Erasure star Andy Bell has described X-Factor winner Joe McElderry as “brave” for his decision to come out as gay.

Both singers are competing in the ITV 1 series Popstar to Operastar.

Bell, who is openly gay himself told The Sun: “I said to him that I thought it was very brave what he’d done. I’ve told him to come to me when he wants to talk about it.

“I hope I’ll stay in touch with Joe. I’m going to say to him, ‘I’m always there if you want to talk and if you need any help or anything, I’ll be there’.

“It’s very hard to come out in the industry. It’s male-dominated – run by men who like pretty young girls. In some ways being gay makes it ten times harder.”

Last July, McElderry came out as gay after pranksters hacked into his Twitter account and outed him.

Despite denying publicly that he was gay, the incident prompted him to come out to his mother.

At the time he wrote on his website:-

“I have always been a very honest person and so it is important for me to continue to be honest.

“It has been the most amazing year so far and I feel so privileged. It’s also been a time of real self realisation and I feel as if I have grown up so much in these few months.

“There has been speculation about my sexuality in the past and I have always been honest at the time I have been asked.

“Over the past few weeks I have really had time to reflect and to realise who I am. I spoke to my friends and family about this in the last few days and it was important to do the same for you all as you have been so supportive.

“I have had nothing but support from you and many of you have been very open in saying that you will continue to support me whatever my sexuality. It is important to me to let you know first, so that you know the stories in the papers are true.
I made the choice to speak openly about this.’

“Everything is going well and I’m really happy to be able to move forward from here.”