‘I knew that this was it. I was one of the lucky ones. I was pretty lonely before that’: Manilow in 2016. Photograph: Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP
The singer Barry Manilow has said publicly that he is gay after keeping his sexuality secret for decades for fear of “disappointing his fans”. The music veteran, whose hits include Looks Like We Made It and Copacabana, also confirmed that he has been in a relationship with a man for 39 years. It is the first time he has spoken openly about his sexuality.
Manilow married Garry Kief at their home in Palm Springs in 2014, but never publicly confirmed the news because he was unsure how fans would react, he told People magazine. The 73-year-old told the publication: “I’m so private. I always have been.”
Rumours of a marriage between Manilow and Kief surfaced two years ago, but the pair never commented on the reports. The singer said the speculation had been a “blessing and a curse”.
Garry Kief and Barry Manilow
Manilow said he was overjoyed by the reaction from fans around the world. “I thought I would be disappointing them if they knew I was gay. So I never did anything. When they found out that Garry and I were together, they were so happy. The reaction was so beautiful – strangers commenting, ‘Great for you!’ I’m just so grateful for it,” he added.
Manilow said he had been focused on his burgeoning music career when he met Kief, a TV executive, in 1978. “I knew that this was it. I was one of the lucky ones. I was pretty lonely before that.”
Early on in their relationship, Kief found the singer’s fame hard to deal with. When the pair got into a car together after a concert, “[the fans] were rocking the car,” Manilow recalled. “He was like, ‘I can’t handle this. It’s not for me.’ I’m glad he stayed.”
Soon afterwards, Kief became Manilow’s manager and president of Barry Manilow Productions – roles he still holds today. “He’s the smartest person I’ve ever met in my life, and a great guy, too,” Manilow said.
Manilow thanked his fans when he shared a link on Twitter to the People magazine article. A later tweet from him read: “I’m loving all of your responses. You guys are truly the greatest.”
Here is his Twitter handle Barry Manilow (@barrymanilow)
This is is Tweet
Thank you to my fans for the years of support. My story is out and I look forward to many more years of sharing my music. https://t.co/fRA9BPwqIU
April 5, 2017
The news has been welcomed by fans and celebrities, with Manilow trending on Twitter and Facebook as many made puns and wondered how their mums were coping.
“So all this time, Barry Manilow was singing about Andy,” one user wrote. “Not quite sure how I’m gonna tell my mum that Barry Manilow is gay,” said another.
George Takei, the gay actor best known for his work in the Star Trek television series, was one of the first stars to react to the news on Twitter. “Congratulations @BarryManilow on coming out! Welcome to the club,” he wrote, adding the hashtag #NeverTooLate.
Some expressed surprise that Manilow hadn’t come out sooner. Feminist writer Roxane Gay said: “I didn’t realise Barry Manilow was in the closet! But good for him coming out. He’s the best.”
The time I met Margaret Thatcher and Barry Manilow – together
Manilow was briefly married to his high school sweetheart, Susan Deixler, while he was studying at the New York College of Music. The singer has said he was in love with her but was “not ready for marriage”.
“I was out making music every night, sowing my wild oats,” Manilow is quoted as saying. “I wasn’t ready to settle down.” In his 1987 autobiography, Sweet Life, he made a fleeting reference to his ex-wife, but did not name her. He described her as “adorable, small with great legs and a voluptuous figure”.
Manilow did not explain why he had chosen this moment to come out publicly, but his 29th studio album, This Is My Town, is due to be released on 21 April.