Column: Celebrities like Jason Mraz are living a lesson of Pride Month: It’s messy becoming who you are

Jason Mraz with a guitar, speaking on stage
Jason Mraz appeared at the Grammy Museum in L.A. on Thursday.
(Rebecca Sapp / Getty Images for the Recording Academy)

With a few hundred fans gathered on the rooftop of the Grammy Museum for the release party for his eighth studio album, “Mystical Magical Rhythmical Radical Ride,” Jason Mraz took a beat before deciding to share news of his divorce for the first time Thursday. In a journey from being an LGBTQ+ ally to coming out as bisexual, the “I’m Yours” singer now says he belongs to no one. Except himself.

And it is this stage of his life — single, out — that informs a deeply personal album, starting in the first track:
I’m the same as I was when I was a kid
I always knew I would make it
It’s in my blood, it’s in my tears
I stand up here naked
With all my love and no more fear
I am the spark in the darkness
I’ve done my time, I did my part
But I’m just getting started

We all are, really.

Opinion Columnist

LZ Granderson

LZ Granderson writes about culture, politics, sports and navigating life in America.

Elliot Page, Demi Lovato, Sheryl Swoopes, Chaz Bono, Sam Smith … all of these celebrities have made private and public transformations, or revelations, that show how unlearning society’s lies can complicate discovering our truths.


It takes time to understand that life isn’t a destination or coming out an arrival. When you gain that understanding you stop asking children what they want to be when they grow up. How would a 5-year-old know something many 50-year-olds are still trying to figure out?

Attendance at concerts and churches also hasn’t rebounded, and when it comes to making a democracy work, there’s no substitute for rubbing elbows.

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It’s counterproductive to heap the language of permanence on top of something that is fluid — whether it’s your career or your understanding of yourself. That’s not about excusing flakiness but rather highlighting introspection and insight.

Mraz’s latest album explores this process and its fruits, with a recurring theme of self-discovery in the midst of a public — and sometimes clumsy — rebirth.

He said he had kept his recent divorce private out of respect for his ex-wife, who was never comfortable with the spotlight. However, now that he’s made his broken heart known to the world, one can’t help but listen to “Mystical” with different ears:
Away I go searching for the end of the rainbow
Someone keeps moving the pot of gold
Feels like I’m chasing my shadow
I’m a lovesick Romeo

It can be hard, silencing everyone else’s shoulds and coulds long enough to hear your own voice.

The media mogul is rumored to be acquiring VH1 and BET. He can thank his female stage persona for the wealth that makes that possible.

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This is particularly true for members of the LGBTQ+ community, who often grow up trying to be something we are not, just for survival. The coming-out process begins the moment “survival” ceases to be enough.


My process took years. Crushes and fears. Church rejection and gay conversion ministry. Divorce and shame. The kind of shame that makes the closet look appealing again. I can’t imagine going through all of that in front of millions the way that Mraz and many others have over the years.

The 2008 hit “I’m Yours” — his ode to surrendering to love — spent a then-record 76 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. How many of those weeks did he spend not surrendering to love?

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June 8, 2023

As he talked on Thursday about the impact of his divorce and subsequent fallout, his grief still felt palpable to me. But not debilitating, just present … like his desire to finally live more authentically.

And while Mraz didn’t set out to release the album in time for Pride, it’s a perfect fit. The dance numbers like the new single “Feel Good Too” are steeped in the infectious grooves of disco and early house, making it nearly impossible not to move to. Meanwhile the video for the lead single “I Feel Like Dancing” features same-sex dancing and flirting.

However, what makes this release so timely is unquestionably the lyrics:
You’re often misunderstood
Some people just wish they could
Do what they want
F’ing the shoulds
Just go enjoy your life
Stop trying to get it right
I’m celebrating my time that’s remaining
Working or playing

At times his words feel more like reminders for himself than encouragement for others, which makes sense. Life’s journey is full of detours. It doesn’t hurt to check your compass to see which direction you’re headed.