Kylie Minogue has paid tribute to her gay fans for looking after her at the start of her career.

In an interview with gay magazine Instinct, the star said her gay fans “adopted” her and defended her from criticism.

She said: “When I started out in music, going from acting to singing, that transition was very successful, but I also got flack for it. Many hurtful things were said. It wasn’t easy.”

She continued: “I was only 19 and I think the gay audience kinda picked up on that and decided to defend me and adopt me. They saw I was being criticised for being myself.”

The star has been voted the greatest gay icon of all time.

In 2005, she commented: “A lot of record companies market directly towards ‘the pink pound’. But I never did that. They kind of adopted me instead.

“Somebody once said to me, ‘Gay icons, there’s a lot of tragedy in their lives. But you don’t really have that.’ I said, ‘I’ve had a lot of tragic hairdos and outfits. I think that makes up for it.’”

The former Neighbours star is due to begin her first US tour at the end of next month.