Dazed 100 winner, Holland has made his return in recent months with a special gift to his fans who have supported him since his early 2018 debut, “Neverland” with not only one but two singles; both linked together in a full storyline that tells Holland’s story of being openly part of the LGBTQ+ community and also trying to be part of the K-Pop industry.
The first track; “I’m Not Afraid” is exactly as it describes. It is a celebration and an anthem for anyone who identifies as LGBTQ+ as the idol announces that he is “not afraid anymore”. In a genre which usually views sexuality as taboo, it is a metaphorical middle finger to those against many celebrities and others who may be in same-sex relationships or identify outside of what is deemed “normal”. The music video for this House-inspired track is a showcase of the Pride community as Holland celebrates with a wide range of cast members; drag queens, difference races, different genders and more. All are definitely not afraid to show who they are as they soon party through any worries and Holland himself embraces who he is, joining one male co-star in a passionate kiss.
Despite the first video embracing and celebrating, the most recent second single strips everything down with “I’m So Afraid”. Holland documents this track as hesitation. The previous two videos were fixed on romance and being bold without risks but now, this video is bringing the events of “I’m Not Afraid” back into reality. We get a glimpse of what could be Holland’s mind and reality as it cuts between him lost in the forest and an interpretive dancer acting as his own thoughts, dancing through the streets at night. She could be the representation of the previous single, acting freely and accepting oneself openly – mainly seen when she kisses her own reflection through the glass but at the end, it transitions back to Holland, pulling his hands away from his eyes as if he dreamed the images he longs for.
We do see both sides of the coin through this twin single. Holland has gathered a large accepting fan-base, despite the age restriction issues on Youtube but despite the international embrace of LGBTQ+ and Pride, sexuality is still seen as taboo in South Korea and especially in the Entertainment industry. He does act independently as an Idol and is not signed under any company – possibly due to this taboo but still, he continues to intertwine his true identity throughout his work; documenting his ideas, desires and fears of being openly gay which is emotions that can be embraced by many fans who may be in his position or in a similar mindset. This and many other reasons are why Holland has become not only an Idol but an artist to watch within the music industry and why he has created such an impact and example within the growing youth culture showcased in the Dazed 100.