Even in the modern day, it’s rare for K-Pop idols to speak up about LGBTQ+ issues, and rarer still for stars to talk about the transgender community. That’s why fans and netizens were so surprised when IZ*ONE Sakura‘s review of a queer movie recently resurfaced online. Not only has Sakura warmed fans hearts with her remarkably touching sentiments, she also hinted at her own sexuality.
While Sakura was still a member of Fukuoka supergroup HKT48, she regularly wrote columns for Spa!, a popular Japanese magazine. In February 2017, when Sakura was 18 years old, the magazine published her review on a movie called Close-Knit (titled Karera Ga Honki De Amu Toki Wa in Japan).
This wasn’t Sakura’s first review, but the subject matter made it unique, because Close-Knit features LGBTQ+ themes. The film centers on Tomo, an 11-year-old girl who goes to stay with her uncle and his girlfriend, Rinko, a transgender woman. Through knitting, Rinko and Tomo bond to become an unconventional yet close family.
Now, Sakura’s review is drawing attention for her open, warm, and understanding views on gender and sexuality. Twitter user Fujii Itsuki (@fujii_itsuki) provided an English translation for Sakura’s review, in which she told readers she was recommending Close-Knit because it makes you think about unique kinds of love.
In her review, Sakura opened with an introspective idea about humanity: humans differentiate themselves from each other by a range of categories (from age to career to to double or single eyelids), but the simplest category is gender.
The simplest way humans are differentiated is by their gender, yes, whether you’re male or female. The composition of your body, your thoughts, your occupation, just about everything changes (depending on your gender).
Sakura went on to discuss gender and love. Instead of believing that only a man and a woman should fall in love, Sakura revealed that she doesn’t adhere to the typical Japanese view on homosexuality. Instead, she said that love between two men or two women is perfectly fine.
When it comes to falling in love, between who and who should it take place? Is the right answer male and female? For human emotions, there is no right or wrong answer. Love between men, love between women, it’s fine that they exist. And in my opinion, Japan needs to deepen its understanding of homosexuality.
According to Sakura, gender is the least important part of love. In her review, she stated that loving someone’s thoughts, life, and heart are the foundational components of true love.
Alongside showing her support for homosexual relationships, Sakura mentioned the transgender aspect of the movie. The idol said that being transgender is part of someone’s identity, and that those who are transgender are living true to their own hearts.
People who are referred to as transgender, they live life while being true to their hearts and there are many who think of being transgender as part of their identity.
It’s still a rarity for stars to share their support for the transgender community, and when they do, they’re often subject to scrutiny. SHINee’s Jonghyun came under both praise and fire in 2013 when he publicly contacted and supported a transgender student.
So naturally, fans are both surprised and touched to hear Sakura’s past words affirming her belief in and support for those marginalized by their sexuality and gender.
this is why sakura is such a beautiful soul and why i love her. she's articulate and accepting and its amazing https://t.co/64zcTchSW2
— 🦢You make us Better🎶 🦒Marisa🌈 (@soreejillah) July 15, 2020
LGBTQ+ fans in particular were overwhelmed with emotion after reading Sakura’s remarkably mature and heartwarming thoughts.
as a trans girl and a sakura ult this makes me really happy ❤️ like i'm not even joking i'm about to cry
— Soykkura (@xueerkkura) July 15, 2020
Most surprisingly, Sakura rounded out her review by touching on her own sexuality. She revealed that while she hadn’t met anyone yet, she wouldn’t discount the idea of falling in love with another woman one day.
There isn’t a right timing or encounter yet, but there’s a possibility for me to fall in love with a woman too. I think it’s a possibility with everyone. Love is but a pitfall. You won’t know when or who you’ll fall for. If your heart shouts that you love someone, no matter what everyone else says, that’s love in my opinion.