Grammy-nominated MNEK calls outs racism in LGBT+ community

Saturday, 29 June 2019 19:05 GMT

Musician MNEK attends the UK premiere of "A Star is Born" in London, Britain September 27, 2018. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

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Gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people who are white must examine their own roles, says the British songwriter and producer

By Hugo Greenhalgh

NEW YORK, June 29 (Openly) - The LGBT+ community should look at its unspoken racism and question why it is not more diverse, Grammy Award-nominated MNEK said during celebrations of the Stonewall uprising.

Gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people who are white must examine their own roles, the British songwriter and producer said in an interview with the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"As far as racism goes, do you find yourself in all-white spaces?" the artist said. "Why aren't there more of us? Do you ever ask that?"

Speaking late on Friday aboard a chartered flight to New York from London to mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, MNEK said by being black and gay he was a "minority within a minority."

"I've lived with that weight," he said. "You want to find the joy in it, you want to find the peace in it, but it's hard.

"I think everyone feels that way if they're a minority in any way," he added.

MNEK, 24, whose real name is Uzoechi Osisioma Emenike, shot to early fame, landing a music publishing deal at age 14.

He was nominated for a Grammy at age 19 for co-writing Duke Dumont and A*M*E's hit song "Need U 100%."

He flew to New York on a Virgin Atlantic flight chartered from London in honor of the events of June 1969 at the Stonewall Inn, a Greenwich Village gay bar where patrons stood up to police harassment and triggered days of rioting.

Their resistance gave rise to the national and global LGBT+ movement for equal rights. The celebrations in New York on Sunday were expected to attract millions of participants.

MNEK said he likes to make a difference through his music.

"I'm a musician, and I'm not interested in being in the Houses of Parliament," he said.

"I'd rather be in a studio and work in music that I know will make people feel a certain way," he said. "It's not just about making tunes, it's about changing lives."

Since releasing his debut solo single "If Truth be Told" in 2011, he has worked as a songwriter and producer with a range of artists including Madonna, Beyonce and Christina Aguilera.

He released his own studio album, "Language," last year.

With success, he said, "I can really be comfortable with myself and as a result of that, it's helped other people."

(Reporting by Hugo Greenhalgh, Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst

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