man (looking at you Super Junior) then no one should be bothered to question your sexual orientation. 

Overall, homosexuality is being used in such a negative way that is it becoming tiring and upsetting to see as a degrading term used towards men. Male Korean idols are just as masculine or sexually appealing as any other man, that simply boils down to personal preference. K-Pop idols fill the shoes of every concept - if you like your hunky men ripping off shirts, we all got it! Sweet-as-daisies boyfriend concept? K-Pop and Asia seem to be the only place you'll find such an adorable concept. 

So why not embrace the many styles men can offer instead of putting them in a box and calling them gay just for being different? 

Being gay isn't a problem, why treat it that way? And no one should feel so achieved if they can guess someone's orientation just by their clothing. If said person is gay and proud of it, I'm sure they wouldn't give you a medal because you figured it out. Otherwise, if the person is closeted or not, that has nothing to do with their achievements.

K-pop male idols are the most confident in terms of sexuality in my book for taking on all these lovable concepts and being comfortable enough in their own skin to perform parodies of girl groups like Orange Caramel and Girl's Day. Less perceiving, more achieving! What's your opinion on this sensitive topic?

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