Hitmaker Barry Manilow thought his fans would be disappointed if they knew he was gay, so he kept it secret for decades.
He didn’t even talk publicly about it after he married his longtime manager, Garry Kief, in 2014.
“I thought I would be disappointing them if they knew I was gay. So I never did anything,” Manilow, 73, tells People.
He said it was “a blessing and a curse” when their wedding made headlines, first in the National Enquirer. He and Kief had previously been married to women.
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“When they found out that Garry and I were together, they were so happy,” Manilow tells People. “The reaction was so beautiful — strangers commenting: ‘Great for you!’ I’m just so grateful for it.”
The People interview is the first time Manilow, 73, has spoken about their nearly 40-year secret romance. The couple posed for photos at the singer’s 53-acre Palm Springs estate, where they secretly married in April 2014.
“I’m so private. I always have been,” said Manilow, who was once described as being so obsessively private that he won’t even reveal the names of his dogs.
Not that private, apparently. Fans are not shocked by his People interview. Many were just grateful to learn that Manilow wasn’t trending on Twitter Wednesday because he was dead.
Manilow met Kief in 1978. “I knew that this was it. I was one of the lucky ones,” Manilow said. “I was pretty lonely before that. He’s the smartest person I’ve ever met in my life — and a great guy, too.”
Manilow refused to comment when author Patricia Butler outed him as gay in a 2001 biography. The book’s publisher told the Daily Mail that lawyers advised him to remove all references to Manilow’s sexuality.
“I protested,” publisher Chris Charlesworth wrote in a blog post at the time. “Not only was it fairly well known within the music industry that Manilow was gay but my author had done her research well and come up with quotes from friends and professional colleagues that confirmed Manilow was a gay man.”
Manilow’s longtime friend Suzanne Somers, who participated in the wedding as best man, explained why the Manilow-Kief partnership works.
“There’s Barry Manilow the performer, and then there’s the Barry ‘machine,’” she told People.
“It takes enormous savvy and know-how to book and market complicated arena tours, choreograph promotion, direct the entire team and make it look effortless, and that part is Garry’s domain. A major career takes two. Between them, there is enormous comfort and trust.”