'Didn't want my career to go away'

Barry Manilow opened up about keeping his sexuality a secret due to his fears coming out would jeopardize his career.

During a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the 80-year-old singer, who revealed he was gay in 2017, shared that he struggled with hiding his sexual orientation for years.

“I didn’t want my career to go away. I love it. I’m grateful for it. But it was a burden to keep it quiet,” Manilow said. “I was always worried.

“Every interview, ‘They’re going to ask me whether I’m gay or not.’ Nobody ever did, by the way. They never asked me the $64 question.” 

The Grammy Award winner recalled an exchange that he said he had with Clive Davis in the 1980s during which the record producer noted that music legend Elton John’s career was damaged after he revealed his sexual orientation.

“He said, ‘You know, Elton John came out as bisexual. No artist should ever do that. It’ll hurt your career,’” Manilow told the outlet.

John, 76, came out as bisexual at the age of 29 in a 1976 interview with Rolling Stone. The “Bennie and the Jets” singer was a global rock star at the time. When he was 45 in 1992, John said he was “quite comfortable being gay” during another interview with Rolling Stone.

Barry Manilow said he struggled with hiding his sexuality for years. Getty Images

Davis, 91, revealed that he was bisexual in his 2013 memoir, “The Soundtrack of My Life.” The five-time Grammy Award winner, who was previously married to Janet Adelburg and Helen Cohen, wrote that he has had relationships with men since the late 1970s.

However, Davis told The Hollywood Reporter he did not recall having the conversation that Manilow remembered.

“We never went there,” Davis told the outlet. “Had it come up, to analyze what the impact would be, I would have said it’s a risky proposition to a career. But we never had the conversation about whether he should come out because he never said to me that he was gay.” 

Garry Kief and Barry Manilow attend a Grammys gala in 2016. Getty Images

Manilow met his husband Garry Kief in 1978, and the two married in April 2014. The singer was previously married to his high school sweetheart Susan Diexler. The two tied the knot in 1964 but had their marriage annulled a year later.

The singer explained his decision to hide his sexuality in a 2017 interview with People magazine during which he revealed that he was gay for the first time.

During the interview, Manilow discussed his longtime romance with Kief. In 2015, reports of his sexuality and marriage to Kief first emerged, which he described as “a blessing and a curse.” He told People he kept his sexuality hidden out of fear that he would be letting down his fans.

Manilow said he feared letting down his fans. Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions

“I thought I would be disappointing them if they knew I was gay. So, I never did anything,” Manilow explained.

However, Manilow shared that his fans were supportive when he came out.

“When they found out that Garry and I were together, they were so happy. The reaction was so beautiful — strangers commenting, ‘Great for you!’ I’m just so grateful for it,” he said.

The New York native told People he knew he had met the right person when he first started dating Kief.

“I knew that this was it,” Manilow recalled. “I was one of the lucky ones. I was pretty lonely before that.”

The singer said fans were supportive when he came out. Getty Images for Celebrity Fight Night

Manilow said he has always wanted to keep his private life out of the spotlight.

“I’m so private. I always have been,” he said.

During a 2017 interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Manilow opened up about being a stepfather to Kirsten Kief, 47, Kief’s daughter from a previous marriage.

“We have a daughter, Garry’s biological daughter, Kirsten, and we raised her together all these years,” the “Copacabana” singer said. “Kirsten’s turned out to be one of the most beautiful and smartest women you’ll ever meet.”

Manilow attends a Clive Davis ribbon cutting at NYU in 2022. Getty Images

In an October interview with People, Manilow shared his joy over becoming a grandfather for the first time after Kirsten adopted a baby girl.

“Garry’s daughter Kirsten adopted a little girl, and so I’m now a grandfather,” he said. “I’ve never, ever thought about having a baby or having anything to do with [being] a father or any of that.

“I’m watching this little girl — she’s 2½ — grow up and learn. This is a brand new experience for me, and I really am enjoying it.”

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