…asks OUT in a preamble to an interview with the falsetto pop singer who dodges labels:
The musician, whose debut single, “Grace Kelly,” earned him comparisons to Freddie Mercury, has made a fine art of dodging the question of whether he’s gay, straight, or something in between, but the more he ducks and weaves, the more pertinent-and persistent-the question becomes. Is he being coy or calculating? Is he part of a new generation of artists who feel able to divorce their sexuality from their music, or does he reflect a more typical (and dispiriting) scenario? George Michael, Morrissey, and Elton John have all been here, coming out only after their careers had peaked or when events forced their hand. Is Mika just the 21st-century version of Mozza?
She should be so lucky.
More to the point, I wasn’t aware that Morrissey had ‘come out’ as Elton John. Or gay, for that matter.
It’s precisely because Moz’s career hasn’t ‘peaked’ that people think he’s ‘come out’. Actually, all that’s happened is that he’s come back. The commercial success of his return in the last few years — much greater than any he had with The Smiths — has led to people paying him attention who never took the time before. Oh look! ‘Ringleader of the Tormentors’ has some saucy lines in it that seem to suggest bumming! Hold the presses! Morrissey has come out as a big gayer!
As anyone who’s been paying attention since the early 80s can tell you (if they’ve got their teeth in), Morrissey was never ‘in’. His lyrics and his album sleeves and his sensibility were, from the very beginning, outrageously, molestingly direct. Much more so, arguably, than if he had announced he was ‘gay’ on John Craven’s Newsround.
His blatantly non-straight, highly sexual, non-specific sensibility led to all kinds of problems for The Smiths and helped to prevent their crossover into the mainstream — particularly in the US market. In interviews Morrissey never pretended to be anything he wasn’t. He simply refused, heroically, to come out (with his hands up) and say ‘yes, you’re absolutely right, I’m GAY– that’s me in a sequinned nutshell that is’ — despite repeated attempts to get him to do just that. It’s a heroic refusal that, as far as I’m aware, he continues to make.
The point of much his art — and its genius — has been to try and escape the tedious, literal-minded and terribly un-sexy discourse of ‘sexuality’. He’s come closer to doing that than almost any artist. It’s why I’ve dubbed him — only slightly hyperbolically — possibly the greatest lyricists of desire ever.
Though this isn’t necessarily something that’s made him terribly happy.
As I put it in ‘Celibate cries’ in Saint Morrissey:
Perhaps, as many people appear to be convinced, Morrissey is simply lying. Perhaps secretly he is the life and soul of Elton John’s hot-tub parties, has his own booth at Heaven nightclub, possesses Europe’s largest collection of peaked caps, and has a live-in boyfriend who is Kylie Minogue’s personal stylist and colonic-irrigationist. (Funnily enough, no one ever seems to think that Morrissey’s “really” covering up a life of secret heterosexual bliss, even though being outed as straight, i.e. post-Seventies Bowie, would probably be much more embarrassing for him).
But if Morrissey is just fooling us, just “living a lie,” how do you explain his work? How do you explain the obvious, undeniable, massive, throbbing sublimation not just of eros but life into his songs? Why, in other words, would this pathologically, paralytically, criminally shy creature bother to get up on the stage and sing at all?
Maybe Moz will one day do what everyone appears to want him to do so much they are pretending he already has — and marry Graham Norton.
But if/when Moz does, like the outlaws in the old cowboy movies, make it easy on himself and turn himself in, it will almost certainly mark his retirement as an artist.