Gay pop singer MNEK addresses ‘segregation’ in music industry

English singer-songwriter MNEK has spoken openly about “segregation” in the music industry, saying that he is “not wholly welcomed” by the UK’s black community and gay people in the industry.

Speaking to Billboard, MNEK said that there is “a long way to go” in improving opportunities for openly queer black artists in the industry.

Antony Jones/Getty

“I don’t want to blame anything on racism or homophobia, but there’s a lot of segregation that what I do comes with,” he said.

He also spoke about building a career in the music industry when there is no blueprint for a black gay pop star, saying he is “figuring it out.”

He released his debut album, Language, yesterday, however he has been working in the industry since he was 14 and has released a number of singles, as well as working as a songwriter.

The British pop-star spoke to PinkNews last month about a range of issues, including Grindr’s attempt to tackle racism on the app by launching a new version, called Kindr.

He said that the move “doesn’t change the fact that there are people out there who see black people or people of colour as accessories to their sexual fantasies, which is harmful to someone’s relationship with sex, or casual sex, or intimacy, because they just have this wall that has just been created by other people and their ignorance.”

Tim P. Whitby/Getty

He also spoke about being a queer pop star in a “heteronormative” music industry, saying: “We face a lot of […] criticism and people look at us with a different lens, just because it is something different, something they’re not used to.

“They’re used to seeing quite heteronormative ideals from pop stars, male and female, and so when it’s someone who straddles the line or does something different, yeah, it can be looked at as wrong, which it isn’t, of course.”

He also admitted that he has self-censored at times by changing pronouns in songs to match heteronormative ideals.