In a frank and revealing interview for the BBC’s Desert Island Discs, George Michael said he hid his sexuality for decades for fear of upsetting his mother. He also revealed a love for insect collecting

Michael says he was “sick of the secret” at the time his unintentionally outed after he exposed himself in a toilet to an undercover Beverly Hills policeman in 1998.

He now claims it was a “self-consciously deliberate” to come out as gay, a year after his mother Lesley Panayiotu died.

“I think for me to do that was absolutely tempting fate,” he says. He added: “There wasn’t any reason to be quiet now that my mother was no longer in this world, and I was proud of my sexuality.”

“I had been trying to tell people in my own way for years and years . . . something in me picked the most difficult way to do it.”

He thanked his fans for the support during a difficult time for him: “It’s been a very bizarre year because you can’t imagine what it’s like playing to people who have been loyal to you for 25 years and haven’t seen you for 15, that’s been the most life-affirming thing I could have done. I’m so glad I did it [went on tour].”

“It’s not the adulation that’s been nice, it’s the absolute warmth, it’s the complete generosity. I genuinely believe the purpose of what I do is a positive one. I really do genuinely believe that most of my songs are life-affirming in some way.

“And actually people who don’t care about your music, thinking lots of things about you that aren’t true, it really doesn’t matter. And what’s wonderful is that a lot of them who think they are true, really don’t care, so I’m such a lucky man.

“It’s so annoying people trying to give the impression the world is a totally screwed up place and I really needed those people in front of me night after night to tell me that it wasn’t. I really needed it so badly, I’m so grateful to them.”

He also revealed a love for insect collecting: “At the age of about eight I had a head injury and I know it sounds bizarre and unlikely, but it was quite a bad bang, and I had it stitched up and stuff, but all my interests changed, everything changed in six months.

“I had been obsessed with insects and creepy crawlies, I used to get up at five o’clock in the morning and go out into this field behind our garden and collect insects before everyone else got up and, suddenly, all I wanted to know about was music, it just seemed a very, very strange thing.

He also claimed that his musical skill may have been caused by a bump on the head: “I have a theory that maybe it was something to do with this accident, this whole left-brain right-brain thing. Nobody in my family seemed to notice but I became absolutely obsessed with music and everything changed after that.”