Gaydar Feature of the Month – Kiko Mizuhara

“I try my best to be myself as much as possible. I just try to be honest and not simply answer what somebody wants to hear”

Kiko Mizuhara – White Lies Magazine (Oct 2022)


In this Gaydar Feature of the Month, we will be visiting the land of the rising sun’s prettiest ally; Kiko Mizuhara. While Japan recognises same-sex partnership since 2015, same-sex marriage is not yet legalised in Japan. With their non-confrontational culture, being an ally to LGBTQIA+ community is a challenging feat. Nevertheless, we are glad to hear that one of the most influential female artist in Japan like Kiko chose to publically stand out as an LGBTQIA+ ally.

Early Life and Career

Kiko was born in Dallas, Texas in 1990. She is the oldest daughter from a mixed family, whose mother is a Zainichi Korean from Nagasaki and father is from America. The family moved to Japan when Kiko was 2 years old, but her parents divorced when she was 13 years old and her father moved back to the United States.

She started her budding modelling career in 2002 by joining a modelling contest held bySeventeen Magazine. By the age of 17, she further pursued her modelling career by signing an exclusive contract for ViVi magazine in 2007. From 2010 onwards, she became a runway model for international runways and notable brands such as Jeremy Scott, Moschino and Alexander Wang. Her career blossomed with her face gracing famous magazine covers such as Vogue, and she also starred in notable brand campaigns by Coach, Dior and Marc Jacobs. In 2019, The Cut magazine mentioned her as the most famous and influential women in Japan with 5 million followers in Instagram.

Besides modelling, Kiko also tried her hand in acting. Her first project was a movie titled Norwegian Wood in 2010. She was also casted in various manga adaptation such as Helter Skelter (2012) and Attack on Titans (2015), along with several small screen appearances in Japanese TV series and drama. In 2016, she started her entrepreneurship by launching Kiko Co Ltd and “OK” as her own fashion brand.

Involvement in Netflix Queer Themed Projects

Besides her busy projects and rising name in entertainment industry, she was always loved by the queer community. From her social media posts, she supported drag artistry by posting pictures with drag queens from all over the world. She also openly shared with the media that she regularly visited gay bars and clubs because it was safe for her as a women and still able to have fun.

In 2019, Kiko was involved as a co-host for Queer Eye: We’re in Japan. The show introduced Japanese popular queer places and culture to the main hosts, the Fab Five. In the show, Kiko expressed deep understanding and excitement for the topic and it was well received by the public.

In 2021, Kiko was starred as a lead actress in a Netflix queer-themed movie titled Ride or Die (2021). During the promotion, Kiko told NBC that she did not had difficulties portraying the role as a lesbian because has experienced it (lesbian relationship) before. This made speculation about Kiko’s sexuality for implicitly coming out on the interview but there was no official statement yet.

Allyship and Influence

With the power and influence she possesses, Kiko bravely shows her commitment and support towards the queer community. People still love her regardless of her sexual orientation. Most importantly, fans never doubt her allyship and support to the queer community. Kiko’s activism has influenced queer positivism within Japan, Asia and even the world.

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