Search anywhere in the world, online or offline, and you’ll likely come across some form of South Korean influence. From the heightened interest in Korean cosmetics and romcoms, to the pandemic-induced popularity of Dalgona coffee, Korean culture has undeniably become intertwined with the global fabric. But despite contributing to worldwide trends and pop culture, South Korea remains surprisingly conservative about gender and the LGBTQ+ community . While the drag scene has started to grow in the country, representation remains scarce in the mainstream. There is also an unspoken pressure on celebrities and prominent figures to keep mum on controversial topics – and this is especially true for K-pop idols who are expected to be role models for the youth. However, some idols have dared to go against the grain, using their platforms to bravely advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. 18 celebrities who came out as LGBT in 2022 (so far) 2AM’s Jo Kwon When Jo Kwon promoted his solo debut track Animal in a pair of Jeffrey Campbell heels, we couldn’t help but wonder if he simply wanted to give us something to talk about. However, over the years, Jo Kwon’s love affair with high-heeled stompers has remained unchanged, granting him the opportunity to explore new sides of himself and cementing his connection to drag culture. “Being genderless is my weapon,” he shared in an interview with Newsis. Instead of shying away from the androgynous image he has become known for, he harnessed it. Since making his musical debut as King Herod in Jesus Christ Superstar , Jo Kwon has opted to star in queer-focused musicals like Priscilla , Queen of the Desert and Everybody’s Talking About Jamie – even when his performances attracted criticism from the public. “There is a drag queen in the musical,” he says of Jamie . “As time goes by, it seems like Jamie will be accepted by more and more audiences with an open mind.” Jo Kwon also performed alongside Lachica and queer dance crew Coming Out in the viral competition show, Street Woman Fighter . An ode to the oddballs of the world, the performance was set to Lady Gaga’s self-love anthem, Born This Way . The evolution of Willow Smith: meet Will and Jada’s daughter 2NE1’s CL CL has long been a supporter and friend of the gay community. In a 2013 interview with Elle , she expressed her love for her LGBTQ+ friends and fans. “They’re so special and talented,” she shared. She is famously best friends with openly gay fashion designer, Jeremy Scott, Moschino’s creative director. View this post on Instagram A post shared by CL (@chaelincl) A true ally, CL celebrates the community’s victories. In 2019, when Taiwan made headlines as the first Asian country to legalise gay marriage, she took to social media to share the news. Girls’ Generation’s Tiffany As if Girls’ Generation’s debut hit, Into the New World , wasn’t iconic enough, it has become a progressive anthem in South Korea. In celebration of Pride Month, Tiffany collaborated with Neon Milk, an LGBTQ+ creative collective, to release a special edition of the track. In 2018, Tiffany wrote a heartfelt love letter to the community for Billboard. In her letter, she reflected on her struggles as a Korean-American and thanked the community for inspiring her with their unconditional love and hope. She wrote, “I’m thankful and blessed to be able to work with and love so many amazing individuals in the LGBTQ+ community that have contributed so much love to my art and my life.” Shinee’s Jonghyun The second generation of K-pop marked the beginning of idols using social media as we know it today. It was in this era that celebrities began to transition from using Cyworld’s Mini Hompy to platforms like Instagram and Twitter, granting them a space for more frequent interactions with their fans. Playfully nicknamed “Jjong-tizen” by fans, Shinee’s Jonghyun was known to frequent Twitter and post about current events – even when they were considered controversial. In 2013, when a transgender and bisexual student faced discrimination at university, Jonghyun reached out via a private message on Twitter. He expressed his support and commended her for spreading the message that being different does not mean being wrong. Sadly, Jonghyun passed away in 2017. 5 times Blackpink’s Lisa proved she’s Thailand’s unofficial princess Red Velvet’s Yeri In honour of Pride Month, Twitter user @kimnonsan conducts a yearly survey ranking the 100 favourite female idols of bi and lesbian South Korean women. Members of Red Velvet have consistently ranked within the top 25, with Irene and Seulgi taking the top seat in the past few years. There have been a handful of instances where Red Velvet members have expressed their support for the LGBTQ+ community, like when Wendy and Seulgi fawned over traffic lights in Vienna that featured same-sex couples. [190628 fansign] i told yeri her holding the rainbow flag was a special moment for her fans and she said it was really special for her too and she wouldn’t forget it 🥺💜 pic.twitter.com/SOYz3dZHLX — 🐰🎵 (@reveluxe) June 28, 2019 However, fans have noted that Yeri appears to have a strong connection with the community. She is close friends with openly gay Korean musician Holland , who recently suffered from a homophobic attack. Yeri also proudly draped a rainbow flag around her body during the group’s Redmare concert in Los Angeles. The Boyz’s Kevin Arguably a walking pop culture almanac, Kevin of The Boyz is the guy with all the references – including pillars of LGBTQ+ culture. He has mentioned watching Pose , a show centred on New York drag culture and trans history, on multiple occasions. He’s a RuPaul’s Drag Race fan and has said he would willingly hand over his life savings to Bianca Del Rio. He reads and recommends books that orbit around protagonists in same-sex relationships too. [케빈] 페이지가 절로 넘겨지는 흥미진진한 책! 다 읽으면 후기 올릴게용~ what a page turner this is! I’ll post a review once I’m done 🤙 pic.twitter.com/6dovtGlWSR — THE BOYZ (더보이즈) (@WE_THE_BOYZ) October 6, 2019 While consuming queer-centric media and supporting the gay community are completely different matters, Kevin ticks both those boxes. He has sported clothing that benefits LGBTQ+ communities and is also respectful of people’s pronouns. How do K-drama queens stay youthful? Discover their anti-ageing beauty tips Le Sserafim’s Huh Yunjin Colouring outside the lines can be fatal for a group so fresh from its debut , but that doesn’t seem to faze Le Sserafim’s Huh Yunjin. To kick off the month of June, the former Produce 48 competitor posted photos from her debut teaser, captioning the post, “Little throwback for Pride :) I love you. Unconditionally.” Want more stories like this? Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter .