Sponsored George Michael courtesy georgemichael. Certainly nothing much about relationships. That ambiguity allowed listeners across the sexuality spectrum to relate to his story of a love lost carelessly.
In it, Michael explained to Wieder that he first recognized his attraction to men in , after some encounters while traveling. Upon returning home to Britain, he shared the news with his friends.
I nearly came out when I was My two closest friends at the time were Andrew Ridgeley and his girlfriend, Shirley. I had decided I was really bisexual and told them. For most of his 20s, George Michael identified as bisexual. It would take him until to reach this epiphany: Men stirred deeper feelings in him than women. The catalyst was his romance with designer Anselmo Feleppa. It was his first time falling in love — and it was with a man.
As he explained to Wieder: I was suddenly given the opportunity to have sex whenever I wanted it. I had way too much sex with way too many people, most of them women but some men. And because I had no emotional understanding of myself, all of it was fairly unsatisfying. Also, I would choose men who were completely unavailable or who were similarly confused sexually. When I did finally allow myself to get into a relationship where there was real commitment going, I was From then on, I believed I was gay.
They were authentic expressions of him probing his own boundaries. Years later, the songs still stand as some of the most evocative descriptions of queer desire to achieve broad commercial success.
In , Michael launched his solo career. The song, about declining hookups and patiently waiting for a more meaningful connection, portrays a balancing act with which gay culture has long wrestled. Once again, the lyrics leave the object of lust undefined. The woman in the music video is a wink to his bisexuality at the time, and, unsurprisingly, homoerotic themes lurk within its subtext. Like many other queer men, Michael negotiated what sex outside of his relationship meant, and he thought a lot about how he defined fidelity and freedom.
At the time, I believed in it. I still believe in monogamy as an ideal. That the paparazzi just happened to be in close proximity to the restroom at the time has long fueled speculation that they were colluding with police.
In a fuller account of the entrapment, which is buried in the Advocate archives, Michael claimed that an undercover police officer started to masturbate near him and he reciprocated.
The video for that song mocks the way queer men are held to different standards about sex. Straight rock stars screw groupies in bathrooms all the time without police interference. Moving to the big city to be out and flawless is a storyline that resonates with many queer men. Many gay men are still struggling to release shame, embrace self-acceptance, and love courageously, all of which is much easier said than done.
There will always be a special place for music that poeticizes queer dynamics. Gay men need pick-me-ups when we fall into ruts. George Michael leaves a legacy of uplifting music, telling all of us to renew faith, quash self-doubt, and always give it one more try.