While George Michael may be remembered today as a queer icon in his own right, the “Freedom ’90” singer’s former bandmate recently revealed that his delayed coming out cost the superstar dearly.


According to Michael’s longtime Wham! bandmate Andrew Ridgeley, the “Faith” singer’s decision to keep his sexuality secret before eventually announcing it on live TV in 1998 ultimately hurt him more than it helped. “I think it is fairly unarguable,” Ridgeley told People in an interview published Wednesday (July 5). “He made the point that it had a personal cost, which I don’t think he ever quite reconciled.”

“George was thinking, ‘Yeah, I’ll just come out and say it,’ and I thought, ‘Well, how’s this gonna change anything for us?’” Ridgeley also told the publication. “The music’s still great and once the initial sort of hullabaloo is over, then it’ll probably be just that. But that was not the case, and George says that for him personally, that was the wrong decision.”

Michael’s decision to delay his coming out was based out of fear for “how his father would react, along with the press and the label,” Ridgeley said. “He was all ifs and buts, but the fact is the decision was taken not to make his sexuality public, and that personally cost him.”

Michael hid his sexuality from fans for years before he was arrested in 1998 for lewd conduct, an event that essentially outed him to the public and led him to confirm he was gay in a televised interview on CNN. Before his death in 2016, the English musician said himself that he regretted staying in the closet for so long, even though doing so likely helped his career in the long run.

“I’d been out to a lot of people since 19,” he said in a 2007 radio interview. “I wish to God it had happened then. I don’t think I would have the same career – my ego might not have been satisfied in some areas – but I think I would have been a happier man … Then AIDS changed everything. I was too immature to know I was sacrificing as much as I was.”

The difficulties Michael faced before and after coming out are covered in the new Wham! documentary, which arrived on Netflix Wednesday (July 5). But while the “Careless Whisper” musician faced judgment and scorn from some listeners afterward, Ridgeley shared with People that for him, his longtime friend’s revelation didn’t change a thing between them.

“Shirlie told me George was anxious about telling me, which I found a little surprising,” he reflected, referencing former girlfriend and singer Shirlie Kemp. “When he told me it was like, ‘Oh, well, yeah. That explains a few things,’ but it was unremarkable. It was unsensational.” 

Source: www.billboard.com

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