George Michael praised for LGBT campaigning

British singer who became one of the pop idols of the 1980s found dead at his home

Fans of George Michael lay flowers and light candles at his London home and his home in Oxfordshire where he died on Christmas day. Video: Reuters

 

George Michael has been praised for his work as a prominent gay rights campaigner.

The former pop pin-up, who died from heart failure on Christmas Day aged 53, had been a fervent support of LGBT issues, with some of his most famous solo work referencing his sexuality.

He came out as gay following his arrest in April 1998 for engaging in “a lewd act” in front of an undercover police officer in Beverly Hills.

He was handed a fine and 80 hours’ community service for the incident.

He later said: “I never had a moral problem with being gay.

“I thought I had fallen in love with a woman a couple of times. Then I fell in love with a man, and realised that none of those things had been love.”

He admitted in an interview that his late 20s had been a very depressing time for him after he lost his partner, designer Anselmo Feleppa, to HIV.

He said: “I had my very first relationship at 27 because I really had not actually come to terms with my sexuality until I was 24.

“I lost my partner to HIV then it took about three years to grieve; then after that I lost my mother. I felt almost like I was cursed.”

He fronted a documentary about HIV to coincide with World Aids Day the year he came out.

The film, Staying Alive, focused on the experiences of six young people from different countries who were either infected with or affected by the HIV virus.

He was also a passionate supporter of HIV charity the Terrence Higgins Trust.

LGBT charity Stonewall tweeted their sadness at the news of his death, writing: “R.I.P. George Michael. You inspired many and your music will live on in the hearts of the community. You will be sorely missed.”

Fellow campaigner, American singer Miley Cyrus, said: “Miss you already! Thank you for your radical activism in the LGBTQ community! Love you always!”

PA