George Michael, writes Slate, was the gay icon we didn't know we needed, beginning with the "I Want Your Sex" controversy back in the Faith era:
At a time when the mainstream associated gay sex with the AIDS crisis, Michael was finally a pop icon who exalted its joys. Here was a gay celebrity who loved to fuck.
A decade later, a different notoriety was obtained when he "was arrested for a 'lewd act' in a public bathroom by an undercover cop:"
1998 was an early time to come out in our contemporary history, and when Michael did, he wore the cultural stigma as a badge of honor. Michael may not have had the freedom he craved in his own life, but he certainly cleared the way for others. [...] Michael showed no remorse for the act itself. Instead, he gave an almost insouciant response: "I don't feel ashamed and I don't believe I should," he told CNN.
Michael further embraced the incident later that year, when he released the single "Outside," a disco anthem that celebrates cruising and flagrant, illicit public displays of affection. The single works as a statement of Michael's own personal coming-out process: What was once veiled in subtext had been brought wide into the open. [...] It's a bold, radical, campy video that still feels remarkably defiant in today's political environment.
Also interesting is George Michael's interview in the October 2004 issue of GQ:
George went into therapy as soon as Anselmo was diagnosed [in 1991], and it was three years after his death [in 1993] before he felt able to consider another relationship. Then, in 1996, he met Kenny Goss the chisel-jawed Texan who shares his life to this day. [...]
"My biggest problem in life is fear of more loss. I fear Kenny's death far more than my own. I don't want to outlive him. I'd rather have a short life and not have to go through being torn apart again.
The piece also notes "another George Michael revelation... sexually, he swings both ways:"
"When I walk into a restaurant I check out the women before the men, because they're more glamorous. If I wasn't with Kenny, I would have sex with women, no question," he enthuses. "But I would never be able to have a relationship with a woman because I'd feel like a fake. I regard sexuality as being about who you pair off with, and I wouldn't pair off with a woman and stay with her. Emotionally, I'rn definitely a gay man."
"George had worked out he was bisexual," the piece observes, "during the making of Wham!'s second album" way back in 1984:
He told Andrew Ridgeley and close friends immediately, and was ready to tell the world. "I had very little fear about it, but basically my straight friends talked me out of it. I think they thought as I was bisexual, there was no need to. [...] But it's amazing how much more complicated it became because I didn't come out in the early days. I often wonder if my career would have taken a different path if I had."
"One of the complications," the piece continues, "was not being able to be completely honest with people:"
"I used to sleep with women quite a lot in the Wham! days but never felt it could develop into a relationship because I knew that, emotionally, I was a gay man. I didn't want to commit to them but I was attracted to them. Then I became ashamed that I might be using them. I decided I had to stop, which I did when I began to worry about AIDS, which was becoming prevalent in Britain. Although I had always had safe sex, I didn't want to sleep with a woman without telling her I was bisexual. I felt that would be irresponsible. Basically, I didn't want to have that uncomfortable conversation that might ruin the moment, so I stopped sleeping with them."
A 1999 Advocate interview asks, "Why, after a career-long battle to keep his personal life away from the press, is George Michael sitting down with The Advocate and doing what he swore he'd never do?"
"People are still telling me to be careful," he sighed. "But at the end of the day, all I can be is honest. I've reached a very good point of self-acceptance. I don't have any shame about my sexuality. I don't think people are going to desert me because they know more about me--"
Here are some bits from the Q&A:
How did your father react to your arrest?
He was great, actually. He called me the next day and said, "Tell them to fuck off. You are who you are." I was very impressed with that.
"What's really interesting," he said later, "is that it [revealing his bisexuality] didn't stop the women:"
It actually made the women more involved. It was a challenge. I wasn't really gay; they could change me. I got that a lot. I slept with quite a lot of women, especially at the end of my Wham! days, because I was still thinking, Maybe I could still be straight. It would make life easier. But suddenly it turned into a time where bisexuality seemed to be the most dangerous form of sexuality--and I suppose it still is--so I felt like the bad guy. I couldn't have it both ways with AIDS around.
AIDS changed what bisexuality meant. It used to be a safer place to be.
And quite cool. You just had more options. But gay and straight people look at me with suspicion when I say, "I'm bisexual." They want me to be one way or another.