Pop icon Mika was told his music was ‘too gay’ by ‘brazen’ industry homophobes

Singer Mika wearing a blue, white and red suit, white shirt and blue tie while performing on stage, with a grey microphone in his hand.

Mika has opened up about being told his music was “too gay” as he dealt with homophobia in the early years of his career.

The “Grace Kelly” singer erupted onto the music scene back in 2007, but his ambiguous sexuality almost overshadowed his talent. 

Discussing his first few years in the music industry in a new interview with the i, Mika said he was often told: “We’d love to play this song, but it’s just a little too gay.”

Reflecting on how he was treated, he added: “I think you wouldn’t be able to get away with some of those comments and articles today. I was accused of being brazen, but I think it was brazen homophobia.”

Mika, who is currently hosting new Channel 4 talent show The Piano alongside The Traitors icon Claudia Winkleman, explained how it took time for him to be himself as he grappled with the music industry’s homophobia.

“It always takes a while, but I’ve learned to be myself. Honestly, I don’t change very much anymore,” he said.

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“The industry was not one of the most kind or conducive places for making you at ease with your own identity or sexuality back then.”

Mika, Claudia Winkleman and pianist Lang Lang stand in the foreground looking at the camera, while a group of piano players stand in the background next to a piano.
Mika joins Claudia Winkleman and pianist Lang Lang on Channel 4’s The Piano. (Channel 4)

Mika came out as gay after being ‘exploited by press’

While Mika didn’t come out as gay until 2012, five years after his debut album Life In Cartoon Motion was released, the star endured relentless questioning from the media about his sexuality and criticism of his vibrant musical style.

Speaking to PinkNews in 2021, Mika reflected on the way he was “exploited” by the press in his early career, as journalists desperately attempted to force him out of the closet.

“The interview part of it felt like a kind of exploitation in the wrong way, and it very quickly became this kind of searching for a defined label, or searching for a ‘scoop’ confirmation in the most cynical sense,” he said.

“This being at a point in my life where I hadn’t even come out to my own mum – why am I going to do this with a journalist I’ve never met when I hadn’t come out to my mum?

“Looking back, I was really pressured a lot about labelling myself. I used to feel bad. I now realise that, actually, the journalists that put so much pressure on me should feel bad. It’s not healthy.”

It’s been more than a decade since Mika felt comfortable to come out as gay, but the issue of celebrities being forced to reveal their sexuality is still all too common.

In October, Heartstopper actor Kit Connor was pushed to reveal his bisexuality on Twitter, after facing ridiculous queerbaiting accusations from so-called fans.

Other stars pressured to come out as queer include Rita Ora and Rebel Wilson, while celebrities such as Harry Styles and Shawn Mendes have endured endless speculation about their sexuality.