Let’s go outside! A coalition of London’s LGBTQ community are organising a free party to remember George Michael at the park where the queer icon often cruised for sex.
Saturday’s ‘George Michael Wants You’ party aims to remember the star’s “life, talent and courage in celebrating sexual freedom”.
Michael, who passed away on Christmas Day at the age of 53, was outed as gay after being arrested on 8 April, 1998 for “engaging in a lewd act” in a public bathroom at a Beverly Hills park.
The singer defiantly released the track and video Outside as an expression of sexual freedom and liberation. He also openly continued to cruise for casual sex throughout his life, often at Hampstead Heath.
The London park has a long and famous history as a popular cruising spot for gay men. The event, which takes place on the same day as Michael’s arrest, will also mark the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK in 1967.
The organisers, Camden LGBT Forum and Queer Tours of London, said that while the decriminalisation was “a momentous moment in our history, we know far too well that it wasn’t the end of the struggle”.
They noted that Michael “found it impossible to be open about his sexuality in the late 1990s” and that “his sexuality was used to both criminalise and humiliate him”.
Nell Andrew, from Queer Tours of London, commented: ‘”No longer with us but with presence stronger than ever, we gather at the world famous cruising area on Hampstead Heath, to ‘Go Outside’ in honour of George Michael.”
He said that the party “will be a celebration of how [Michael] took back control after a very nasty public outing and turned it into a celebration of sexuality and sexual freedoms with the song Outside. His every statement and action following this episode said ‘screw the judgement of others’.”
Michael was laid to rest next to his mother Lesley, who died of cancer in 1997, at Highgate Cemetery in north London on Wednesday. The private funeral was attended by his former partner of many years Kenny Goss, as well as his most recent boyfriend, Fadi Fawaz, who discovered his body.
The ‘George Michael Wants You’ party takes place on Saturday 8 April from 1pm at Jack Straws Castle, in Hampstead Heath, London.