On September 16, 1999, George Michael made good his promise to give one-on-one interviews to any of the papers that would give “compassionate coverage” to the NetAid concerts to benefit Kosovo refugees and others. Below is his phone interview with The Sun.
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HERE is the full transcript of George Michael’s phone interview with Sun Editor David Yelland yesterday. The deal referred to by George relates to his pledge to provide an interview in return for
George: Thanks for sticking to the deal.
Sun: Thanks. How closely have you followed The Sun’s stance on the gay issue in the last year? What do you think about, in particular, the interview with Boyzone’s Stephen Gately when he came out?
George: I am aware of a general shift in attitude which I’m very pleased about. I actually feel that for all the – you know, if we are all being honest here, for all the sensationalism that’s caused around people’s sex life – I think that when anything becomes commonplace, it increases people’s tolerance. I think the exposure of various celebrities’ private lives over the last, I don’t know, 10 years, has been so much more than it was . . . I think, in its own way – I don’t think it was meant to – but I think in its own way it has increased tolerance as well as selling newspapers.
Sun: People just say, “Well, who cares any more?”.
George: It’s getting to that stage, which I think is quite healthy.
Sun: I know you’ve been travelling – but I’m sure you’ve caught up with the Michael Portillo story here. What do you think of Portillo?
George: He disgusts me, to be honest with you.
Sun: Why? Do you think his position is inherently dishonest?
George: Because, one, I am very surprised that someone who claims to be a politician is stupid enough to think that he can tell half of the truth in 1999. And two, I think anyone who has supported differing ages of consent for men and women when it is very obvious that he was having sex with men when he was a young man is a complete hypocrite. I am afraid I don’t think he can be described as anything else.
Sun: Do you think anybody under the age of 35 believes him?
George: No, of course not.
Sun: What about people older?
George: Maybe the occasional public schoolboy.
Sun: Have you met many politicians?
George: No, not really, I’ve met Tony Blair, I had dinner with Tony Blair once…
Sun: I think Tony’s safe…
George: I don’t think there’s any question.
Sun: Do you think British people accept gay people?
George: I think that people generally accept that, if people are going to experiment with their sexuality, that they are going to do it when they are fairly young – before they settle down with the person they want to spend the rest of their life with. I think that’s a fairly accepted . . . I think it’s a fact, actually. I don’t think that the attraction to the opposite sex ever disappears, I think to pretend that is quite ludicrous. But to acknowledge that really you’re . . . you make a . . . you don’t make a choice, but you find out where your emotions are strongest and that quite often doesn’t happen until you are in your twenties.
Sun: So you think there is a tolerance of homosexuality in Britain now, but there is not a tolerance of people that are trying to have it both ways and not tell the whole truth?
George: Absolutely, I think I’m a very good example of the fact that people actually will make an effort to understand any given situation if a person tells the truth. And I think half-truths are worse than silence.
Sun: I agree. We have to go with public opinion – maybe lead it sometimes. On another subject, gay couples are adopting children now. Do you want children?
George: When I was sleeping with women… when I was young… I considered having children. As a gay man, and as a 36-year-old man, I have no desire to have children. I love children but I’d rather spend time with other people’s children, really, than raise one of my own.
Sun: Do you feel happier in the States than you do here in Britain?
George: Well, I don’t really. People have a misperception that I split my time between the two. I normally spend a couple of months in the States a year – one, because I have no real . . . I don’t really enjoy being there, other than the fact that I am left alone more because my profile is much lower there. And the time I spend there is because my partner works out of Los Angeles. But in
Sun: How do you feel about your arrest in LA now?
George: Well, I think it’s a balance actually. I think it is a real balance, and I think everything in life is a balance. God has a very even way of distributing fortune and misfortune and I think I am a perfect example of that. I think that in some ways it did me a
Sun: Do you regret not coming out earlier? You have attacked Portillo – but you didn’t go public for years.
George: No, no I don’t. I was very glad to have my privacy the years I had my privacy, and on the other
Sun: What about having changed your
behaviour. For example, if you were driving down the M1 at home and desperately wanted to go to the toilet would you stop or would you just carry on and cross your legs?
George: No I don’t think so. I think if I was to even attempt to use a public toilet these days I would probably give somebody a heart attack.
Sun: Are you happier now? Is it something you look back on and think maybe there was a reason for that happening?
George: Well, yeah, I can see it that way. And also, to be honest with you, that whole period of my life was still mixed up in my bereavement for my mother so I am much happier now anyway – and back on track, as it were. But I don’t really see it as one or the other … my life is just different now.
Sun: Thank you for your time.
- George Michael’s Interview with the Gay Magazine ‘The Advocate’ (1999)
- George Michael Interview with Capital FM Radio with Dr. Fox (Dec 1998)
- An Audience with George Michael: Interview with Chris Evans (1996)
- Desert Island Discs: George Michael Interview (2007)
- George Michael: Unzipped (Marie Claire, 2004)