Barry Manilow (Pic: Matt Becker)
Legendary pop singer and songwriter Barry Manilow’s coming out has taken very few people by surprise, leading to a flood of humorous reactions on social media. But should this really be a topic of such hilarity?
The 73-year-old star spoke about his sexuality for the first time this week with People magazine. He revealed that he’d sadly never felt able to be open with his fans about being gay.
“I thought I would be disappointing them if they knew I was gay. So I never did anything,” he said.
He only realised that he would still be accepted by the public after seeing the overwhelmingly positive response to media reports in 2015 that he’d secretly married his long-time manager and partner of 40 years, Garry Kief.
“When they found out that Garry and I were together, they were so happy,” said Manilow. “The reaction was so beautiful — strangers commenting, ‘Great for you!’ I’m just so grateful for it.”
Manilow is one of the world’s most successful artists and has sold more than 80 million records, thanks to his easy-listening (i.e. cheesy) hits, including Mandy, Can’t Smile Without You, and Copacabana (At the Copa).
For most of us who know him and his songs, the coming out revelation wasn’t a shocker. Manilow’s sexuality has been an open secret of sorts and many have simply assumed over the years that he was gay. That was echoed by social media’s amused and droll reaction. But at times the comments almost verged on mocking the singer’s great moment; an opportunity for witty tweets for us, but probably a profoundly important and personal one for him.
There’s something undeniably tragic about a man who is so successful and so wealthy yet is so terrified of being himself in public. How much more difficult and harrowing must it be for those who don’t have the money or resources to survive if they lose their job, their family or other support structures because of who they are or who they love?
No matter our age, no matter how camp, no matter how famous or rich (or not) we are, we should all be afforded a little respect for having the courage to come out. Well done Barry. Better late than never!