American singer-songwriter Barry Manilow has said that his career “would have been over” if he came out as gay in the 1970s or 1980s.
“It was stupid then but it was true. Everybody knew it, we had to watch out for making a mistake. Not that everybody didn’t know, people are very smart,” Manilow said.
Barry Manilow said fans reacted positively to his decision to come out as gay
“I thought I wasn’t hiding anything, but I was also not publicising it. If I publicised it, especially in the 70s and 80s—no way.”
In the interview, he also revealed that the reaction from fans when he came out was extremely positive.
“I knew they would be OK with it. All they ever cared about was my happiness. I think they were thrilled I had someone in my life like Garry.”
He met his husband Garry in 1978 and said he knew from the start that he was the one. They married in 2014, more than two years before he publicly came out.
“It would have killed my career. Immediately.”
– Barry Manilow
Before coming out, Manilow married his high school sweetheart, Susan Deixler, in 1964. After just a year of marriage, he walked away from the relationship.
Manilow and his husband Barry were together for 40 years when he publicly came out in 2017.
He was afraid coming out would disappoint his predominantly female fanbase
Speaking to People Magazine at the time, Manilow said the speculation had been a “blessing and a curse,” explaining: “I’m so private and I always have been.”
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He added that he had always been anxious about the way his supporters would react.
“I thought I would be disappointing them if they knew I was gay. So I never did anything.”
However, Manilow realised that he had underestimated his fans when news of his marriage leaked.
“When they found out that Garry and I were together, they were so happy. The reaction was so beautiful — strangers commenting, ‘Great for you!’” he said.
“I’m just so grateful for it. Thank goodness we’re still together and we’re in good shape, too.”
He later told the Today show in 2017 that strangers had been saying “the most beautiful things” to him since he came out.
“They thank me for helping them through their lives.
“The impact I’ve had on people – ” he added, choking up.
“I’m sorry, I’m going to [cry]. It’s thrilling.”