George Michael, a gay icon: The celebrated singer always stood up for freedom, of all kinds

Harish Iyer

Dec 26, 2016 17:22:00 IST

George Michael’s legacy isn’t limited to his music.

He will always be remembered as a gay icon. I find it difficult to write about him in the past tense, because so much of George Michael is actually the ideas and emotions he represents. These are timeless and immortal ideas. He stood for freedom, especially the kind that only one can grant oneself.

But it wasn’t easy for George Michael to set himself free. He struggled with his sexuality for many years and it is this struggle that makes him more relatable and believable.

While he came out to the world as gay in 1999, he had come out to his sisters and band-mates at Wham! as bisexual back when he was 19 years old. He had many relationships with women before discovering that he wasn’t really bisexual.

George Michael, a gay icon: The celebrated singer always stood up for freedom, of all kinds

George Michael. Image credit: Twitter

He admitted as much in an interview to Judy Wider, Chief Editor of The Advocate. He has been quoted as saying: "I thought I had fallen in love with a woman a couple of times. Then I fell in love with a man, and realized that none of those things had been love."

I know many gay men who are married to women. Some were coerced or emotionally blackmailed into such marriages, while some did so willingly, either to hide their homosexuality or because they were not aware of their sexuality. Many people scoff at the idea of being unaware of one’s sexuality, but I can assure you it is more common than you think.

I thought I was straight. But after a one night stand with a woman where “it did not stand” I realized I was gay. This baffled me a bit, because like everyone else I had presumed I was straight. But heterosexual is not like a default setting on a home appliance and people are people, not machines!

I was also deeply enraged at the whole public restroom drama. The outrageous charge of committing a “lewd act” in a public restroom was nothing but a ridiculous sting operation. But trust George Michael to make sweet lemonade with life’s lemons. Watch the video of “Outside” to understand what I mean.

George Michael had a painful love life. He lost his boyfriend Anselmo Feleppa, a Brazilian dress designer, to AIDS. This made him devote himself to charity work related to HIV/AIDS awareness. His relationship with Kenny Goss also came to an end before they could take their vows.

They say he died in his sleep. Some feel he was too young to go. But I don’t think he is gone.

A lot of young gay men felt more comfortable with their sexuality when George Michael came out. He set us free. And as long as we have this freedom and George Michael’s music, he will live on.

Updated Date: Dec 26, 2016 17:23:04 IST