Barry Manilow spoke publicly for the first time about being gay in a new interview released Wednesday. The 73-year-old "Mandy" singer – who has been in a relationship with his manager, Garry Kief, for nearly four decades – told People he feared coming out would upset his largely female fan base.
"I thought I would be disappointing them if they knew I was gay," he said. "So I never did anything. 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."
Manilow and Kief began their relationship in 1978. "I was one of the lucky ones," he told People. "I was pretty lonely before that." The couple kept their relationship secret and married quietly in 2014; one year later, actress Suzanne Somers revealed the marriage on Bravo talk show What What Happens Live.
The singer never publicly confirmed the news, which nonetheless made headlines in 2015. He told People that the inadvertent reveal was both a "blessing and a curse."
"We've been together all these years. Everybody knows that we're a team," he explained to Entertainment Tonight. "Everybody that I know knows. So it never really dawned on me to say anything about it. I mean, I'm a very private guy."
The pop icon added that it still feels "strange" to be discussing his sexuality in public, but he's ultimately "proud."
In February, Manilow released "This Is My Town," the first single from his upcoming album, My Town: Songs of New York.