Barry Manilow, the beloved singer, announced his longtime romance with his manager Garry Kief in 2015. He kept his sexuality a secret during their 39-year relationship. Manilow has always been a private person and closely protected his personal life from the public eye. He wanted his image to be about purely about his first love, music.
Other than his need for privacy in regards to his personal life, why was Manilow keeping his relationship with Kief a secret for decades? The singer admitted to People Magazine, “I thought I would be disappointing them if they knew I was gay. So I never did anything.” Sexuality is a hot topic in American society. The drive for acceptance and diversity has spurred on the welcoming of diverse couples of any variety. Imagining the pressure that Manilow felt with hiding his relationship must have been a heavy burden. The amount of energy spent on making sure they were never found out had to be a complicated task. Fortunately,
Sexuality is a hot topic in American society. The drive for acceptance and diversity has spurred on the welcoming of diverse couples of any variety. Imagining the pressure that Manilow felt with hiding his relationship must have been a heavy burden. The amount of energy spent on making sure they were never found out had to be a complicated task.
Fortunately, Kief is his business manager which alleviated suspicions when they were together often in public. Can you imagine not being able to hold your lover’s hand, cuddle into a booth at a romantic dinner, or vacation privately together? It is heartbreaking to hear that Manilow felt he was disappointing his fans with his true desire to be with the love of his life. Thankfully when Manilow did come out he was embraced with love and acceptance. His fans were ecstatic for him and he is now able to live in the freedom of who he is, both on and off stage.
I do not entertain the notion that I understand how it is to be in the public eye as often as celebrities and politicians are. The criticism and negativity pointed at our public figures for who they are as individuals is monstrous. Especially in the decades that Manilow was in his prime as a musician. The shame and guilt thrown at anyone who was not heterosexual were violent and condemning. It is understandable that with that social climate he opted to protect his partnership.
Hopefully, his coming out encourages a shift in our perspective as a society on accepting who people are. It is not our job to shame or guilt anyone into being who we think they should be. Of course, we all have opinions but should celebrities and public figures have to carry them? Is it part of the price to pay for giving out their talent? I would love to hear your opinion in the comments section.
Also published on Medium.