“I don’t think anyone has an obligation to do anything”: The pop politics of coming out
by Craig O. Stewart — Old Dominion University
April 25, 2008 – 03:01
If you live in the United States and you’ve not heard of Mika, you’re not alone. Although his debut album has sold over 3 million copies worldwide, he has sold only about 200,000 copies and has yet to chart a top 40 single in the U.S.(Wikipedia). Indeed, he is perhaps most famous for refusing to answer direct questions about his sexuality. While there has been some controversy over his refusal to answer “the question,” this interview with Logo’s Jason Bellini allows Mika to articulate his position that he should not be expected to answer questions about his sexual orientation, despite the fact both his music and his marketing seem to suggest that, yep, he’s gay. In sum, Mika says here that artists who claim a gay identity are both political and defined by their sexuality, whereas he would be prefer to be neither; likewise, he does not accept Bellini’s suggestion that being out is a “social obligation” that could help young people struggling with their sexual identity. So, what’s driving this strategic ambiguity? A marketing effort to avoid offending conservative US record buyers who might be put off by an openly gay artist. Or, more positively, an effort to inject some "is he or isn’t he" mystique into the Mika "brand." Or, could Mika’s rejection of a gay or straight label be a expression of "post-gay" identity politics (even if he doesn’t exactly endorse this position in the interview)?