Legendary crooner Barry Manilow has come out as gay at 73 years old.

BARRY MANILOW COMES OUT AT 73

After decades, the singer has opened up about his sexuality and his secret marriage to his manager, Garry Kief. “I’m so private, I always have been,” Manilow explained in an interview with People. “I thought I would be disappointing them if they knew I was gay. So I never did anything.”

Manilow met Kief in 1978, just after his pop-rock career had taken off. For years before he had made a living writing jingles, and he even produced Bette Midler‘s first two albums, skyrocketing her to fame. Then it was his turn. He churned out hits like “Mandy,” “Looks Like We Made It,” “Copacabana” and “Can’t Smile Without You.”

After meeting Kief, Manilow says, “I knew that this was it. I was one of the lucky ones. I was pretty lonely before that.” Soon after, Kief became Manlow’s manager, a role he still holds today. “He’s the smartest person I’ve ever met in my life – and a great guy too.”

Manilow was previously married to his high school sweetheart Susan Deixler, but admitted that though he loved her, he “was too young, wasn’t ready to settle down.” Manilow and Kief wed in a private ceremony in California in 2014.

In 2015, close friend and confidante Susanne Somers mentioned the marriage in an interview, but Manilow had neither confirmed nor denied the rumor until now. “There’s Barry Manilow the performer, and then there’s the Barry ‘machine,'” says Somers. “It takes enormous savvy and know-how to book and market complicated arena tours, choreograph promotion, direct the entire team and make it look effortless, and that part is Garry’s domain. A major career takes two. Between them, there is enormous comfort and trust.”

On coming out now, Manilow says his fans have been nothing if not supportive: “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.”

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