BTS are a 7 member Korean boy group who have been active since 2013. Since this time they have become massively successful and are arguably one of the most popular musical acts active currently.
Like most contemporary K-pop acts, BTS started their career in South Korea, but now have a massive worldwide fan base while still maintaining a strong following in Korea.
BTS are popular for their music but also for what the music is meant to stand for. This has led the group to gain a passionately strong fan base.
BTS have also cultivated an image of being socially aware and have displayed this through speaking on certain issues publicly, with one of the most well known examples being when the group was invited to speak at the UN.
BTS are also incredibly well known for their popularity with the LGBT+ community having lots of fans who identify as such.
This is why you will hear many of these fans talk about how BTS are advocates for this community and have repeatedly shown their support.
This is surprising to many because of South Korea’s attitude towards LGBT+ issues.
While being part of this group is not illegal in South Korea, even now it is still widely frowned upon, especially by older generations.
So because of BTS being a South Korean group, but also being supporters of the LGBT+ community, many people who are not hardcore fans of the group may be wondering how the group have been able to show their support for this community?
This article will give some of the best examples of BTS showing their support for the LGBT+ community and how this has impacted the community.
Since they are a Korean act, after the list of examples we will also go a little further in-depth on why being an LGBT+ advocate is so difficult for public figures in South Korea, while also talking on what BTS could do better as LGBT+ advocates!
Times BTS Have Shown Support For The LGBTQ Community
These are not all the examples of BTS supporting the LGBT+ community, however these are some of the most prominent.
RM Recommended Blue Is The Warmest Color
All the way back in 2013 when the group were just rookies, RM openly endorsed and recommended fans watch the movie adaption of Blue Is The Warmest Color which is a romance story which is between 2 women.
Jungkook Supports Troye Sivan
Jungkook has repeatedly expressed his admiration for Troye Sivan and his music with Sivan being an openly gay singer. He even covered Sivan’s song ‘Fools’ duetting with RM.
RM’s Speech At The UN
BTS’ speech at the UN gained a lot of attention for being the first K-pop act to speak in a setting like this.
One of the most important quotes being from RM saying: “No matter who you are, where you’re from, your skin color, gender identity: speak yourself.”
Gay soloist Holland shared this quote and shared that he felt supported by it.
Singing With Halsey
BTS made a very high profile comeback with the song Boy With Luv and what gained a lot of attention was the collaboration with Halsey who members mentioned they had a strong friendship with. Halsey has mentioned previously her fluid sexuality.
RM Song Recommendations
RM has previously recommended songs like Same Love by Macklemore and Strawberries and Cigarettes which featured on the soundtrack for Love Simon.
RM was shown to openly understand the lyrics which supported the LGBT+ community and cited this as part of the reason why he is so fond of these songs.
Members Going Against Gender Norms With Fashion Choices
BTS have repeatedly shown to not be limited by gender when it comes to fashion choices with members often wearing clothes not traditionally meant for men.
The group have repeatedly mentioned the need to not feel limited by gender when it comes to self-expression.
Suga’s Ideal Type
In 2014 Suga did an interview with a Japanese magazine where he was asked about his ideal type he mentioned the fact that he was more focused on personality and that his ideal type was not limited to just a girl.
Collaboration With Lil Nas X
During the 2020 Grammy Award BTS performed a remix of Old Town Road with Lil Nas X. Lil Nas X is known for many things with his sexuality being one of them, and he is not shy about sharing this.
J-Hope’s Speech Winning MMA
During one of BTS’ many award-winning speeches, with this being the Artist Of The Year Award at the 2018 MMAs, J-Hope mentioned his appreciation and understanding of different types of love he has discovered in the year prior.
While not explicit, this example is great since it was done openly at a Korean awards show.
RM’s Comments On Masculinity
BTS have repeatedly disparaged many perceptions of masculinity, with one of the most explicit examples being in a Rolling Stone article where RM spoke on how the traditional concepts of masculinity are incredibly outdated and that he is glad that they can go against these restrictions.
Why Supporting LGBTQ Rights As Korean Celebrities Is Difficult
As an LGBT+ activist coming from a Western perspective it is very easy to look at these examples and think that what BTS has done for LGBT+ rights is inadequate and that they could do so much more.
However, when it comes to issues like this you need to remain aware of the perspective you are coming from and how activism in different countries always takes different shapes, and the backlash you could face in one country for one thing, could be so much worse in a different environment.
Historically South Korea has quite a bad reputation for supporting its LGBT+ celebrities with famous TV personality Hong Seok-Cheon talking openly about how when he came out in 2000 he lost almost all of his TV work overnight and how the backlash was so bad that he contemplated taking his life.
But while it could be easy to see these issues as in the past they are unfortunately not.
Soloist Holland debuted as an openly gay idol and while he has gotten lots of positive attention, he has also received lots of negative attention as well with a recent example being the attack he was victim to just in May.
While Korea is starting to show a better understanding and appreciation of what it is like to be LGBT+ with shows like Marry Queer debuting recently featuring Hong Seok-Cheon and idols openly being allies like EXID’s Hani, there is still always backlash.
This is why so many idols especially are only able to show their support when they either have a well established career, or when they are promoting overseas.
A strong example of this being Girls’ Generation’s Tiffany Young who in 2018 wrote a letter to the LGBT+ community where she mentioned not being able to openly support the community when promoting in Korea.
So while it is always good to expect the best when it comes to allies, we should always remain aware of the consequences public figures face, especially in such media critical countries as South Korea.
What BTS Could Do To Further Support LGBTQ Rights
While the previous section is certainly worth acknowledging and should not be overlooked, we can still expect more from allies and advocates.
It would be great to see a more explicit endorsement from BTS since they are so well established not just in Korea, but worldwide.
While BTS have been more open about their allyship when promoting overseas, their examples of open support are usually layered in obscurity and are not widespread.
It is difficult to say what we should expect from a group as big as BTS, and it will be interesting to see what happens as the members start to focus more on their solo work, and we get to see more of how each of the 7 members portray themselves individually.
However, in a country like South Korea where they all hold so much influence, it would be at least interesting to see how much change could be made from an explicit endorsement in the country from even one of the members.
South Korea is arguably the country where the members have the most impact as public figures, and it would be interesting to see what could happen if this further taken advantage of.
So hopefully this article has given you a better understanding of BTS and the support they have given the LGBT+ community.
It is good to see the support they have already shown and the fact that their LGBT+ fans feel supported should not be overlooked.
However, it is always good to expect more from public figures who endorse discriminated communities as the better and more explicit the support, the better the results will tend to be.