Musical artists Mika and Calum Scott recently shared the stage in Bristol and also took the time to chat with each other about Pride and their own experiences growing up queer.
Scott described his experience as “spotty” and “very greasy”. He explained that he feared coming out and was shy in his teen years but as he got older, he became more comfortable in his skin and he is prouder than he has ever been.
Even though both Mika and Scott celebrate their identities, the two of them had their own set of struggles when it comes to acceptance. Scott says he wasn’t necessarily bullied, but more “abandoned” – but it was still a happy ending.
Mika said he was both abandoned and bullied but wishes he was more the former. “Kids can be can be so cruel,”
he explained. “I mean, I laugh about it now, but it wasn’t funny then… there were so many aspects that were difficult and it was so often about sexuality.”
Spending time in France and London, Mika said bullying was considered “normal”. Despite the struggle he had at school, his fashion designer mother loved the arts and he was constantly surrounded by a community that was made up of every single type of gender identity, and sexuality. He said there was “queerness was everywhere”.
“It was really celebrated,” Mika said. “It was really about embracing – being proud about it…I’m so grateful to have been exposed to the community.”
When it came to exploring his sexuality, Mika would sneak out of the house as a teenager and go to London and go out. He would also perform gigs at a young age – and one time someone very special came to see him.
“I remember my grandmother, who isn’t necessarily the most tolerant of people, came to one of my first shows and there was confetti, balloons and people dancing on podiums, and she would say, ‘This is fabulous. This is amazing’,” remembered Mika. “This is a very strong woman from Lebanon … bless her soul.”
For Scott, he grew up around a lot of guys and doing more “masculine” things like skateboarding and BMX. “I did not renounce my sexuality, but I kept it quite hidden and suppressed and as you can imagine that that wasn’t great growing up,” he admitted, adding that he never stepped into the gay scene during a time when social media wasn’t as rampant.
“You weren’t connected to the world [as much as] you are now,” he said. “I think that kind of makes discovery a little bit harder on yourself.”
Mika responded, “I felt really lucky that I was given a glimpse into a window of a community where everyone was accepted thanks to the work that my mom did.”
Scott finds that there’s a universal message and understanding in his music for a yearning to be accepted. “That’s something I’m massively identified with growing up.” He later says that he hopes that his music helps somebody on their journey and put a “little bit more empathy out into the world.”