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Meet K-Pop’s first openly gay music artist MRSHLL

Meet K-Pop’s first openly gay music artist MRSHLL


Marshall Bang, stage name MRSHLL, was born and raised in Orange County, California but is poised to become South Korea’s first gay pop star.

In 2012, he competed in South Korean singing competition Star Audition: The Next Big Thing 3. Korean hip hop label Feel Ghood Music then signed him to their label and he’s got his first EP coming.

MRSHLL told Forbes: ‘I’m gay, gay, gay, gay, gay.’

And when he told his parents, he added: ‘Can we please move on now and learn what that means?’

His mom and dad are first generation Korean-American migrants, who are both incredibly religious.

The 31-year-old artist revealed his relationship with his mom is strained, but he loves her dearly.

He said: ‘I adore my mother. She’s an incredible, strong woman but her and my dad don’t have the context for what it means to be gay.

‘They come from a community that doesn’t talk or want to know about this topic, but I get where they are coming from,’ he said.

South Korea on LGBTI rights

South Korea is an incredibly conservative country when it comes to LGBTI rights. While homosexuality is not a crime, social stigma forces many LGBTI people not to come out.

Just this year, Christian protestors blocked the annual Seoul Pride parade. Thousands of anti-LGBTI campaigners, mostly right-wing and Protestant groups, staged counter protests near Seoul Plaza.

They held large group prayers and loudly sung religious hymns.

This causes a problem for MRSHLL, with how he should act in public performances. In a piece for Very Good Light, he writes: ‘Since image is everything in entertainment, my record label is strategizing.

He asked: ‘Do I play the nice, the everyday friendly, relatable gay man a la Sam Smith? Or do I play the moody, keep-to-myself, uber artistic gay, like Frank Ocean? Or something in between?’

MRSHLL’s new EP promises to put LGBTI issues at the forefront. He said: ‘My song Dopamine literally has a line saying: “This is for my gays.”

‘It’s a song about empowerment for the LGBTI community, and it features a narration from the one and only Kim Chi from Season 8 of RuPaul’s Drag Race,’ he revealed.

Listen to MRSHLL’s latest song release Circle: