The first Korean Show on Broadway, ‘KPOP’, reminds us that joy is a universal experience. ‘KPOP’ follows the journey of 2 music groups striving to become K-pop idols and debut in New York City. This show unites the audience in a shared celebration of music and storytelling. It is a story made to be enjoyed by everyone because embracing the beats of K-pop doesn't require you to know Korean. ‘KPOP’ unexpectedly closed its curtains after a short, two-week run. Its abrupt end echoes the fate of many BIPOC shows on Broadway that have ended too soon. This opens up a larger discussion about the unfair standards imposed on BIPOC representation. Asian stories deserve to be told, and ‘KPOP’ serves as a reminder of the beauty of representation on the grand stage.
When Jeffrey was in high school, he first started realizing that he had crushes on his guy friends. He struggled with this–especially when he told his crush he liked him and was rejected. He began questioning how long he could get away with ignoring who he was. He built his first body of work ‘Typhoon’, which was his coming out story. Originally, JËVA made music to escape his sexuality. JËVA, or Jeffrey, is a Chinese-Australian gay artist who first used every one of these descriptors to get people's attention. But it was these exact buzzwords that helped him accept his identity. Today, not only does he have the approval of his parents, he also has fans who have thanked him for creating music that expressed their struggles. But he still deals with adversity–like the Australian music industry execs, who are scared to take risks and don’t know what to do with JËVA. His message today embodies that being gay is a part of who you are, as opposed to your entire identity.
Between the pandemic and political changes in Hong Kong, many places are being demolished without people even knowing. These explorers are trying to hold on to some of the city’s past with their photo book ‘Spatial Cemetery’. Abandonment and development come hand in hand, and naturally some cities have more abandoned spaces than others. Hong Kong has a particularly high concentration of these areas because of the rapid development post-handover in 1997. Echo and Ghost co-founded HK Urbex a decade ago, in hopes to find unique spots around Hong Kong. They say exploring an abandoned environment is exciting, anxiety-inducing and even surreal. Outside of just exploring, HK Urbex is documenting these spaces through photography in hopes to immortalize them. But they are disappearing fast.
Phirack Mao escaped the Cambodian genocide as a baby, and now lives in Oklahoma as a donut shop owner and sheriff. Growing up in Long Beach, Cali, Phirack lived amongst gang violence, discrimination, and was kicked out of his home as a teen. This is how he reclaimed his life. Oklahoma has a small population of Asians,–only 800 or so of the 4 million population are Cambodians like Phirack. Fourteen years ago, Phirack became a donut shop owner, and a couple years after that, he became a sheriff. Unable to enjoy his childhood because of prevalent gang culture and a strict father, Phirack joined law enforcement to make a difference in his small community in Sulphur, OK, where he finally found belonging. As a father of three, Phirack’s main goal is to provide his children with the life that he wasn’t able to have. But these goals stem from pain in his own relationship with his father, the only member of his family that made it out alive with him. Today, Phirack loves and respects his father but still has a hard time building that relationship.
‘Song for the Mute’ is an avant-garde clothing brand hailing from Sydney, Australia. They’re recognized as innovators by the Hypebeasts and tastemakers of the world, have graced fashion shows from Milan to Shanghai, and have die-hard fans tattoo the brand name on themselves. In the past year, ‘Song for the Mute’ have begun to leave their indelible mark on mainstream culture, including a collaboration with Adidas and having the likes of BTS’s Jungkook and Usher adorn their wild pieces. But Melvin Tanaya and Lyna Ty – founders of Song for the Mute – will tell you that the brand prioritizes sharing their own stories over inflated price tags and the exclusivity of the fashion world. That's why as they change, so do their collections.
India’s first transgender soccer team, YaAll, is created for trans and queer people, who feel unsafe in sports because of how binary it is. YaAll is disrupting, revolutionizing, and impacting not only soccer but India too. Can India become the world’s most inclusive sporting arena? Globally, categories in sports are still for men and women. Sadam, founder of YaAll, grew up getting bullied and harassed in sports, leading him to hide or skip games. Even still, Sadam wanted to participate in sports and not have more than safety, he wanted belonging. And with YaAll, he hopes it’s the beginning of giving this to more people: the opportunity to play openly in your gender identity. The government of India has already recognized transgender as a third category of gender, and Sadam’s hope is that India will also acknowledge transgender in sports as a different category. But his vision is larger than India, he wants this inclusivity to exist everywhere.