Michael Stipe has announced that he is gay.

The 48 year old R.E.M. star, who is known for deflecting questions about his sexuality, told US music magazine Spin

“I was totally open with the band and my family and my friends and certainly the people I was sleeping with. I thought it was pretty obvious.

“I’d just never felt strongly enough about a particular relationship to say, ‘Yeah, he’s my boyfriend, that is what it is.’

“Now I recognise that to have public figures be very open about their sexuality helps some kid somewhere out there.”

His decision to talk openly about his sexuality has been welcomed by many, however, others have accused the world-famous singer’s announcement as a publicity stunt.

His bands new album, Accelerate is released on 1st April.

It turns out that the flamboyant star, who also owns a vegetarian restaurant and a film company, originally ‘came out’ to Time magazine in May 2001:

“I’ve been in a relationship with an amazing man for about three years,” he said.

He then went on to describe himself as a “queer artist” and told the magazine how he felt more comfortable about his sexuality:

“I was being made to be a coward about it, rather than someone who felt like it really was a very private thing.”

Accelerate is R.E.M’s 14th studio album, will be available to listen to but not yo download on Facebook’s iLike application from 24th March, a week before its UK release.